Anime fans are fearing legendary Kyoto Animation director Yoshiji Kigami dead after a recent news report from NHK listed additional information about the unidentified victims of the KyoAni fire.
On July 24, 2019, THR reported that Kigami’s family had not been able to contact him since the KyoAni arson attack took place.
“I still have hope. I want to believe that my son is alive,” said Kigami’s mother, who is in her 80’s.
[Updated July 25, 2019] Added statement from Kigami’s family and additional details about the death threats by the suspect. The remainder of the article remains as originally published.
Kigami is a director, storyboard writer, and animator for Kyoto Animation Studio. He started working at Shin-Ei Douga and then later Animaruya, but in recent years has worked with Kyoto Animation.
Kigami had worked on the Sound! Euphonium anime TV series and in the past was well-known for working on anime movies like Akira and Grave of the Fireflies. Kigami uses the pseudonym Fumio Tada when working as an animation director. When working as an episode director or storyboard writer on Kyoto Animation’s TV episodes he’s listed as Ichirou Miyoshi.
34 people have been confirmed dead and 33 people were taken to hospital, making the Kyoto Animation arson attack the deadliest mass murder in Japanese criminal history. On July 21, 2019, Kyoto Animation Studio released an official statement concerning the fire.
As of July 25, 2019, no official announcement has been made concerning Kigami, nor have Japanese authorities released a list of names of the dead victims. On July 19, 2019, NHK reported that a relative of a victim was told that authorities will need up to a week to conduct DNA testing in order to identify the remains of some of the victims.
However, NHK released a list of the ages of the unidentified dead victims, which include one 61-year-old person. “The police are proceeding to confirm the identities of the deceased persons,” which includes “men and women from age 20 to 61”.
“The breakdown of the age is that most of the victims are in their 20s, 15 in their 30s, 6 in their 40s, and 1 in their 60s,” wrote NHK. “According to the Kyoto Animation website, the average age of employees is 33.6, and the majority of young people in their twenties and thirties are not aware of their safety.”
While this information is not a confirmation of Kigami’s death, some anime fans have noted that the anime director is 61 years old and he is one of the employees allegedly missing in the KyoAni fire.
“NHK has released the ages of the deceased victims, including one 61-year-old. Yoshiji Kigami is 61. While this isn’t 100% confirmation, I have to, unfortunately, say that Kigami is most likely deceased,” wrote myourenz on Twitter.
Others have claimed on Twitter that “Yoshiji Kigami has been confirmed dead according to multiple Japanese news agencies.” In response to the rumor, some fans have already started posting online tributes to Kigami.
The case of Kigami is similar to Yasuhiro Takemoto, the director of Amagi Brilliant Park, Full Metal Panic!, Hyoka, Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Takemoto is reportedly missing but fans on Twitter falsely reported him as being confirmed dead in the Kyoto Animation fire.
The Kyoto Animation Studio fire has resulted in 34 people dead from the arson, with the last male victim having past away from his injuries on Friday while in the hospital. 13 men, 20 women, and one person of unknown gender have died in the attack.
The name of the KyoAni arsonist has been released, but this report will not list his name. The arson suspect allegedly claimed that his motive for the mass murder was that Kyoto Animation plagiarized his light novel.
President Hatta says that KyoAni has received death threats over the years. Hatta also says the suspect “never applied for the novel.”
Investigators believe that the arson suspect sent around 200 threats over the last year. The online messages were encrypted so police are searching the home of the suspect to find proof that he sent the messages.
The threats escalated over time from insults all the way to death threats on specific KyoAni employees. KyoAni originally reported the threats to police in October of 2018.