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KONDO, Yoshifumi (1950-1998)
Eulogy by Miyazaki

[Picture of Shizuku, character from _Whisper of the Heart_, crying.]

See also the Japanese transcription.

Sending off Kondo Yoshifumi Kun

We called him Kon-Chan. He was one of the best among the hundreds of animators I ever met.

When he was young, his drawings were shining with the real admiration towards youthful freedom.

Just as when you climb a slope and finally see a vast blue ocean over the mountain, or like a fine clear sky - his work showed such a sense of freedom.

I pride myself as someone who appreciated his talent most deeply, and appropriately.

When he was in his 20s, and I was in my 30s, we used to talk about movies we wanted to make, sitting side by side, talking with our hands.

If we have an opportunity, even if it's only a small piece, let's make an animation which can express Kon-Chan's character, his admiration most - something like Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce. Although it was almost impossible considering the situation at that time, I had decided on my own that we would someday realize such a project.

Still, among his achievements, the works which he did with me were rather minor.

Although we had several opportunities, something just didn't click.

I am very impatient. I have many different opinions, many contradictions within me at the same time, and change my direction as I go through. But he was really slow-paced, and once he had made up his mind, he tried to stick to it.

And I'm a kind of person who abandons the ship even before it becomes clear the ship is sinking, while Kon-Chan was a kind of person who loves the ship and the people on the ship, and chooses to go down with the ship.

We departed from each other a little by little in the most critical moments, and Kon-Chan accomplished the works with Paku-San (Takahata-San) as his pinnacle as a professional (animator). Although I appreciated his high-quality, heavy works, I felt a bit of incongruity.

Why was he forcing himself to do this? Why couldn't he express his admiration in more straightforward way? Sometimes, I felt frustrated.

But, maybe Kon-Chan felt that he didn't want to be dragged around by impatient and forceful Miyazaki.

Even a small rift can be widened as the time goes by. Some awkwardness could not be helped. Still, when he directed "Whisper of the Heart", I felt that I finally kept the promise I made a long time ago.

He did a great work and met our expectation. It must have been tough on his mind and body, but he never complained once, and accomplished the work with his patience.

Although it has changed in its form as the time went by, "Whisper of the Heart" was definitely the work which we, in our 20s and 30s, had wanted to make someday.

I can't forget one scene which Kon-Chan did when he was young. It's a scene in "Future Boy Conan", where the hero laughs to cheer the heroine up.

Being very tired from the long work hours, he drew it half-unconscious, crouching over his desk with his long legs folded. Still, the expression of the boy was really cheerful, full of gentleness and consideration. It was really a great picture.

So, even when I saw Kon-Chan with many tubes attached to him in the ICU at the hospital, I could feel that the real Kon-Chan was inside, unharmed. I could feel that he would be all right.

He had punctured his lungs several times before. And even though the doctors had told him that he would die unless he was hospitalized, he always came back to work, managing the pain with acupuncture. I was convinced that he would surely come back this time, too....

Even though his lungs were about to be punctured, Kon-Chan didn't stop moving his pencil, withstanding his pain. In many ways, in our profession, we wear ourselves out, and once we get through this final rap, we can take a brief rest, and we can start working again -

- so I had assumed.

He often irritated me with his stubbornness. He was the kind of person who patiently waits for the snow to melt. But this time, he has gone before me.

He was hospitalized right after I offered him another job together. He accepted it with his usual murmurs.

I can't say anything other than that I'm sorry.

I really regret it.

But he was really patient. So patient that the nurses were impressed.

To the blue ocean over the mountain,

To the fine clear sky,

Melting gently with light, winds, trees, water, and earth,
Please rest in peace.

I will never forget you.

January 23, 1998
Miyazaki Hayao

miyazaki at the funeral

Translation provided by Ryoko Toyama.

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