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Kyoto Animation Arson Suspect Admits to 2019 Attack

In defense of his actions, Shinji Aoba claims the Japanese studio had stolen his ideas, but that he now thinks he ‘went too far,’ leading his lawyers to plead mental incompetence during his trial at the Kyoto District Court.

Shinji Aoba, suspected of committing the horrific 2019 arson attack on Japanese anime studio Kyoto Animation Studio that killed 36, has admitted to the crime during his trial at the Kyoto District Court, according to ABC News.

Aoba claims he was angry that his ideas had been stolen, but that he “didn't think so many people would die and now I think I went too far." The 45-year-old nearly died at the scene from severe burns, and after 12 operations now uses a wheelchair. His charges include murder, attempted murder, and arson. Kyoto Animation denies any theft or wrongdoing.

On July 18, 2019, Aoba entered the studio and splashed petrol from a bucket before setting it ablaze and shouting, “Die!” Most of the fire’s victims were found collapsed on a third-floor stairway as they tried to escape to the roof. According to the Japan Times, that door was shut, fatally trapping people trying to flee the inferno.

Despite his admission, Aoba’s lawyers have entered a plea of ‘not guilty,’ claiming he “did not have the capacity to distinguish between good and bad and to stop committing the crime due to mental disorder," according to public broadcaster NHK.

Kyoto Animation president Hideaki Hatta stated he was "heartbroken for the employees who lost their lives and people who were close to them".

Founded in 1981, the well-respected KyoAni is noted for films such as A Silent Voice (2016) and Liz and the Blue Bird (2018), as well as the series Violet Evergarden, which was recently licensed by Netflix.

Laurén Alexa's picture

Cybersecurity specialist by day, investigative journalist by night.