On Thursday, July 18, in Uji, Japan, a 41-year-old man broke into the Kyoto Animation Co., screaming “Die!” as he sprayed petrol on the floor. The fire that resulted started at 10:30 a.m. (Japanese local time), when 74 workers were in the studio. 33 people were killed and 35 sustained burns and other injuries.
Most people on the 2nd and 3rd third floors died of carbon monoxide poisoning — despite trying to go onto the roof, as prescribed by the instructions they had been told to follow in case of fire.
The attacker, engulfed in flames, ran out to the street and collapsed onto the road. He was taken to hospital, and later interrogated by the police. It was revealed that half an hour before the arson attack, a man had purchased two 20-liter gasoline cans at a gas station. Police also found knives at the scene.
The attacker, Shinji Aoba, is the author of anime stories. He confessed to the crime, stating that his motive was that the studio had reportedly stolen his idea for “Kyoto shinbun”. Previously, in 2012, Aoba was convicted of robbery. After his release, he took part in a government welfare program for former prisoners with mental illness.
In an interview with the national television station NHK, Kyoto Animation director Hideaki Hatta said that the studio had recently received threatening emails. “They were addressed to our office and sales department, (and) we were threatened with death,” said Hatta.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his condolences to relatives of the victims. He said that the Kyoto fire is such a terrible event that it was difficult for him to find the right words. Abe suggested that arson in Japan, and with such a high number of victims, was unprecedented.
Kyoto Animation studio (known as KyoAni) has been active since 1981. Over the past 20 years, the studio has produced several popular animated shows, including “K-On!” and “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.”
Fans are supporting the attacked studio and expressed their shock on social media, posting photos of their favorite shows produced at Kyoto Animation Co. $300 000 was raised in six hours, thanks to a GoFundMe campaign titled “Help KyoAni Heal.”
In accordance with a university professor at Meiji Ryusuke Hikawa Tudia, Kyoto Animation has become known as the first successful Japanese studio outside Tokyo.