Local Kyoto authorities and news-services have reported that an unidentified male in his 40s entered the three-storey premises of respected studio Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) early Thursday morning local time and after shouting ‘Drop Dead’ several times, deliberately set fires with gasoline and ignited them.
The fire – one of the most significant in the country in recent memory and being described as the worst mass-murder in the post-war era – spread quickly, with witnesses saying there was a loud explosion. At the current time, sources note there were around 70 people in the building and reports indicate there have been at least 33 fatalities and many more people injured or unaccounted for. The suspected arsonist has been detained by police, but initial reports say that it is believed he is not a former employee. However one other witness said the suspect, caught as he tried to flee to a local train station, was ranting about being ‘ripped off’.
Kyoto Animation are known for projects such as Full Metal Panic, K-on, Violent Evergarden: The Movie, A Silent Voice: The Movie, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzamiya and Clannad (and they had also worked with Studio Ghibli) and appear to have a respected working environment and pay structure for their employees. However company director Hideaki Hatta has confirmed that the company had recently received threatening emails which they believed had been addressed.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said in a statement that the incident was ‘…too appalling for words’ and offered his condolences.