A memorial was held on Tuesday to honor the memory of the 36 individuals who lost their lives in the devastating arson attack on anime studio Kyoto Animation Co. The event took place at the site in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward, where the studio once stood. As the trial of the suspected culprit approaches in September, bereaved family members, along with the company’s President Hideaki Hatta, joined approximately 150 attendees for the solemn occasion. To maintain the privacy and solemnity of the event, fans were kindly requested to refrain from visiting the location.
A Grief That Persists: Kyoto Animation’s President Speaks
Despite the passing of time, the pain and sorrow remain deeply ingrained in the hearts of those affected by the tragedy. Following the ceremony, President Hideaki Hatta shared his sentiments with the reporters, saying, “No matter how many years go by, my feelings remain unchanged. The sadness does not dissipate. Losing such talented colleagues has been an immense tragedy for our company.”
The Tragic Incident: Details and Losses
On the morning of July 18, 2019, a horrific incident unfolded within Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 Studio. Shinji Aoba allegedly entered the premises and doused the building with gasoline before setting it ablaze. At the time, there were 70 employees inside the studio, resulting in the loss of 36 lives and leaving 32 others injured. The devastating impact of this event rippled throughout the global anime community, as Kyoto Animation, known as KyoAni, had gained international recognition for its beloved works, such as “K-On!” and “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.”
Honoring the Deceased: Messages of Remembrance
In addition to the memorial service, Kyoto Animation released a poignant YouTube video at 10:30 a.m., precisely the time when the studio was attacked four years ago. The video featured heartfelt messages dedicated to those who tragically lost their lives. Among the messages was a touching note from a grieving parent that expressed, “Your skills and passion live on through the dedicated employees at KyoAni, who will continue to create remarkable works. Although I am unable to contribute to this creative legacy, leaving a lasting name for future generations, I am proud to have had a daughter like you.”
The Trial and Its Significance
The suspected perpetrator, 45-year-old Shinji Aoba, is scheduled to face trial on September 5 at the Kyoto District Court. This high-profile case will involve lay judges, allowing the victims to participate actively in the proceedings. The court is expected to deliver its ruling on January 25, 2024, marking an important milestone in the pursuit of justice for the victims and their families.
The Arrest and Legal Process
Although Aoba was apprehended at the scene of the attack, the Kyoto police did not formally arrest him until May 2020, following his recovery from severe burns sustained during the incident. Subsequently, he underwent six months of psychiatric evaluations. In December 2020, the prosecutors concluded that Aoba could be held criminally responsible. A separate evaluation, requested by Aoba’s defense team, has also been completed.
The memorial for the victims of the Kyoto Animation arson attack serves as a somber reminder of the lives lost and the profound impact of the tragedy. As the trial approaches, the hope for justice and closure remains strong. Kyoto Animation, despite its grievous losses, continues to shine as a beacon of creativity and inspiration in the anime industry.