By now almost all of us have heard about the tragic news regarding Kyoto Animation (KyoAni). Not only did the news tragically affect anime fans around the world, it also affected Japan in general as it is now being regarded as the most violent event to occur in Japan following World War II. Now while most of you may know that I’m currently doing my Masters studies in Kyoto, what you may not know is that my dormitory is actually located two train stations away from where it happened (I was in class during this time). When I realised this, the weight of the tragedy affected me greatly. Naturally, my friends and family back home were worried about me when the news broke out so I reassured them that I was OK.
For a long time, KyoAni was regarded as one of my favourite anime studies for various reasons. Not only did they have a distinct art style in almost all their anime, the stories and characters that they brought to life were simply breathtaking to look at. My first exposure to KyoAni was through Lucky Star (more about that in my OWLS Blog Post in August) and Haruhi. As you probably know, Haruhi was a massive hit at the time and that popularity made me take notice of KyoAni because I knew that they were doing something special that other anime studios weren’t doing at the time. Later on, I would then be exposed to timeless classics such as Clannad and K-On!.
As I mentioned earlier, I live fairly close to the site of the incident, meaning that every day, whenever I take the train to and from university, I always see the ruins of what once was KyoAni. Personally, it is just depressing to look at when you consider how many lives were lost inside the building as well as the sentimental value of the studio. I haven’t been taking the news well since it happened and whenever I see or hear something that reminds me of KyoAni or what happened to it, I get quite depressed. Because of this, I’ve found it very hard to watch anime as of late. Heck, when I went to watch Tenki no Ko on the day it released, it felt like a bittersweet experience for me, even though the movie was made by a completely different studio (side note: before the movie started, they showed a teaser trailer for the Violet Evergarden movie. The person next to me got a bit emotional when he saw it).
Recently, on my way back home, I made the decision to personally visit the site. Standing in front of the burnt and gloomy building, it is hard to explain how I was feeling (there was a police officer standing in front of the building and I didn’t want to stare too long in case he thought that I looked suspicious). While walking away, I turned around a few more times to look at it, taking in as much detail as I possibly could. One of the distinct images I can remember in my head was the sight of what looked like an origami hanging over one of the windows on the second floor. On the other side of the building, near the main road, there was a small tent filled with bouquets of flowers people brought to pay their respects to KyoAni. Though it was raining at the time, I decided to stand around the tent for a while and quietly reflect and mourn what had happened (there were some people there that looked like KyoAni staff but I cannot confirm that).
I might decide to visit the site one more time, but for now, I am honoured that I was able to personally pay my respects to an anime studio that I have respected and loved for a long time. Thank you, KyoAni. Stay strong and know that we all love you!