Esteemed Japanese Animator Yasuhiro Takemoto Missing After Kyoto Animation Fire

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Who Is Yashuhiro Takemoto? New Details On Famous Animator Missing After Kyoto Animation Arson Left 33 Dead And Missing

You don't often associate killing sprees with Japan. When you hear stories about a man breaking into a school or a business and taking lives, you usually assume that the story is happening somewhere in America, and while that's usually the case, this time it isn't here. In scenic Kyoto, Japan, a popular animation studio was nearly burned to the ground by a crazed arsonist. 

While we don't yet know the man's name, we do know that he's in custody. We don't know is what drove him to do this awful deed. Another critical thing we don't know? What happened to several people inside the studio who are still missing. The death count is already over 30, and people are worried that celebrated animator Yasuhiro Takemoto, currently missing, could be added to their numbers. Who is Yasuhiro Takemoto?

1. The Fire

In a tragedy no one could've anticipated, an arsonist attacked Kyoto Animation studios on Thursday, July 18th and took the lives of at least 33 people. The heartbreak doesn't end there either, in addition to the deaths, 35 people are reported injured and several other people inside the studio at the time of the fire are still missing. Among those missing is animator Yasuhiro Takemoto. According to witnesses at the scene, a man (who has since been arrested) entered the studio, shouted "die!" and started pouring something flammable onto different sections of the building and igniting them. Thankfully, the police were able to apprehend the arsonist at the scene of the crime, but as of right now there isn't a lot of information about the reasons behind the attack. Hopefully, those answers along with the whereabouts of the missing will be forthcoming. 

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2. Misinformation 

Because the crime scene was so chaotic, the rapid spread of misinformation has taken place leading some people to incorrectly believe that Takemoto has in fact been confirmed among the dead. Several tweets have picked up steam with this rumor to the effect of thousands of likes and retweets, but no actual official confirmation about his death has been made. It makes sense that people would be scrambling to put names on the dead rather than sit in uncomfortable uncertainty. This is an awful crime, and the people who were inside of that animation studio when the fire started were some very beloved animators, writers, and artists. But the truth of the matter is that right now there are more questions than answers. That should be the message we concentrate on making viral, not uncorroborated reports of death. 

3. The Facts

Thanks to the work of journalists at the Japan Times, more details are starting to emerge about the crime. Let's quickly go over what we know for sure. As of now, it has been established that there 70 people in total  were inside of the building when the arsonist set the murderous blaze. The arsonist himself is confirmed to be a 41-year-old man who was carrying gasoline and a backpack that the authorities found was full of knives. The Japanese authorities have not released the names of the dead though some people, including Takemoto, are still counted among the missing. The arsonist is being treated in a local hospital for very serious burns he acquired while igniting the building. Notably, there is something we don't know about the criminal: what motivated him to do this awful thing. 

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4. Kyoani 

If you're a fan of Japanese animation aka anime, chances are you're familiar with Kyoto Animation even if their name itself doesn't ring a bell for you. The company was founded in 1981 and since its inception, it has been the creative home to countless movies and TV shows that have gone on to become beloved classics. The company, also known as Kyoani, doesn't just make cartoons, either. They also create and distribute books, comics, and loads of other merch. Takemoto himself was recently on the teams responsible for a wealth of recent additions to Kyoani roster. These include The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, K-ON!  Dragon Maid and A Silent Voice: The Movie Amagi Brilliant Park.

5. Community Support 

As you can probably imagine, the reactions to the crime have been intense. Fans are consoling each other and sharing their own incredulity on social media, but the community hasn't been numbed into inaction by the tragedy. Instead, a fundraising campaign has been set up by Sentai Filmworks, a firm which often works with Kyoani to help distribute their merchandise. This kind of community support makes it clear that Kyoani's passion for people wasn't just part of their mission statement, it was something they practiced. According to their website, “Since the inauguration, our principles are ‘Make a challenge,’ ‘Do the best,’ ‘Produce required works’ and ‘Keep our corporation a humane one.’ We value people. Promoting the growth of people is equal to creating the brightness of works. We sincerely keep moving forward to be an Entertainment Corporation which based on Animation.”

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6. Yasuhiro Takemoto 

Inside the studio, Takemoto, 47, is a well-respected animator who is a celebrity to fans and animators alike. “Yasuhiro Takemoto works in the field of animation production. He has been an animator, storyboard artist, animation supervisor, director and scriptwriter for numerous anime shows,” reads his bio online. One of Takemoto's greatest gifts is that he is so good at so many different parts of what goes into making a celebrated contribution to anime. He isn't just an animator, he is also a writer and director with a passion for crafting emotional, engaging, and character-driven stories. If you've never sampled what he has to offer before, now might be the time to check out his work. I for one, heartily recommend that you find Full Metal Panic, a long-cherished fav of mine. 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.