We are saddened to report that Satoshi Kon, at the age of 46, passed away on the morning of the 24th August, 2010. He lost in a battle with pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed few months back (May 2010). His career was short-lived but he would be ever remembered by his brilliant creative work that surmised to visually captivating stories like Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers and Perfect Blue. When we heard the news at Metanorn, all of us that were online agreed on the fact that we had to cover the news and at least in our own way, try to portray the man he was and his contributions to the anime fandom. So, this is another team post from Kyokai, Overcooled, Hato, Flags and Masu.
Kyokai: The news is indeed saddening and to think that he was only 46. The thing that really hit me was the fact that how brave he was in the end. Deciding to die in his own terms rather than being dependent on medicine and treatment that simply gives you few more months in case of cancer that is largely untreatable unless benign. He was so ready that he took out the time to settle all financial scores so that his family didn’t have to suffer after his demise. His last words have really moved me, which really was a long rambling but he touched upon everything that had been important to him, from the people he loved to the things he cared about. He talked about how he got the news about pancreatic cancer, his resolutions and regrets of not completing the Dream Machine and dying before his parents. You can find the original version here (the site is down due to heavy traffic, you can check this out at ANN’s archives), while a full translation can be found here (by Makiko Itoh).
In Madhouse’s Maruyama’s words, “I regret losing your talent. I wish that you were able to leave it for us.” Which is quite appropriate indeed because it’s hard to understand his artistic creativity unless you are Satoshi Kon yourself. Even in his last words, he regretted not spending more time on explaining the storyboard of Dream Machine to his team for more clarity. However it is though, according to Maruyama’s consolation to Satoshi, “We’ll figure out something, so don’t worry.”
According to an interview with ANN, the Dream Machine, on the surface is a fantasy-adventure targeted at younger audiences. However, it will also be a film that people who have seen our films up to this point will be able to enjoy. So it will be an adventure that even older audiences can appreciate. There will be no human characters in the film; only robots. It’ll be like a “road movie” for robots. No confirmation has yet been received for the fate of this movie, yet I can only hope that it was far enough under production that we would see the final product as the last memory of a great thinker, artist and an elite contributor to the fandom.
Satoshi Kon’s Profile:
- Roujin Z (1991) – Animator
- Memories (1995) – Art Director, Script
- Perfect Blue (1998) – Director, Animator
- Millennium Actress (2001) – Writer, Director, Animator
- Tokyo Godfathers (2003) – Writer, Director, Animator
- Paranoia Agent (2004) – Director
- Paprika (2006) – Writer, Director
- Good Morning (Episode 8: Ani*Kuri 15) (2007) Director
- The Dream Machine (2011) Director
- World Apartment Horror
- Paprika, Dream Children
Kon’s Tone – The Road to Millennium Actress
Highest Gross on US Box Office
- Paprika – $881k
- Tokyo Godfathers – $129k
- Perfect Blue – $99.4k
Overcooled: You can never see death coming. We would like to think that our loved ones will stay with us forever. Sharing experiences, happiness, and even sorrow for as long as possible. It’s not often that you stop and think “what if everything was taken away the next day?” Everything that person could have offered in the future, every aspiration, every smile they could have cracked can vanish. This is the power of death, the power that has claimed the beloved director Satoshi Kon. We can no longer hope for more of Satoshi Kon’s brilliant works, or even his mere presence in this world. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that death has just taken an immeasurable amount of talent away from us. No, not just talent…but a wonderful human being. Words are never quite as eloquent as they should be for a matter as touchy as death, but I’ve done what I can for you, Satoshi Kon. May you rest in peace.
Hato-kun: Regrettably, I’ve only seen one of his films, Millennium Actress, but it was an amazing experience. After hearing how largely his death has impacted the anime community, it’s easy to see that his work was loved by many and live on not only in the minds of the fans but the upcoming youth as well.
Flags: I have not seen all of Satashi Kon’s works; but after looking back with adoration on the ones that I have, I am encouraged to finish them all. The man was brilliant and is a loss to the world; but there is no use in mourning when he left work for you to enjoy. So go watch one of his films and experience something this man created while he lived. The last message he left on his blog was beautiful; “Full of gratitude for all that is good in the world, I put my pen down. Well, it’s time to go.”
Masu: I feel like this year has been bad for the creative community. We’ve seen a lot of artists pass away, which is all the harder to swallow since a few of them were very young. Not only do I have to come to terms with the fact that one of my favorite directors has passed away but I also have to deal with knowing that a musician I had hoped to listen to for the remained of my life also died at a young age (rest in peace nujabes).
I think the first Satoshi Kon piece I stumbled upon was Paranoia Agent. I was still a freshman in high school at the time, so whatever I saw was what I could catch on Adult Swim, late at night while I was avoiding my homework. The first piece I really gave my time to though was Paprika. I got it from a friend a few years back and sat down and gave it all my attention for the hour or so that it ran. It had most of the themes and motifs that Kon would reiterate in his many stories: question about reality, elements of psychology and a sense of humor that wasn’t afraid to make fun of itself. I enjoyed it immensely.
After that I got curious about his other works. This time I sat down to watch Paranoia Agent in full, and was delighted that I had returned to learn more about the story. When I finished the series I was about ready to add Kon to my list of favorite director-writers. Perfect Blue though, sealed the deal. It was at that point that I realized that he was a person, and artist, that I loved. I couldn’t get enough of his writing, his intricate plot lines and witty humor.
A year or so after that (at a time where I recently moved away from home) I watched Tokyo Godfathers. Up until that point I had only seen Kon as a psychological writer, someone who liked to play mind games and pose questions that teetered on the philosophical. Here, in TG, I found that he could not be type casted: he was a writer with great flexibility, something I admire in all aspects of art. TG is possibly the only anime I’ve watched that has come close to moving me to tears.
It’s not readily understood what kind of impact Satoshi Kon has had on me, as person, as a writer, as a thinker, as an artist. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand the changes he has affected in me. But that’s okay, because regardless of being able to pin down exactly what his contribution to my being is, there is no doubt that his influence is there. Who I am today is but a product of what he has created. My experiences in life are largely built upon vicarious scenes and memories. When Atsuko chose to marry Tokita in Paprika, it gave me a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, there were people of upstanding character in the world. When Gin’s daughter forgave him for all the trouble she and her mother went through because of him (in Tokyo Godfathers) I was touched; it’s not often that family dramas end so heart-warming-ly. And even to his death bed did Kon amaze me; after reading his farewell letter I felt as if he was exactly the man I had expected him to be: a mature person, fully understanding in his position, and a person who still had his humor even with death being so near.
From the team: So long Satoshi Kon, we will miss you! Rest in peace.