Firefighters search for missing people at the Kyoto Animation building,in Kyoto, Japan on Thursday. Photo by EPA-EFE/JIJI
July 18 (UPI) -- Anime artists and fans lamented a deadly fire at Japan's Kyoto Animation, known as a progressive shop that treated artists well and hired more women as directors and writers than other studios.
Thirty-three people died in the Thursday blaze and dozens more were injured. Police have arrested a man suspected of setting the fire on purpose.
"Kyoto Animation is a progressive animation studio that truly embodied the idea of gentle art that healed the heart," Disney TV artist Stephan Park tweeted. "They were also a house of some of the most proficient animators of natural movement in our generation."
The studio has earned praise for well-crafted animations, thought-provoking stories and decent treatment of its artists. Kyoto Animation makes many of its animators permanent employees and allows them more time to work on projects.
The studio's 2016 film A Silent Voice addressed topics including bullying and suicide, and was a critical and financial success. The movie is available on Netflix, along with the studio's series adaptation of Violet Evergarden.
"I'm horrified to hear about Kyoto Animation, that someone could do something so horrible to people who have brought so much joy is absolutely sickening," SungWon Cho, a YouTube personality and voice actor known as ProZDho, tweeted.
The studio started in 1981 as Kyoto Anime Studio, where Yoko Hatta and several homemakers worked on such titles as SDF Macross and Genesis Climber Mospeada.
The studio, run by Hatta and her husband, Hideaki Hatta, continues to employ many women and has produced several popular anime movies and TV series, including K-On!, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions and Beyond the Boundary.
Its spinoff feature film to Violet Evergarden was set for release in September and a sequel for 2020.
"Our hearts and prayers goes out to the all the staff, their families and friends at Kyoto Animation," tweeted Toei Animation, a studio known for Dragon Ball Z.