Anime industry needs new business model to survive – Yamasaki Osamu

Anime Industry & Manga Industry  are the most creative working industries of Japan however, for now Anime Industry is in a dire strait of survival and the reason is – “Hard working conditions and low pays.” If you’ve watched the Anime series called “Shirobako,” then you might be aware of the fact that how tough the Anime Industry really is, however the question is “how hard it is?”

Last year one animator confessed about the poor quality animation on twitter which reveals little details about the toughness of Anime industry, However soon after that a budget sheet posted by P.A works staff member revealed the whole truth.

Last year in the month of November a staff member (identity not revealed due to privacy) from P.A works caused huge controversy by tweeting a picture of their budget on twitter. The budget mentioned that the staff member only had $12.55 (1,447 yen) with him for his personal use.

Shirobako - P.A Works
Shirobako – P.A Works

The Animator did not graduate from in-betweener (Once key frames necessary for animation are created then its a job of in-betweener, or Junior level artist to go and add some more frames to make animation smoother.) to key animator even with 3 years of hard work.

On top of it he had to pay $51 (6000 Yen) desk fee per month and the highest fee he received for his work was in October 2016 which was $574 (67569 Yen). Although P.A works denied that it charges desk fees although they did confirmed that the other details mentioned in the budget were all true by raising the issue of the hard working conditions in the Anime Industry.

P.A works’s statement on budget issue and Anime industry’s working condition

P.A Works - Anime Industry
P.A Works – Anime Industry


この度弊社のスタッフ(嘱託。以下同じ。)が、SNSにおいて、支払明細を掲げるなどして投稿を行いました件について、 皆様には多大なご心配とご迷惑をおかけしております。本件につきまして本人に対し事実確認を行いました。 その後に行った面談結果をもとにした、弊社と本人双方の正式な見解は以下の通りです。

先ずスタッフとの契約を弊社より解除を申し入れた事実はこざいません。 またスタッフ個人のSNSアカウントを弊社より削除の依頼や指示をした事実もございません。 投稿したスタッフと面談した際に、SNSに投稿した件について、関係者に迷惑をかけたことに対し謝罪の念を伝えられました。 弊社といたしましても、多大な混乱を招いたことを関係者始め皆様に深くお詫び申し上げます。

なおスタッフに関連した写真やその他スタッフ個人に関する情報が、本人の意図しない状態で広まっているように見受けられます。 スタッフは一個人ですので、その名誉及びプライバシー保護のため、何卒ご配慮とご協力くださいますようお願い申し上げます。

以上 (Source –

Following are the translations of the above  draft-message :-

Thank you very much for your continued support and support of our company and our production works. Recently one of our staff member posted a digital copy of budget sheet on SNS (twitter). We apologize for the worry and inconvenience that was caused because of this.

We had a meet the person who posted shared the details on SNS (twitter) to confirm the truth. Following are some of the details of our meeting with that person based on the points of view mutually shared by both of us.

We did not terminate the contract with the staff member nor did we requested that member to delete his SNS account (twitter account). Upon the discussion with the staff member, the apologies were made to the concerned parties regarding the budget details that were posted on the SNS (twitter).

Our company once again apologizes to everyone for the worry and inconvenience that was caused and especially we apologize to the concerned parties who involved in this conflict.

Furthermore the images related to the budget information and staff member are spreading against the person’s wishes. The person is a private individual, so out of respect and privacy protection please co-operate in showing consideration.

However, even though the issue was handled we can’t deny the fact that the working conditions for animators in Japan are getting harder day by day, even confirmed by American Animator Henry Thurlow (his blog) in this article – Being Animator in Japan is tough/harsh!!. Recently business journal interviewed director Yamasaki Osamu who directed anime series like Hakuouki, in the interview Yamasaki Osamu conveyed his view about the Anime industry’s situation of survival and its hard working conditions and low pays.

Yamasaki Osamu’s views on today’s Anime Industry

According to Yamasaki, Animators are paid by the output of their work, so people in their 20’s who has ability to draw well at fast pace can earn approximately 5-6 Million Yen per month. However, to earn that much amount of money they need to sacrifice their social life because animators in Japan work over 10 hours a day. So its not that uncommon for animator to earn less than million yen a year (approx $ 5-7000 a year).

The first three years where new animators need to develop their skills as in-betweener are the hardest and most of them give up their dreams and their jobs along with that. According to Yamasaki 90% of young generation quit too early, even though Japan has huge amount of young and talented animators who are eager to work in the animation industry.

So according to Yamasaki Osamu, the ratio of people who enters and remains in the industry for long period of time is 1/10, hence the majority of animators working in the anime industry are the people in their 40’s and 50’s. That’s why,  In the another 10 years, the animation industry’s survival and the overall production might get brutal as the working staff will be in their 50’s and 60’s.

Animator's harsh reality - Anime Industry
Animator’s harsh reality – Anime Industry

Also the animation studios now are only capable of offering competitive wages. High productivity and Stable employment wages are the big ones and because of that small and medium sized animation studios are always loosing young generation talents. Also this further affects on nurturing the talents of individual animators, as a result small and medium sized studios don’t have large majority of skilled animators.

So they are forced to hire freelance animators, and as a result freelancers are pressurized to churn out their work because of which even getting a freelance animator nowadays is tough. Small and medium sized studios are always characterized by inexperienced freelancers who has low technical skills, further more they are characterized by low productivity and low wages because of which Young generation joins bigger studios and this is how this cycle continues.

When bigger studios get anime adaptation projects, they sub-contract their work into small and medium sized studios, to handle the increasing output and the overall budget of anime (each season). But the margins on this work of anime adaptations after production costs are deducted which are small and are getting smaller and smaller.

Animator's harsh reality Shirobako - Anime Industry
Animator’s harsh reality Shirobako – Anime Industry

If anime doesn’t become hit studios enters debt and some of them even goes bankrupt, as it happened with Studio Fantasia. However the speed at which profit is shrinking is very low thanks to the vast majority of anime adaptation every year (100-200). So most of the staff is not affected by the shrinking revenue, however Yamasaki Osamu claims that, the shrinking of revenue affects all animators in the industry and not just newcomers.

Lots of people are still getting into anime industry and those who survived and are working, continues to work because of two reasons, to support themselves and their families and for their passion for anime and drawing and its what keeps them going. Yamasaki Osamu points out that Animators are not the type of people to worry about money and get together and negotiate and discuss about management. So basically there aren’t many people who come out and discuss this issue openly.

He believes many directors share this sense of crises, referring to Anno Hideki, director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, who raised the issue of declining Human resource and funding thus saying that anime industry will end in five years. So Yamasaki Osamu thinks that Anime industry needs a completely new business model, in order to avoid the slowly approaching demise.

[News Source – Business Journal and ANN]

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About Author - Kaustubh

A professional blogger & Website Developer and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker. Interested in Anime, Manga, Games, Japanese Movies and Drama and loves to write and share his view on it!.


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