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On July 18, a 41-year-old man named Shinji Aoba walked into the main studio of Kyoto Animation with 40 liters of gasoline and set it on fire. The fire gutted the building, destroyed the materials within and killed 36 of the studio’s workers. Among the victims were a well-respected industry veteran, directors of some of the studio’s most venerated series and young animators who had just been brought on.

Kyoto Animation is exceptional among Japanese studios for its in-house approach. Instead of using freelance animators, it trains its own, who are salaried rather than paid per frame or shot, which is common practice in the industry. This approach has resulted in more than 10 years of consistently well-regarded TV series and films like “A Silent Voice,” one of the biggest successes of 2016.

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