In the wake of the tragedy that occurred several days past, I felt a need to express my love for Kyoto Animation, a studio that’s done more for the Anime industry than perhaps any other… only to find myself struggling to write the post. Not because of lack of things to say, mind you… but rather, the opposite problem.
In order to really express what KyoAni truly means to me… Well, I guess we’ve got to go back to the beginning.
My first real exposure to the works of KyoAni was through one of the first shows I ever watched, Full Metal Panic. Though the first season was technically not done by Kyoto Animation, Fumoffu and Second Raid were. At the time, Second Raid was one of the best shows I’d ever seen, filling a story that touched from romance to giant mech action, and a lot in between, too. The lifelike, expressive characters really drew me in, and honestly, it’s what jumpstarted me into my love of Anime altogether.
Jump forward a few years, to my middle school days. Life was… admittedly… not great. I’d had to change schools three times over the past year due to constant bullying, no matter where I went. Perhaps I just have a penchant for being picked on? Whatever the case, being constantly harrassed and ill-treated by both teachers and fellow students alike really does a number on a kid… and I’d slowly begun closing myself off from just about everything. By the time my mom decided to pull me out of school in favor of homeschooling instead, I had pretty much completely shut myself off from the outside world.
It seemed to me, at the time, that the singular thread keeping me connected to anything, really, was my love for Anime, a mysterious art form that kept evolving rapidly, over the years. But even that had begun to fade, and, to be honest, I’d begun to consider ending everything. With nearly everyone I knew seeming to despise my existence, maybe it was better if I just… died?
And then… I stumbled on Kanon. Released in 2006, Kanon… was the show that truly changed my life. A beautifully written tale of tragedy, heartbreak, and love, covering many subjects, including death and indeed suicide. And the show… it broke me. The shell I’d created, the wall to protect myself from pain, shattered like a pane of sugar glass. I remember laying on the floor of my bedroom after the credits had rolled on the final episode, sobbing for hours into the carpet. It was like light had returned to my world, a glimmer of hope that, perhaps, there was meaning in my existence after all.
Well, the years passed, and so did many anime, many of them leaving behind fond memories, such as K-On, a show I will always love. Nichijou made me one of my first friends in high school, through whom I met many new people, quite a few of whom I am still friends with to this day.
I adore Chuunibyou, love Hyouka, and absolutely admire Sound Euphonium, each for the unique and delicate way they handle characters and relationships. KyoAni has a unique way of approaching their characters, with extraordinarily expressive faces and especially eyes. The way they tell stories, especially ones about young people, is absolutely unrivalled anywhere in the medium.
However, my love story to KyoAni doesn’t end there… You see, a few years ago, I heard of this movie that had come out, one called “A Silent Voice”. Having missed the theater shows, I ordered the DVD on Amazon. When I was unpackaging it, however, my little sister asked me what it was I’d gotten, so I told her what it was about.
I’ve… ashamedly, never had the greatest relationship with my sister. With a 7-year age difference, it’s always been hard to find things we have in common, especially since I’m kind of the awkward, nerdy type, and she’s… not. However, she decided to watch the movie with me that night.
It’s a night I will never forget.
Yes, the movie resonates with me in a painful, unforgettable way. Having been bullied for most of my childhood, I understood all to well the pain of both Shoya and Shoko, and everything they’ve gone through. But… that’s not why it means so much to me.
After the credits rolled, and I looked over to see my little sister sobbing into her blanket, she told me about how she was being bullied at school. Called names, made fun of, tripped in the hallway… It made me furious. She admitted to having been considering suicide. But after watching A Silent Voice, she had realized that there were people who loved her, people who would be devastated should anything happen to her. Just like my personal experience with Kanon, she could now see the hope in the darkness… and has pulled through it with heroic strength since that day.
We’ve also been able to mend our family relationship, and even though she’s not really an “anime watcher”, we recently watched through Violet Evergarden together, and she’s even shown the series to some of her newfound friends.
I don’t know if the animators, or anyone else at KyoAni really know how much of an impact their works have on the lives of the people who watch them. But I do. Kyoto Animation saved me. Kyoto Animation saved my little sister. And I don’t know that anything I could possible do, or say, would be enough to repay them.
So, as I sit here trying to type through the tears, still stunned and in disbelief at what the cruelty of humanity has wrought on so many wonderful, talented individuals… I guess… all I can say is, thank you. Thank you, KyoAni, and everyone who works there. Thank you for being so dedicated to your craft, so inspired and talented, that you can create such beautiful works of art; shows that truly cut to a person’s soul. Thank you for being a light in the darkness. Thank you… for giving me my life.
It may only be a tiny drop in the bucket, a paltry repayment of everything that Kyoto Animation has given us, but I encourage everyone to please visit this GoFundMe, set up by Sentai Filmworks, to help support KyoAni and help them get back on their feet. You can also visit Crunchyroll’s Message Campaign to share your love, or perhaps just buy some merchandise from their website.
I hope to see this wonderful, influential studio getting back on their feet. I truly wish the best in recovery to all those wounded in this tragedy, and I wish them to know that my thoughts and prayers are truly with them every hour in these trying times. To those too soon departed from us, I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you’ve given me, though words aren’t nearly enough to express it all.
My final request is that, anyone who reads this post, please take a moment to think about what KyoAni means to you, and share it with the world. I hope both the survivors, and the victim’s families, can see how many people their work has influenced, how many lives they have changed, and how loved and appreciated they are.