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KONDO, Yoshifumi (1950-1998)
Eulogy by Takahata

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

See also the Japanese transcription.


Kondo Yoshifumi San, you passed away so suddenly. I can not accept such an injustice. We haven't gotten used to the reality of it yet. When I saw your desk, Kon-Chan, I just felt that you happen to be away, and that you'll be sitting there tomorrow as usual.

Still, it's true that you are not coming back any more, so we must mourn you.

Kondo Yoshifumi San, you had a rare talent. You were a great animator, character designer, and supervising animator. You have left many accomplishments, and was highly acclaimed for your direction in "Whisper of the Heart" and "Sorairo no Tane".

Kon-Chan, you used to remember the Don Gabacho's song in "Hyokkori Houtanjima" as "Even if today was no good, we still have tomorrow", changing it into something more positive, from the original "If today is no good, we'll do it tomorrow". I used it in "Only Yesterday". You always wanted to be positive, and on the side of social justice.

At the studio, you were beginning to assume a position of leading the entire staff members as a senior member.

We have many people here who admire such a personality of yours and your works. Many young people have been inspired by your works and chosen this profession. But you were still 47. It shouldn't have been the age to reflect. There are many things you wanted or had to do, in your life and work. Why did the things turn out this way? Everyone is vexed and can not help but feel sorry, but, you must be the one who feels the regret most.

Let me speak of personal matters. Selfishly, all the memories came back to me when I heard that you collapsed on the 26th of last month (ed: December, 1997). How much I have depended on you. How much you have helped me. If it were not for your great talent, huge efforts, and hard working, and before that, if you had not decided to work with me, there wouldn't have been "Grave of Fireflies" or "Only Yesterday".

I noticed you, Kon-Chan, when you did a scene in "Panda Kopanda, Rainy Circus", where characters had the breakfast on the roof in the morning after the flood. It was so care-free, lively, and shining. You were still 22 years old. You became better and better in a short time, and after you did such great work for "Future Boy Conan", I asked you to work as a character designer and supervising animator. That was when you were 28 years old.

We went to the Prince Edward Island together location hunting (ed: for "Anne of Green Gables"). Many photograph books about the island have been published these days, but they don't have a picture of the Driad's (sp?) Spring, which we saw and scooped the water with our own hands - we said so and grinned to each other - when was it? You came to my house, and we went through many trial-and-errors in character design. We discarded the sweet girl design which embodied your love for Anne, and finally decided on a skinny, large-eyed, almost skeleton-like Anne. But as the story progressed, the skinny Anne grew up amazingly to be a cheerful and beautiful young woman with class, as written in the original novel. It was very much like your sophisticated character, Kon-Chan. Your characters such as Anne and Setsuko in "Grave of the Fireflies" strongly influenced the anime characters afterward. I think that you must have been very proud of it, though you never mentioned anything.

The picture with a feeling, the movement with a feeling, and the person who can draw such a picture - Kon-Chan was such a person for me. Every time I challenged a new task, I trusted your talent, depended on it, and pulled you into the long hard journey, selfishly believing that it would make your talent flourish at the same time, and that you would get a joy and pride from such a work eventually. When I think that such hard work might have shortened your life, I don't know what to do.

When you were young, Kon-Chan, you were so skinny. You didn't speak much, didn't eat much, and you were calm. But your animation was so lively. You suffered from some serious illness, but you looked healthier these days. Although you were still calm, you began to speak more, and yet, you listened to others well. And you were looking for your own new way in the work, and you were about to step on the new road.

You loved your work, and even after the operation, you worried about the work, till the end. When I think of your regrets, I can not possibly find a word to send you off.

Kon-Chan, I truly thank you for your great work. I am sure that your work will continue to live, be loved by people, and influence people.

January 23, 1998
Takahata Isao


Takahata reading his eulogy

Translation provided by Ryoko Toyama.

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