Clannad creators hope Kyoto Animation will continue to “give courage to people in Japan and throughout the world.”
The July 18 arson attack on Kyoto Animation, which claimed the lives of 35 employees, has deeply saddened the international anime fan community. It’s not just consumers of Kyoto Animation’s anime output who are grieving, though, but the company’s creative partners as well, including Osaka-based software developer Key.
Key specializes in erotic visual novels, a niche category within a niche category of video games, and yet, it’s earned fans around the world, many of whom have never seen the company’s pantheon of cute female characters in undressed form. Much of that is thanks to Key’s collaborations with Kyoto Animation, which has adapted three of Key’s games into anime form, toning down sexual content while doubling down on lovingly drawn artwork and gentle emotional exploration. First up, in 2006, was a Kyoto Animation-produced TV series based on Key’s Kanon visual novel, which was followed by a TV series and theatrical feature for Key’s Air and a TV series and feature film adapted from Key’s Clannad.
While the games’ releases predate their anime versions in Japan, in many other parts of the world, that order is reversed, and even in Japan, the tender and respectful tone of Kyoto Animation’s Key-based anime have made them accessible to audiences who would shy away from video game pornography. Following the arson attack, Key posted a message to Kyoto Animation on its website, which reads:
“To all employees of Kyoto Animation,
We are struggling to find the words to express the deep sadness we feel about the painful tragedy you have gone through. We wish to offer our sincere condolences for those who have passed away, and are praying for as swift a recovery as possible for those who suffered injuries.
Through the wonderful talents and tremendous efforts of Kyoto Animation, the Key works Kanon, Air, and Clannad have been able to emotionally touch people around the world. The thoughts of our employees, as well as those of fans of our works, are with Kyoto Animation.
We look forward to Kyoto Animation continuing to produce heartwarming anime that stir the emotions and give courage to people in Japan and throughout the world.”
The original statement is not dated, but on August 6 Key added an update, saying that the company has made a donation of 10 million yen (US$92,600) to the official bank account that has been set up for charitable donations to Kyoto Animation.
The gesture matches that of musician and X Japan frontman Yoshiki, who is among those who have collectively contributed over one billion yen to the recovery fund, which will hopefully help Kyoto Animation to carry out, as one survivor of the arson attack called it, its “ultimate counterattack to the arsonist,” continuing to make anime that’s true to the company’s artistic visions.