Kyoto is a city in Japan with many Buddhist temples and historical structures. Today, it is in the news for an arson attack on one of its most significant cultural centres – an animation studio.
The attack has killed 33 people, and Japan is in mourning. This studio – Kyoto Animation – is home to some very popular anime (hand-drawn or computer animations). One of them is currently playing on Netflix India – Violet Evergarden.
Another popular anime, ‘K-On’, is about musically inclined high-school girls and their trials (airs on Hulu).
In fact, Kyoto Animation is known for aesthetically presenting emotions about life and its various emotions. How good is their work? They have a tremendous fan following, and you will find tributes from fans all over the world. America, in fact, is undergoing an anime renaissance, with more fans attaching themselves to new releases. And as per a 2018 article, anime popularity is increasing in India. And among fans, many works of Kyoto Animation are favourites.
There’s another importance to this place – much of its staff is a full-time hire, unlike the industry trend that promotes part-time and contractual work (with little pay). Naturally, Kyoto Animation attracted some of the best talent in Japan, some of whom make great art.
And that’s what has been lost today. Good art and great stories.
Stories about friendships and dilemmas that centre around a sport (Free), science fiction stories that bring out human emotions (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya).
And a personal favourite – a story about bullying and forgiveness and love. This anime, titled ‘A Silent Voice’, is also in the form of a comic book. It was given to me by a student I taught for a term. She is an ardent fan and I reckon that the content of this anime, with its myriad emotions, resonates with her just as it does with me.
And while she is more comfortable in Marathi and is not usually outspoken, my other acquaintances who like Kyoto Animation are opposites – one is an English speaking elite and the other is an extroverted middle class man more comfortable in Internet cultures than any other culture.
Kyoto animation, truly, cuts across countries and cultures.