村上隆: At around 10 a.m. on July 18, Japan time, an animation studio called Kyoto Animation was set on raging fire by a man who ignited flammable liquid, leaving 33 people dead. Kyoto Animation is a company which, over the years, has been performing the miraculous feat of producing an array of good-quality works through its own distinctive production system. I had optimistically regarded them as a studio capable of attracting and comforting a wide range of audience from the youth to the first-generation otaku such as myself. Their success had, however, apparently invited unwarranted resentments as well. After the incident, the president of the company revealed that they had repeatedly been receiving death threats and other intimidations.
This incident has shocked me tremendously—as much as, or even more than, the 1995 subway sarin gas attack by the cult group Aum Shinrikyo had. It seems to reflect the deep-seeded ailment of the Japanese psyche that is like a wedged thorn we cannot remove, revealing a cross-section of the so-called chūni byo (eighth-grader syndrome), a warped, self-obsessed mentality prevalent in some otaku people. Jealousy could develop into a full-fledged grudge, but I cannot fathom what must be an incredibly forceful mechanism that translates such a sentiment into the execution of a real, atrocious action. When I contemplate how widely spread such a mechanism might be in our society, I almost go weak in the knees.
I sincerely pray for the repose of the victims’ souls and for the swift recovery of those who were injured.