TOKYO – Kyoto Animation is popular and popular with anime fans around the world, and is best known for films such as A Silent Voice which emphasized the importance of choosing life before death. Thursday's lethal arson attack has a strange irony.
The voices of 33 people were silenced forever by a 41-year-old man who set fire to the three-story studio. The Kyoto police have the man in custody and expect him to be charged with arson and other charges in the next few days.
Kyoto Animation is a jewel in the dark universe of the often exploitative Japanese animation industry famous for its thoughtful animated films and for creating a healthy workplace with job security.
According to Kyoto police, Kyoto fire department and NHK state broadcaster and other Japanese news agencies, a man in his 40s struck a district in Kyoto's Kyoto Animation Number One studio on Thursday at 10:30 am in Fushimi ,
At that time, nearly 70 people worked in the 32,000 square foot three-story complex. The man took a plastic container and distributed a combustible liquid, probably gasoline, inside the building. He lit it with a lighter and yelled, "Die!" There was an explosion and the building quickly went up in flames.
The man is said to have caught fire himself and run into the street, where he was pursued by a company employee. The suspect then collapsed after walking several meters and was arrested by the police. Meanwhile, 30 fire engines have arrived and have tried to extinguish the flames and save the people trapped inside. It took several hours to extinguish the fire.
According to the fire department of Kyoto from 22.00 clock. In Japan, there were 33 dead and dozens injured. According to the fire department, several people had fallen into the stairs between the third floor and the roof; they seemed trapped and died while trying to escape.
According to reports in the newspaper Sankei and other media, the 41-year-old heavy worker arrested at the scene carried a red T-shirt and jeans; He was barefoot and his feet were full of blood.
When the police arrested him and demanded to know why he did it, he allegedly shouted angrily, "They faked it." to tear down one product or plagiarize another's work. He told the police that he used gas to ignite the fire. It was reported that two days before the fire he was seen walking along a narrow street near the building and staring at it as if he were deep in thought.
There was an eyewitness who claimed to have seen tattoos on his stomach that were visible after he rolled up his burnt T-shirt.
In an evening interview aired on NHK News, Hideaki Hatta president said his company had recently received death threats. He added that they often received enemy news. Each time they received specific threats, they would have consulted with lawyers and the police, he said.
Japan has experienced several deadly arson cases in the last 20 years. In 2001, a botched robbery ended on a consumer credit firm in the Kanto region with the deaths of five people. the responsible man was executed. In 2008, a man in Osaka lit a private video kiosk, killing 16 people, and was sentenced to death. In the summer of 2001, a fire in Kabukicho, the red-light district of Tokyo, killed 44 people. Arson was suspected but never proven.
The Shangri-La of the Anime World
Kyoto Animation, known to the fans as "KyoAni", was founded in 1981. it may not be as well known as Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, but the studio is loved and respected by anime fans worldwide. The studio became well-known after 2000 and produced exquisite animated shows and films that are valued on a global scale. The studio is also known for its comparatively good working conditions.
Roland Kelts, author of Japan America: How Japanese Pop Culture Infiltrated the US praised the company in an email to The Daily Beast. "The studio is a rarity in the Japanese anime industry when it comes to treating its employees with respect. Their animators are full-time employees and employees … in a business where the vast majority of artists have short-term freelance contracts that are often paid off the frame and are poorly paid. The quality of their work reflects this respect and job security.
The working conditions at other animation companies are often gloomy, leading to Karoshi death by overwork. In 2014, the Tokyo Labor Standards Office officially recognized the suicide of an animation worker as a result of overhaul and ordered the payment of compensation to his family. The employee had at least one month to work 600 hours before he became severely depressed and killed himself. While Japanese animations, also known as anime, are often overflowing with cute, cheerful animals and bright colors, everyday work is usually very bleak and a smile is in short supply.
Kyoto Animation is not only known for taking care of its employees, but also for pampering fans. Journalist Kat Callahan, @JezebelKat on Twitter, tweeted after hearing the news: "They gave me a tour a couple of years back and gave my wish to take pictures depicting their own characters in their studio. I am shocked and will send a sympathy card.
Brian Ashcraft, a prolific writer on Japanese pop culture, says, "Kyoto Animation is one of the most popular animation studios in Japan. They have a distinctive style. They've made iconic anime like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and K-On! . This attack is a terrible tragedy. I can not imagine how that will affect the animation industry.
Kelts also points out that Kyoto Animation is among the few anime studios outside the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Over the years, Kyoto Animation has brought the much needed variety of staff and sometimes controversial topics to an industry is very central and often surprisingly conservative. A Silent Voice was a truly rare anime film that dealt with both sensitive issues and bullying and that also had a director.
It would be a shame if an angry man with a gas tank would have erased the voice of an animation studio that is loved and increasingly appreciated in and outside of Japan, he clearly did not understand the message if the attacker saw her films.