National

Kyoto Animation hopes to recover drawing and storyboard data from server after arson attack

Kyodo

Kyoto Animation Co. is seeking to recover drawing and storyboard data from a server that apparently escaped damage from the deadly arson attack on one of the firm’s studios earlier this month.

“The data is the product of people who were killed or injured,” lawyer Daisuke Okeda, who represents the Uji-based animation production company, told reporters last week. The arson attack on July 18 killed 35 people and left dozens of others injured.

The server was located inside a room on the ground floor of the three-story studio building, in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward. The room, surrounded by concrete walls, was distant from the staircase close to where Shinji Aoba, 41, is suspected to have poured and ignited gasoline.

Kyoto Animation, often referred to as “KyoAni” by fans, is known for works such as “K-On!” and “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,” which depicts the everyday lives of high school girls.

Personal computers inside the building were burned to an unrecognizable state and documents on ongoing projects were nearly all lost, but some original drawings may have been digitalized prior to the attack, Okeda said.

He said a note on a rack inside the server room was not even wrinkled.

“There is a possibility the data can be recovered if there is no damage from the fire and if the server did not get wet” when the fire was being extinguished, said Yo Haruyama, president of Aos Data Inc., which specializes in data backup and recovery services.

Also on Monday, the government said it would support the recovery of the animation company.

“We’d like to have related ministries and agencies deal with the issue, after thoroughly hearing about the situation regarding compensation for injured employees and rebuilding of its management,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.

He also said that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and other related offices plan to offer support to help the company receive domestic and overseas donations.

His remarks came after a group of lawmakers proposed to Suga on Friday that the government provide tax breaks for donations to the firm, which have already exceeded ¥600 million.

Investigations have revealed that Aoba, who is still being treated at a hospital for severe burns, had a strong interest in Kyoto Animation, with police confiscating books and DVDs of its works from his home in Saitama, near Tokyo.

The police have also found a smartphone and a tablet device in a house search. Aoba did not have a mobile phone on him when he was apprehended near the burned studio shortly after the attack.

He is believed to have spent three days visiting the neighborhood of Kyoto Animation’s headquarters and locations associated with its television anime series “Sound! Euphonium,” a story about a high school music club in the city of Uji, after arriving in Kyoto on July 15.

The police have obtained an arrest warrant for murder and are expected to officially serve it on Aoba once he recovers.

Investigative sources said Monday that Aoba had likely withdrawn between ¥50,000 ($460) and ¥100,000 in cash from an ATM before the incident. Police believe he used the cash to pay for his traveling expenses and the gasoline used in the attack, the sources said.

Aoba arrived in Kyoto on July 15 and stayed at a hotel for two days. He registered using his real name and phone number and paid in cash, the sources said.

He bought cans to carry the gasoline and other items at a hardware store in Uji on July 17 and bought the gas just before the attack on July 18, according to the sources.