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#TodayinHistory: The 2nd Year Anniversary of the 2019 Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

Written by: Jei Beltrano | Published on: July 18, 2021 at 12:13 AM PHT (GMT+8)

"Merciless. Inhumane." This is how the whole world described Japan's 2019 Kyoto Animation Arson Attack, the deadliest massacre of the modern Japanese era unfolding right before the eyes of the animation industry and all the supporters alike, which happened exactly 2 years ago on July 18, 2019.

Aerial view of the fire engulfing KyoAni's Studio 1 - PHOTO: The Hollywood Reporter

On July 18, 2019, a devastating fire broke out at Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building located in Kyoto, Japan due to an arson attack killing 36 people and injuring 33 others.

Kyoto Fire Department putting-out the fire. - PHOTO: The New York Times

The attack is considered as one of the deadliest massacres in Japan since the end of World War II, the deadliest building fire in Japan since the 2001 Myojo 56 building fire, and the first massacre ever to have occurred at a studio associated with an entertainment company.

A closer-look of the building after the two-day fire incident. Photo: Bloomberg

Kyoto Prefectural Police apprehended the 42-year-old suspect (40 at the time of the incident), Shinji Aoba, who allegedly used gasoline to start the fire. Witnesses stated they heard him accusing the studio of plagiarism. Police arrested the suspect after 10 months of hospital care due to injuries on May 27, 2020 on suspicion of murder and other offenses. He was formally indicted on 16 December 2020.

Arson suspect Shinji Aoba being discharged from hospitalization. - PHOTO: The New York Times

After the incident, fans from different parts of Japan and even foreigners pay visited the site to give respect and send out prayers to the victims and their families. Flowers, memorabilia, message cards, were offered by the visitors as a way to show their support.

A woman offers her prayer for the victims and families of the incident. - PHOTO: AP News


Just one month after the incident, some of the victims returned to work at the other studio building of Kyoto Animation.

As of October 2019, 27 of the surviving 33 victims returned to work with several having decided to take extended breaks to cope with the stress and anxiety brought by the attack.

On April 28, 2020, the building was completely demolished but as of writing, there are no further plans for the site has been revealed. The residents in the neighbourhood refused the plan initially stated by Kyoto Animation's president Hideaki Hatta wherein a green public park and a memorial monument will be build after the demolition. The reason for the residents' refusal is for the sake of their "the peaceful lifestyle" as visitors will flock the site if a memorial will be built.

Due to the incident, production of many animation projects by the studio was greatly affected including publicity event for the upcoming 2020 Free! film being cancelled, the Violet Evergarden Gaiden and Violet Evergarden film premiere delayed, and other minor cases.


With Kyoto Animation continues to preserve its mission for the aspiring animators, in November 2019, the studio had decided to continue training programmes for them, in which trainees would be trained in movies, sketching and animations. Upon graduating from the programme, outstanding trainees could be recruited by the studio after being examined further.

The studio is back on the animation production and has produced 'Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S', the second season of the Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid series and the first TV anime series of the studio since the incident. The series is currently airing in Japan.


It has been two years since the unfortunate incident but the victims will always be in the hearts of every person inspired, moved, and uplifted by their works.

Remembering the Kyoto Animation Arson Attack victims. Color designer Naomi Ishida; animator, scriptwriter, and director Yasuhiro Takemoto; animation director Yoshiji Kigami; animation director Futoshi Nishiya; and to others... we are missing you and thank you always.

Kyoto Animation Studio 1 employees. - PHOTO: SBS

Sources: Various sources, Wikipedia


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