Among the many renowned animation studios in Japan, Kyoto Animation stands out. A building on the premises became a lethal trap for scores of workers in 2019. The man responsible for starting the fire has been handed a death sentence.
Judge Keisuke Masuda of Japan handed down the death penalty to Shinji Aoba on January 25 for the 36 murders he committed. Last year, the accused acknowledged that he was the one who ignited the fire. He expressed his shock and regret, saying he “went too far” and had no idea so many people would die. His defense team said he should not have received such a harsh sentence since, due to his supposed mental illness, he was unable to distinguish between right and wrong.
The judge, however, didn’t buy it. Masuda stated Aoba was not “insane nor suffering from diminished mental health capacity at the time of the crime.” He also told the defendant that the survivors of the fire saw terrible things, like their “colleagues engulfed in flames.” The judge stated they are “tormented by feelings of guilt and remorse.”
Aoba sprayed a combustible liquid across the Kyoto Animation building, starting the fire. He yelled out, “Die!” to the terrified workers as he sprayed the liquid. After that, he ignited the combustible substance, and the structure burst into flames. Firefighters spent hours extinguishing the fire, which injured scores of people.
Among those hurt was Aoba. Twelve surgeries were necessary for the extensive burns that covered 90% of his body. Once he had recovered from his injuries, the authorities took him into custody.
The prosecution said that Aoba believed his work had been stolen, which led him to attack the building. He asserted that the corporation had copied a novel he had submitted for one of their contests. The accused stated that he felt he had no choice but to act in that way when he did it.