At 10:30 AM on the morning of July 18th, a 41-year-old man set fire to the offices of Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), a major anime production studio in Kyoto, Japan.
Roughly 70 employees were in the building at the time. 33 died and 35 more were injured. This amounts to the second deadliest mass attack in Japan since the 1920s.
The motive behind the attack is unclear, but police have confirmed that the arsonist never worked for and had no known connection to Kyoto Animation. The perpetrator is currently in police custody, and when asked why he did it, he allegedly claimed, "I was ripped off. I poured the gasoline. I lit the fire with a lighter." A translator on Twitter clarified that the translation of "ripped off" could also mean "hurt him" or "plagiarized him," so further clarification is needed.
Kyoto Animation is best known for its gorgeous animation work on popular anime series such as Clannad, K-On!, and Violet Evergarden, as well as critically acclaimed animated feature films like A Silent Voice. They're also considered the frontrunner in anime-industry work culture, paying their animators salaries instead of relying on underpaid freelance animators like most other leading animation studios. Many fans around the world also laud Kyoto Animation's work for their wholesome, slice-of-life storytelling which focuses on beautiful, mundane, and funny moments in ordinary life.
Names of the deceased have not been confirmed yet, but the potential list includes directors and key animators of numerous beloved shows. While any attack on anyone is horrendous, it seems especially evil to target artists. Anime artists, even the fairly paid ones, don't enter the industry to make money. They pursue their craft because they genuinely love animation, and their work brings joy to people around the world.
The attack on Kyoto Animation didn't just target individuals, it targeted culture. Art is one of our most primary, essential means of connecting with one another and considering what the human experience is really all about. The fact that a single angry, violent person can take so many innocent lives of people who have done nothing but share their art to make the world a better place is truly terrifying.
Considering the already small size of Kyoto Animation's work force, and the possibility that a lot of original content was destroyed in the fire, it's hard to say what the company's future will look like and whether any of their upcoming series will be released. Much more importantly, however, is making sure that the surviving victims are able to properly recover.
Currently, fellow animation studio Sentai Filmworks has set up a GoFundMe for Kyoto Animation. You can donate here.