Photo/IllutrationA section of the Miyako Messe convention center in Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward displays illustrations and messages sent in by fans of Kyoto Animation Co. (Tatsuo Kanai)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--About 500 people, many working in the animation industry, joined a memorial ceremony held on Nov. 2 for the 36 employees of Kyoto Animation Co. who were killed in an arson attack in July.

“We plan to continue to present anime that can help foster dreams, hopes and thrilling emotions throughout the world,” Kyoto Animation President Hideaki Hatta said at the ceremony held at the Miyako Messe convention center in the Okazaki district of the city’s Sakyo Ward. “We will battle with all our might.”

A large banner displayed at the venue said, “Prayer, farewell, and passing on your will.”

In addition to presenting flowers, participants observed a moment of silence for the victims of the attack that occurred July 18 at the company’s No. 1 studio in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward.

A message was read from the wife of an employee who died in the fire. The wife also works at Kyoto Animation.

The message said: “I still spend each day with a feeling of uncertainty, at times accepting reality but at other times rejecting it. I want to turn the feelings that I learned were held by many fans following this incident, as well as the thoughts I held toward those who died who I considered part of my own family, into a power to move forward to fight for the gradual rebuilding of the company.”

Others involved in producing anime also spoke at the ceremony, including Yota Tsuruoka, who heads Rakuonsha Co. and served as a sound effects director for Kyoto Animation works.

“I want to walk together with the company while squarely facing forward and carrying the thoughts of the victims,” Tsuruoka said. “I pledge through future works to demonstrate that ‘no matter what you do, you cannot cut down the thoughts of people.’”

Hatta also spoke about the difficulty of facing up to reality.

“While about 100 days have passed since our normal daily lives were destroyed in an instant, there continue to be days when I cannot hold back the tears when I think about each and every one who gathered here from around Japan,” Hatta said.

He also revealed that donations received by the end of October totaled 3.263 billion yen ($30 million).

“We are truly grateful,” he said. “While it will be a long struggle, I hope everyone will warmly watch over us.”

Written messages received from Japan and abroad were displayed at the ceremony, with one saying, “The emotions that all of you helped create will never disappear.”

Another said, “I will continue to cheer you on forever.”

Similar ceremonies for fans will be held at the same venue on Nov. 3 and 4 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with final entry at 4 p.m.

(This article was written by Daisuke Mukai and Toshiharu Morishima.)