”I will never forget you.”

For most of Japan, Monday was a pretty happy day. The third Monday in July is Umi no Hi, also known as “Marine Day” or “Ocean Day,” a public holiday that lots of people spend at the beach or otherwise engaging in summer leisure activities.

However, Monday was also July 18, a date with a much more somber significance for the anime industry. July 18, 2019, was when the arson attack on Kyoto Animation took place, resulting in the deaths of 36 people who were in the building at the time. Three years later, the shock and sadness of the incident remains, and on Monday Kyoto Animation posted a memorial message on its YouTube channel here.

The message became visible at 10:34 a.m., roughly coinciding with the time the attack took place. “As of today, three years have passed since July 18, 2019,” it began. “For everyone kind enough to be thinking of us and the victims, thank you. We are streaming this video to provide a place for those feelings,” it continued, before observing a minute of silence, followed by:

These three years that we have spent missing those who are gone feel like both an instant and an eternity. When the sadness feels like it’s about to overwhelm us, what gets us through, what guides us, is the memory of the days we spent with our friends, and the love we shared for animation.

Today, we respectfully mourn the loss of our precious friends.

On the occasion of this three-year memorial service, we have received messages from the families of the deceased, as well as from others in the anime industry. We wish to present those, anonymously, along with messages from our company’s employees.

Among the messages presented were:

“Three years…when I think of you, it’s like time has stopped. There are times when, all of a sudden, you’re all I can think of. ‘I miss you! I want to hold you in my arms!’ I think, and my tears overflow.”
“I don’t think this sadness will ever end…but it’s OK if I don’t force myself to get over it, right? When I think of you, if I want to cry, I’ll cry. I believe that even now, you’re still making anime with your friends as you watch over them.”
“The wonderful thing about our job [making anime] is that we get to create something that becomes a treasure to the people that love it. Even now, the animation that you put so much care into is making someone in the world smile, stirring their heart and giving them the strength to achieve great things.”
“Your spirits have become a guiding light, like brightly shining stars.”
“I will never forget you. Whenever I’m feeling lost, I will always look to you for help.”

Kyoto Animation has asked that fans refrain from visiting the former site of the attacked studio, which has now been demolished, so as to avoid disturbing those who live in the largely residential area, though there remains the possibility of a memorial being built at some time in the future.

Sources: Kyoto Animation, YouTube/京アニチャンネル
Top image: Wikipedia/MikeHattsu
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