Satoshi Kon: A Legendary Inspiration

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The death of Satoshi Kon was as dramatic as his movies.

His cancer was detected in its last stage, and the doctors gave him six months to live. When he passed away, the whole world was shocked: There was no news of his cancer, no preemption. There was no warning. His life, no matter how you see it, was ephemeral. To me, he was just a man who made movies; nothing more, nothing less.

So, we have the question: Why? Why am I going out of my way to write about him? Who is he to me, if nobody other than a movie-man? The question  is interesting, and I find no proper answer to that. Maybe as a devotee of his work, I too have something to say about it, and this is just a platform to voice my thoughts.

Millennium Actress 01.png

Chiyoko leaves in search of her love one last time.

If we think about it, in the end we are all silly human beings. We’ll make stupid mistakes, and regret our decisions. This is inevitable, and those who think otherwise are living in a fool’s paradise. It is acknowledgement of those mistakes that makes us truly different. In Millennium Actress that singular dialogue, at the very end of the whole movie, was pivotal for me.

Before that I thought Chiyoko to be just portrayed as a random character of a random movie (this was the first work of Mr. Satoshi that I saw). A random love movie – at it.

I thought that Chiyoko was pursuing a fool’s errand, in a land of boogie-men and flying pigs. What she sought really didn’t exist. But when I saw the very last line, I stood corrected. Everyone makes a lot of mistakes, and it’s not necessary that every error needs to be repented for – not at all. But in the end, what really matters is whether we are deceiving ourselves.

Chiyoko was strong, she did not live in a world of self-deception. She did not justify her actions; she acknowledged that she was wrong, and moved on. That is what really made the difference.


Midway through Perfect Blue, I lost the whole of it. People who call Inception to be confusing can take another guess. When one sees a movie, one weaves a set of predispositions (speaking of that, I’d like to discuss about something very similar in another of my work – a review of Cross Game).

I am no exception to the game. It was not until the end of the movie, that I started realizing something. Everything I guessed about this movie was wrong. Mr. Kon sure knew how to toy with people’s expectations. Upon watching the whole of the movie, I grew thoughtful. Upon watching the last dialogue, poor me was laughing uncontrollably. After the whole movie, that last dialogue was Mr. Satoshi’s own way of conveying to us: Ho ho – fooled you right there! Bet you were thinking something different?

I’m sure had Mr. Satoshi been alive and kicking, I’d have sent him fan mails just for that single dialogue.


Dreams. I wonder, what types of dreams I had; something so confounded, something so entwined, something so incomplete, yet unearthly in its make.

Dreams are where worlds collide, galaxies die, and worlds are born. Sometimes I wonder whether the real me is alive. Sometimes I wonder whether the real me is dreaming. It would have been blissful, had I been dreaming all the way. It would have been my world, my crown, my throne. There; I am the creator, I am the vanquisher, I am the ruler. Galaxies collide at my whim, time warps at my command, reality bends at my will. Yet, more often than not, I dream myself to be an escaping refugee, running from calamities beyond my control.

But they are my real world. You know what? I’m tired of this reality, this facade, these unreal fragments of weaved deception. I’m not even thirty, and I wish for that eternal dream that humans can attain only once. I can only imagine what my grandmother feels. Somewhere down the line, I believe Mr. Satoshi felt the same way. Yet I’m afraid, that soon enough, I’ll lose my real self and be deadlocked in a lasting fiction of reality for a long span, to be relieved only once and for all.

Hey, did you know? When I was young, I used to imagine that the whole world is a shallow water body and humans are just stones floating in the water speaking with speakers taped to them. Can you imagine something so silly? Of course not! You know what? These days, neither can I.

In the end, if I’m asked, “Hey, you said Miyazaki stood for those lanes in memory that we leave by as we grow up. In that light, what does Satoshi Kon stands for?”, I’d like to say: I don’t know.

If you’re asking, “What?”, I’ll say it again. Slowly and clearly. I don’t know.

I don’t know okay? I don’t know and I probably don’t care. Mr. Miyazaki was someone different. Mr. Satoshi was someone different. I won’t compare either. And I don’t wish to say something conclusive for Mr. Satoshi.

A conclusion is befitting only when one is needed. When there’s no need for a conclusion, it’s prejudiced to try and bring in one. At best, I can only say that Mr. Satoshi knew human heart in and out. He was a wizard of manipulation. He knew our desires, our strengths, our weaknesses, our loves, our hates, what we like, what we dislike, what we expect, what we feel, when we laugh, when we cry, why we smile, how we eat, drink, sleep, and look at the world around us. He knew all this, for he knew himself. For he is a human. It shines in his own movies.


It’s time to begin, isn’t it?

I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit.

I’m just the same as I was.

Now don’t you understand.

I’m never changing who I am.

Perhaps, you’re one of those who always want to see the fate of the hero after the story ends. If you still pester me for a conclusion, look at the extract from My Fault by Imagine Dragons. The last two lines of the extract is my answer. I’m human, I’m weak, fragile, stubborn, and I’m myself, and I’m proud of who I am, and I’ll never change myself.

That is what Mr. Satoshi Kon stood for. That was his vision. Self-discovery and self-realization, he was at the zenith of both. From the confounded dreams in Paprika, to the entwined psychologies in Perfect Blue, to the realizations of Chiyoko in Millennium Actress to the entangled memories in Memories to the colliding lives of the three homeless in Tokyo Godfather … It was always about self-discovery. Now you know why I was grim the day he passed away? As the ending I’ll present another extract from another song.

Times when I just can’t…

Bring myself to say it loud…

‘Fraid that what I’ll say comes out somehow awry…


That is when it seems…

We move in circles day to day…

Twist the drama of the play to get us by…


And it feels like fear…

Like I’ll disappear…

Gets so hard to steer…

Yet I go on…

Do we need debate…

When it seems too late…

Like I bleed but wait…

Like nothing’s wrong…


That’s life.

Daniel Defoy

Daniel is a part of our core writing force. (May it be with you.) His writing is in-depth, engaging, and opinion-based. Anyone who reads his smart words is left thinking or arguing. Btw, if we publish his articles without breaking his paragraphs down into smaller chunks, Nihonden will soon be an academic journal of sorts.