Today we discuss about the dark side of Japanese Anime Industry, how the Chinese Anime Industry is rising and what it means for the future of Anime Industries in Japan.
The Dark Side of Japan’s Anime Industry
Anime holds a special place in both mine and the hearts of millions of viewers across the globe. Thanks to the brilliant Japanese Artists and Mangakas, we have been privileged to watch and read so many masterpieces down the years. But it’s not all sunshine and roses though, there is a significant amount of Tension in the Japanese Anime Industry right now.
It totally broke my heart when I learned about the Anime Industry in Japan and the atrocious treatment of animators there. The animators are being overworked and underpaid. However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, given the issues animators are facing.
Japan’s minimum wage is 874 yen, or $8.06. Now starting with the salaries of Japanese animators, most of them are only paid by commission. In-Between Animators, which is an entry-level position are only paid around 200 yen per drawing.
1 USD = 104.47 Japanese Yen ( As of today’s date )
So, these entry-level animators earn nearly around $1.84 per drawing. Even for a highly skilled animator, a single drawing can take up to an hour to make. So if you were working as an entry-level animator, you would be producing probably 8 drawings. And all this hard work will earn you over a meager $14.72.
More than half of the animators are freelancers. Just 14% of them work as full-timers. So, it’s fair to assume, most of the Japanese animators earn probably around $15 a day for all their working as an entry-level artist or a freelancer.
Even the studios which do offer salaries, provide only 770 Yen an hour for the animators. So, under an 8-hour shift, you would probably earn $56.80 only. As I mentioned earlier, Japan’s minimum wage is 874 Yen or $8.06. You could earn more money as a convenience store clerk who makes about 920 Yen which equates to $8.48 then you could while working as an Animator in Japan.
Above mentioned is just a Gross Simplification of the issues animators are facing right now. I mentioned how much an animator would earn if they worked 8-hour shifts, but in reality they don’t work those shifts or to be more specific, they can’t work 8-hour shifts even if they wanted to.
You might wonder, why so?
Animators usually work in large cities, such as Tokyo. If we look at living expenses alone, rent for 1 month for 1 single bedroom in the city Centre costs $1172/month. That alone blows this $336/month off the table. Outside the city Centre is a little cheaper at $722.26/month. But that’s still double the wage of animators. Therefore, these Artists have to severely overwork just so they can make ends meet. The average working hours for animators in Japan is around 12-18 hours a day. There are reports in Japan of animators working from around 400 to even 500 hours a month.
Because of these harsh working conditions, exhaustion, being burnt out, passing out at desks, being hospitalized are all common for the workers in the industry. And guess what? This has been the unfortunate standard for years.
So, you might wonder again, why would any individual willingly subject themselves to what is essentially slave labor? The answer is simple, it’s the passion that these great animators have for their work. These wonderful Artists care a lot about what they create. They love bringing life to the pencil drawings and movement to sketches. They share their legendary works with their audiences within Japan and even overseas. These guys wholeheartedly love their works and the amount of dedication they show by working up to 18 hours a day proves it but it mustn’t cost them their lives.
Rise of Chinese Anime Industry
Above I mentioned the dark side of the Japanese Anime Industry and China is striking this Hot Iron with money. China is seeing this as the perfect time to act. The Chinese Streaming providers are increasingly hunting for talent among animators in Japan, the land where the anime was born.
Chinese Studios Are Luring Japan’s Struggling Anime Artists
China is looking out for talented animators from Japan for their own Industry. As China now seeks to produce high-quality anime domestically, tech giants like Tencent, Baidu, and other streaming platforms have raced to bolster their libraries by offering competitive pay and benefits to captured talented artists in Japan.
These Chinese Industries are offering $2500 a month for Japanese animators with at least 5 years experience with promotion and raise incentives and free housing. Let me remind you, most animators in Japan are lucky to bring home $1000.
China is still behind the Japanese and US markets, but it is catching up fast. The continued poor treatment of animators in Japan could result in an industry slump. The tables are starting to turn in the Anime Industry. China are trying their best to be as big as Japan and US in the industry, and its fair to say that they have started playing their cards. Now, it’s up to Japan to bring about some considerable changes on the current condition of animators there.
Thanks for reading.