In the world of anime, Kyoto Animation, fondly known as KyoAni, stands out for its commitment to quality over quantity.
Founded by Yoko Hatta in 1981, it has left an indelible mark in the animation industry. With hits like Lucky Star, K-On!, and Haruhi Suzumiya, KyoAni’s excellence is evident. However, a tragic event in its history shook the world.
On July 18, 2019, KyoAni’s Studio 1 building fell victim to an arson attack. But why did the fire happen? And what happened to the man who did it?
The tragic arson at KyoAni’s Studio 1 on July 18, 2019, resulted in 36 lives lost and 34 injured. Shinji Aoba, the perpetrator, was arrested in May 2020 after a year of treatment and later indicted for murder in December 2020. On January 25, 2024, despite claims of mental unfitness, a Japanese court sentenced him to death. His aspirations of becoming a novelist and allegations of plagiarism drove this catastrophe. Aoba submitted his story to KyoAni and accused them of plagiarism. Reports also revealed his unemployment and financial struggles at the time.
Why Was the Kyoto Animation Building Put on Fire? What Happened to the Man Who Did It?
The July 18, 2019, arson attack on KyoAni’s Studio 1 building claimed 36 lives and injured 34 more. It remains one of the deadliest massacres in post-WWII Japan, shrouding the world in grief.
In the aftermath, the global community rallied to support the studio and victims through donations and tributes.
A memorial ceremony was initially canceled due to the pandemic. Still, it took place a year later in Kyoto through a silent text-only video, ensuring that the victims are never forgotten.
Despite the devastating losses, KyoAni’s resilient spirit endured. Many survivors returned to work, continuing to create high-quality content like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S.
The arson attack did not occur in isolation.
The anime industry, like many others, faces its share of haters and threats, often originating from online anonymity. Tragically, this attack highlighted the catastrophic consequences of one individual’s hatred.
The perpetrator, Shinji Aoba, shouted, “You die!” as the fire engulfed the building. An unidentified liquid accelerant fueled the fire. He reportedly surrendered shortly after setting the fire.
After nearly a year of treatment for severe burns, Aoba was formally arrested in May 2020 and indicted for murder and other charges by December 2020.
Fast forward to January 25, 2024, a Japanese court delivered its verdict on Aoba Shinji.
Despite pleading not guilty and his defense’s claim of mental unfitness, the court found that Aoba was mentally capable of discerning right from wrong at the time of the incident.
The court pronounced a death sentence for Aoba, stating that he had not spared the lives of others.
Judge Masuda Keisuke described Aoba’s crime as “truly atrocious and inhumane,” emphasizing the horror and pain endured by the victims (via Variety).
Japan retains and employs capital punishment, making this verdict a significant moment in the pursuit of justice.
Aoba’s desire to be a novelist and his claim of plagiarism led to this tragedy. He had submitted his story to KyoAni in a competition and accused the company of plagiarism.
Japanese media also reported that Aoba, unemployed and facing financial struggles, had plotted another attack on a train station north of Tokyo a month before the arson.
The attack on Kyoto Animation Studio 1 left unimaginable pain and turned the workplace into a hellish nightmare. It was a tragedy that shook not only the anime community but also the world.
What measures should be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of creative professionals in the entertainment industry?
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