National / Crime & Legal

Kyoto Animation admits it has record of receiving draft novel from arson suspect

JIJI, Kyodo

The name of the suspect in the July 18 arson attack at a Kyoto Animation Co. studio has been found among a record of authors who submitted novels to the company in the past, the company’s lawyer said Tuesday.

The suspect, Shinji Aoba, 41, claimed when he was detained after the attack that his novel had been stolen, according to sources.

Kyoto Animation has held public contests in which it accepts draft novels and then makes the award-winning works into anime.

“We’re confident that none of the company’s products so far has any similarity” to the apparent work of the suspect, said Daisuke Okeda, the firm’s lawyer.

After the arson attack, which killed 35 people, the company initially said there were no records of receiving any works from Aoba. But when the company later double-checked related records it found his name, according to Okeda.

The records are also said to include a part of the suspect’s address that was disclosed by Kyoto Prefectural Police.

The submitted novel in question had been forgotten because it failed to pass a first-stage assessment, Okeda said.

The police are trying to confirm whether the novel was actually sent by Aoba.

At the suspect’s apartment in the city of Saitama, police have confiscated papers used for writing as well as anime-related goods including those linked to Kyoto Animation. But according to investigative sources they have not been able to find any pieces of paper on which something has been written.

The suspect remains in critical condition after suffering severe burns in the attack. Police are waiting for him to recover before they serve an arrest warrant on him.

Okeda also said that Kyoto Animation had successfully recovered data for some original drawings from a server that was not damaged in the arson attack.

According to Okeda, most of the original drawings for anime works being produced at the studio at the time of the attack were lost in the fire, which engulfed the whole three-story building constructed from reinforced concrete. However, some of the drawings had been digitized and saved on the server.

The server, located in a first-floor room away from the spiral staircase where the arsonist is suspected of pouring gasoline, was surrounded by concrete walls. The server escaped damage from the fire, as well as water used in fighting the flames, according to Okeda.

“I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the experts who have devoted themselves to recovering the original drawings,” he said.