Kyoto Animation Studio Fire Shocks Japan

On Thursday morning in one of Japan’s worst mass casualty incidents since World War II, a 41-year-old man poured petrol over the Kyoto Animation Studio screaming, “Die!” before igniting it. 33 people were killed and 36 more were injured by the time the fire was doused. The horrific attack shocked Japan, considered one of the world’s safest nations, and the world. The arsonist’s motive is yet unclear, but it was confirmed that he was not a former employee of the studio. Kyoto police said that the suspect has been detained and taken to the hospital with injuries. Prime Minister said the incident was “too appalling for words” and offered condolences.

Japanese media reports said a man in his 40s had earlier bought 40 litres (nine gallons) of petrol at a nearby petrol station. Two containers used for the fuel were later found at the scene of the fire, Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

The fire broke out at around 10:30am local time, and knives were also found at the scene– according to local media.

Though the relationship between the suspect and the animation studio is unclear, eyewitnesses say he appeared to be angry with the animation studio. Witnesses at the scene claim hearing the man say, “You copied it,” and, “You ripped me off.”

Kyoto Animation Director Hideaki Hatta told the broadcaster that the company had recently received threatening emails.

“They were addressed to our office and sales department and told us to die,” he said, “It is unbearable that the people who helped carry Japan’s animation industry were hurt and lost their lives in this way,” he said.

The Japanese Kyoto Animation Studio is a powerhouse animation studio in Japan with a huge following across the world. Kyoto Animation Studio, also known as KyoAni, is a world renowned animation studio known for its compassionate storytelling and for paying its animators a regular salary, breaking industry standard of paying animators per frame– a practice which puts extreme pressure on staff. The studio has created a variety of animations and graphic novels that include K-On and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. One of KyoAni’s productions, Violet Evergarden, was picked up by Netflix for the global market.

Historically Japan has a very low rate of violent crime, however there are eruptions of rare but extremely violent attacks.

Just recently, Japan had another violent attack, a string of 17 stabbings in a Tokyo suburb that had two fatalities.

In 1995, members of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, attacked the Tokyo subway system with nerve-gas that killed 13 people and injured thousands of others.

Finally, in 2016 there was a mass stabbing at a center for people with disabilities that became the worst massacre in Japan since World War II.

The Kyoto fire’s death toll was higher than any of these previous attacked, nearly rivaling that of a fire in 2001 that killed 44 people in a gambling club in Tokyo. Police investigated that incident but could not confirm that it was deliberate arson.

The KyoAni arson attack is a cruel reminder of the dangers that exist even in one of the world’s safest countries. This type of terror attack is unimaginable and brutal, especially since victims’ friends, family, and country are forced to come to terms with the horror that took place at one of the world’s most beloved animation studios.

In the aftermath of the event, fans have posted messages using the #prayforkyoani hashtag on Twitter to express sorrow and condolences.

Ashley Park

Ashley Park is a current sophomore at Rice University in Texas majoring in history and sociology with a minor in pre-law.

About Ashley Park

Ashley Park is a current sophomore at Rice University in Texas majoring in history and sociology with a minor in pre-law.