Kyoto Animation Studio, known for productions such as Violet Evergarden and A Silent Voice, was hit this morning in a devastating arson attack that has left 33 dead and many more injured.
Japanese police confirmed that a 41-year-old man walked into the company’s 1st Studio Building in Fujimi Ward, Kyoto City just after 10 a.m. and doused what is suspected to be gasoline around the building before setting fire to it. Around 70 staff are understood to have been inside the studio at the time.
The suspect, who is also apparently injured, was arrested by police and has reportedly admitted to the crime. His motive has not been determined, but he is reported to have shouted “die” as he set the fires. Early reports speculate that he had no connection to the studio.
An explosion in the building was heard nearby. According to a professor of fire safety and materials told public broadcaster NHK that poor ventilation, an abundance of paper used by artists and the large quantity of gasoline spread around the building likely caused the fire to spread too quickly for people to escape.
A fire department spokesperson said they received calls reporting an explosion on the first floor and later calls in which people said, “The fire is rising, help us.”
Thirty fire trucks and ambulances attended the scene and casualties have been taken to multiple hospitals in Kyoto. NHK’s footage of the aftermath showed that all three floors in the building were damaged in the senseless attack.
“Why on earth did such violence have to be used?” company president Hatta asked, as he condemned the attack, according to the Associated Press. Hatta said his company has received seemingly random, anonymous death threats by emails in the past but responded “sincerely” each time.
Witness accounts state they heard bangs coming from the building; others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding, walking barefoot, Kyoto News reported. Rescue officials set up an orange tent outside the studio building to provide first aid and sort the injured.
“There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help,” a female witness told TBS TV. “Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors, then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tweeted about the attack, describing it as “too awful for words,” ending with offering his condolences and praying for the speedy recovery of the survivors.
Kyoto Animation was founded in 1981 by the husband-and-wife duo of Hideaki and Yoko Hatta, who serve as president and vice president, respectively. Unlike most animation studios, Kyoto Animation’s animators are salaried employees rather than freelance animators paid per frame. Therefore, Kyoto Animation animators are able to focus more on the quality of each frame rather than the quantity of frames they produce.
Talkies Network sends its heartfelt condolences to all those impacted by this senseless act of violence.