July 21, 2019

Kyoto Animation fire

Thursday morning (Japan time), 18 July 2019, a man entered the lobby of Kyoto Animation with ten gallons of gasoline. Screaming "Die!" he ignited a fire that killed 35, making it the worst single act of mass murder in Japan's post-war era. He was also carrying several knives.

The suspect later told police that Kyoto Animation had "stolen his novel."

Sunday morning (Japan time), NHK reported that he had never worked at Kyoto Animation, never published a novel, that no Kyoto Animation employee knew him or had corresponded with him, though the company had received anonymous death threats for the "past few years."

Kyoto Animation has a good reputation in the industry as an employer and for hiring animators on a full-time rather than on a contractual basis.

The suspect served three and a half years in prison for a convenience store robbery in 2012. He was briefly confined to a mental institution and recently assaulted and threatened to kill his neighbor. He is currently being detained in a burn unit because of injuries suffered in the attack.

On Friday, Kyoto Animation president Hideaki Hatta stated that the building and all the work material was a total loss. Sentai Filmworks, that works closely with Kyoto Animation in the North American market, launched a GoFundMe campaign that so far has accumulated $1.86 million.

At this point, screenings of the trailer for the 2020 release of the new Free! movie have been postponed. Production on the latest season of Sound! Euphonium has been suspended. Violet Evergarden was completed and will debut on schedule.

Fire Force has gone on hiatus for at least a week. Fire Force is not produced by Kyoto Animation, but it is standard practice for broadcasters in Japan to pull episodes of shows that touch on sensitive issues in the news, especially if there is any possibility of "life imitating art."

According to the police, the suspect confessed to starting the fire and has been formally charged. Japan has the death penalty and uses it, though the question at this juncture is whether he will be found competent enough for the case to be adjudicated in a criminal court.

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# posted by Blogger Matthew
7/22/2019 6:03 PM   
Terribly tragic.