The dire financial straits of Japan’s animators appear to show few signs of improving, with a reported average yearly salary of Tokyo-area animators being around a measly $11,000 and the percentage of those leaving the industry entirely at 8 – 9%.

One animator reports a monthly wage of only $700: “I can’t afford a girlfriend, let alone a wife.”

Even a producer from well-known, although oft-troubled, animation studio Gonzo laments:

“Since last year the number of orders for new projects and our fees have been dropping. A 30-minute TV episode contract used to be ¥18,000,000 ($180,000), but now it’s around ¥13,000,000.”

The Japanese anime industry has experienced shrinkage since the 2005-2006 year, reducing in size from approximately 97 billion yen to the smaller, but still sizable, figure of 78 billion in 2008.

Japan’s strict hierarchical salary structure has always meant that younger workers must toil for some years at their professions before invariably receiving larger and larger pay raises as their seniority and (hopefully) experience levels increase.

This system, combined with the recent financial troubles of the anime industry and the already-low salaries paid to industry workers have resulted in Japan’s younger animators being reduced to practically below subsistence level wages.

The Japan Animation Creator’s Association, or JAniCA, recently reported the figures on Tokyo-based animator salaries as mentioned above following an investigation, giving the average yearly salary of an animator in his twenties as ¥1,100,000 (currently $11,412 USD).

With their pay being such a pittance, it is no surprise that JAniCA’s reported rate of these animators leaving the industry as being as high as 8-9%.

An article by Yahoo! Japan theorizes that some of the reasons for these humiliating salaries may be the increasing amount of animation work being exported to cheaper Asian countries (South Korea being a prime example), and a skill “vacuum” developing amongst younger workers as the number of skilled Japanese animators decreases.

One quote from an interview in Yahoo article comes from a 24 year old animator is given to illustrate common sentiments among the industry’s impoverished younger workers:

“I have zero money to use at all for recreation. Even if I could find a girlfriend, I really wonder if I could even marry her…”

As Yahoo estimates the average monthly salary of such workers in their 20’s as a pitiable ¥70,000 ($726), he might indeed have just cause to worry about such prospects, especially when the income expectations Japanese women have for their prospective husbands is taken into account.

Attempting to do something positive for the currently down on its luck industry, JAniCA is approaching the Japanese Government with the idea to create facilities helping to nurture Japan’s young talent, as well as to raise the public perception of the industry by non-otaku Japanese, whom for the most part take a rather dim view at the Akiba-related world of late-night anime.

Such an “Anime Palace”, as Yahoo calls it, may indeed have the whiff of an unreliable PR effort, but most in the industry and many fans would certainly wish to see something done to safeguard the essential supply of talent.

Via Yahoo! Japan.

There are however also those who see something of a shakeup as a necessary experience for an industry which has enjoyed an apparently unsustatinable bubble, one which now seems burst…

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    Comment by Anonymous
    13:06 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Its sad to see skill labor get pay less than some unskilled jobs.

    Avatar of muteKi
    Comment by muteKi
    13:53 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The work of an in-betweener is definitely not an intellectually stimulating one, and not even a particularly creative one considering. Even a "code monkey" would fare better.

    Little wonder, but it would seem minimum wage ought to be set at least a little higher than that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:47 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "All you need is loooove..."

    yeeeap, that was a nice fantasy song....

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:02 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ya know, I find it actually commendable how so many otaku, and such people who decided to stick to following their dreams rather than follow the scent of money, learn to survive off so little cash so that they can continue doing what they love and respect. But, in the defense of non-otaku women or men who aren't golddiggers or discriminate based on wallet size, I can understand not wanting to get involved with such people if such people don't understand how to use what little money they have. "Hey there, I'm an anime loving animator, I may not have much but I have a lot of love to give. So, this is my small home/room, and this is my shelf of figurines and erm... various dvds and games... and.."

    I don't mind the idea of making little money, but if I had to live off so little I'd use it for higher priorities before spending it on shit to fill my room with.

    Not that I'm trying to generalize here, but I'm just trying to look at it from another perspective. I admit this is a bit of a stereotype though (at least my little example in the quotes was.. ^^')

    But it's a little too cynical and sad to assume that your lack of money makes you any less of a person that you can't find a significant other. Thinking like that doesn't help confidence much, which I think should be more important in trying to find someone than money.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Metalbunny
    12:51 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    poor animators......
    It would be good if LIKE most countries the price of stuff in japan was cheap..

    Avatar of Chogiebear
    Comment by chogiebear
    12:41 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Poor animators, no wonder they depend on koreans to do their work. Next thing tomorrow they'll hire Chinese to do their animation (LOL!!!!!!).

    Comment by Booger
    20:38 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    They already do. I see more mainland Chinese names, Thai and Vietnamese names in the credits than Koreans nowadays.

    Comment by Role
    11:25 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ouch... Geez, that explains the fail quality of much of the anime we've been seeing lately. I wouldn't work very hard either if it meant the pay was that crappy...

    Comment by .
    Comment by idiot
    11:00 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The girl in the pic is that otaku chick from Genshiken


    Avatar of sanimej2
    Comment by sanimej2
    11:14 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    *Ding Ding Ding Ding*

    Give this idiot a cigar!

    Comment by RSKuroi
    12:00 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "The Japanese anime industry has experienced shrinkage since the 2005-2006 year, reducing in size from approximately 97 billion yen to the smaller, but still sizable, figure of 78 billion in 1998."

    Umm, don't you mean 2008, not 1998? Not sure how a figure could reduce *up* from a lower value 11 years ago.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:34 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    eating one meal at the eva cafe will probably cost them their salary for the entire week!

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:21 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm pretending that the girl in the pic is upset because her job as an animator doesn't pay her enough to buy me a Christmas present so that I may accept her as a girlfriend.

    Avatar of VZ
    Comment by VZ
    12:21 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I really things improve for the animators because I've actually been liking the shows that have been coming out this decade.

    Still, at least artists CAN get work there. It's SO hard for someone like me who majored in cartooning to not find work.

    Comment by Zalinski
    11:13 03/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    All women are whores, the sooner the guy realizes It the better. Also, I'm sure there are cheap whores In Japan for him to afford and get off on.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:42 03/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    All women are starved for attention at times, so they might become whores.

    Avatar of metatron
    Comment by metatron
    23:03 02/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    now you weaboos better think twice before you enter to this industry...

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:16 05/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    That must suck. I make 4,000 US per month. Here I thought I wasn't making much. Lol.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:06 28/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Lol... animators...

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:40 03/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    A meager improvement. The ultimate truth to all this is that if you are without what you really need in life, everything else just seems so pathetic in comparison. No love, no security, no happiness. Every day just seems the same. Your heart cries out and no one can hear it.

    Comment by Pyrus
    13:36 17/08/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Does this mean (salary of Micky D employee in U.S.A.) = (salary of Japanese animator)?

    Comment by Interwebz
    18:15 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Money is the root of all evil. But hey its makes the world go round and other things.

    Avatar of aprilius20
    Comment by aprilius20
    15:57 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    They could always go Dutch...

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:05 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    pitty..they work like shit and they got shit money for it..damn pityful ><..and the company take all the credits..

    Comment by Lowlife
    02:49 02/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think you also need to look at what gets animated these days. In the 80s and early 90s there were fewer studios doing fewer projects. Then the anime boom hit and the market got flooded with a lot of anime with poor or no stories. I think this had a similar affect as the loan bubble that is currently at the heart of the global economic problems. As the market shrinks you should see a correction is quality of work and pay, I hope.

    Avatar of VZ
    Comment by VZ
    21:19 02/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Exactly. As much as I'm enjoying many of the modern shows, there's just too many of them being made. Cut back on production and focus on quality. Gonzo and many other studio's (I'm looking at you, JC Staff) approach of making eight ten shows a year with the hopes that one or two are successful is proving to not be the best thing.

    Kyoani is actually pretty good at not over producing. Although this means that
    it took three years to get making more of Haruhi, at least pretty much everything they've made has been pretty successful.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:40 03/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    While KyoAni isn't "over-producing", most of the shows produced by them half to appeal to a really big crowd, in order to make lots of profit with minimal output - which is what they're doing right now. They're lucky to have Haruhi/Clannad/etc, otherwise they would increase their output just like everyone else.

    Avatar of Icy-nee-san
    Comment by Icy-nee-san
    08:22 02/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who needs a girlfriend or wife when theres 2D :D

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:25 02/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    that oguie pic is love

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by mithril
    06:37 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    well,at least they have a payroll on a monthly bases around $700,some workers in other countries earn only at least $10(average)per month,they're still lucky!!!

    Avatar of g0rth0r
    Comment by g0rth0r
    07:05 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't think those countries where you make 10$ a month are as much developed economically and industrially than Japan...

    You can't really compare an underdeveloped country with a developed one like that...

    Comment by CH
    06:52 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    In other countries where everything else is also cheaper, amirite?

    Avatar of Techeese
    Comment by Techeese
    Avatar of survivorevil
    Comment by survivor_evil
    06:22 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    you earn more money working at mcdonalds

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:35 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    No, you don't.

    Avatar of muteKi
    Comment by muteKi
    13:48 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Depends on where and how hard you work, and of course what position. (McDonald's higher-ranking executives surely don't get paid a pittance.)

    Avatar of Zatsugami
    Comment by Zatsugami
    07:16 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't know how hard they work,
    but their salary is somehow around my country's standards.

    Avatar of basilio
    Comment by basilio
    05:59 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    So sad... they bring so much joy into the world, yet they themselves live in such conditions.

    Comment by The Beast
    07:13 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, they should be fuckin' super stars.

    Avatar of basilio
    Comment by basilio
    14:17 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The sarcasm is so heavy I can cut it with a knife.

    Comment by Waterfall Towers
    19:58 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Here, use mine. *Hands over katana

    Comment by BB
    22:30 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    that will not suffice, you will need a beam saber powered up with trans-am....

    oh god, that sounded so nerdy..

    Comment by Sazamu
    08:47 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    maybe we should hire them over to other countries with higher pay, then we can have quality anime all around the world and everyone is happy. =D

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:32 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah. Less crappy animeted TV for America too. The only good animeted television on America are the animes imported from Japan

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:40 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    15:22 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not true, there are some wonderfully animated shows on American television, as long as you mentioned the actually ANIMATION of them and not the art. Simpler and easier to draw characters are easier to get animated, as it's easier to draw more frames of them. Compared to shows like Sponge Bob, a lot of anime barely look like they move. In such shows, it's like there's always multiple things on screen moving, while in anime it's suffice just to move a character's mouth and keep everything static for many seconds at a time.

    The only thing I hate about American animation right now is their tendency to use too much undetailed computer art and graphics, and FLASH ANIMATION. There's also the lack of imagination, the lack of cartoons in general, and the tendency to make more intelligent cartoons for adults and to treat younger viewers like dumb buckets of money. I think spongebob and other cartoon network gems are the last stand for good cartoons in the classic sense, and that we'll never see american cartoons as awesome as the early 90s Batman TAS and X-men TAS ever again.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:25 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Also, anime fans saying anything good about the anime shown on american television? LOL

    Comment by hALOTOO
    11:57 04/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    14:35 06/08/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Angry Beavers, Rocko's Modern Life, Ahhh!!! Real Monsters, Samurai Jack, Pinky & the Brain, Cow & Chicken, 2 Stupid Dogs, Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats, Corneil and Bernie, Invader Zim, Duck Dodgers, Dexter's Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, Camp Lazlo, Animaniacs, CatDog, Johnny Bravo, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Megas XLR, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Sheep in the Big City, Time Squad, Avatar, Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, KND, Chalk Zone, Smurfs, Thundercats, He-Man, Fosters - motherfuckers, I could do this all day!

    Comment by yuuji
    19:14 01/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    family guy and south park! hahahah

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