NARA/KYOTO/SAITAMA – After 10 of the 35 Kyoto Animation arson attack victims were named Friday, fans are visiting so-called “holy sites” featured in the famed company’s works and praying for the deceased.
The city of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, is said to be one of the locations for “Kyoukai no Kanata” (“Beyond the Boundary”), which was created with help from art director Mikiko Watanabe, who died at age 35 in the July 18 blaze.
Kashihara draws numerous fans because its landscape is believed to be depicted in detail in the anime.
“They gave us an irreplaceable treasure,” said Hiroaki Moriguchi, 24, who is working to revitalize the city through anime. “I have no words for losing them,” he said.
At a cafe featured in the work, fans wrote messages of appreciation to the victims in a notebook. A donation box was also set up. Takashi Manabe, the 73-year-old owner of the cafe, said, “I don’t know why people working to bring joy had to die.”
The Demachimasugata shopping street in Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward is known as the model for “Tamako Market,” which was made with the help of KyoAni victim Futoshi Nishiya, who was 37.
Visitors to the shopping street began to increase after TV broadcasts of the anime began in 2013, local people said. After the attack, a banner with messages mourning the victims was raised at the street.
KyoAni workers filmed the shopping street in detail for use in the production of “Tamako Market,” according to Hitoshi Kishimoto, 60, who runs a clothing store there. “I feel nothing but anger at the arsonist,” he said.
Yoshiteru Yamaguchi, a 56-year-old fan who frequents the street, visited the site of the attack on Saturday for the first time.
“The announcement (of the 10 names) helped me sort myself out,” he said.
Yasuhiro Machida, a 48-year-old resident of Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, visited Washinomiya Shrine in the city, a holy site in the popular KyoAni anime series “Lucky Star,” which was directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto, who was 47.
“I have no choice but to face the reality, and it’s so sad that we can’t watch any (new) works,” Machida said.
At the KyoAni studio in Fushimi Ward in Kyoto, many anime fans lined up to lay flowers in honor of the victims on Saturday despite the sweltering summer heat.
“The victims had bright futures,” said Mika Onodera, a 20-year-old university student from Sapporo who studies anime.
“I want to create works that impress many people,” she said while paying her respects to the victims.