The global design and animation community has come together to pay tribute to the 33 people lost in a fire at Japanese anime studio Kyoto Animation. It is believed that the fire, which has left a further 36 employees injured, was the result of arson, making it one of the deadliest attacks in recent Japanese history.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook took to Twitter to share his admiration for the studio. “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,” he wrote. “KyoAni artists spread joy all over the world and across generations with their masterpieces.”
Jonny Slow, the CEO of VFX company Pixomondo described the fire as “an assault on art itself” in a statement released by the studio. While Masuhiro Sakurai, the director behind Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers tweeted, “It’s too painful… there are no words.”
In Texas, animation company Sentai Filmworks started a GoFundMe page for the employees of Kyoto Animation and their families. At the time of publication, the appeal has raised $1,354,890 (£1,080,253), far outstripping the £750,000 target. On the page, Sentai Filmworks wrote: “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.”
Kyoto Animation, often abbreviated to KyoAni by fans, was set up by by Yoko Hatta and her husband Hideaki Hatta in 1981 and has been behind numerous hit anime series such as Lucky Star and K-On. The studio was also responsible for the 2016 feature film A Silent Voice, which tells an emotional story of bullying, disability and remorse.
As well as the high quality of its animation work, Kyoto Animation has been praised for its gender balance and working conditions. It has been reported that the studio pays its animators a salary rather than by frame, as is industry standard in Japan and beyond. Anime New Network editor-at-large Mike Toole commented, “Kyoto Animation are a rarity in the anime business: they treat their people well, they strive to own part of their works, and their creations are consistently excellent, at the very least on a technical level.”
Numerous well-wishers have left flowers and messages at the site of the fire, with the hashtag #prayForKyoAni trending worldwide.