Man found guilty of starting the Kyoto anime fire that claimed 36 lives

Following an arson assault at a Kyoto animation studio in 2019, which left 36 people dead and numerous others injured, a Japanese man was given the death penalty. Shocking the anime community, the incident—one of the deadliest in Japan in recent decades—mainly claimed the lives of young creators. Despite admitting to the attack, 45-year-old Shinji Aoba’s attorneys had argued for a reduced sentence due to his “mental incompetence”. Nonetheless, judges dismissed this, concluding that Aoba was competent.

“I have concluded that the accused was not mentally deranged or feeble during the commission of the offense,” Chief Judge Masuda declared at Kyoto District Court on Thursday. “It is quite unfortunate and severe that 36 individuals have lost their lives. The Japanese network NHK reported him as stating, “The fear and pain of the deceased victims was indescribable.” As the fire progressed, many of the young artists who worked in animation became trapped on the studio’s higher floors, where they ultimately perished. The incident, which was among the bloodiest cases in recent decades, caused Japan to go into national mourning. The public and media in the nation have kept a close eye on the case.

Aoba was to be executed, according to the prosecution, who claimed that he was inspired to attack the studio because he thought his creations had been pilfered. He claimed that Kyoto Animation, also referred to as KyoAni, had copied a book he had submitted for their competition. He broke into the studio during a workday in July 2019 and shouted “Drop dead” a lot while splattering gasoline all over the bottom level and lighting it on fire. Later, in September 2023, he admitted his culpability and stated that he had not anticipated so many deaths.

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