But closely following Paddington on my list is Hideo Kojima. (I know this is a swerve. Stay with me, please.) The director of some of the most artistically daring video games of the last 30 years—like the incredible Metal Gear franchise, the very weird Death Stranding, and a game that literally relies on solar power to function—demonstrates a level of creativity most of us can only dream of. To us Koji-heads, his ability to combine tightly controlled action, ingenious level design, and incredibly heady philosophical musings into an outstandingly fun package is unparalleled. A Kojima game will challenge your gaming skills as much as it will your thoughts on, say, memetics.
All of that is to say, no wonder he’s nabbed famous collaborators like Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn; he’s also recruited stars like Norman Reedus, Kiefer Sutherland, Lea Seydoux, and Mads Mikkelsen for his games on the strength of his popularity and renown. And all of these folks—and plenty more—have dropped in for some well publicized appearances at Kojima’s own studio, Kojima Productions in Tokyo.
The latest of those visitors? None other than Paddington Bear. Or, I think he’s a visitor—it’s unclear. Perhaps he is a tenant of the building, or even a member of the Kojima Productions team. Based on a photo Kojima posted to his must-follow social media accounts on Sunday, I’d say there are at least three distinct possibilities: Paddington works (or lives) there; Paddington stopped by to say hello; or Timothée Chalamet, who came by to see Kojima and pose for some instantly museum-worthy photos at the studio, brought Paddington along with him.
Kojima initially posted four photos of himself with the Dune star, posing with a statue of the studio’s mascot. Chalamet gave the camera a steely gaze, pointing at Kojima, who was pointing back at him. “Look at this guy!” they both seemed to be saying. While seeing Chalamet visit one of the greatest game designers of our time at his studio—especially one who has become known to include celebrities in his games—was exciting, the photo that seared itself into my brain was one in which Timmy holds up a Paddington statue.
Finally, he drops the smizing and embraces the smiling. Who doesn’t love Paddington? Especially when this is such a strange place for him to be? But then, is it actually that strange? First of all, Kojima himself is nothing if not bizarre; one of his games requires you to spend two-and-a-half minutes climbing a ladder and nothing else. Second of all, Paddington and Chalamet have something in common: They’re busy boys, always on the go. Perhaps they’ve developed a kinship, or they’re even travel buddies.
Kojima later posted four more photos, none of which featured Paddington. Did he go back to his desk to continue designing a level of Death Stranding 2? Maybe he had to go do some voice work for what I hope is his own in-game appearance? Or perhaps he had another meeting to attend; if I were Ryusuke Hamaguchi and knew Paddington was in town, I’d get my agent on the phone stat—surely Paddington 4 is in the works, and it will need a director …
As much as I am transfixed by Chalamet standing in an austere white room at the headquarters of one of the most intriguing video game studios in the company—while wearing an absolutely wild jacket, I must add; so many buckles, and for what!—I am far more interested in the Paddington-Chalamet relationship. Maybe this means that both Paddington and Chalamet will appear in the in-development Death Stranding 2, as is often rumored when someone visits Kojima. Maybe Chalamet is in Paddington 3; that’s not out until January 2025, so there’s plenty of time to include him if he’s not already. Or maybe both he and Kojima, like me, just really love that peacoat-wearing bear.
As is often the case with the greatest mysteries: The world may never know.