Late last night, I saw a news story from NHK I’d never imagine would ever hit my Facebook feed: an animation studio had caught fire. At the time, the headline read, “Multiple injuries in Kyoto anime studio fire,” with an image of a small, apartment-like building. Very quickly my fears were confirmed that it was a building owned by Kyoto Animation. Shortly after, things got worse. Much, much worse. This was no accident: someone had intentionally set fire to Kyoto Animation.
At the time, multiple injuries and “possible deaths” were reported. News quickly spread of the attack across the internet, with hundreds of thousands of fans condemning the attack and offering words of support.
This morning, it became very clear just how devastating the attack was. Never before have I seen anime-related news make national news here in the US, let alone locally here in Portland in the Oregonian, but it has done so rightfully, as we now know of 33 confirmed deaths – a number still expected to rise.
I can think of only a small handful of anime studios that both have and rightfully deserve the level of respect that is given to Kyoto Animation. Since 1981, they have produced some of the best-known and highly regarded anime series: Full Metal Panic, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, K-On, Nichijou, Free!, Sound! Euphonium, and Violet Evergarden, just to name a few.
The very first anime series I watched in 2007 was a KyoAni title, Lucky Star, a title I still sometimes use today to introduce others to anime. It’s a very goofy slice-of-life anime, but more importantly one that makes reference to several other series. In the Bandai Entertainment releases I own, every single reference was painstakingly explained in the Translation Notes, which very much so influenced the other anime titles I would watch around that time. It wouldn’t be until I entered Drexel in 2010 that anime became much more accessible to me in the form of a Crunchyroll subscription. Back when I started watching anime, one would have to hope that the library, Borders, or Best Buy had the series you were looking form. (Or a little site called YouTube…)
That being said, I think it’s fair to say I owe much of my experience with anime to Kyoto Animation. I would not be surprised if others out there would argue the same. The support for KyoAni online has been incredible, and I think it shows even in the darkest of times for the industry, fans and others in the industry will support one another, from all over the world. The good folks at Sentai Filmworks set up a GoFundMe for KyoAni, and the response has been unbelievable. Even NHK in Japan has already picked up on it, and it made the morning edition of Newsline. The campaign is well past its goal already with $946k pledged in 15 hours (information current at time of writing). I encourage chipping in anything you can.
It may be a dark day for the anime industry, but we stand with you, KyoAni – now, and always. May you find hope in this time of darkness.