The notorious poverty of Japanese animators once again come in for scrutiny, with animators reportedly earning an hourly wage of only $3, less than a burger flipper.
Average incomes for anime industry employees are said to be pathetic even by Japanese standards – actual animators received an average annual wage of ¥1,050,000 ($10,000). Artists received ¥2,320,000, whilst performers could expect only ¥3,330,000 and even directors only received ¥4,950,000.
Looking at the results by age reveals it is most probably seniority and not merit which is the primary determinant of wages, a practice which became entrenched in Japan in the post-war period and still dominates the labour market – those in their twenties received an average of ¥1,100,000, those in their thirties ¥2,130,000, whilst those aged 40-60 found their earnings peaking at a meagre ¥4,000,000.
Actually dividing this income by hours worked (Japanese companies not infrequently demand massive amounts of unpaid overtime) reveals an even more pitiful truth – the average hourly wage for animators is estimated at ¥298 ($3), that for artists ¥689, and that for directors ¥1,412.
For reference, McDonald’s employees in Tokyo can expect an hourly wage of ¥1,000.
Japan’s plunging marriage and birth rates have often been blamed on these kind of hiring practices – employees in their twenties and thirties increasingly report that girlfriends, let alone wives, are out of their reach. The situation would appear to be even more aggravated in the anime industry.
The survey also asked about job satisfaction – unsurprisingly, 62% reported their love of drawing was the main motivator, as opposed to other factors such as money. 16.6% reported grave dissatisfaction with their work, 37% “dissatisfaction” and only 3.5% were “very satisfied.” 70% reported dissatisfaction with their wages.
With studio output declining recently it seems unlikely matters will improve.