Underpaid and Overworked: Popular YouTube channel takes a look at the dark side of Japan’s anime industry
Japan’s animation industry is booming right now, with titles getting streamed or broadcast all over the world. However, while many studios are raking in the cash, many of the people working for them are not only overworked, but also underpaid. Popular Asian YouTube channel Asian Boss recently took a look at the plight of Japan’s animators, despite the anime business booming around the world.
Asian Boss interviewed a young newbie animator named Ayame Nakamura. She only has six months of experience working on anime, but she has already worked on titles like Vinland Saga and Boruto. She does admit that the industry is somewhat lacking animators right now, and there are many opportunities all around, even for foreigners. She then talks about animation production, and how they actually make anime. But as she talks about the process, she reveals that there are strict deadlines and tight schedules. This results to animators being overworked. Nakamura also said that they’re not really paying her much, and with Tokyo being such an expensive city to live in, she shows how harsh getting into the anime industry really is. In fact, Nakamura admits that high school students working a part-time job make a lot more money than her.
Asian Boss also talked to Jun Sugawara. He runs the Non-profit organization called Animator Support. One of their projects is running a low-cost dormitory for underpaid animators. He says that animators definitely have some serious skills, yet they’re not getting compensated properly for all the work they do.
As to why animators are paid low, Nakamura says there are a lot of factors. She says that the budget for anime are always low, as advertising companies take up most of the budget. The animation industry depends on cheap labor, and that cheap labor is provided by willing and often hungry animators wanting to break into the industry.
Animation studios in Japan are infamous for being slave drivers. In fact, one man from A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online) even committed suicide due to overwork. And earlier this April, a production assistant sued Madhouse for overworking him and won that lawsuit. Madhouse did treat him better afterwards, but the studio’s mistreatment of animators still goes on apparently. Even mangaka who had their works adapted into anime do not usually get paid. The most famous example might just be The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.’s Shuuichi Asou… who finally got paid after he went public with the ordeal.
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