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Young female workforce plays key role in production house's output

By Pan Mengqi | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-07-23 08:07

The arson attack on Kyoto Animation was the worst mass killing for two decades in Japan, a country with one of the world's lowest crime rates.

Fifteen of those who died were in their 20s, and 11 were in their 30s, public broadcaster NHK said. Six were in their 40s and one was at least 60. The age of the latest victim, a man who died in hospital, is not known, and the names of the dead have not yet been disclosed.

The attack was all the more poignant because of the young age of many of the victims in a nation with one of the oldest populations in the world.

Nearly two-thirds of the fatalities were women.

According to Hideaki Hatta, Kyoto Animation's founder and CEO, the company employs nearly twice as many 20-something women than men as animators.

Male animators still lead the industry in Japan. But Kyoto Animation is known for employing more women, particularly those who are younger.

After moving from Tokyo to Kyoto with her husband in 1981, Hatta's wife, Yoko, gathered a few women with spare time on their hands at the Kyoto Anime Studio, where they mainly painted posters for local companies.

In 1985, Yoko Hatta made an important decision - to found Kyoto Animation, with her husband as CEO but with herself as head of operations. That arrangement has not changed over the years, and to this day Yoko Hatta still has the final say on the company's anime projects.

Since being founded, the company has produced high-quality, meticulously detailed works. They include The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a science fiction series set at a high school, and Lucky Star, whose intelligent female protagonist is distracted from her studies by anime and video games.

In an interview, Yoko Hatta said women have an "innate power of being kind and gentle".

"So we hire more female staff because we also want our animation to be filled with that heartwarming power," she added.

KyoAni's fans have noted her intentions.

Sina Weibo user "Pompome23" said: "The company's animation works always give me strength when I am down. Many of the lines are encouraging, such as what a mother would say to her depressed child."

Kelvin Nguyen, a Vietnamese KyoAni fan, said: "I lost a friend three years ago. Ever since Kyoto Animation's A Silent Voice came out, it's helped me cope. I'm at a loss for words now, knowing that such a tragedy has taken place."

At a news conference, Hideaki Hatta said he was heartbroken over the deaths of so many young staff members.

"Some of them joined us only in April. And on July 8, I gave them a small, but their first, bonus," he said.

"People who had promising futures lost their lives. I don't know what to say. Rather than feeling anger, I just don't have words," he said.

On Sunday, Kazuo Okada, 69, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that his 21-year-old granddaughter, who works for the studio, was missing after the fire.

"She works on the second floor of the studio," he said, adding, "A few months ago, she was so delighted as she said she had found a job she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

"She was my pride," Okada said of his granddaughter, Megumu Ohno. "Her name started appearing on the credits of anime movies. I was so happy to see that. I was proud of her. Now I just want to see her face soon."

(China Daily Global 07/23/2019 page2)

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