Even as it reels from the arson attack that devastated its studio and killed 35, Kyoto Animation remains open for business. Last Friday, it released into Japanese theaters its new feature, Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll (Violet Evergarden Gaiden: Eien to Jidō Shuki Ningyō).

According to media reports, some of the screenings in Kyoto Animation’s hometown were emotional experiences with audiences crying during the credits when the names of attack victims appeared on screen. The studio disregarded its usual policy of giving screen credit only to artists who had worked at the studio for more than a year, and included the name of everyone who contributed to the film.

The film follows on from the series Violet Evergarden, which rolled out worldwide on Netflix last year. The series tells the story of the eponymous heroine, who tries to process her experiences of a terrible war by becoming an “Auto Memories Doll”: an entity with special powers of memory. The series was well received, winning a prize for best animation at the 2019 Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

The spin-off feature centers on a new character, Isabella York, whose miserable life at an academy for well-to-do girls takes on new meaning when she meets Violet. It was helmed by Haruka Fujita, who also directed the series; she is considered one of Kyoto Animation’s rising stars. The production is said to have been completed before the attack on July 18.

Far from being delayed, the film’s theatrical run has been extended by a week. It will now play until September 26. Last month, its world premiere went ahead as planned at the Animagic convention in Germany.

Another Violet Evergarden feature had been scheduled for release on January 10, 2020, but the studio announced on Friday that the film’s release has been delayed until a future date, while also releasing teaser for the feature. There is currently no word of international distribution for either film.

New teaser for Violet Evergarden: The Movie

Violet Evergarden is based on Kana Akatsuki’s novel of the same name. It was published in 2015 by Kyoto Animation, which regularly solicited unpublished writing as a kind of talent-scouting scheme. The man suspected of the arson attack, Shinji Aoba, had also submitted a novel, which was rejected. As the studio burned, Aoba reportedly told witnesses that the company had “stolen” his novel.

Last month, Kyoto Animation announced that it was suspending its novel-writing contest, according to Anime News Network.

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Deputy Editor of Cartoon Brew.