The Anime Industry Desperately Needs More Animators

The anime industry is being sustained by an increasingly overburdened, underappreciated workforce. Is this a sustainable model?

Animators desk, Shirobako

Still of an animator’s desk from Shirobako

Anime may soon experience a crisis if nothing is done to address the lack of new animators entering the industry. A recent article by Goboiano covering a series of tweets by an animator, Thomas Romain, shed light on the current predicament facing the anime industry in response to Attack on Titan Season 2 only having 12 episodes instead of 25.

To people disappointed by Attack of Titans S2 being only 12ep. Sad but there is a real shortage of staff because of anime overproduction.

— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017

It’s now nearly impossible to produce 26ep high-quality shows.Studios are already doing their best within the schedule they get from clients

— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017

” With new actors like Netflix, Amazon in the US and Huge Chinese investors, Japanese anime studios are being asked to produce more and more. “

— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017

The long four-year delay from the first season and lower episode count caused a major backlash on Twitter among fans.

@anime_shingeki I don’t get it. If you were releasing just 12 episodes, why the hell did you make us wait 4 years? Manga ch. 50 was in 2013!

— Rocío Fernandez Maya (@RochitaBlack) March 30, 2017

@anime_shingeki i hate you guys for giving us only 12 episodes for season 2 what the hell people have been waiting for like 4 years and this is what you do

— Nabila R (@nabilarmdhni) March 30, 2017

@anime_shingeki it’s unacceptable to jush release 12 episodes for season 2 😤, at least make it to 25 episodes like the last season

— loklok2422 (@ykl987) March 30, 2017

This news took social media by storm, especially on Reddit where plenty of commentators chimed in on the current state of the anime industry. One Redditor claims that Japan’s declining birthrate is a factor, while another blamed the greed of animation studios. Commentators also heavily discuss the current stability, merchandising, marketing, and global reach of the anime industry.

The low salaries are a major issue that’s keeping prospective animators from choosing this career path. Kotaku covered the results of a 2015 survey which revealed average salaries of different jobs in the anime industry. Top earners such as series directors have an average monthly salary of 540,833 yen ($5,036). Compared to what Hollywood and television series directors earn, it’s really quite dismal. Further down the food chain, experienced key animators earn an average monthly salary of 235,000 yen ($2,189), while younger in-between staff members earn a mere 92,500 yen ($862) per month.

Entry-level animators earn approximately 907 yen ($8.4493) per hour, which is a low rate by Japanese standards. Depending on whether they work on a part-time or full-time basis, their earnings will vary. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to entice young folks to become animators if they’ll be earning salaries that just about allow them to live above the poverty line.

Overworked and underpaid animators also suffer from health issues, as they contend with 10-hour workdays and meeting deadlines. Even foreign animators have found conditions in the anime industry quite harsh and are unable to attain the same living standards as they did back home. While some people will always be drawn to the fantasy of working in the anime industry, the reality of life as an animator is not all it’s cracked up to be!

Changes to schooling, work conditions, and wages are paramount in producing the next generation of animators. Thomas Romain further elaborates on these pressing issues.

” The problem : you need years to train production staff + anime schools are closing in Japan. Less and less people want to work in this field “

— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017

@Anamewithaguy It doesn’t pay well. And the workload is huge.

— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017

@juankamilomarin Because most of the people can’t afford a living with the ridiculously low salary they get by working in this industry.

— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017

We only hope that someone is listening!

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