As 2019 draws to an end, The Hollywood Reporter has returned to one of the year’s most important events — and certainly its most horrific — in the animation world. In a thoroughly research piece, Scott Johnson and Patrick Brzeski shed new light on the arson attack that devastated Kyoto Animation, and its consequences. Read the 6,000-word article here.
The authors draw on new interviews with Hideaki Hatta, Kyoto Animation’s CEO, as well as other staff, witnesses, and industry figures. After establishing the company’s stature within anime, they retrace the events that led to the destruction of its Studio One building on July 18, and the murder of 36 people inside.
Particularly enlightening is the article’s account of the aftermath. Those who stopped following developments after a while will learn about the surviving staff’s efforts to come to terms with the attack, and the wave of media attention that came with it. For instance, we are told that employees refrained from attending funerals in large numbers, for fear that local reporters would notice.
Johnson and Brzeski do a good job of filling in background information. They touch on Japan’s crime rate, its history of anime-related moral panics, and its endemic problem of social isolation. The article also profiles Daisuke Okeda, the Tokyo attorney who proffered his services to Hatta and his wife pro bono. He helped to control Kyoto Animation’s media relations, and to coordinate the crowdfunding campaigns set up to help the company. In a historic achievement, he secured complete tax exemption for the donations.
The article movingly concludes with Hatta’s reflections on the attack. “This isn’t something a human is capable of. I am beyond hate,” he says. Looking to the future, he remains committed to rebuilding the company: “As long as we have one person, we will keep going. We started from nothing. We will be together in this.”