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Sentai Filmworks' GoFundMe Campaign for Kyoto Animation Surpasses US$2 Million, Kyoto Animation's Own Bank Account Raises 274 Million Yen (Update)

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
64,681 people donated to Sentai Filmworks' GoFundMe campaign in 7 days

Sentai Filmworks' GoFundMe campaign to help Kyoto Animation and the victims after the deadly fire at Kyoto Animation's 1st Studio building on July 18 has raised more than US$2 million. As of press time, 64,681 people have donated US$2,182,220 to the campaign since it launched seven days ago.

NHK has additionally reported that as of 3:00 p.m. JST on Thursday, the bank account Kyoto Animation opened on Wednesday to accept donations has raised 274 million yen (about US$2.53 million) from 14,000 sources, including personal and organizational accounts. The company will give the funds to families of the deceased and injured victims of the fire, as well as for rebuilding.

Sentai Filmworks has stated about its GoFundMe campaign that it is "actively working to establish the most direct bridge to delivering this aid to affected KyoAni staff and their families." The company stated the money "will not be touched until [Sentai Filmworks has] confidence [the funds] will reach the intended recipients. We want donors and those considering donating to this drive to understand that, apart from GoFundMe's fees to provide a platform for support, every dollar collected will go to the intended recipients."

Sentai Filmworks has not yet specifically stated exactly what it will do with the money or who it will go to. Daisuke Okeda, the lawyer Kyoto Animation has hired to provide communications to the public about this incident, stated on Twitter on Thursday that through the Cool Japan organization he was able to get in contact with Sentai Filmworks.

ANN founder Justin Sevakis highlighted on Wednesday some of the possible legal issues that might arise in getting the money raised through the GoFundMe campaign to Kyoto Animation and the victims.

Kyoto Animation stated on Tuesday that it will post information on its website about other fund-raising activities on the studio's behalf after it confirms them.

Background

On July 18 at around 10:30 a.m. JST, a devastating fire broke out at Kyoto Animation's 1st Studio building, killing 34 people and injuring 34 others. 30 fire engines responded to the fire, and firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within five hours after it started, but the fire was not fully put out until 6:20 a.m. on July 19.

Of those confirmed dead after being located at the studio, firefighters found two people on the first floor, 11 people on the second floor, one person in a stairwell between the second and third floors, and 19 people on the stairwell between the third floor and the rooftop. Of those killed, police have reported that 21 were women and 13 were men.

Kyoto Prefectural Police have already apprehended a 41-year-old man who allegedly used gasoline to start the fire, and are investigating the case as arson. The suspect is among those injured (although he is separate from the above-mentioned injured people). The suspect was taken to another hospital via helicopter on July 20. Police have yet to fully arrest or interrogate the suspect, as he is still injured, and as such have not released an official statement on the suspect's motive. Police will later interrogate the subject to obtain his motive for the alleged attack.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper stated that according to investigative sources, the suspect told police that he started the fire because he alleges Kyoto Animation "stole his novel." Hatta stated on July 20 that he has never heard the suspect's name before, and no one by the suspect's name has submitted a novel to the company. Kyoto Animation solicits drafts of novels as part of its Kyoto Animation Awards program.

In an interview for the mass media on July 20, Kyoto Animation president Hideaki Hatta stated that after the fire, he is considering demolishing the building and creating a public park at the spot of the fire that will include a monument. He added, "when I consider the staff and the people in this neighborhood, there are people who don't want to see such a gruesome sight." Hatta is also considering hosting a memorial ceremony for the victims.

He also told the press that all the messages of support from around the world are "becoming our emotional support."

Aside from a fire in a commercial building that killed 44 people in 2001 (where arson was suspected), the incident is the worst mass murder in Japan's post-World War II history.

Several other organizations, such as Crunchyroll, the Animate retail chain, the city of Uji, and others are collecting donations or messages of support to support the company and the victims.

Kyoto Animation

Kyoto Animation's 1st Studio building is located near Rokujizō Station in Uji City in Kyoto. Most of the studio's main line production takes place inside the building. The company also has a head office, a 2nd Studio building, a Tokyo Office, and the Animation DO building in other locations.

Yoko Hatta founded the company as Kyoto Anime Studio in 1981, with her husband Hideaki Hatta as the president. The company has since worked on a number of notable anime productions, but is perhaps best known initially for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, K-ON!, Lucky Star, and Clannad, and later for such works as Free!, Sound! Euphonium, A Silent Voice, Violet Evergarden, and Liz and the Blue Bird.

At the time of the fire, the company's current announced projects were: a new anime project for Sound! Euphonium, a new Violet Evergarden episode (slated for September) and film (slated for January 10, 2020), an all-new Free! film (slated for summer 2020), a second season for Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, an adaptation of Hiro Yuki's 20 Seiki Denki Mokuroku novel, and the Baja no Studio: Baja no Mita Umi anime short.

Update: Sentai Filmworks further stated on Thursday that it has been in contact with Kyoto Animation's "representatives in Japan to finalize the details of delivering your generous donations made through this GoFundMe drive to the victims and their families." Sentai Filmworks president John Ledford noted, "Even though the fundraising phase of this drive will conclude at the end of July, we won't rest until your contributions reach the KyoAni victims and their families in a direct and meaningful way." He also confirmed that Sentai Filmworks will continue to work with Kyoto Animation, and "Donations made through this GoFundMe drive will not be touched until the details for distribution have been confirmed." Source: GoFundMe

Sources: GoFundMe, NHK


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