Kyoto Animation suspect staked out anime locations before arson attack

As the death toll rises to 35, police say Shinji Aoba was caught on camera visiting sites in the city of Uji

Kyoto Animation suspect staked out anime locations before arson attack

The suspect in the Kyoto Animation arson attack visited locations featured in one of the companys anime series in the days before the attack, according to investigators.

Security cameras caught Shinji Aoba, 41, near sites that appear in Kyoto Animations Sound! Euphonium, a TV series about a high school music club, set in Uji, the city south of Kyoto in which the companys headquarters are located.

After arriving in Kyoto on 15 July, the suspect walked around a bridge and a road junction featured in the series, both popular spots for fans of the anime to visit, investigators told Kyodo News.

The suspect, who is still too badly burned to talk to police, was also caught on camera near the Uji headquarters, a short train ride from the studio he allegedly set fire to on 18 July.

The revelations came as the toll from the attack rose to 35 with the death in hospital in Osaka of a man in his 20s who was on the ground floor of the studio when the attacker struck.

None of the victims have yet been officially named, but the man is understood to have been an employee of the studio. Fourteen men and 21 women died as a result of the arson attack, with 10 more still hospitalised, making it the worst confirmed mass murder in Japan in the post-war era.

Police on Friday searched Aobas apartment in Saitama, north of Tokyo, finding Kyoto Animation DVDs and a smartphone. The suspect was not carrying a phone when taken into custody and had used an internet cafe to search for information about the companys locations after he arrived in Kyoto.

The suspect shouted about plagiarism of his novel when apprehended by police, though no evidence has been found of him having written or submitted anything to Kyoto Animation, which runs an annual competition for writers.

A fund in Japan for victims of the arson raised more than 630 million (4.6m) in less than 48 hours after it was set up late last week. A GoFundMe page established by a US anime distributor Sentai Filmworks has also raised more than $2.2m (1.8m).

A lawyer representing Kyoto Animation has said that a server on the ground floor of the studio may have stored data related to the companys productions. The server survived the arson attack, though a significant amount of work from the companys animators is understood to have been destroyed in the fire.

Read more: