Kyoto Animation Fire: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

kyoto animation fire

Getty Fire fighters inspect an animation company which caught fire in Kyoto on July 18, 2019.

Kyoto Animation, a popular animation studio in Japan, was set ablaze in an arson attack that left at least 33 dead and 36 injured, a Japanese fire official told AP News.

Police have arrested a suspect, who has reportedly admitted to the crime according to The Hollywood Reporter. One of those missing is thought to be Yasuhiro Takemoto.

Witnesses said the suspect screamed, “you die” as he set the fire, CBS News reports.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Kyoto Animation fire.


1. There Are Numerous Kyoto Employees Still Missing

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A Japanese fire official told AP News that at least 33 people are dead. 12 of the victims were men, 20 were women and another one’s gender couldn’t be identified, according to CNN. 36 others are injured with 10 having critical injuries.

He also said earlier that up to 18 other people could not be reached but it is not clear if they were at the building for work on the day of the attack. According to NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting service, there are still five people missing. One of the missing is presumed to be Yasuhiro Takemoto, who directed many of the animation studio’s most popular works according to Heavy.

A fire official said that firefighters found 20 people dead on the top floor of the building, which is where most of the victims were located. Some of them were found collapsed on the stairs leading to the roof. They also found two dead on the first floor and 11 dead on the second floor.

According to NHK, several people also suffered heart attacks but were left behind as rescue efforts continued.

Correction: The NHK actually described people as being in cardiac arrest, where their heart stops beating and they stop breathing. They can only be mentioned in this state until a doctor presumes them dead. The mention that they had heart attacks resulted from a mistranslation. We apologize for the lack of clarification.

Police told NHK that around 70 people were working inside the building when it when it was set ablaze.

30 fire trucks arrived at the fire at the 1st Studio Building in Uji, Kyoto and casualties were driven to multiple hospitals in the city, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The fire reached all three of the floors of the building, according to footage shot from a helicopter from NHK.

Rescue efforts have finished and no one, alive or dead, is left in the building, according to NHK.

According to AP News, this is the deadliest fire since 2001 when a fire in Tokyo’s Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people.


2. People Were Running Outside Covered in Flames

People were running outside covered in flames, according to Kyoto Newspaper.

A man working nearby told NHK that around 10:30 a.m. local time he heard an explosion from the building. A nearby shopkeeper told Mainichi News that she heard a young woman cry out “some stranger spread fuel and lit it! Help us!”

A 59-year-old woman told The Japan Times that a person with burned hair was lying down and there were bloody footprints. A hair salon manager told the publication that he heard a bang and that “the black smoke and the burning smell were awful.”

AP News reported that some of the employees were able to escape by crawling out of the windows with the help of neighbors. Others fled to the roof to try and escape but couldn’t. Experts told AP News that most of the victims may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.


3. The Suspect Reportedly Accused the Studio of Stealing His Ideas

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the suspect is a 41-year-old man who walked into the studio and poured 11 gallons of gasoline around the building and onto staff before setting fire to everything. The suspect was among the people injured in the attack and is currently being treated for serious burns at the hospital.

According to AP News, the suspect may have started the fire at the front door of the building to force people to find other exits and slow their escape.

The suspect was arrested and has reportedly admitted to the crime, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A motive has not been determined at this time, according to the publication.

Update (July 19, 2019): Police have named the suspect Shinji Aoba, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Aoba has yet to be questioned as he is still under sedation and can’t talk. The attack left Aoba with severe injuries to his legs, chest and face. He was a few feet from the studio before police found him.

While a motive hasn’t been officially determined by police, witnesses told BBC News that they could hear Aoba complaining that Kyoto Animation stole his ideas. Aoba told police that “they are always stealing. It’s their fault” and that something had been stolen from him, a witness told AP News.

In 2012, Aoba was reportedly arrested for robbing a convenience store and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, according to NHK. He lived in a shelter for ex-convicts after being released. Aoba also reportedly lived on welfare and was treated for mental health issues.

Aoba’s neighbors near his apartment in Saitama City, north of Tokyo, complained about loud music coming from the apartment in the early hours of the morning, according to NHK. Neighbors told the broadcasting service that police were called and knocked on the window of his apartment, but he didn’t respond.

One person told broadcaster TBS that Aoba was banging on the walls and he knocked on Aoba’s door to ask him to stop. He said that Aoba grabbed him by the hair and shirt and told him “I will kill you!” and “shut up!”

A 61-year-old woman told local newspaper The Asahi Shimbun that she found Aoba on the ground in front of her house but thought that he was one of the victims of the attack. She asked if he was alright but he did not respond. His right leg was on fire, his hair appeared singed and both his arms had burns. She poured water on him with a hose. Later police surrounded Aoba and she could hear Aoba shouting that “they ripped me off.”

According to NHK, the suspect allegedly said “die” when setting fire to the studio.

The suspect was also carrying a backpack full of knives during the attack, according to CNN.

Hideaki Hatta, the head of Kyoto Animation, told reporters that the company had received anonymous death threats via email in the past but that they responded “sincerely” to them each time. It is unknown if the suspect behind the arson attack was one of the people who sent those threats.

“Why on earth did such violence have to be used?” Hatta said.

READ NEXT: Shinji Aoba: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


4. The Studio Is Responsible For Many Beloved Anime

Kyoto Animation, or Kyoani as it’s also known, was founded in 1981, according to the company’s official website.

The studio is behind lots of different and fan-favorite anime for both television and film. They also release their own merchandise, novels, comics and art books, according to the website. Here’s a list of some of their most popular works, in order of most recently released:

  • Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
  • A Silent Voice: The Movie
  • Amagi Brilliant Park
  • Free! -Iwatobi Swim Club-
  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • K-ON!
  • Clannad
  • Lucky Star
  • Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Click here for the full list on their website.

    Here’s the company’s corporate philosophy, according to the website:

    “Since inauguration, our principles are ‘Make a challenge,’ ‘Do the best,’ ‘Produce required works’ and ‘Keep our corporate as a humanitarian one.’ We value people. Promoting the growth of people is equal to creating the brightness of works. We sincerely keep moving forward to be an Entertainment Corporation which based on Animation.”


    5. A Fundraising Campaign Has Been Set Up for the Studio

    Sentai Filmworks, a company that licenses and localizes anime such as several works by Kyoto Animation for Blu-ray releases and other products, set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the studio. At the time of writing, the campaign has raised nearly $1.5 million.

    Others have suggested buying Kyoto Animation’s products and merchandise through their official channels.

    People have taken to Twitter to express their condolences for the studio and its employees:

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was among the many people tweeting about the fire and mourning the victims, according to AP News. He said that he was speechless.

    “I express my condolences to the people who were killed, and pray for the earliest possible recovery of those who were injured,” he said.

    “Kyoto Animation is home to some of the world’s most talented animators and dreamers — the devastating attack today is a tragedy felt far beyond Japan,” Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted. “KyoAni artists spread joy all over the world and across generations with their masterpieces.”

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