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A screenshot of the website of Kyoto Animation
A screenshot of the website of Kyoto Animation

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Alleged Japanese arsonist claims animation studio stole idea from him

The suspect who allegedly set fire to an animation studio in Japan has claimed that the studio stole an idea for a novel from him.

The fire in Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building has claimed at least 33 lives.

The suspect, Shinji Aoba, suffered serious burns while setting the studio on fire. He will be arrested by police after he recovers from his injuries.

The popular animation studio, which was founded in 1981, hosts a novel competition and turns prize-winning works into anime. The company also publishes so-called light novels, a style of short Japanese novel that targets middle and high school students. But Kyoto Animation President Hideaki Hatta said on Saturday that he had never heard of the suspect.

According to the Japan Times, the Kyoto police department suspects Aoba may have a one-sided grudge against Kyoto Animation studios leading to him to commit the crime. The newspaper said the police will work to determine his motive, including an investigation into whether or not he wrote any novels.

There has been no information so far to verify the validity of Aoba's complaint. But the 41-year-old has a criminal record. He was arrested for robbing a convenience store in Tokyo and was released from prison in 2012. He has also received care for mental illness. After his release from prison, he moved into an apartment and was known for being a provocative person who quarreled with his neighbours, reports say.

The fire has destroyed Kyoto Animation studio's intellectual property. Papers, materials, and computers stored in the building were lost. Past works of which the studio only had physical or on-site digital copies were also completely destroyed.

Hatta mentioned the possibility of demolishing Studio 1 and building a public park and monument in its place. The building is badly damaged by the fire and needs to be torn down.

He said: "When I consider the staff and the people in this neighborhood, there are people who don't want to see such a gruesome sight."

Editor's Note: It goes without saying that arson and murder are no solution to idea theft. However, assuming initial reports of Aoba's motives are correct, it goes to show how passionately creators of intellectual property feel about their works.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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