A horrifying attack has been carried out against the employees of a popular Japanese animation studio in the city of Kyoto. The Kyoto Animation building was set ablaze, according to police, by a man who sprayed gasoline over the grounds before igniting it. It’s believed that at least 33 people have died in the attack, with dozens more injured, according to the BBC. A 41-year-old suspect has been detained and taken to the hospital with injuries, while rescue operations for others who may be trapped inside the building are still ongoing.
The sheer loss of life in this particular attack is truly tragic. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s initial comment on the disaster offered condolences, simply stating that the incident was “too appalling for words.”
The circumstances of the attack are unsurprisingly veiled in mystery at the moment. According to the BBC, eyewitnesses heard a loud explosion as the attack began, and then witnessed the fire spreading extremely quickly throughout the building. One neighbor graphically describes seeing employees covered with burns being rushed to ambulances. It is estimated that around 70 people were in the building when the blaze started, with 36 of those now in hospital care.
According to the BBC, “latest reports say the suspect is not a former employee,” but he nevertheless was clearly holding some kind of grudge against the company. One eyewitness on the scene reported the man was heard to yell “they ripped me off,” according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.
Among anime fans, Kyoto Animation is frequently referred to simply as KyoAni. The company has produced graphic novels, anime series and feature films in the past, including Violet Evergarden, A Silent Voice, K-On and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Of those, Evergarden might be the best known, owing to its worldwide distribution via Netflix.
Our sympathies go out to the families affected by this devastating attack.