Kyoto Animation Co. held a memorial service for the 36 victims of an arson attack two years ago at one of its studios on Sunday, one of Japan’s worst mass murders.
The company, better known as “KyoAni” at home and abroad, has asked fans to refrain from visiting the old Kyoto studio site for fear of the spread of the new coronavirus and has instead posted messages from society and bereaved families on YouTube.
Kyoto Animation Co. is holding a memorial service on July 18, 2021 in Kyoto for the 36 victims of an arson attack two years ago at one of its studios. (Photo courtesy of Kyoto Animation Co.) (Kyodo)
Striker Shinji Aoba, 43, was charged last December with murder and other charges after being hospitalized shortly after the attack on July 18, 2019, for treatment of life-threatening burns.
Immediately after being arrested by police near the scene, Aoba said he carried out the attack because the company “stole a novel” from him, according to investigative sources.
Before the attack, Kyoto Animation organized public competitions in which it invited submissions of novel projects with the promise that the winners could have their works animated. However, the company has denied that it based its cartoons on the works submitted by Aoba.
Photo taken on July 20, 2019, shows the fire-ravaged spiral staircase of a Kyoto Animation Co. studio in Kyoto. (Kyodo)
A total of 70 employees were inside the building at the time and, in addition to the fatalities, 32 people were injured.
Aoba was formally arrested in May last year, around 10 months after the attack, after recovering sufficiently from the potentially fatal burns he suffered in the incident covering 90 percent of his body.
He was indicted in December after experts concluded he was mentally capable at the time and could be held responsible for the crime, but his trial has yet to begin. He is currently being held in Osaka Remand Prison.
Photo taken on July 18, 2019 from a Kyodo News helicopter showing Kyoto Animation Co.’s three-story studio in Kyoto after a man started a fire there. The studio is known for producing the popular animated television series “K-On !!” and “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” (Kyodo) == Kyodo
Aoba, from Saitama, north of Tokyo, admitted to setting the studio on fire with gasoline and investigative sources quoted him as saying, “I thought I could kill a lot of people using gasoline. “
The death toll makes the attack one of the biggest mass murders ever in Japan. Aoba’s motive as well as her mental competence should be at the center of her trial.
The company, known for a number of popular works such as “K-On!” and “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”, released in September “Violet Evergarden the Movie”, an animated film on which the victims of the attack were working.
It was due out in January of last year, but the schedule has been pushed back due to the impact of the attack as well as the spread of the new coronavirus.