Last Saturday marked exactly six months since the arson attack on Kyoto Animation that resulted in 36 deaths. The company has since resumed operations and demolition work has already begun for the fire-ravaged building in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward, but even that lengthy process is a short and simple one compared to processing the emotional grief of victims’ families, such as the mother of Naomi Ishida. Naomi, a color designer, was among those who died in the July 18 attack, and in speaking to reporters from NHK her mother voiced her wishes for how the studio’s site should be used once the demolition work is complete.
“I want them to build a monument. Not in some other place, but in the same place where the studio was. If there is no monument, decades from now people will forget that it was a place where so many people worked so hard creating animation, and loving what they made.”
The elder Ishida’s desire echoes the idea floated by Kyoto Animation CEO Hideaki Hatta shortly after the incident, and it’s a sentiment that many fans likely share. On Jan 18, the six-month anniversary of the attack, a number of fans gathered at the studio site, including a 40-something father and his junior high school-aged son, who had traveled from Kanagawa Prefecture, several hours away from Kyoto even by bullet train. “For the past year, it’s felt like there’s a hole in my heart,” said the father, whose son’s interest in anime was sparked by the works of Kyoto Animation. “We came to offer our prayers before the building is cleared away…All we can hope for is that he souls of those who passed away can rest in peace.”
Also visiting the site were a woman in her 20s from Osaka, who came with her eight-year-old daughter, and told reporters “I pray that my girl will be able to watch new anime from Kyoto Animation, and that a bright future is waiting for the company.” And in a sign of the studio’s international acclaim, a Chinese college student currently studying in Tokyo also was at the site, in hopes of processing her “sadness that [she] cannot put into words” and pay her respects to the victims.
However, there’s also a group that’s opposed to the idea of turning the site into a memorial: the people who actually live in the neighborhood. As discussed late at the end of last year, the Inaba Higashi neighborhood association, made up of residents of the part of the Kyoto City where Kyoto Animation’s studio was located, have said they don’t want a park, monument, or any other sort of beacon for mourners installed. Kinya Adachi, president of the association, says that the sudden added presence of so many out-of-area visitors is disrupting residents’ way of life.
“When we open our front doors, there are people standing there. When we need to pull our cars out of our driveways, we have to ask people to move out of the way,” Adachi reports. “Recently, kids can’t even play outside…If they erect a monument here, there’ll be a limitless number of people coming to the area,” Adachi says, a prediction at least partially supported by the various, far-off parts of Japan visitors came from on Jan 18. “I don’t want the site to be turned into a place that threatens residents’ lifestyles.”
Adachi’s concerns, which are shared by many local families, can’t be dismissed out of hand. While Kyoto Animation is a highly respected company in an increasingly international industry, its Fushimi studio was located in a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood. Having such a tragic event occur on in their community has undoubtedly been traumatic and stressful for those who live nearby (there are private homes literally across the street from the studio site). How to weigh the desire of fans and victims’ families to tangibly preserve the memories of those who died versus residents’ need to be able to live their lives without being constantly reminded of the arson attack is a question without an easy answer, but one that definitely needs to be given its proper consideration.
Source: NHK News Web via Jin
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