Kyoto District Court sentenced the man behind the Kyoto Animation arson attack, which claimed the lives of 36 people, to death. The 45-year-old entered the Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building in the Fushimi ward of Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, on the morning of 18 July 2019 with gasoline and ignited the building. All the victims were employees of the studio. At least 34 were injured (including the attacker). The trial began in September of 2022.
The defendant, Shinji Aoba, claimed that the studio plagiarized his work. In 2019, his defense team claimed that he had undisclosed mental health issues. He pleaded not guilty and his defense claimed that he could not be held criminally responsible. Japan keeps the capital punishment practice and performs around 15 executions per year. Over 100 people are currently on death row.
According to CNN, the fire marked the worst mass killing in Japan since a 2001 arson attack on a building in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, which killed 44 people. It is also the first such case involving the animation industry.
Hideaki Hatta, president of Kyoto Animation, expressed that he wanted to turn the Studio 1 building into a memorial park. However, the initiative was shut down by residents and the building was demolished in April 2020. Among the victims were Yasuhiro Takemoto, Futoshi Nishiya, Tatsunari Maruko, and Yoshiji Kigami.
Kyoto Animation, commonly known as KyoAni, was founded in 1985. The studio is known for fan-favorite titles such as K-On!, Free!, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Violet Evergarden, Clannad, A Silent Voice, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and many more. In the wake of the arson attack and later the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of the Violet Evergarden movie was delayed to July 2020. The studio’s first TV anime project after the arson attack was Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, for which the late Yoshiji Kigami was one of the directors.