Photo/IllutrationAn original drawing from Kyoto Animation’s “Violet Evergarden” is featured in the exhibit at Koyama Jogakukan bookstore in Tokushima. The drawing includes an explanatory note made by a creator. (Yuki Sato)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

TOKUSHIMA--When a local bookstore here planned an exhibition of original drawings by artists at Kyoto Animation Co., it never meant for the event to become a memorial tribute.

But in the past month, the main shop of Koyama Jogakukan in the capital of Tokushima Prefecture has become a space where fans come from near and far to express their sorrow over the scores of victims of the July 18 deadly arson attack.

The studio and the store organized it as an event to show appreciation to fans and prepared for the July 20 opening, with the drawings for display arriving at the store several days before the kick-off.

Then tragedy struck, as the company's No. 1 studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward was engulfed in flames in the attack that took 35 lives, including young talents and veteran creators.

The bookstore considered suspending the exhibit, but decided to stick with the original schedule after receiving inquiries from many fans.

Moved by the messages, staff at the bookstore who wanted to do something to support "KyoAni" came up with the idea of setting up message books near the store entrance.

Fans started filling the books with their heartbreak over the incident and express affection and appreciation for the works.

"It irritates me that I cannot do anything," one person wrote.

"I wanted to do something, and decided that coming here and enjoying the exhibit would be it," another wrote.

The works on display include original drawings from “Violet Evergarden,” “Free!—Dive to the Future—” and “Tsurune.”

One of the original drawings from "Violet Evergarden," a story about an orphan girl who learns about love through ghost-writing letters, presents a nuanced depiction of the fragile protagonist.

At the corner of the illustration is a handwritten note by the artist presumably to those who would work on the drawing later: "Please consider the nuance of the original drawing in a careful and delicate manner. Please treat the facial expression with particular care."

Another drawing from the animation shows an explanatory note written near the right shoulder of a character, saying, "The character has a bag."

The note is an example of how creators at Kyoto Animation considered things that were not actually drawn in the scene.

Fans expressed their appreciation for such works in the message books, with one visitor saying, "Works by Kyoto Animation have always been with me and have helped me get through difficult times."

After seeing the exhibited works, another wrote: "I was so moved. Each drawing contains the soul of the creator."

The message books will be presented to Kyoto Animation after the exhibition ends and the drawings will be returned to the company. The exhibition runs until Aug. 31. Admission is free.