It’s been 10 years to the day since the passing of Satoshi Kon, and his films still stand as some of the most perfectly composed, imaginatively animated features ever created. Thematically, Kon’s films are often dark and complex, fascinated with the nature of reality, perception, fame, and the subconscious. Visually, they’re equally dense, using the complete control of the frame that animation affords to create some of the most inventive moments in cinema. Just ask filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky, who has referenced Kon’s work in multiple shots (and bought the rights to Perfect Blue). Or watch this fantastic video from Every Frame a Painting, discussing Kon’s unique approach to editing time and space. There are no shortage of essays on Kon’s inspired and inspiring filmography.
There are also no shortage of articles pointing out the sad irony that the last film from such an accomplished, ambitious filmmaker is a one-minute short, and it’s a safe bet that few minute-long films have been so thoroughly dissected, despite its simplicity. A woman waking up after her birthday, maybe a little hung over, drifting through her morning routine in a way that’s half-dazed, disconnected, at least partly automatic. Kon captures that morning fog beautifully, building to that chipper moment of awakening, sprightly music, and a “good morning.”
Could you read more into Ohayo? Oh, probably. But it seems more likely that Kon used this commission—which essentially aired as filler on Japanese station NHK—to explore something very different than his always-ambitious features. He’s simply creating a concise portrait of a fleeting feeling. If anything, the most remarkable thing about Ohayo is that it tells a complete story in its one-minute, and one that even feels refreshing to watch. It’s not the final film he would have intended, but it’s a lovely note to go out on.
Dir: Satoshi Kon
Syn: Follows a woman as she becomes fully awake.