Anime fans and bereaved families mourned Thursday the 34 people killed in the arson attack at a Kyoto Animation Co. studio a week ago, offering flowers and prayers near the burned-out building in western Japan.
The 34, all staff of the company, also known as KyoAni, died after 41-year-old Shinji Aoba allegedly splashed gasoline and set the three-story studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward on fire around 10:30 a.m. July 18.
"I am at a loss for words," said 52-year-old Hideki Miyoshi from Okayama, who stopped at the Kyoto site to offer flowers on his way to Tokyo on a business trip. "These talented people created wonderful works, and their lives were lost in an instant."
Long lines of people, including fans from overseas, formed before a tent set up for laying flowers near the charred building, whose steel ceiling frames were revealed after the fire.
"The first animation work that made me cry was a KyoAni work. I am still in a state of shock and can't believe what happened," said a 17-year-old high school student from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, who said she dreams of joining the company one day.
Jiang Yifei, a 16-year-old high school student from China, said she hopes for the anime studio's recovery.
Police have obtained an arrest warrant on murder and other charges for Aoba, who has been treated for serious burns at an Osaka hospital. They have also finished identifying all the victims through DNA tests and are planning to reveal their names soon, according to investigative sources.
Kyoto Animation has begun accepting donations from people for rebuilding the studio, saying it will make its best efforts to that end. Some Japanese municipalities featured in the studio's works have also started soliciting money to help the company and survivors.
The town of Iwami in Tottori Prefecture, known as the setting of KyoAni work "Free!" about a male high school swimming club, set up donation boxes at its tourism promotion body and locations associated with the work.
Since the animation was aired on TV in 2013, annual visitors to the western Japan town have increased fivefold to some 50,000.
The city of Ogaki in Gifu Prefecture, depicted in the movie "A Silent Voice," a story about a girl with a hearing impairment, also began soliciting donations for the studio.
"They depicted the streetscape with their wonderful drawings and I am just thankful," said Takeshi Miura of the local tourism association.