Shinji Aoba, a Japanese man, has admitted to starting a fire that killed 36 people in an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan, in 2019. The blaze at Kyoto Animation’s studios in July 2019 shocked Japan and the global anime industry. Aoba, who allegedly felt his ideas had been stolen, confessed to the crime during the trial at the Kyoto District Court. He faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and arson.
Aoba, who suffered severe burns and appeared in court in a wheelchair, expressed remorse, stating that he did not anticipate the high number of casualties and now believes he went too far. The victims of the fire included young staff members, with one being a 21-year-old woman. Over 30 others were injured.
Aoba’s lawyers entered a plea of not guilty, claiming that he had a mental disorder that prevented him from distinguishing between right and wrong and stopping himself from committing the crime. The court is scheduled to deliver its verdict on January 25.
Kyoto Animation, also known as KyoAni, is a well-known animation studio in Japan, recognized for producing popular TV anime series such as “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “K-ON!” The company’s president, Hideaki Hatta, expressed his sorrow for the loss of lives and the impact on those close to the victims.
The trial has attracted significant public attention, with 500 people lining up to secure one of the 35 seats reserved for the public. Many attendees expressed their desire for Aoba to apologize if he acknowledges his guilt.
Firefighters described the arson attack as “unprecedented” and extremely challenging to extinguish. Aoba suffered burns on over 90 percent of his body and required multiple operations for his injuries. Prosecutors stated that the attack was motivated by Aoba’s misplaced resentment, as he believed the studio had stolen his ideas, a claim denied by Kyoto Animation.