Accepting the Loss While Covering the Kyoto Animation Arson

Ok-ON!! (by way of Kyoto Animation)


On today one 12 months in the past, Kyoto Animation was attacked by an arsonist. It additionally occurred to be the primary day I began working for Crunchyroll Information. Right here is the story of my first byline as an anime journalist, the day a beloved studio was attacked, and the way I coated the occasions as they unfolded within the days, weeks, months, and now 12 months after the tragedy.


11:30 AM. Thursday morning. July 18, 2019. Tokyo.


I’m shaken awake by my spouse who has been studying the information within the different room. I’d been awake a lot of the night time attempting to type out my new place at Crunchyroll Information. My first piece was to be a overview of Weathering with You, Makoto Shinkai’s latest movie that launched the subsequent day. Then, tragedy struck.


Kyoto Animation was on hearth, and it was purposefully lit.


I couldn’t consider it. I turned on NHK information to see what was occurring and all it was exhibiting was Studio 1 engulfed in smoke. It was unbelievable. I had solely visited the studio and surrounding space three months prior for a pilgrimage to see the studio the place my favourite anime was created and go to the areas that impressed the creativity.


Nevertheless it was going up in smoke, actually.



Woke as much as the information that KYOTO ANIMATION WAS ON FIRE.


— Dazza (@DoctorDazza) July 18, 2019



As I used to be the one on-line on the time, I hit up the Crunchyroll Information Slack channel. I didn’t but have full privileges – I used to be meant to start out in a couple of days – so I couldn’t break the information myself on the web site. Along with Humberto Saabedra, we labored collectively to verify all the knowledge going up on Crunchyroll Information was as correct as we might discover. 


I translated as a lot as I might by way of the tears, looking for out who was okay (fortunately it was confirmed early on that Administrators Yamada, Ishihara, and Ishidate have been alive), and sadly watching as rumors swelled on who was lacking. Fortunately, the info have been straightforward to search out because the Japanese media have been everywhere in the story although sadly, a few of it, like the remainder of the web, was rumour.


Memorial in front of Studio 1

Memorial at Kyoto Animation Studio 1 (by way of JapanTimes)


I by no means thought my first piece for Crunchyroll could be engaged on the most important mass-murder in Japan since World Warfare II. Nobody ever working in anime journalism would assume a day like this is able to come. On account of working within the US, Humberto rightly wanted to sleep, so I used to be left on Twitter getting as a lot info as I might to get the info out. It was uncooked. It was emotional. The individuals who made me completely happy, gave me pleasure, have been combating for his or her lives.


The world was mourning for Kyoto Animation.


August 27, 2019. Ikebukuro.


It was August once they introduced the primary individuals who had died within the arson assault. The police and Kyoto Animation waited till the households had been notified earlier than publicly releasing the names to the media – not that it didn’t cease the media from investigating themselves and releasing the names themselves towards the households’ needs. 


The time period “mass gomi” (mass rubbish), a play on the time period “mass komi” (mass communication), was coined to name the media who launched the names of those that had died earlier than the households wished them to take action. Each home media in Japan and web sites internationally have been the reason for frustration, and one personally I didn’t like.


I do bear in mind the day in late August when the second group of individuals was introduced.


It was August 27.


The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (by way of Kyoto Animation)


I used to be sitting in a Starbucks in Sunshine Metropolis in Ikebukuro. I’d simply completed visiting The Quintessential Quintuplets exhibition and was going by way of the pictures I’d taken whereas ready for a buddy to hitch me. My buddy was solely touring by way of Japan, so we have been going to take advantage of the time he had.


However whereas scrolling on Twitter, the information popped up. One other 25 names have been launched to the general public. I used to be lucky sufficient to be at house when the primary group of names was launched, the place I might sit in silence after ending the story, however not right here. I used to be sobbing inside a Starbucks over my pc whereas translating the names and attempting to maintain it collectively to complete the story.


My buddy turned up in the course of this and fortunately he immediately knew what I used to be engaged on and was gracious sufficient to attend me out whereas I uploaded the story by way of the Starbucks Wi-Fi community, comforting me afterward. It was good.


November 3, 2019. Kyoto.


Going into November, I knew there was a memorial occurring in Kyoto instead of the competition the studio normally places on. I additionally knew that I’d by no means have the possibility to go to it – to pay my respects. That’s after I acquired the Slack message.


“We’ll pay so that you can go to Kyoto to cowl the memorial.”


I used to be completely happy. It was a humorous feeling. I knew it might be one of many hardest issues I’d ever do, however I used to be completely happy that I’d have the ability to do it. 


You’ll be able to learn my protection of the memorial right here.


Kyoto Animation Memorial

Kyoto Animation in November (picture: Daryl Harding)


I acquired to see Kyoto Animation Studio 1 for one final time. I’d acquired see all of it shiny and yellow in March 2019, and once more as a husk of its former self from a distance, after all, there was no approach I used to be capable of get near it.


What wasn’t written about within the protection was that I used to be grateful to have pals to lean on who additionally got here to Kyoto to pay their respects. To drink by Kamo River at four AM within the morning, to get Okinomiyaki within the busy fundamental avenue. It was cathartic. It helped me heal.


July 18, 2020. 12 PM. Tokyo.


A 12 months on and quite a bit has modified. Sadly Violet Evergarden: The Film nonetheless hasn’t been launched as a result of ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The scars from that day a 12 months in the past can nonetheless be felt in anime movies and sequence which have both been postponed or simply outright not even mentioned as a result of passing of key workers members.


As I sit right here watching the memorial video being streamed on the identical TV as the fireplace listening to the somber music being performed because it rains out, studying the phrases that Kyoto Animation have been saying during the last 12 months, I can't assist however really feel hopeful that it doesn’t matter what, the spirit of Kyoto Animation lives on in those that proceed the good work.



For an overview of the Kyoto Animation and the place they’re at now, Kyle, Cayla, and I acquired the privilege to talk to Kyoto Animation President Hideaki Hatta and Lawyer Daisuke Ono to get their perspective and ideas.


On a private word, whereas it nonetheless hurts excited about those that we’ve misplaced, those that have been taken from us too early, I’m capable of look previous the occasions and to the long run. The anime they made nonetheless exist, and their legacies shall be felt forevermore and Kyoto Animation will proceed to push the boundaries of what animation can do and produce smiles to our faces, which is what those that have handed would have wished.



Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll Information. He additionally runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff referred to as TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts pictures of his travels on Instagram.