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Japan Expresses Its Grief Over Deadly Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

A woman prays at a makeshift
Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock

Fellow animators and others in the Japanese entertainment industry have expressed their sorrow and solidarity with Kyoto Animation, the well-respected anime studio that suffered a horrific arson attack and the deaths of dozens of staffers.

“We are all fellows in the same boat. If we continue to create without being afraid, we will find solace – and that’s what we should do,” said “Your Name” director Makoto Shinkai, as he prepared for Friday’s launch of his new film “Weathering With You.” “Everyone in Kyoto Animation please take care,” he added.

The deliberately set fire killed 33 people and injured many others. A suspect named as Shinji Aoba, who might have been motivated by a desire for revenge, has been arrested and identified by authorities in Japan, a country where such outbreaks of extreme violence are almost unheard-of.

“I don’t know what I should be thinking now,” said Yutaka Yamamoto, an animation director who previously worked at Kyoto Animation. “Why, why, why?”

Fans in Japan and abroad were also quick to share their feelings on social media. The hashtags #PrayforKyoAni and #Kyotoanimation were seen trending on Twitter shortly after.

A fan named Okami wrote: “While it’s great that the anime community FINALLY can come together over something, it’s sad to see that its [sic] something like this. Prayers go out to all those who’ve passed and those who are still with us. You didn’t deserve what happened. Rest in peace.”

American anime licensor Sentai Filmworks quickly launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding appeal with the target of raising $750,00. A little more than 24 hours after the incident, it had raised $1.3 million.

Many commenters applauded Kyoto Animation not just for its product but for its ethics. “Kyoto Animation are a rarity in the anime business: They treat their people well, they strive to own part of their works, and their creations are consistently excellent, at the very least on a technical level,” said Mike Toole, editor at large of Anime News Network.

Another fan called Omi’s Last Hope wrote: “I cannot express my love for Kyoto Animation with words…maybe with my drawing. I could never repay what they did for me all these years…all I could do is just pray…Please Stay Strong !”