As many people know, Satoshi Kon died this week at the age of 46 from pancreatic cancer. I loved the man’s works. It’s only natural that I do the first Freeform Friday in his honor, but the truth of the matter is that as much as I love his works, I don’t really know enough about the man to write an article or do him justice. As much as I’d love to spout facts about his life and his works and his influence, I fear that I can really only scratch the surface of what this man really meant to his fans and the people around him.
So, I’ll honestly do my best, and you can read if you want. We can go back to being funny and playful tomorrow. I promise.
Perfect Blue was one of the first anime films I ever saw, and had an incredible impact on how I view animation and how powerful of a tool it can be. Millenium Actress, likewise, is a wonderful film that brought me to tears when I first watched it. Paprika sparked my imagination and gave me some more of the confidence I needed to express my creative side. Paranoia Agent, despite what some people may say, was a brilliant anime with a suspenseful and ingenious story-telling method.
…And yet. It’s been years since I watched these. Satoshi Kon faded from my radar. Shameful though it may be for my nerd cred, I’ve never even seen Tokyo Godfathers. I haven’t watched my copies of Millenium Actress and Perfect Blue since the beginning of my college education. I’ve only seen Paprika once. I haven’t even seen the entirety of Paranoia Agent. Despite the fact that these works inspired me so greatly, they’ve fallen from my mind.
However, the second I saw Satoshi Kon was dead on twitter. Something touched me. It’s impossible to describe. The memories and the emotions I felt when I first saw his works hit me. Watching Perfect Blue for the first time. The near mystic inspiration I felt watching Millenium Actress. That catchy opening theme to Paprika. Even the creepiness of Paranoia Agent. Not just that though. The memories of the times I enjoyed watching these and talking about them with my friends. It’s a part of myself I honestly forgot, but it has been alive this whole time.
That’s the funny thing about inspiration. The impacts that our works as human beings have on others is impossible to measure. Despite being apart from his works for so long, only now in retrospect do I realize that the initial impact they had on me, that spark of inspiration they gave me, has been effecting me and who am I all along. As subtle as the influences may be, Satoshi Kon’s works have shaped me as a human being, and I have no doubt they will continue to inspire others after his death.
Think of it like this. Everyone has childhood friends that heavily impacted their younger years that they forget. We forget the names, the faces, even the voices. However, that impact that they left stays with us. The friends I had in high school and middle school that inspired me to have confidence in myself and break out of my shell. The people that encouraged me to stand out instead of blending in to cover my perceived inadequacies. These people had immeasurable and positive impact on me as a human being. I care about them and thank them from the bottom of my heart. And yet, I remember so little about them.
And that’s what’s ultimately beautiful about inspiration. It’s not about your name or your face living on after you. It’s that positive impact you leave on others that cascades into a tidal wave of changing lives until the whole world drowns in it. The people you impact in turn impact other people. It continues on forever. When you truly inspire just one person, you can inspire millions, billions, or even more. It continues on forever even if you can’t always trace it. The identity of the source may mix into the infinite void of all the other people who inspired everyone, but it’s still there and no less important than all the others.
We only live for a blink of the cosmic eye, but our impacts no matter how small echo through the whole of infinity.
I’m not afraid to admit it. When I read the translation of Satoshi Kon’s last blog post, I did tear up. I truly had to stop myself from openly crying. But more importantly, it inspired me to chase my dreams with even more passion and to live my life without regret. Rather than feel sorrow, I felt a fire in my soul to live my life as fully as he did. There are so many more things left to do in life, and so many people to meet. There are still games to play and book to read. There are so many hearts left to touch, and so many lives left to change. His last message is not one of dying, but rather one of living. Rather than morn him, I celebrate who he was and what he still is to so many.
Satoshi Kon. You have inspired me, and helped me to remember to live. Though I may someday forget your face and name like all the others that made me who I am, the impact is no less significant and beautiful. I have not always been the best fan, but the inspiration you gave me will live on in the people I give it to. Though you will never read this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I think I’m going to make the effort to dig out my copies of Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress this weekend. Who knows what other inspiration I can pull from them.
For those interested, a translation of Satoshi Kon’s last blog post can be found here.