Behind the Success of Animation, Animators in Japan are Underpaid and Overworked

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The anime industry is arguably one of Japan’s attractions. In addition to TV series or the big screen, this industry also penetrated toys and games. Unfortunately, bad luck must be experienced by animators in Japan. A video from Asian Boss shows polemic animators who work too hard but underpaid.

Asian Boss interviewed a novice animator named Ayame Nakamura. He only has six months of experience working in the anime field but has handled major titles such as Vinland Saga and Boruto. He acknowledged that the industry lacked animators despite many opportunities, even for foreigners.

Talking about the production process, Nakamura explained deadlines and tight schedules. This is what causes the animator to work too much. But unfortunately, the salary is not too large to make Tokyo a very expensive city to live in. He even admitted that high school students who work part-time make more money.

The video also spoke with Jun Sugawara, a worker of a non-profit organization called Animator Support. One of their projects is running a low-rent hostel for low-paid animators. Some animators have good skills but don’t get proper compensation for the work they do.

The longstanding problem of animators in Japan

Reporting from Vox, the welfare problem of animators in Japan has become part of the darkness of the animation industry in the State of Sakura. Singo Adachi, an animator and character designer for Sword Art Online said the Japanese animation industry is very short of animators from Singapore. With nearly 200 anime TV series every year, there aren’t enough animators.

Instead, the studio relied on a large group of freelancers who basically did not get paid enough. At the entry-level, there is an in-between animator. These are the people who make the images that appear on the storyboard between scenes made by key animators, the middle level who draw important parts in each scene.

In-between animators earn around 200 yen per picture (around Rp26,031). One image takes one hour to complete. Not to mention the detail and accuracy needed in each picture, such as food, architecture, and landscape, which makes four or five times longer.

Even if you get promoted and become a key animator, you won’t get much [money], “Adachi said. “And even if your career is very successful, like Attack on Titan, you won’t get it. … This is a structural problem in the anime industry. There are no dreams [in work as an animator]. ”

Regarding the reason the animators were paid low, Nakamura said there were many factors. One of them is a low budget for anime because most of the budget goes to advertising companies. The animation industry depends on cheap labor and is provided by animators who are willing and willing to enter the industry.

Not infrequently, behind the growing anime industry, animation studios in Japan actually get a bad image. Workers from A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online) reportedly committed suicide due to overwork. In early April, a production assistant sued Madhouse for giving too long working hours.

Not only animators in Japan, but the problem of animation was also accepted by Mangaka whose work was not paid for when it was adapted into anime. The most famous examples such as Shuuichi Asou with The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. He was finally paid only after he announced the contract he received to the media.

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