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Kyoto Animation President Denies Plagiarism Claim in Arson Trial

In defense of his actions, arsonist Shinji Aoba said the Japanese studio had stolen his ideas, but that he now thinks he ‘went too far;’ KyoAni head Hatta Hideaki insists the studio would never steal ideas.

Hatta Hideaki, president of Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), formally denied arsonist Shinji Aoba’s plagiarism claims in court last week, stating the studio would never steal work, according to IGN. Aoba previously admitted to splashing petrol from a bucket and setting the studio ablaze in 2019 during his trial at the Kyoto District Court in September, asserting he committed the act that killed 36 because he was angry that his ideas had been stolen.

Hatta asserted in court that the employees craft their own story ideas within the studio, and “earnestly exchanged opinions” to make all projects better. Aoba’s fury stems from a short scene in the fifth episode of Tsurune, which he claims resembled a draft novel he had previously entered into a KyoAni writing contest.

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.

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.