Kyoto Animation Arson Suspect Submitted Novel to Studio Contest

A lawyer for Kyoto Animation has confirmed that someone with the same first and last name as arson suspect Shinji Aoba submitted a work to the company’s novel contest.

Aoba’s reported motivation for the July 18 arson attack on the company’s three-story No. 1 studio was that Kyoto Animation, familiarly known as KyoAni, had stolen his novel. The attack killed 35 and injured 33 KyoAni employees.

According to Daisuke Okeda, the submitted novel didn’t make it past the first round of judging and so it was not kept in studio records or shared by studio staff. Okeda told the media on Tuesday that “There are no similarities between the contents of submitted novel and any work by Kyoto Animation.”

KyoAni started the contest ten years ago. The winning novels are turned into paperback volumes and made into animations.

Kyoto police are now confirming that the novel is indeed Aoba’s. They have also searched his apartment in the Tokyo suburb of Saitama and traced his whereabouts in the days leading up to the attack, including his purchases of gasoline.

Severely injured in the fire that he allegedly started, Aoba is under treatment in hospital. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, though he has yet to submit to police questioning.

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