KYOTO – The Kyoto Prefectural Police have finished identifying all 34 of the people killed in last week’s arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio through DNA tests and plan to reveal their names soon, investigative sources said Thursday.
The 34 staff members of the company, also known as KyoAni, died after Shinji Aoba, 41, allegedly spread gasoline in the building and set the three-story structure ablaze in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward at around 10:30 a.m. on July 18.
The victims ranged in age from their 20s to 60s and about half of them were in their 20s and 30s, according to the police. Some were severely burned, police said, adding that they are taking steps to return the remains to the families.
Police are in discussions with Kyoto Animation about when and how to reveal the identities of the deceased, they said.
Police have obtained an arrest warrant on suspicion of murder and other offenses for Aoba, who has been treated for serious burns at an Osaka hospital, including skin graft surgery. His condition remains critical, sources said.
As Thursday marked a week since the deadly attack, anime fans and bereaved families gathered near the studio to pay tribute to the victims.
“I am at a loss for words,” said 52-year-old Hideki Miyoshi from Okayama, who stopped at the Kyoto site to offer flowers on his way to Tokyo. “These talented people created wonderful works, and their lives were lost in an instant.”
Long lines of people, including fans from overseas, formed before a tent set up for laying flowers near the building, whose steel ceiling frames were visible due to damage from the fire.
“The first animation that made me cry was a KyoAni work. I am still in a state of shock and can’t believe what happened,” said a 17-year-old high school student from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. She said she dreams of joining the company one day.
Jiang Yifei, a 16-year-old high school student from China, said she hopes to see the anime studio recover.
Kyoto Animation has begun accepting donations to rebuild the studio, saying it will make its best efforts to that end. Some Japanese municipalities featured in the studio’s works have also started soliciting money to help the company and survivors.
The town of Iwami in Tottori Prefecture, known as the setting of the KyoAni production “Free!” about a male high school swimming club, set up donation boxes at its tourism promotion office and locations associated with the work.
Since the animation aired in 2013, the number of annual visitors to the town has increased fivefold to some 50,000.
The city of Ogaki in Gifu Prefecture, depicted in the movie “A Silent Voice,” a story about a girl with a hearing impairment, also began soliciting donations for the studio.
“They depicted the streetscape with their wonderful drawings and I am just thankful,” said Takeshi Miura of the local tourism association.
In other parts of the country, bookstores and anime-related shops are hosting exhibits of original artworks produced by KyoAni.
Exhibits, some of which were opened before the fire, are being held in Tokyo as well as the prefectures of Nagano, Osaka, Kagoshima and elsewhere.
At a bookstore in the city of Tokushima in Shikoku, fans pored over some 70 original illustrations used in anime shows such as the television series “Violet Evergarden.” The items on display included illustrations with intricate brushwork depicting the characters’ emotions, as well as ones with hand-written instructions by the art director on how to color in certain parts of the image.
“As an illustrator myself, I want to remember this view forever,” a 33-year-old man visiting the exhibit said.
“Many people contacted us after the incident, and we were reminded how much KyoAni’s works are loved,” a representative from the bookstore said.
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