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
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
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
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
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
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.