Kyoto Animation’s Free! film announcement canceled due to arson attack — 26 employees confirmed dead

Tomorrow’s planned announcement about Kyoto Animation’s Free! feature film has been canceled today due to an arsonist’s attack on the company’s offices in Kyoto. An attack that has left at least 26 Kyoto Animation employees dead, and many more seriously injured.


The attack was carried out this morning around 10:30am Japanese time by a 41-year-old Japanese man.

The man sprayed gasoline around the ground floor of the building, and onto several employees, before setting the building alight. Many of the more than 70 employees working at the time were trapped in the building.

The BBC is currently reporting there are 26 confirmed deaths, with 36 others in hospital, some in critical condition.

News about Kyoto Animation’s upcoming Free! feature film was supposed to get a “2020 Summer” announcement tomorrow, with more news about the as yet properly titled film.

A tweet on the Free! Twitter account simply said the planned news announcement had been cancelled, adding “Thank you for your understanding”.

Free! is a follow-up to Free! Road to the World – the Dream, which was released earlier this month, and was due to be released in the third quarter of 2020.

After this horrific attack on Kyoto Animation and its employees, however, that date could very well change.

Kyoto Animation itself was founded in 1982, and is known for anime like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Violet Evergarden, Clannad and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

Update — 15:38 p.m. CET: According to Anime News Network, at 9:21 p.m JST Japan’s national news agency NHK announced 33 people are now reported dead. A terrible loss for family and friends of the Kyoto Animation employees, for the company and for the worldwide anime community.

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Michelle Topham