On 24 August 2010, acclaimed director Satoshi Kon passed away after a brief, but intense, battle with pancreatic cancer. His death was a shock to the anime world; just a few months shy of his 47th birthday, Kon was widely considered to be at the top of his game as a director. His impressive list of projects includes Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent, and Paprika. His final production, The Dream Machine, was incomplete when his health failed, and its future remains uncertain.
Nevertheless, Kon leaves behind a legacy of game-changing and mind-blowing creations that skillfully blend reality and dreams. Kon's works were inspirational, life-affirming, thought-provoking, accessible, and visually interesting. He challenged convention, but was never too proud to provide a happy ending.
Nearly all of Kon's works were produced through Madhouse, where studio chief and founder Masao Maruyama took Kon under his wing and gave him broad creative freedom. The studio staff became his second family, and they were devastated by his sudden illness and death.
When the end was nearly upon him, Kon wrote a final blog entry as a sort of farewell gesture -- and, as was typical for him, as a sort of self-effacing apology for various failings such as being bad at paperwork and leaving a bit of a mess behind. His chief worries were for his wife and family, and for the future of his unfinished Dream Machine. He was refreshingly open with his feelings of gratitude toward those who gave him the freedom and courage to pursue his vision.
Kon was deeply respected by his peers and loved by his co-workers. However, we know that fans around the world feel a deep sense of loss as well. So, on behalf of fandom, representatives of Otakon reached out to Madhouse, seeking a suitable way for fans to express their grief at the loss of one of the industry's brightest stars. With their approval, and with some help from throughout the industry, we have put together what we hope will be a fitting farewell gift.
What you can do
Here's how you can show your thanks and say farewell to Satoshi Kon.
1. Send a sympathy card, post card, letter, or even an email, to Kon's family.
Otakon will provide a temporary address in the US to receive physical mail, and will forward anything we receive there to Madhouse and Kon's family. Also, Madhouse has set up a special email account to receive any such farewell messages.
If you wish, include a brief message about how his works touched you, or a photo of yourself cosplaying as one of his characters.
The plan is to present these messages to the family; it may bring some comfort to know how much Satoshi Kon was appreciated and respected, and how he touched so many lives.
Send your cards and letters here:
Satoshi Kon Project, Otakorp, Inc.
402 King Farm Blvd, #125-113
Rockville, MD 20850
Send your email here:
2. Donate to an accredited charity that supports the fight against life-threatening cancers.
Do what you can to help battle pancreatic cancer. There are a large number of organizations that exist to fund cancer research. You can find a list of worthy recipients of your donation at the Charity Watch website.
3. Buy stuff.
Specifically, buy DVDs and other merchandise associated with one of Kon's movies or TV shows. Do it for two reasons. First, strong sales may increase the likelihood that Kon's final project will be completed. Second, like most in the animation industry, Satoshi Kon was not a wealthy man, but unlike many, he held some intellectual property that he hoped would continue to provide for his family after his death.
Here are a few starting points. (Just make sure you buy from a reputable retailer -- bootlegs give nothing back to the creators.)
Kon on Google Shopping
Kon on Amazon
4. Share what you love.
This is arguably what fans do best: we fall in love with something and then we want others to love it, too. We build communities on the strength of the shared appreciation of art. So if Tokyo Godfathers restored your faith in humanity just a little bit, or if Paprika made you wonder about what goes on in your co-workers' heads, then by all means, make your friends watch those films and talk about them. Artists live on in what they leave behind.