33 people dead in Kyoto Animation studio fire

One of Japan’s most loved anime studios fell victim to an arson attack yesterday morning

33 employees of Japan’s Kyoto Animation studio have died in an arson attack that took place on Thursday (July 18) morning, with many more injured.

The fire broke out around 10:30am local time, and took firefighters five hours to get it under control. It’s one of the country’s worst mass casualties since World War II, with the death toll being the highest for an arson attack in Japan since 1989.

A 41-year-old suspect has been arrested after it’s alleged he broke into, poured petrol over, and then ignited the studio. It’s still unclear what the man’s relationship to Kyoto Animation studio is, though he’s not believed to be an employee of the company. As reported by the BBC, eyewitnesses said the man appeared angry with the studio, with one witness suggesting he shouted “you ripped me off”.

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has called the attack “too appalling for words”. Crowdfunded donations to the studio have passed $1 million in pledges.

The company was founded in 1981 by husband and wife Hideaki and Yoko Hatta, and produces films and graphic novels. It is particularly well-loved with anime fans for the high quality of its films. There is also a second studio in the city of Uji which focuses on anime TV series’, some of which are available to watch on Netflix.