KyoAni 3-story building partly consumed by the arson attack. (Image via: BBC)

Arson Attack Consumes KyoAni Studio, 33 Dead

KYOTO - Japan is currently mourning for the loss of its one of the best animation studios, KyoAni (Kyoto Animation). On Thursday (18/7) at 10.30 a.m., a 41-year-old man lit the 3-story building which belongs to KyoAni in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Western Japan, by dousing it with a flammable liquid and igniting it.

The arson took the lives of 33 people and injured 36 others. Of the 36 injured people, 10 of them were critical. Meanwhile, it was revealed that about 67 people were working in the building at that time.

The fire started at the front door of the building, causing people inside the building to seek another way out. Upon leaving the building, they were seen bleeding, bare-footed, and blackened by the fire. Even worse, the KyoAni building had spiral stairs which accelerated the fire to spread across the building.

Japan’s Fire Department found 33 dead bodies after the fire, 20 on the 3rd floor, 11 on the second floor, and 2 on the first floor.

While dousing the building with fire accelerant, the man – whose identity remains a mystery – shouted “Die!” to the building. The man’s motive for the arson remains unknown, but some survivors heard that he accused KyoAni of stealing something of his.

The man was also caught the fire and suffered several non-life threatening burns. However, people assumed that he holds grudge against Japanese society not only KyoAni because he showed hostility even to the policemen and medics who treated him.

Police also detained some knives at the crime scene, unknown whether it belonged to the suspect or not. Certainly, the 40-year-old arsonist is behind bars now.

Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, was "at loss of words" addressing his condolences to the KyoAni victims, referring to the fire as “arson murder spree”. President of KyoAni, Hideaki Hatta, condemned and regretted the violence that fell upon his employees. KyoAni is known to be a Japanese animation studio that exalts and cares about its employees.

Kyoto Animation or KyoAni was established in 1981 as an animation and comic studio. Its most notable works are “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” (2006, 2009), “Lucky Star” (2008), “Clannad” (2008-2009), “K-On!” (2011), “Nichijou” (2011), “Hyouka” (2012), “A Silent Voice” (2016), “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid” (2017), etc.

As the safest country in the world, Japan’s safety now is questioned by the incidents happening in the recent months, starting from the stabbing spree which took 17 lives and the most recent was the arson attack to the KyoAni building.

Anime fans also felt the sorrow toward KyoAni and hatred towards the suspect. A crowd-funding site was made to gather funds for KyoAni’s recovery.

Some people assumed the suspect as an “otaku” or someone who adores anime to a whole new level. Some stated that not all otakus are like him, it just happened that the culprit “loves anime”, adding that anime or manga never meant to foster criminal minds.

Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the KyoAni arson incident.