Emru Townsend died of leukemia on November 11. He was only 39 years-old.
We have already talked about his diagnosis, document.write(“”); his quest for a bone marrow donor and his successful transplant. Unfortunately, his cancer was too aggressive and the leukemia didn’t go into remission despite the successful transplant. Many have already written his eulogy and obituary (ANN, The Gazette, PC World), so there’s no need for me to write about that. However, I still wanted to say a few words about him.
I didn’t know him very well, but I wish we’d stayed more in contact. We worked on a few projects together in the late 80s and early 90s, but recently we were only meeting by chance in conventions and festivals. He started collaborating with Protoculture Addicts with issue #2 (providing ideas, news blurbs and working as proofreader) and we started together the first anime club of the University of Montreal. After a while Emru drifted away to work on his many projects (he always had new ideas and projects) and I took care of the anime club alone. He contributed only a few articles in the magazine (mostly one on Project A-ko in #4 and one on Akira in #7), but his work was excellent and he pitched in many ideas and always provided encouragement.
Quickly after starting working with us, he requested to be made partner. I answered that I would like him to work with us at least a year before considering that. He couldn’t wait, so he left and started his own magazine, FPS. I always felt that he never forgave me for that. Later, he heavily criticized the quality of our Anime Guide book, blaming me personally (and my french-canadian origins) for the book’s flaws (despite the fact that I only wrote the presentation and supervised the project, hiring instead the best Italian translator and the best English editor that we could afford). It was probably a philosophical difference: I guess Emru was a perfectionist while I am rather a pragmatist (after having worked six years to get that book published I wanted the information—the data—available to anime fans and scholars as soon as possible even if I knew that its form and presentation were quite imperfect). However, despite those differences, I never felt animosity between us and I always admired the quality of his work and dedication.
He was a great guy and he will be sorely missed by all animation fans. I want to express my sincere condolences to his family and friends.