Writer’s Note: Before we start the article proper, I’d like to share the fundraiser started by Sentai Filmworks in partnership with GoFundMe to support the victims of this tragedy. It’s the thought that counts, even just a small token sum could go a long way into helping people recover physically and emotionally. Thank you very much.
Japan’s national news agency NHK reported on Thursday at 9:21 p.m. that, according to the Kyoto Fire Department, 33 people are confirmed to have died in the fire that engulfed Kyoto Animation’s 1st Studio building earlier on Thursday.
Of those 33 people, NHK reports that 12 were men, 20 were women, and one is unknown. NHK is still reporting that 35 people were injured. The Kyoto Fire Department has now finished its rescue efforts inside the building, and can confirm there is no one left in the building.
NHK previously reported exactly 73 people were in the building, but now report a number of “around 70.” Police had previously reported that seven people were confirmed safe and five people were unaccounted for, but NHK’s reports no longer list those numbers.
Of those confirmed dead, firefighters found two people on the first floor, 11 people on the second floor, and 20 people on the third floor or on the stairwell between the third floor and the rooftop.
In Japan, police do not confirm a death at the scene; instead, the victim must be transported to a hospital and a qualified doctor must first confirm the death before police can officially confirm the death.
NHK stated 30 fire engines responded to the fire, and were able to extinguish the fire completely by 3:19 p.m. JST, five hours after the fire started. The fire broke out at the building around 10:30 a.m. JST on Thursday. Kyoto Prefectural Police have already apprehended a 41-year-old man who supposedly used a “gasoline-like liquid” to start the fire, and are investigating the case as arson. The suspect is among those injured.
Kyoto Animation’s president Hideaki Hatta stated on Thursday that the company had “often received notices such as death threats, starting a few years ago.” NHK reported that police are looking into an incident where a man bought 40 liters of gasoline near the 1st Studio building around 10:00 a.m. JST, 30 minutes before the fire broke out.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe posted a statement on Twitter on Thursday praying for those who have died and for the swift recovery of those who are injured.
Fans around the world have taken to Tweeting support for the studio using the hashtags #PrayForKyoAni and #PrayForKyotoAnimation. David Production’s Fire Force, an anime about the exploits of firefighters fighting living infernos, has also delayed the airing of its 3rd episode on its regular Friday timeslot, likely in response to the incident.
Additionally, the official Twitter account for Kyoto Animation and Animation DO’s Free! franchise also announced on Thursday that the studios have cancelled the planned screenings of the new trailer for the upcoming all-new Free! film in theaters. The trailer was planned to screen starting on Friday alongside the current Free! ~Road to the World~ Yume compilation film, which opened in theaters in Japan on July 5. The all-new film is currently planned to open in summer 2020.
The official Twitter account for the Keihan train line, which goes from Osaka to Kyoto, also announced on Friday that it is delaying its planned collaboration with Kyoto Animation’s Sound! Euphonium anime. The collaboration was originally slated to start on Saturday.
Kyoto Animation’s 1st Studio building is located near Rokujizō Station in Uji City in Kyoto. Most of the studio’s main line production takes place inside the building. The company also has a head office, a 2nd Studio building, a Tokyo Office, and the Animation DO building in other locations.
Kyoto Animation is known for being the studio behind successful titles such as K-ON!, A Silent Voice, Violet Evergarden, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, among others. We pray for the safety of everyone affected during this tragic time, and will share more details as they come along.