On July 18th 2019, Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building burned after an arson attack with 70 animators still working inside.
To this day, the Kyoto Animation arson attack remains one of the deadliest massacres in post-WWII Japan, claiming 36 lives and injuring another 34. Much of the victims’ work also perished along with their bodies. It was an unimaginable tragedy that shook the world.
In a rare moment, the world united to mourn the lives of hardworking animators and to celebrate their life’s work. Donations poured in from everywhere to help the studio and the victims recover. Even world leaders and public figures expressed their condolences.
After the fact, the residents decided against building a memorial, so their neighbourhood didn’t become a tourist attraction. Despite a tribute video published a year ago, a memorial ceremony never occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Kyoto Animation streamed a video on Youtube where everyone could share their thoughts. The cancelled memorial was also finally held in Kyoto to remember the victims of the attack. It was a silent text-only video with people’s thoughts scrolling. It goes without saying that anime fans will never forget this day.
Despite the losses, Kyoto Animation stood firm, and many of the victims returned to work after recovery. The animators continue to produce high-quality content, with the most recent airing of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S.
Hate With Deadly Consequences
In retrospect, the arson attack didn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s no secret that anime and, by extension, the animation studios have their fair share of haters. As a result, they are subject to hundreds of death threats year after year. Of course, with easy anonymity in modern times, death threats rarely leave a trail back to their source. This attack was a reminder that it only takes one for a catastrophic fallout to occur.
The suspect, Shinji Aoba, surrendered soon after the incident as he was trying to escape. After undergoing almost a year of treatment for severe burns, the suspect was formally arrested in May 2020. By December 2020, the suspect was officially indicted for murder and other charges.
The motive for the arson was revenge for alleged plagiarism by Kyoto Animation of a novel that the perpetrator wrote. After his arrest, the defendant accepted responsibility for the fire. However, since then, he has expressed remorse and expects the death sentence for his crime. On the other hand, due to the defendant’s mental illness, it is entirely possible the prosecutors might not even be able to ask for capital punishment.
After 2 years, the only remaining factor is what form of punishment the perpetrator will face. As Japan still uses the death pentalty in their contemporary society, it’s likely this is the punishment he will face. However, it still remains to be seen what the final verdict will be. Let us know what you think in the comments below.