Satoshi Kon, the acclaimed director of a number of Japan’s contemporary animated features such as “Tokyo Godfathers” and the anime series “Paranoia Agent,” passed away on Aug. 24 in his home in Tokyo. He had been diagnosed with an advanced case of pancreatic cancer a few months earlier in May. Kon was 46.
He did not reveal his diagnosis to the public, and his death was seen as terribly sudden by his fans. He was hospitalized on Tanabata (July 7), and was expected to only have a few days or weeks to live.
Kon wrote a long farewell letter to his friends, family and fans on his blog, detailed his failing health and his thoughts on awaiting death inside a hospital room. He accepted his death, that it was “something that could not be helped,” but yearned to meet with people close to him before he went. The fact that it would be the last time he would meet them made it hard for him to tell anyone, and thus he could not tell his friends or family of his imminent death.
He spent his last days confiding with his closest friends and family, including his parents and his co-worker Masao Maruyama (a film producer and the first man to mention on his Twitter account Kon’s death).
Kon’s life works are known across the world for their fantastic imagery that often transcends the literary culture of Japan. His works acknowledged filmmakers around the world, and his films in turn inspired many others. Works such as the psychological thriller “Perfect Blue” influenced Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream.” Many critics note the similarities of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” to Kon’s “Paprika.”
Often cited as one of the best in the business, his loss was lamented by many. Those who heard of his then unconfirmed death expressed remorse on blogs and Twitter. Due to its unconfirmed nature, some mused that Kon’s ambiguous death seemed almost fitting, given the nature of his films.
A statement released by Kon’s wife, as well as Madhouse Studios, the animation studio that produced Kon’s films, announced that his memorial services are planned to be held for only his family.
Kon’s final letter can be read in Japanese on his blog (http://konstone.s-kon.net/modules/notebook/archives/565), or an unofficial English translation is available on Makiko Itoh’s blog at www.makikoitoh.com/journal/satoshi-kons-last-words.