A crowdfunding campaign, #HelpKyoAniHeal, to support those impacted by the tragic attack on award-winning Kyōto Animation in Uji, Japan, has raised over one million dollars in support so far.
As many downthetubes readers already know, yesterday, 18th July 2019, an arsonist set the studio in Uji, Japan, on fire, killing at least 33 people and leaving 36 others injured, some of them critically.
A man walked into the studios and, according to authorities, poured petrol everywhere before setting it alight, The suspect, identified as a 41-year-old male, who did not work for the studio, was reportedly taken to hospital before being arrested by police.
Presided by Hideaki Hatta, Kyoto Animation, abbreviated KyoAni (京アニ), was established in 1981 by former Mushi Pro staff. Innovative and committed to its staff, the company produces anime series, including K-On and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. another of their series, Violet Evergarden, was picked up by Netflix for a global market.
Their films include the highly regarded A Silent Voice, released in 2016, based on a manga by Yoshitoki Oima, about a bully who torments a classmate with a hearing impairment, but later must come to terms with his actions when he is bullied himself.
They also publish through their KA Esuma Bunko imprint.
Recent projects include Free, a show about a school boys’ swimming team which has proved popular among women, which is set to have its own spin-off film to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and many others, in Japan and beyond, have expressed anger, prayed and mourned the Kyoto victims on social media, many sharing images of their favourite Kyōto Animation projects.
Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted that “Kyoto Animation is home to some of the world’s most talented animators and dreamers — the devastating attack today is a tragedy felt far beyond Japan. KyoAni artists spread joy all over the world and across generations with their masterpieces.”
Commenting on the tragic events, the Kotatsu Fesfival commented “We are deeply saddened by the news about KyoAni. Their work has helped bring magic to audiences at the festival and around the world. Our sympathy goes out everyone there.”
“One of the main things that stands out about Kyoto Animation is the quality of the animation itself,” Ian Wolf, an anime critic for Anime UK News commented, reported by BBC News. “It’s very viewer-friendly.”
The distinctive visual style and level of polish leads to a look that is instantly recognisable, he noted, also commenting on the company’s excellent treatment of its salaried staff.
“The studio makes very little in the way that is controversial… little that is violent or sexual. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to attack it.”
“It’s one of the best and largest animation firms in Japan,” Tokyo-based film commentator Yuichi Maeda told Reuters news agency. “With that loss of life, many of the best hands at animation in the nation are likely to be dead.”
He said the studio’s impact on the industry was much larger than the number of works it made would suggest. “It’s too painful to contemplate.”
“It has a huge presence in animation here. To have this many people die at once will be a huge blow to the Japanese animation industry.”
A crowdfunding appeal, #HelpKyotoAniHeal, set up on GoFundMe by Sentai Filmworks to support the company they have worked with for years, and the families of the as yet identified victims, has raised more than $1m in pledges.
“Since the studio’s founding in 1981, Kyoto Animation has touched the lives and inspired the imaginations of millions of people across the globe,” say Sentai. “KyoAni’s impeccable storytelling and beautiful animation have brought joy immeasurable to the anime community, and it is our honour to extend our hand to them in the wake of the recent attack.
“As support continues to pour in from around the world, we remain dedicated to aiding those impacted by this tragedy in the most appropriate and effective ways possible. We are actively working to establish the most direct bridge to delivering this aid to affected KyoAni staff and their families.”
Responding to concerns that Anime fans are being cautioned, as ever, to be wary of making donations to online appeals without first checking their authenticity, which may be all the harder in this case if you are unfamiliar with the Japanese language, the Sentai team have addressed concerns.
“We established this GoFundMe drive to help build that bridge through all of your generous support,” they state. “The funds pledged and collected through this drive will not be touched until we have confidence they will reach the intended recipients.
“We want donors and those considering donating to this drive to understand that, apart from GoFundMe’s fees to provide a platform for support, every dollar collected will go to the intended recipients. Thank you for your continuing support.”
If you prefer to give direct support to KyoAni, you can buy high resolution digital images from them at Y216.
It’s our understanding from this Twitter thread, which offers screen grabs to take you through the Japanese web site buying process, that the whole process is automated, so nobody is burdened with shipping and stocktaking, and money will just go to Kyonani, where they can use it right away.
• Sentai GoFundMe for KyoAni is here: www.gofundme.com/f/help-kyoani-heal
• Y216: https://kyoani.shop-pro.jp (in Japanese)