Satoshi Kon has been one of my favourite directors since I was a teenager in high school. I remember slowly being exposed to Japanese animation back then like a dormant flower, opening up to it and responding to the art with increasing excitement and fervor. The first film of his I ever watched was Perfect Blue, and it resonated with me. After watching it I spent my days in a pitched fugue, thinking about all the Hitchcock I'd ever seen, all the film noir and animation, all the books I'd read about dreaming and schizophrenia - from Jonathan Lethem to Shirley Jackson and everything in between and beyond. He opened up a world to me, and it only got better.
There was Tokyo Godfathers. There was the television series Paranoia Agent. And there was Paprika - a film about the dreaming world that predates Inception, but cannot be surpassed for it's vibrancy and creativity. I saw Paprika in a darkened movie theater and left feeling as if I'd entered a new place rich with life. I blinked and stepped into light and flew, and he was the man responsible for that.
He was truly an inspiration. He was an inspiration to me and to so many other people I've known. He told stories that were complex and sophisticated and clearly for adults in a format that tends to be regarded as family fare in the United States. He challenged our concepts of what animation should be by showing us what animation could be. He did it well.
When I heard that he had passed away I was in shock. I literally could not believe he'd left us. He had so many stories left to tell us, he was so young, he was even in the middle of working on another film. Losing him made no sense, and it still doesn't, but death has never been known for making much sense.
I never met him, and I wish I had. I wish I had been able to tell him just once how much his work meant to me, and others like me.
Please go read his final words to us. They're beautiful.