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NEWS: Satoshi Kon, His Wife, Madhouse Studio Write About His Passing

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Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:27 pm Reply with quote
My condolences to his family and friends.
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Joined: 03 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:45 pm Reply with quote
A toast my friends, to Satoshi Kon and the wonderful work that inspired us and challenged us. To his beautiful unrivaled vision that gave us hope and let us dream while awake. We'll miss you Satoshi Kon, may you rest in peace for you certainly earned it!
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Location: Venice, Florida
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:01 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

This would be very fitting. Might I suggest PanCAN, a SoCal-based non-profit research and support group with an affiliate Japan office?

According to PanCAN, incidence of cancer in general is much higher in Japan than the US (50% of the population dies from it, as opposed to about 1/3 of Americans), and of those, 1/5 is Pancreatic cancer. While the causes are still somewhat nebulous, smoking is a known link. Unfortunately, as is pretty obvious from all the video footage (and from his frequent cigarette breaks when he visited the US), Kon was a chain smoker. We'll never know if that was why, but it can't have helped.

I plan on donating to this charity soon once I get paid but should anime fans in the US also try to donate to the American Cancer Society - http://www.cancer.org/ in Mr. Kon's name as well?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:07 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

I hope someone translates the whole thing soon. It's a little beyond my abilities to read the whole thing.

I gave it a try. It's only the first part for now, since it's quite long (and really gets to you). I'll do the rest later, or maybe somebody else will be faster.
Sorry for any mistakes and bad english.

"May 18 of this year, an unforgettable day.
My wife and I received the following prognosis from a cardiologist at the Musashino Red Cross Hospital:
"The pancreatic cancer is terminal and has metastasized to the bone. You have at most a half year left."

It was so sudden and such an unfair fate that we two alone could not cope with. (“could not parry”)
Even though, I usually deep inside myself did think: “No matter when you die, it can't be helped”, this was just too sudden.
Certainly, there may have been symptoms. Since 2 – 3 months, I had been feeling pain on my back and my knees etc. I became unable to put any strength into my right knee, got problems walking and even by going to acupuncture and chiropractics it didn't get better.
And then the result of doing MRI and PET-CT is this sudden declaration of how much time I got left.
It was like death was already just behind my back, and I couldn't do anything about it.
After the diagnosis, my wife and I searched for a way to survive. Desperately.
I received the support of reliable friends and extremely strong persons. I refused the cancer medication and tried to survive by believing in a world-view that differs slightly from that of the rest of society.
I felt that rejecting “the norm” was fitting for me. Anyway, I had never had a place among the majority, I thought. It was the same for medical treatment. I thought this and that about what kind of intrigues might be hidden behind the scenes of today's leading contemporary medicine. (??)
“I'm going to survive with the world-view I chose!”
However. Just like with the creation of a movie/work of art, I couldn't change things only with my willpower. The symptoms did keep getting worse day by day.

On the other hand, even I, as a member of society, have accepted about half of the world-view of the norm. I'm properly paying my taxes after all. Far from outstanding but without a doubt I am a full member of Japanese society. That's why, separately from my private world-view I chose to survive, I feel that I have done the necessary “preparations in order to be able to die properly”. Even though, I didn't do them properly at all.
The first was, by receiving the cooperation of two trustworthy friends, creating a firm to manage the copyrights of Satoshi Kon, ephemeral as they may be, and so on.
The other one was to write down my last will, in order for my wife to inherit my fortune, even though it is not much, without a problem. Of course, it's not like there would have been any conflict over the inheritance. I just wanted to take away at least one of the worries of my wife, who was going to stay behind in this world and that would calm down myself, who was about to leave.
We were helped out by a friend, who amazingly managed to swiftly deal with my wife's and my terrible administrative work and the preparations etc.
Afterwards, when I put the final signature on the testament while being half in a comatose state because of life-threatening pneumonia, I even thought exhaustedly “now I can finally die”.
After all, I had been brought by ambulance to the hospital two days in a row. I was hospitalized and examined thoroughly. The result: complication with pneumonia and a considerable pleural effusion.
When I asked the doctor directly, his answer was extremely matter-of-fact, which in a way I am grateful for.
“Wait … one day or two days … and even if you can overcome that, probably it'll be over this month.”
While listening I thought “this is like listening to the weather forecast”, but the situation was very stressful.
It was the 7th of July. A quite cruel Tanabata.
And then, I decided right away: “I want to die at home.”
It might become a last big disturbance to the people around me, but somehow they found a way to bring me home.
The efforts of my wife, the cooperation of the hospital, which while being kind of an attitude of “already gave up” actually did really help, the enormous support of a private clinic, and finally lots and lots of coincidences, that I cannot consider anything else than gifts of the heavens.
I couldn't believe that coincidences and inevitableness being connected to each other without interruption so perfectly could exist in reality. I mean, this is not Tokyo Godfathers after all."

While my wife was running around making plans, I turned to the doctor saying, “even if it's only one day, or even half a day, at home there are still things I can do!”.
After that, I was left to wait for death, alone in a dreary/dark sick room.
I was lonely, but what I thought was: “Maybe dying isn't all that bad.”
There wasn't any particular reason, maybe I wouldn't have been able to take it otherwise, but I was so calm, it surprised me myself.
Only one thing I really did dislike: “I just don't want to die in this place.” Looking around, suddenly something started coming out of the calendar on the wall and spread across the room. “Oh man … a line from a calendar? My hallucinations aren't even one bit individual.”
I felt amused by the fact that even in a time like this my “professional consciousness” was working, but actually that might have been the moment I was the closest to death. I really did feel death next to me.
While I was enclosed between the world of death and my sheets, thanks to the efforts of many people, I was miraculously able to leave the hospital, and to reach my home.
Even dying is exhausting.
To be clear, I am not criticizing the hospital, please do not misunderstand.
I just wanted to go home. Go home to the house I'm living in.
When I was carried into my room, I was a bit surprised to get an “extra” of “watching myself being carried into the room from above”, as happens during near-death experiences.
I was watching myself and the scenery around me from several meters above the ground, as if looking through a wide-angle lens. The bed in the middle of the room was ridiculously big and impressive, and I, wrapped into sheets, was lowered down onto it. It didn't feel so gentle, but I'm not complaining.

Finally, all that was left to do was to wait for death.
Or at least, that's how it was supposed to be.
However, I ended up recovering from the pneumonia.
In a way, I felt like I had missed my chance to die. *laughs*
I feel that, after this, I, who had been unable to think about anything other than death, actually did die once. The word “reborn” resonated many times in the back of my blurry consciousness .

The next day, I was back in high spirits. I think it was thanks to all those people who came to take care of me, starting from my wife, all those who shared their power / vitality with me, the friends who cheered me on, the doctors and nurses, care manager etc. I'm grateful from the bottom of my heart.
Now that my spirits were back, I couldn't just sit around and do nothing.
I told myself to use this “bonus lifespan” I had been given wisely.
I wanted to take care of some outstanding debts.
Actually I had not told anybody about the cancer, apart from those extremely close around me all the time. I hadn't even told my parents. Especially concerning my work, there were so many things that kept bothering me / kept being on my mind, it was beyond words.
The thought of posting a statement about the cancer online and then documenting my last days also crossed my mind. But the influences it could have for “Satoshi Kon's death to be planned / scheduled” worried me. Thus, I ended up placing an even larger burden on those around me. I am truly sorry.

There were many people I wanted to meet at least once before dying.
My family and relatives, friends from school and university, the people I met in the world of manga who inspired me, the many friends from the anime world, with whom I aligned my desk, competing and stimulating our skills while working on the same project, sharing happiness and sadness and all those people I was able to meet thanks to being a director. I was able to meet people who told me they were my fans not only in Japan but all around the world. And some people I met online.
So many people I would have liked to meet (of course there are also those I don't want to meet), but I felt that, once I met them, I would start thinking “oh, I cannot meet this person anymore”, and become unable to face death in a good way. Even though I had recovered, I didn't have a lot of energy left. To meet them I needed a lot of resolve. The more I wanted to meet someone, the more painful it was. It's ironic.

Plus, because of the metastasis to the bones, the lower half of my body had become paralyzed and I was pretty much bedridden and had become very skinny. I didn't want them to see me like this. I wanted them to remember the healthy Satoshi Kon as he was surrounded by his many friends.

I want to use this opportunity to apologize to all those whom I didn't tell about my illness, my parents, my friends and everybody else who knows me.
But I also want you to understand my selfishness. After all “that's the kind of guy he is”, right?
If you think of me, you will be able to think of a smiling face and good memories.
Everybody, thank you so much for everything. I love the world I lived in.
Just the fact of being able to think this way makes me happy.

All those people I met during my life, whether they'd agree with me or not, surely they were all necessary for me to become the person I am. I am grateful for every encounter.
Therefore, even if it all ends with an early death, I am accepting this as my fate. After all, I also lived through a lot of good experiences.
This is how I feel about death now: “It is just sad / regrettable.” Honestly.

However, while I accepted that my many debts couldn't be helped anymore, there were still three people I couldn't help but worry about. My parents and Mister Maruyama from Madhouse.
The biological parents of Satoshi Kon and the father of Satoshi Kon the director.
It was late, but I had no other choice than to tell them everything. I hoped they would forgive me.
The moment I saw Mister Maruyama's face, my tears and pathetic feelings wouldn't stop anymore.
“I am sorry to have ended up like this.” Mister Maruyama didn't say anything. He shook his head and took my hands. I was filled with with gratefulness. I felt an amazing, incredible joy that cannot be put into words for having been able to work with this person. This might sound exaggerated, but I cannot express it in any other way. It might be self-convenient, but I felt like I had been forgiven.

Last edited by maaya on Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:25 am; edited 12 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:30 pm Reply with quote
Thanks, maaya, for your translation -- all the medical stuff can't have made that easy. I hope you'll continue on with the rest of it. There are two other translations floating around the net (both stopping where you did), but yours does by far the best job of maintaining the impact of his words as far as I can tell.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:34 pm Reply with quote
^Thank you, maaya, for the translation.

Crap, I'm crying now. Outside of family, recently my grandfather, I haven't cried over a death. Maybe it's because of all the final words/thoughts. I'm uncertain what's worse (for family or the one affected), knowing beforehand and having to accept it or a sudden loss like with my grandpa.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:17 pm Reply with quote
This morning, I heard about Satoshi Kon passing away. I loved his work, especially Tokyo Godfathers which was a wonderful film. He will be missed. Sad
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:35 pm Reply with quote
Thanks to maaya for you're translation, I hope your able to get the second half of it up soon.

And this is just heart breaking. A day after originally hearing about his death and I'm still in shock about it. I just can imagine how such a wonderful and talented man could leave us so early. The good ones often leave us the quickest. And cancer is a hard way to go, I've had several family members who were diagnosed with cancer and it's always something hard to over come. It's a shame that Kon learned about all this to late. He will always be one of my heroes.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:40 pm Reply with quote
Thank you Satoshi Kon for all of your hard work.

In remembrance of you, I'll be screening Millennium Actress for all the youngsters in my anime club at work. They need to know that there's more to anime than Naruto and Dragonball.

Most likely I'll be digging around the internet to find DVD copies of Paranoia Agent, the only work of Kon that I have yet to own.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:58 pm Reply with quote
Absolutely devastating. There should be a public memorial in Japan.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:14 pm Reply with quote
Christ, I used to not like Flowers for Algernon, because it felt like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type story. But damned if this last journal entry from Kon didn't remind me of the ending for that flipping story. Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:16 pm Reply with quote
OMG, I'm just sitting here crying over his last message. That just hit me so hard - I've been dealing with so many deaths both in my family and in my friends' families this year, and now him! Sad

Heaven gained a genius. I'm only sorry I never got to thank him for Millenium Actress. That is one of my all time favorite movies.

*sigh* I'd like to write a note to his wife - I wonder if Madhouse would pass it on to her if I sent it to them...?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:20 pm Reply with quote
Thank you for translating maaya, I'll be checking back in to see how this is going. So far, I've been brought to tears by what he wrote about his final months. My mom died of cancer as well, ten years ago in January and my father died in '08. Both chose to do so at home and I sympathize with him and his choice to do the same thing. Add to this I'm only a couple years younger than Satoshi Kon and it adds to how sad this is all making me feel Crying or Very sad . I'm glad he was able to get what he could in order, so his wife will be taken care of which I guess is a bright spot in all of this. This artist death is really hitting me harder than I would have expected.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:28 pm Reply with quote
A strong man, talented man. Nuts.

His decision to not pursue aggressive treatment can sometimes be the best one, but it takes strength. Going home to die isn't that bad, once all the logistics are worked out. It's much more comfortable and familiar, and your family can be with you at all times. It sounds like he may have had help from the Japanese version of Hospice, the unsung heros of terminal care. They deserve all the support you can give them.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:51 pm Reply with quote
I loved this man's work, and although it is very sad, because he was in pain I am glad he is in a better place now. He deserves it.
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