Japanese Animators Get Slave Wages: $11,000 A Year


Anybody aspiring to contribute towards Japan’s colossal animation industry will likely be having second thoughts on seeing the latest statistics on their pay; the average annual salary paid to an animator in their twenties is a pathetic ¥1,100,000, rising to an even more shocking ¥2,140,000 in their thirties.

The average salary for a Japanese worker is approximately ¥4,500,000, with the average for those in their twenties being some ¥3,500,000, and for those in their thirties it is ¥4,800,000.

The figures for animators comes from an industry survey of 700 people working in the field, and caused no small surprise when it was reported on national news.

Just how these wretched slaves survive on such meager recompense is quite the mystery, though doubtless anyone earning so little must have additional sources of income. However they may scrape by, some of the deficiencies of animation visible in less well funded or overseen anime suddenly swim into focus

Not only this, but as we heard before, seiyuu also have trouble making ends meet. Anime seems not to be such a lucrative business for its more replaceable workers.

Via Itai News.

Japan has in the post war period adopted a highly age dependent salary structure in many industries, which rewards company loyalty and long service, but does little to motivate highly talented workers to excel or push their careers forward at a faster pace.

This structure is showing signs of breaking down in some areas, but clearly the animation industry is not such an area.

Many are wondering just how this industry expects to retain and grow talent domestically when it forces its future star production staff into impossible wage competition with low cost producers such as Korea, China or South East Asia.

On the other hand, many of these employees are irrepressible otaku who could scarcely be prevented from working in the field; in these cases, employers can hardly be blamed for not paying them over the odds.

Whatever the case with salaried animators, the creative talent which is the greatest impetus towards the production of quality titles is comprised of mangaka, novelists and game studios, all of whom generally exist in conditions of pure meritocracy, and so sink or swim based solely on the success of their work in the market, an unpredictable existence which animators are insulated from.

That more of the pie is left over for creators is perhaps not a bad thing…

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    Comment by Rin
    23:24 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I currently work in Japan - Assistant English Teacher (ALT) - and I earn 3.6 million yen per year: about three times that of the average animator.

    Through happy and fortuitous circumstance, I was able to become friends with a director and producer at AIC Studios. They took me on a tour of the place . . . at one o'clock in the morning, when all the animators were working. They explained that all of them had to work at night because they had jobs at places like 7-11 and Lawson's or McDonald's.

    I've known for a long time that their pay was only about 10,000 dollars a year. I think it's despicable and makes all the worse their extortion-like prices for DVDs.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:11 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, it really is disgusting. They work for practically nothing and have to have a second job just so they can do the animation work. I couldn't imagine doing that.

    Hell, even here in the U.S. if you are an Animator you're going to end up pulling a ton of all nighters... but at least the pay is DECENT even for a beginner animator. At least 35-40k starting salary and you can work up to 90k if you stick with it and are amazing.

    Comment by Alaudia
    22:00 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    i work in the industry myself so i already knew pay was low, but that salary's just for the anime stuff, cartoon stuff pay a whole lot more than that.

    if someone's planning to get into the anime industry but still want a decent salary then your best bet is to get hired in an american company that have an anime division.

    Comment by Wizary
    21:52 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    They must truly love that work...

    Comment by liveevil
    01:53 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    On my standards that's actually a lot. But when you take the cost of living in Japan into account it obviously isn't enough. I'm not surprised, i've heard a while ago that anime staff were underpaid and overworked because of tight deadlines.

    "On the other hand, many of these employees are irrepressible otaku who could scarcely be prevented from working in the field; in these cases, employers can hardly be blamed for not paying them over the odds."

    That's exploiting the employee's interests for personal gain. Just because they really want to work as an animator regardless of the shitty pay doesn't mean that you don't have to abide by the laws and regulations and of course, business ethics. *Sigh*

    Avatar of TeeHee
    Comment by Andrew
    10:45 25/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I suppose you can call this the animation otaku's Plato's Cave?

    Avatar of Geerie
    Comment by Geerie
    20:34 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    honestly 90% of the people reading this are shocked that their dreams were crushed so easily, yet none of you wouldn't hesitate at the chance to tell a stupid girl that it'd be impossible for her to get a job as top model and actress because she doesn't have that stand out beauty. this is karma telling you that your art sucks.

    Comment by Redsight88
    02:22 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Geerie, you kinda reminded me of how American cities like New York City don't want people filming amateur videos to protect people's privacy, yet they allow paparazzi to follow celebrities around.

    Comment by Riiku
    18:20 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    *sob sob* What loyalty they show towards our favorite cartoons *sob sob*

    Anyway it's teh producers fault, for coming up with stupid ideas that wont bring money. Even I could pickup an awesome manga to animate, that'll be much more popular than the shit theese days.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:24 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    According to my knowledge, generally when you have a word starting with a vowel (I know there are exceptions) you have to use 'an'. So "a unpredictable existence" is incorrect.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:35 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    and accdg to my common sense, you're a grammar nazi faggot..so gtfo!

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:05 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If I was an animator I'd love to draw stuff like the old Tex Avery shorts. It looks like stuff like that would be easier on the animators, especially today. It's too bad that kind of animation doesn't fly anymore. IMO, it's still the best animation I've ever seen, despite the simplistic characters. They seem to have all the tricks and shortcuts in and out of the book to make simple characters look 100% alive. Now-a-days, in america, that stuff's been replaced by flash animations and 3D crap.

    Avatar of Geerie
    Comment by Geerie
    20:31 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    it does on the internet you can do shorts as a hobby. a lot of people enjoy donating too upcoming animators and if you're really good you can be recruited though you really need to stand out above the crowd.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:34 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow, anon, that animation is shit. You have no taste.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:20 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    then please tell me what ISN'T shit so that I may correct myself. Especially in the classic sense.

    Or at least prove to me why it's shit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:04 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    $11,000 a year?
    good enough for me
    I only eat once per day

    Comment by lol
    09:34 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    you prolly shouldn't waste your money on buying a computer, then..

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    09:35 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I went for 2 years straight on almost exclusively oatmeal, peanut butter, jam, whey protein powder, tap water, and multivitamins. Sometimes rice or noodles when I needed something different. Only ate once or twice a day.

    As long as you do still splurge on rare occasions it's not so bad.

    Just watch your macro and micro-nutrients (complex carbs over simple sugars, enough fiber, reasonable amino acids ratio in your protein, enough electrolytes particularly potassium, calcium, magnesium), see to it caloric intake is still over 1000/day (I'm 135 pounds), and you'll be fine.

    Monthly bill for food was about $25.00

    These days I'm working slave hours (IMO) at my job (48 hrs/week, including transit time), so when I scrape myself out of debt again I'll cut the hours and reclaim some free time.

    But that means living meekly once more.

    Some people are so spoiled with how much money they make... (Artefact included, judging from his narrative bent on the article)

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    09:39 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Switching which jam I used every few weeks was one of my greatest joys...

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:35 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The world of animation is a very small market, therefore people who work in the animation industry are obviously going to get paid minimum wage. Its sad, but if they were to pay people more then companies that produce animation wouldn't last long, such a harsh reality for those pursuing their dreams in animation. Companies these days aren't making much money off of Anime and such and when their shows are broadcasted on television, the broadcasting companies are pretty much reaping most of the profits.

    This would be the reason why quality is so hard to focus on when it comes to producing a show, is it worth the effort? Are you the kind of person who doesn't mind living off a minimum wage and want to produce the best quality animation? Do you, an animator, have the time to put quality in your work? Let's be thorough here people!

    Comment by kula
    12:48 27/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    you use the illustration of my friend -口-...........her name is Sayori....

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:31 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Don't these guys have a UNION -- or start forming one? That's MANDATORY in cases like this, and requesting not flat wages but _percentages_ of the profits. George Lucas does this with his actors and it worked damn well.

    Comment by kenjiharima
    22:13 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    These guys gives us our animation...they need more "CREDIT" in the financial way.

    Comment by Kit
    11:53 07/06/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I am willing to pay for the animes i like. I don't mind paying the price if the quality of the subbing and the videos are good.

    Except for the fact that, hey~ Student does not have lots of money for them. At my side, one dvd set can cost up to 70 bucks and more. >_> How can we even pay that? Know what I mean? Moreover, anime here are like a few years ago thingy? Takes about 4-8 years before it starts appearing....

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:21 16/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Economics 101: if the wages are low, it's because there are too many animators. The market is trying to tell you to look elsewhere. If that's all you can do, you're stuck. If you have any other skills, move on. As far as buying new cars for CEOs, remember that with super taxes on the rich, the pay scales adjust UPWARDs to make up for it. Be it a CEO or a ball player, if you want a million take home, you may have to be paid two or three million in "salary". Politicians will make hay, but generally speaking every move by governments to "punish" rich just jacks up their pay scales.
    The market says the pay is only worth 11k a year right now (and maybe forever). You might wish to look elsewhere, or go back to school to learn a better paying trade. The market is screaming this to people, but few listen...

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:16 20/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's 100 USD more than my salary, and I'm a programmer.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:03 02/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If there is anything positive to say, is that this weeds out all the fakes , wannabes , and mediocres and the people that have a true heart for it go thru despite the storm . I remember when anime fans in America had to higher translators and watch raw anime and stop every 5 min to ask what was said . I give a toast to the animators . Anime means alot good times or bad .

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:11 07/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    get a part time job. I have one and I only work once every 2 weeks and I'm able to buy literally all the anime I want.

    Comment by such
    19:49 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    how much does a fairly successful manga artsts make?

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:43 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, define successful.

    The really rich guys are the ones who have long going series running. And those whose works are adapted to anime. So yes, the riches ones would Rumiko (Inuyasha), Kishimoto (Naruto), Kubo Tite (Bleach) etc.. and they are very rich. I remember reading somewhere that Rumiko Takahashi was one of the highest tax payers in Japan!

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:37 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If i convert 11k buck to our currency....
    Thats 900$ a month right? Thats ~175k HUF, with the pre-crisis conv.rates, it'd be ~120-130k... that is just an average monthly salary here. But hey, I'm living in a post-communist country, who is NO1 in failing at economics, our nation debt in GDP% is the highest etc.....

    Comment by lol
    09:30 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You wanna see anime that complain about tight budget and actually protest against it in the show, try seeing gintama :) that was priceless, that was..

    Avatar of acesofthesky
    Comment by Ace
    06:55 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh damn, not that weird shaped cellphone again. D=

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:48 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's paint tool SAI :3

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:48 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's not always better when you make more...When you make a lot then IRS will come after you like wolf pack on lamb chops. On the book you can make a lot but what you get into your pocket is next to nil. Whenever April comes I get headaches...

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    19:24 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I could easily live with that kind of money. At least here I could, can't say about Japan. But that's as long as I don't have to provide for a family.

    Avatar of Halconnen
    Comment by Halconnen
    19:16 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I want to applaud the OP pic's author's taste in the choice of the tablet. <3

    Comment by Aldwin30
    11:22 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    DAmn them..Damn them all!!!!Animators should live in the lavishness of luxury..lolz

    Avatar of metatron
    Comment by metatron
    15:42 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    now all of you weaboos saw reality -- how does it feel?

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:24 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Good, obviously ^_^'''''

    Comment by 2nd Amendment gets Pwned
    14:34 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    master plan is to make money in america then go to a country where america dollars are worth more.

    Comment by Yangth
    15:06 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If I were you, I'd stay put here. This nation seems to be in the best conditions amongst other nations (gas in the EU is about twice as high as it is here) and other countries are less developed. Not to mention that we have the strongest military force in the world. When other countries get pushed around, who they gonna call? The US of course! We lend our naval troops and marine force to other countries, to fight against the evils of oppression and terrorism. And we have freedom of religion, and our citizens are free to do whatever they want (except of course, raep, pillage, and plunder; anything immoral basically) and we have a surplus of food and a free enterprise economy.

    Be glad you're livin' in America :3

    Avatar of Kurohana Setsuna
    Comment by Kurohana Setsuna
    15:45 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    First of all just stop cause to know the "TRUTH" you have to go back to your "ROOTS" or your history, correct me if I'm wrong on that one. You say this country fights and I quote "against the evils of oppression and terrorism. And we have freedom of religion, and our citizens are free to do whatever they want (except of course, raep (oh and it's spelled " rape "), pillage, and plunder; anything immoral basically)" I'll give you that this country did a lot for us in...well when they first got here, but the same people you say "protect" us from evils of oppression and terrorism, well remember who was here first, The Mayans, The Aztecs, The Incas, the "Natives" were here first. This whole country is pretty much Mexico. But yet this country is known as The "United" States of America. This country is no way shaped or formed of unity. The only way this place is united is by the working class, the middle and poor class and some upper class men who understand our struggle. This country is a false system. The ancestors of this countries leaders came here and "raped" the natives freedom. They came here and took what they think now as "theirs" and hid their secrets and false systems here just to gain more money to "try" and "Police" the world. (They will fail) Do you know that "everyone's" money goes into The National Bank Of The United States? Do you know who owns that bank? Not the United States. I'll tell you, it's the UN that owns that bank. The US is in dept, I'm sure that everyone is aware of that. The US is "Still" paying the dept that the UN loaned to the ancestors of this countries leaders, to come to this country and take over. Read a book before you start praising some false country.

    Comment by Redsight88
    01:41 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You guys mentioned freedom of religion, but no one ever mentions freedom "from" religion. Despite popular belief, Our founding Fathers didn't create a Christian nation, and many of them were pessimistic towards all religions, including some of our most important historical figures. But, ask most Christians and they'll take credit for this nation's freedoms.

    Most don't know this, but in several states, you cant run for high positions in public office if you're an atheist. Also, "one nation under god" and "in god we trust" were added to our pledge and our paper money in the 1950s by the Christian majority in the government for the sole purpose of boosting Christian morale During the cold war, and adding to the propaganda against the "godless" communists.Fighting these clear violations of the constitution is extremely difficult, because most higher up politicians are religious, and would dismiss your claims. The separation of church and state doesn't mean crap when few in the government enforce it.

    About something else that was brought up, America has one of the most corrupt governments in the world. I say this because they go to such tremendous lengths to hide this from other countries. While other countries perform more "improper" activities, or do it in greater volume, no other country puts up such a large cloak to shield itself from onlooking eyes while claiming to be "free" and "moral"

    Back to the main topic:
    $11,000 in their 20s? Turning passion into slave labor is a crime.

    Comment by Yangth
    01:52 24/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Slaves aren't paid.

    Comment by Yangth
    18:40 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    While that statement is a poorly misconstrued generalization, I do have to point out that young Natives are assimilating into American culture more and more. While the struggle to maintain their culture and traditions rages on, the younger generation seems to be more accepting of the American lifestyle. It's only a matter of time before they fall in with the rest of us. Tragic, but inevitable. Besides, American culture isn't horrible, it's just a different way of life.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:33 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    dude...young natives just like to drink and waste away with recreational drugs.

    Comment by Yangth
    18:30 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yes, the government does a lot of crazy shit. It pisses me off because everyone else seems to think "Oh, American government is corrupt, therefore America itself is a nation of corruption and deceit". This is the government's doing, not the American people. We, the citizens, are a normal people. We like when we're treated nice, and we like doing nice things for other people. But the image that many people have is that we Americans are a hostile nation, who's only goal is world domination, and we will do anything to reach our ends, be it drug trafficking or weapons trading. Look, all governments have things to hide, and like it or not, the citizens have no say as to what the government chooses to show them or does behind the scenes. Just be glad for the freedoms you are allowed to have. You wouldn't be so lucky in other countries. Unless you'd rather live in a communist, impoverished country.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:33 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow you seem to think america is at the pinnacle of freedom. Yet you only have a two party system.

    Comment by another Anon
    12:33 25/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    And slaves aren't free...

    I only hate the government. My target is not the American citizens themselves but all corrupted, self serves government.

    Comment by another Anon
    12:35 25/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    oh and to me, USA government is a hostile one, just like China. But i do like real socialist countries.

    Comment by another Anon
    18:16 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I live in America, and i love it. I don't really care about the past neither since Yangth is right. What i don't like about US is how government lie, how they sell drugs and alcohol to Native American with cheap price so the young native just die off. I hate US for fighting every war for profit and using justice as an excuse. And how the government control the people secretly. How the capitalist use their power to gain control over lower class. But at least, the people sometime are nice. And the land is beautiful.

    Comment by Yangth
    16:09 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Chill man. What's past is simply that. Past. Whatever feelings you may have about how the forefathers of the nation wrongfully obtained this land is based on things that happened centuries ago. It may seem heartless to think that the lives and peoples then are nothing, but without those events transpiring, America would not even exist. While I do very much agree with you that America's history was an ugly, bloody past, it is a country who's greatest selling point is freedom and equality. And did I mention freedom? Freedom of religion, of speech, of the way of life. While some of those freedoms are mildly limited, can you say that any other country is freer than America?

    Also, please do YOUR research. America was founded in 1776, the UN was established about the mid 1900's. Nowhere in this timeline is the UN able to borrow out money to fund the voyage to the New World or to fund the establishment of the earliest colonies. True, the US is in debt, but it is in less debt in comparison to countries such as Japan, Germany, and France. On top of that, most of our government's debt is owed to....itself. That is, Social Security and other government agencies.

    (and raep is simply in reference to an urban slang used on the internet)

    Comment by heyjey
    15:29 23/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    true, Yangth always speaks words of wisdom. (not being sarcastic here, I read his previous comments too, and he's right)

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