Exactly last year, July 18 may just be an ordinary Thursday to some, but images of fire and black smoke that billowed in the Kyoto suburbs is something that people would never forget.
A deranged and possibly delusional man has decided that he will burn down the place that is filled bright and young creative minds that gave joy to millions around the world, because he thinks they stole his idea. 36 people died trying to escape the fire, while 33 left seriously injured.
The arson attack at Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building became one of the most deadliest mass murders in Japan since the end of World War II.
Whenever anime fans think of the slice-of-life genre, Kyoto Animation will always be on the top of everyone’s list, considering that they produced several hit titles such as Lucky Star, K-ON! and Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
For most people, Kyoto Animation is admired for stunning visuals and character designs, while others admire the animation studio for they way they tell the story of each anime they produce.
Since the tragedy, people also discovered that they are more than just an animation studio, specifically how they value their employees, giving them a chance to hone their talents with the help of mentors, and giving an equal opportunity for everyone regardless of their gender.
Their corporate philosophy of “promoting the growth of people is equal to creating the brightness of works” is probably the reason why the have opened their doors to recruits, opening a training program, and launching Kyoto Animation Awards program to the public.
Those may be some of the reasons why last year’s tragedy garnered a lot of attention not just from Japanese media and otaku online spaces, but also became the lead headline on several international media organizations.
And when the international media covered the tragedy, every single anime fan, whether KyoAni fan or not, united as one, in grief, in anger, and in solace.
We really thought we were safe from these incidents, we thought the industry was safe, but it seems the attack may just have exposed a particular vulnerability, possibly related to the issue of mental health, putting it on a spotlight.
Last April, the Studio 1 building has been completely demolished. A place once filled with young and talented people, full of joy and hunger to be a part of the industry they love, is now just an empty space.
But even during their darkest hour, people from all around the world had become their light with messages of support from different personalities, industry colleagues, governments and ordinary people, as well as monetary donations given to the families of the victims.
The alleged perpetrator has officially been arrested after almost a year being confined in hospital for rehabilitation, and we truly hope that the families and friends of the victims will finally get the justice that they deserve, especially that he seem to have shown no remorse. His name is not worth mentioning.
Kyoto Animation has shown great strength and resiliency during their difficult time, which is a great feat considering the number of talented people that we’re lost in the senseless attack. For sure, anyone who had experienced just a third of what KyoAni has gone though would certainly fall down to their knees and be inconsolable.
Even during their time of grief, the company has made it a point to protect the employees and their families as much as possible, giving them time grieve without the lens pointing at them.
Hideaki Hatta, the company’s chief executive officer, even expressed that the donations given to them should directly go to the injured and victim’s families.
In an interview last year with The Hollywood Reporter, Hatta said, “As long as we have one person, we will keep going. We started from nothing. We will be together in this.”
It has been a year after the fire, the wounds are still fresh in vivid memory, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic enveloping across the world, anime fans will remember July 18, 2019, a day, which we quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “will live in infamy”.
But for the people who lost their lives, their legacies remain, their work, which has graced screens big and small, fixed or mobile, will remain ingrained in our hearts forever, and we also hope the survivors, who are still reeling from the trauma while facing the pandemic, find the strength, the courage, and the solace to continue making great works that audiences like ours will enjoy forever.
Just like a phoenix, they will rise from the ashes, and will be reborn into something much, much better. We believe they will.
DISCLAIMER: This editorial expressed the views of Anime Pilipinas, but it does not reflect the views of all the members of the Editorial Team, its friends & partners. If you have any reactions, please send us an email at [email protected]com, or on our social networking accounts.