Kyoto Animation Arson Attack: Death Toll Rises to 35, Attack Was Carefully Planned

Kyoto Fire 2 - Getty - H 2019
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The suspect walked miles around Kyoto, visiting locations related to the company, including some that appear in one of its anime productions.

The death toll in the Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) arson reached 35 as another victim succumbed to their injuries over the weekend.

In the days before the attack, the suspect in the attack was captured on surveillance cameras visiting places in Kyoto that are featured in one of the studio's anime.

A man in his 20s, believed to be a KyoAni employee, died Saturday from extensive burns across his body, suffered when Shinji Aoba allegedly poured 11 gallons (40 liters) of gasoline around the first floor of the company's 1st Studio building July 18. The victim was reported to have been on the first floor and got out of the building, but was severely burned.

Fourteen women and 11 men have now died, with 10 more, including the suspect, still hospitalized with burns. An arrest warrant for the suspect has been obtained by police, but he is still reported to be unconscious.

Aoba appears to have carefully planned the attack, spending days walking around sites related to the company, including locations featured in one of its popular anime, after arriving in Kyoto on July 15.

He spent two hours at an Internet cafe near Kyoto Station on July 16, where he is understood to have searched for information about the company's location. He then bought fuel containers and other items, along with a pushcart he was seen using in videos taken by security cameras, at a hardware store. Six knives were also found in a bag believed to have belonged to Aoba.

The suspect is estimated to have then walked around six miles (10 km), pushing the cart, walking near KyoAni's headquarters and another studio in Uji, a short train ride from the studio he is alleged to have torched July 18.

He also visited locations from the Sound! Euphonium anime series, which is about a girl's high school band in Uji. Pilgrimages by fans to locations from KyoAni's anime have been popular over the years. Two seasons of Sound! Euphonium were broadcast in Japan in 2015 and 2016, with features released in 2017 and earlier this year.

On Friday, police spent three hours searching the suspect's apartment in Saitama, just north of Tokyo, where they found KyoAni DVDs and a cellphone.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing KyoAni has said that a server recovered from the building after the fire appears to have the work of some of those who died stored on it, though a large amount of work has also been destroyed.

Kyoto fire department is monitoring firefighters who attended to the fire, including those who found up to 20 bodies of victims who were trying to escape piled on top of each other on a staircase, for signs of trauma.

A fund established last week in Japan for victims and their families raised $5.7 million (621 million yen) in 48 hours. This is in addition to more than $2.2 million raised by a GoFundMe campaign set up by U.S. anime distributor Sentai Filmworks on the day of the arson.