Photo/IllutrationHideaki Hatta, left, CEO of Kyoto Animation Co., during a news conference in Kyoto on Oct. 18 (Yoshiko Sato)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--Three months after a deadly arson attack on an animation company studio here, many of the surviving employees have returned to work and a decision has been made to demolish the burned-out shell of the building.

However, things are "still far from returning to normalcy," said Hideaki Hatta, CEO of Kyoto Animation Co., during a news conference here on Oct. 18.

“The things that we used to have in our daily lives until July 18 no longer exists,” Hatta said. “I go to the office and realize that those people who used to work there were suddenly gone."

The blaze that targeted the No. 1 studio of the prominent animation company in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward killed and injured nearly 40 percent of its 176 employees. Thirty-six died.

Of the 33 employees who were inside the studio when the attack occurred and suffered severe burns and injuries, 27 have returned to work.

But six of the injured are still receiving medical attention or are recuperating and have been unable to return to work, Hatta said.

Some of the employees have suffered from psychological stress and struggled to focus on their work. Hatta revealed that the company suspended operations for about a month from Aug. 5.

To make up for the loss of talent, the company plans to hire new employees from fiscal 2020, but Hatta said, “There are no shortcuts in the cultivation of human resources.”

The remnants of the torched studio will be razed and removed, but the company has not yet decided if it will rebuild the studio.

“Understanding and accepting the feelings of bereaved families is the best way to rebuild (the company). The most important thing is for our creators to get back their hearts and minds, not merely for form’s sake,” Hatta said.

Currently, the employees are focusing on the production of “Violet Evergarden: the Movie,” a film originally scheduled to be released in January, but was postponed due to the tragedy.

“We will surely have the movie hit the big screen after April next year,” Hatta said. “We will continue to spread messages through our work to people all around the world as much as we can.”

As of Oct. 17, the company has received 3.19 billion yen ($29.4 million) in donations to help it recover from the arson attack.

Hatta said fans all over the world have sent the company messages such as “Keep going, KyoAni” and “Don’t get beaten!”

He thanked them for their support and encouragement.