The perpetrator was deemed psychologically fit to stand trial.
In July of 2019, beloved Japanese animation studio Kyoto Animation was attacked by an arsonist who spread gasoline around the studio’s perimeter and lit it aflame. As a direct result of this man’s actions, the studio was completely destroyed, and 36 people lost their lives in one of the worst mass attacks in Japanese history. Today, over a year later, he has finally been formally charged for his crimes.
Shinji Aoba, 41 at the time, committed the crime on the belief that the studio had allegedly stolen an idea for a novel from him. However, Aoba himself was also caught in the blaze, suffering severe burns in the process. While he was detained immediately after the crime, his injuries were too severe for a formal arrest, and he was transferred to a local hospital to recover, where he supposedly remained unconscious for about a month. Even after he woke up, he was still too badly injured to withstand an in-depth psychological screening. It wasn’t until this past May that he was deemed well enough to be officially placed under arrest.
Once Aoba was sufficiently healthy, he was transferred to a detention center, where he was questioned on his crimes and subjected to a psychological evaluation. After it was determined he was psychological well enough to stand trial, he was formally charged with murder, attempted murder, arson, and two other undisclosed crimes. Aoba’s punishment for these charges has not been publicly divulged.
Japanese news network NHK spoke to the families of several of the Kyoto Animation employees that were killed after Aoba was charged. “I think about her very often,” said Shinichi Tsuda about his daughter Sachie, who was killed in the attack. “I think about her at the time of the incident, wondering how painful it would have been for her.”
Kyoto Animation has spent the last year recouping losses and trying to support the affected families. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter following the incident, the studio’s CEO, Hideaki Hatta, had only this to say about Aoba: “He doesn’t exist in my mind. This is not a human act. This isn’t something a human is capable of. I am beyond hate.”