Kyoto Animation enters discussions with families of arson attack victims on creation of a memorial

Kyoto Animation is moving forward with talks on the creation of a permanent memorial to the 36 lives lost in an infamous arson attack on July 18, 2019, on Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 in the Fushimi ward of Kyoto.

As first reported in English by Cunrchyroll, the studio is in talks with victims’ families as well as the local neighborhood to decide whether to place a memorial on the former site of Studio 1, which was demolished last year. The land has remained empty.

A studio representative originally told the NHK that none of the roughly 30 families involved opposed locating a memorial at the site. However, a 2019 comment from a representative of the Fushimi ward said that visitors to the area after the attack had disrupted the “peaceful lives” of residents.

The suspected arsonist, Shinji Aoba, was arrested shortly after fleeing the scene but did not enter police custody for almost a year due to injuries sustained during the attack. He was motivated by a belief that Koyo Animation plagiarized his work for a brief and generic scene in the show Tsurune, which aired eight months before the attack. He was indicted for murder, among other charges, in Dec. 2020. 33 additional people were injured in the incident.

Kyoto Animation has produced a score of beloved anime over the past two decades, including hits like K-On!, A Silent Voice, and Violet Evergarden. The studio has also been recognized as an inclusive workspace for women in the largely male-dominated animation industry and is known for paying their animators on a salary independent of output. With such a reputation, colleagues in animation and anime fans around the world felt the immense loss. 

Kyoto Animation’s productions were initially paused after the attack, and the onset of the pandemic further delayed its projects. Just one title, Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll, released between the two events after a delay. 

In late 2020, however, the studio resumed a more regular output, beginning with the monumental box-office success of Violet Evergarden: The Movie. And just last week, the studio held its first Kyoto Animation Thanks Event since 2017 by hosting the Kyoto Animation Music Festival, featuring performances from the studio’s filmography.