The Kyoto studios of Kyoto Animation, known for fan favorites like Free!, Violet Evergarden, and K-ON!, was set on fire this morning. As many as 40 people are listed as injured, and early reports say there have been multiple deaths.
(Update at 12:15pm EST: Police are now saying that at least 33 people out of the more than 70 staff members on site at the time have been found dead. Dozens more were injured. Rescue workers are still recovering and identifying victims. If you’d like to help somehow, Sentai Filmworks in Texas has started a GoFundMe for victims and their families.)
Reports are mixed about what exactly happened, but most seem to agree on a few things. At around 10:30am Japanese local time, a 41-year-old man entered the first floor of the Kyoto Animation Co. building and began spraying liquid (which some witnesses say was gasoline) around before setting it on fire. Local residents report hearing explosions before seeing smoke. Most of the three story building building went up in flame afterwards.
Early reports put the casualties at 30 wounded, 10 presumed dead. Apparently the first firefighters to get inside found ten people unconscious on the second floor. As the situation developed some of those people were still alive, but there are “multiple” deaths being reported by local networks. The remaining wounded are being treated at a nearby hospital.
The alleged arsonist was injured in the blaze and has also been taken to the hospital. Police haven’t been able to find a motive for his actions. Based on witness reports and the fact that the man himself reportedly confessed to spraying liquid, they are treating it as an arson case.
Kyoto Animation has been around since 1981. They’re known for their high production value, detailed art, consistent character design, and stories which breathe wonder into scenes about everyday life. Besides the shows we mentioned earlier, you might have seen their work in Full Metal Panic!, Munto, and Haruhi Suzumiya. They just released Free! ~ Road To The World ~Yume earlier this month.
Normally the end of July is a frenzy of happy nerd news. Such a tragedy is heartbreaking at the best of times, but right now it feels like an extra kick in the teeth. Keep KyoAni in your thoughts, guys.
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology being published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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