Fire At Kyoto Animation, 33 Confirmed Dead And Suspected Arsonist In Police Custody [Update]

Fire At Kyoto Animation, 33 Confirmed Dead And Suspected Arsonist In Police Custody [Update]

Kyoto Animation, one of Japan’s most popular anime studios, was reportedly set ablaze this morning in Japan. A man in his 40s was allegedly seen pouring a flammable liquid and setting it ablaze. He is currently in police custody.

At around 10 am, residents living near the studio called the police, saying there was the sound of an explosion and that smoke was emitting from the building, which is located in Kyoto’s Fushimi area.

Update: According to Japanese TV news, there are still people trapped in the studio and there are twenty people who are still unaccounted for.  

Update 2: One witness said the suspect was screaming “die” as he lit the fire.

Update 3: The Japanese media is now reporting that seven people are confirmed dead.

Update 4: An announcement scheduled tomorrow for Kyoto Animation’s new Free! movie has been cancelled.

Update 5: Sixteen people are now confirmed dead, the Japanese TV media reports.

Update 6: Kyoto Animation CEO Hideaki Hatta told reporters that for the past few years death threats have often been sent to the company.

Update 7: Fans have posting messages, expressing sorrow and offering condolences using a #prayforkyoani hashtag on Twitter.

Update 8: Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead.

Update 9: Thirty-three people have been confirmed dead.

[The original story continues below.]

The building is Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 Studio, NHK reports. The studio’s head office is in Uji City, Kyoto, which is about twenty minutes away by car.

Sankei News reports that 38 employees have been taken to the hospital for major and minor injuries. ANN adds that nine people are unconscious. According to Kyoto Shimbun, one person is reported dead.

Kyoto Animation is perhaps best known for anime like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, K-On! and more recently, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Free!, among many others.


  • It might be bad auto translation, but the Kyoto Shimbun article seems to be saying multiple people have died, at the time of this comment. Hope we’ll learn more about why the arsonist did this, but the outcome is horrific regardless.

    • Yeah, a lot of info is coming through very quickly and Brian is translating and interpreting all the local coverage as it happens.

      This is awful.

      • This article has ads on it Alex

        Might want to remove them like you did with the Christchurch article because it might be seen as a little tasteless.

    • Mum read news from HK this morning, the anime Hibike Euphonium heroine Himiko was set to be in a relationship and the guy did not like that. Very sad I think for such a reason to do this.

      • I’ve heard that one going around, but it always traces back to 4chan. Still waiting to hear from an independent, official or remotely reliable source.

      • Checked a few newspapers today, they’re reporting that the arsonist told either police or a witness 小説を盗まれたから放火した which as far as I can tell translates to “the novel was stolen so I set fire to it”. So it sounds like he was angry that some content Kyoto Animation wrote was plagiarised.

  • I was extremely saddened when I saw the initial headline this morning.

    I’m just shocked beyond words with these updates…

  • Kyoto Animation are responsible for a few of my favourite anime. Full Metal Panic, Haruhi, K-On and even Beyond the Boundary.

    All we can hope for is a quick recovery for those in hospital, and no more deaths stemming from their injuries.

  • I have just have to wonder, how many of those deaths were preventable? How shit was the safety and design of that building that so many would die from a lone arsonist attack? It’s infuriating to think about.

    • I was thinking about this as well, but fire codes mostly target accidental fires. I don’t think there’s much you can do when someone deliberately targets escape routes to make sure people can’t get out. It’s so awful to think that half the people in that building died.

    • I checked a couple of articles from other sources and it looked like it played on a number of factors:
      1. He started at the front entrance to make it difficult for people to get out, hence those upstairs being forced to the roof where the door was locked so they couldn’t easily get out.
      2. Traditional animation studios have a lot of incidental combustibles (paper stacks and related art supplies)
      3. A central spiral staircase allowed the accelerated fire to spread more easily upwards.
      4. Lack of sprinklers and fire shutters, but because it was a relatively small building it was still fire code compliant – i.e. it should have been fine in the case of accidental paper fire, but the interaction of petrol as an accelerant basically smoke-bombed the place so people collapsed from smoke inhalation before they could get clear at all in the first place.

      Presumably this incident might see a review of fire codes to force smaller multistoreys to adopt more stringent measures akin to larger building requirements in the future.

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