After a legendary Kyoto Animation Studio director went missing many anime fans on Twitter reported director Yasuhiro Takemoto dead in light of the KyoAni fire that’s claimed 34 lives. Now, it’s been confirmed by Takemoto’s family that he died during the tragic incident.
On July 21, 2019, Kyoto Animation Studio released an official statement concerning the fire. KyoAni president Hideaki Hatta has requested that police not release the names of the dead who have been identified, but some family members have begun talking to news reporters.
On July 22, 2019, Takemoto’s family living in the Ako, Hyogo Prefecture spoke to The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. The father said that he tried calling his son’s phone number after hearing news of the KyoAni arson attack but couldn’t reach him.
“I’ve cried and cried,” Takemoto’s father reportedly said. “I’m exhausted from crying.”
NHK reported that a relative of a different victim was told on July 19th that authorities would need to conduct DNA testing in order to identify the remains of some of the victims. This testing took about a week.
Similarly, police requested that Takemoto’s father help with a DNA test so the victims could be identified.
On July 26, 2019, Yasuhiro Takemoto’s family confirmed that the director died. The police have already released Takemoto’s body to the family.
“[My son] was a really kind child and he was too good for me,” Takemoto’s father reportedly told Nikkei.
[Updated July 26, 2019] Takemoto’s death was confirmed by Japanese reports.
[Updated July 25, 2019] Added statements from Takemoto’s family. Added multiple new details, including information potentially relevant to Yoshiji Kigami. Updated death count after one person passed away in the hospital. The majority of the article remains as originally published.
The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that one Korean woman in her thirties was working as an employee was injured during the Kyoto Animation fire attack and she’s injured in the hospital. The majority of the dead are women. Out of the injured victims (whose names have not been released), one victim had to have the legs amputated.
The initial rumor that Takemoto is dead apparently started with this tweet by a Japanese person, who claimed, “A sad incident occurred at a company called Kyoto Animation. Currently, there are 25 people dead, including Yasuhiro Takemoto.”
The tweet then went viral online. Hours later, this same person tweeted, “Sorry, Takemoto Yasuhiro has not confirmed his safety, but may still be alive. I pray for his safety.”
On July 18, 2019, Anime News UK had indeed reported that “director Yasuhiro Takemoto (Hyouka) has been reported as one of 5 employees still missing following the Kyoto Animation fire.” But many on Twitter spread the idea that Takemoto was “confirmed” to be dead weeks before the director’s family provided the confirmation.
It’s also being reported that “director Naoko Yamada (A Silent Voice) appears to be safe.”
In addition, “Shoji Gatoh (Creator of Full Metal Panic) has tweeted that he believes director Tatsuya Ishihara (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) to be safe.” This information is not confirmed.
NHK released a list of the ages of the dead victims, which include one 61-year-old person. While this information is not a confirmation of death, the legendary director Yoshiji Kigami is 61 years old and he is one of the people allegedly missing in the KyoAni fire (for more details, please see our full article).
Kigami is a director, storyboard writer, and animator for KyoAni. He worked on Sound! Euphonium and is well-known for working on movies like Grave of the Fireflies and Akira.
A relative of one of the Kyoto Animation employees is requesting that people not share on social media rumors or the unofficial lists of missing people out of respect for the privacy of the KyoAni staff members.
Takemoto was well-known as the director of Amagi Brilliant Park, Full Metal Panic!, Hyoka, Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (it’s possible the director was slated to return for directing Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Season 2).
He also was a storyboard writer and episode director for Violet Evergarden (an announcement concerning the KyoAni fire and how it affects the upcoming Violet Evergarden movie release date has already been made).
Some tweets claiming that Takemoto is dead are also mistakenly listing the director as having directed Clannad and other anime. Kyoto animation did indeed animate Clannad and Clannad: After Story, but Takemoto did not work on those projects.
Director Ishihara Tatsuya directed Clannad and it’s claimed that he’s safe.
Kyoto Animation Studio president Hideaki Hatta is considering demolishing the Studio 1 building and building a public park that would include a monument. They are considering holding a funeral or farewell party for a deceased employee as a company.
Just found out that Yasuhiro Takemoto who directed Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu, The Second Raid, Amagi Brilliant Park, Hyouka, and Ms. Kobayashi's Dragon Maid was among the deceased at KyoAni. I cannot begin to imagine what his family is going through. RIP 😭 pic.twitter.com/JoTd4RtjKs
— AnimetalViking | #ThankYouKentaroMiura (@russellgainsfo1) July 18, 2019
The arsonist attack targeted one of the offices where about 70 people were working. The company has multiple locations, with about 150 employees in total.
NHK reports that 13 men, 20 women, and one person of unknown gender have died in the Kyoto Animation fire (on July 20th the death count was updated to 34 people and the gender was listed as male). The Kyoto Fire Department ended rescue efforts inside the building and confirmed that no one is left in the building. Firefighters found two of the confirmed dead on the first floor, 11 dead on the second floor, and 20 dead on the third floor or in the stairwell leading to the rooftop
The reason the number of reported dead increased rapidly is that Japanese police and firefighters do not confirm death at the scene of an incident. Instead, victims are transported to the hospital where a doctor must confirm the death.
Based on the final death toll, the KyoAni arson attack by a 41-year-old unnamed assailant is the largest mass murder in the history of post-World War II Japan. Kyoto Prefectural Police say the suspect started the fire with around 40 liters of gasoline-like liquid and purposefully lit the first floor and all exits on fire so people could not escape.
Urgh, somebody's already updated Yasuhiro Takemoto's wikipedia page to claim the worst. Just let the officials do their job already
— Achy, Heike Heart (@fathomlessblue) July 18, 2019
The suspect allegedly screamed, “You die!” when attacking the KyoAni staff. He poured the gasoline-like fluid directly on them, trying to ignite the employees. Police also confirmed multiple large knives at the scene of the mass murder.
“Someone left in the building was begging for help from a window. I couldn’t tell if they were a man or a woman. Their mouth was bright red against their blackened body covered completely in soot, even their face,” an eyewitness said between sobs.
“All I could tell was that they were crying out ‘HELP! HELP’ again and again. Soon they stopped moving against the window and burned into it like a shadow. Then I heard the din of ambulance sirens and helicopters flying by.”
Help us help our friends at Kyoto Animation by donating (if you can) or sharing: https://t.co/Fg599lm5Dy
— Sentai 💚 (@SentaiFilmworks) July 18, 2019
The attacker was chased away from the building by a brave KyoAni employee until he was apprehended by police while hiding. The motive for the attack is unclear, but reports indicate that the attacker felt Kyoto Animation either ripped him off, plagiarized him, or copycatted his novel in some manner.
President Hatta says that KyoAni has received death threats over the years but none of them contained the name of the arson suspect. Hatta also says the suspect “never applied for the novel.”