Japan’s Kyoto Animation Studio has released its first feature since the deadly arson attack in July that killed 35 of its employees. The film, which is titled Violet Evergarden Gaiden: Eien to Jido Shuki Ningyo (Violet Evergarden Side Story: Eternity and the Auto Memory Dolls) was released nationwide on Friday. Many fans attended the film’s screening at a movie theater in Kyoto City, beginning with the first showing at 9 a.m.
Kyoto animation’s television anime adaptation of author Kana Akatsuki and illustrator Akiko Takase’s Violet Evergarden novels premiere in Japan and on Netflix in some territories in early 2018. The anime launched on Netflix in the U.S. in April 2018.
The movie, which was completed one day before the attack, is a spinoff from the popular series Violet Evergarden and is based on a novel of the same title that won an award in a writing contest held by the company in 2014. The story revolves around a girl named Violet Evergarden, a former soldier and an “auto memory doll” or ghostwriter who learns how to love and acquires emotions by writing letters for others. The movie will screen in Japan through September 26.
The studio usually only lists in the credits those who have worked for at least a year at the company. But in this case, everyone involved with the movie was listed at the request of the director. A lawyer for Kyoto Animation says the film is a testimony to the lives of everyone at the studio, including those who perished or were injured in the attack, and that the studio hopes people will enjoy the film.
The fire at the studio in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward, the center of the company’s anime production, was allegedly started by 41-year-old Shinji Aoba when he splashed and then ignited gasoline inside the three-story building.
Kyoto Animation opened a bank account to accept donations on July 24, and that account had received over 2 billion yen (about $18.78 million) as of mid-August. Retail chain Animate also collected at least 249,030,484 yen (about $2.3 million) in its donation campaign for the studio. The company will give the funds to families of the deceased and injured victims of the fire, as well using them for rebuilding.
Sources: NHK World, Kyodo News