Satoshi Kon has unfortunately lost a battle with pancreatic cancer at the young age of 46. Confirmation of the news came from the Twitter accounts of Masao Maruyama of Studio Madhouse and Yasuhiro Takeda of Gainax, both acquaintances of the director and contemporaries.
Kon's films stand above run-of-the-mill anime offerings for the simple fact that, had they been made as live-action, effects-driven psychological dramas, they'd still have been brilliant works. He specialized in a twisting and beautiful form of psychological drama that challenged perceptions of reality for both his characters and the audience. His directorial debut title, 1997's Perfect Blue, made the rounds on the festival circuit and was well-received by critics and audiences alike. Darren Aronofsky liked it so much he bought the film's rights just to use a single scene in his title Requiem for a Dream, and Madonna used clips from it for a music video and concert background projection. His subsequent works Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent and Paprika were each stood as monuments to Kon's skill as a director.
He was busy on a new film before his cancer caused him to stop working. The Dream Machine will be released posthumously some time in 2011. Just before he passed, Kon left a message to fans on his website that translates into English as:
R.I.P. Satoshi Kon, 1963-2010
"Full of gratitude for all that is good in the world, I put my pen down. Well, it's time to go."