On the night of July 17th, I was up late watching TV as usual, when my Twitter feed was inundated with some awful news. Kyoto Animation, the animation studio behind my favorite and most cherished anime series, was on fire. My heart sank as I refreshed, each news update getting bleaker. The next morning, I was shocked to see this arson all over the news. Nearly three dozen people died in what is now the worst mass murder in Japan’s post-war history. Fans all over the world, as well as news outlets and world leaders, expressed their condolences, and millions of dollars have already been raised to help the studio. This outpouring of love shows just how amazing Kyoto Animation, or KyoAni, is, and how much their works have impacted the world.
Many of KyoAni’s works are slice of life, a genre which I find really comforting. Watching them is like going about the characters’ days alongside them. For LSQ readers, I recommend Hyouka, which is centered on a high school classic literature club that focuses more on hanging out and solving mysteries rather than classic literature. The main character, Oreki Houtarou, has one goal in life: to conserve as much energy as he can. If he doesn’t have to do something, he won’t, but if he absolutely has to do something, he’ll do it as quickly as possible. His days of doing nothing get disrupted when he meets fellow club member Chitanda Eru, who’s curious about everything and is usually the reason why Houtarou, who has brilliant detective skills, ends up having to solve mysteries in the first place. It’s fun watching the usually apathetic Houtarou become flustered and actually start to care because of Eru.
For the more fantasy-inclined, there’s Beyond the Boundary, which has evil spirits, action, and budding romance. In this series we have Akihito Kanbara, a half-human, half-youmu, reluctantly befriending Mirai Kuriyama, a Spirit World Warrior whose duty is to destroy youmu, which are like physical manifestations of our negative emotions. The plot for this one is a bit muddled, in my opinion, but Akihito is really funny and Mirai is really cute, and the animation is stunning. Plus, Mirai has a cool blood sword, and there’s not much that can’t be made better with a blood sword.
Another sort of sci-fi/fantasy series by KyoAni is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, based on a manga series about a girl who can unconsciously alter reality. Her classmate Kyon, with the help of three other classmates, must work together to keep Haruhi in the dark about her powers, as well as keep her from getting bored so she won’t accidentally create an alternate world.
KyoAni is known for having a largely female staff, as well as paying fair wages and focusing on quality over quantity, which cuts down on crunch culture. Their high standards really show. It proves what can be accomplished when animators are treated well, in an industry that’s notorious for overwork and underpay. KyoAni has many, many more anime series and films in their repertoire, and I highly encourage you to check them out. While I’m deeply saddened by the deaths of so many people who have brought so much joy into my life, I think the best way to honor them is to watch the content they worked so hard to make.