Out of the 70 Kyoto Animation employees who were in the company’s Fushimi studio when it was attacked by an arsonist on July 18, only one escaped without injury. Thirty-five died on the day of the fire, and another succumbed to her wounds and passed away earlier this month.
That leaves 33 survivors who were injured, and while four of them remain in the hospital, 27 have returned to work. In a press conference held on Oct 18, Kyoto Animation President Hideaki Hatta even said that an additional three employees had also temporarily come back to the office.
However, that’s not to say that Kyoto Animation isn’t still dealing with the trauma of one of the worst mass murders in modern Japanese history. “Things are still very far from normal,” explained Hatta. “The everyday atmosphere we had until July 18 doesn’t exist right now. When you go to work, so many people who used to be there have gone.”
Kyoto Animation had approximately 176 employees on the morning of July 18, which means that roughly 20 percent of the staff were killed. With such an immense loss, the survivors’ are likely to be dealing with mental anguish and grief for the rest of their lives, and Hatta says that the three employees who returned to work temporarily have since decided they need more time to cope with the stress and anxiety brought about by the attack. It was also revealed that Kyoto Animation as a whole shut down operations for nearly a month at the start of August, and that the company is continually coordinating with medical institutions to try to provide necessary mental health care and emotional support to its staff, though even with these efforts, a handful of employees have resigned in the aftermath of the incident.
Humanitarian priorities are entirely keeping with Kyoto Animation’s previous announcement that it will be using the generous donations it has received from around the world exclusively to help the victims and their families, not for business recovery activities. But while the company isn’t pushing employees to come back to work before they’re ready, neither is it considering throwing in the towel on the art form of animation. Speaking about Kyoto Animation’s planned theatrical features for its "Violet Evergarden" and "Free" franchises, both of which were announced as 2020 releases prior to the arson attack, Hatta promised “We are making them. We will have to slightly adjust the release date for 'Violet Evergarden,' but we will absolutely produce the film.”
“There is no shortcut to nurturing employees’ development,” Hatta added, speaking on the necessity of filling the roles left vacant by the untimely deaths of so many talented artists. “The most important thing is the emotional recovery of our creators,” he continued, and as much as they’re looking forward to new works from Kyoto Animation, that’s a sentiment that fans are sure to agree with.
Sources: Livedoor News/Kyodo via Hachima Kiko, Kyoto Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun Digital, NHK News Web via Anime News Network/Crystalyn Hodgkins
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