On Tuesday, the circumstances surrounding a June 18 fire at Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) that resulted in the deaths of 35 people circulated news media outlets. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the alleged arsonist shouted accusations of plagiarism as he was being apprehended by police officials. In light of this, records of a novel that he submitted to the animation studio have been uncovered.
Eyewitnesses overheard Shinji Aoba, 41, yelling to officials that he set fire to the company after it stole his novel. Initially, the company denied having ever received a novel from the suspect. As the police’s investigation progressed, however, officials discovered that a novel had been sent by Aoba from the same address which police had initially searched on Friday as part of their inspection. According to KyoAni’s lawyer, Daisuke Okeda, this submission was rejected following its initial screening.
KyoAni has a history of seeking story inspiration from external sources. Since 2009, the animation studio has held an annual competition that allows writers to submit story material. Winning ideas stand the chance of being developed into an anime by KyoAni.
When asked about the plagiarism accusations, Okeda said, “We’re confident that none of the company’s products so far has any similarity.”
KyoAni is known for its work on Violet Evergarden, which was developed into an anime series in 2016 and licensed by Netflix shortly afterward in 2018. The series follows an “Auto Memory Doll” who writes letters for those who cannot while she struggles to understand a war-torn country and the emotional impact her past has tolled on her.
Aoba allegedly spent days planning the attack in Kyoto. On July 18, he allegedly spread 11 gallons of gasoline around KyoAni’s building before setting the studio aflame. The studio is located in Uji, a city on the outskirts of Kyoto in Japan. 10 employees remain in the hospital due to injuries sustained in the arson attack. The suspect is also in the hospital and has yet to be arrested for the crime.