According from “The History of Anime” by Lisa Marie Cooper that anime has been existed for several decades from the first anime series the “Astro boy” in 1963 and the first anime film that been introduce in the anime world was “The Tale of the White Serpent” in 1958. From the past till now, animation has been improving tremendously as animators learned new techniques and animation or art styles in their career. The improvement of animation and well written stories has piqued their interested in anime worldwide. There are more people watching anime around the world which has led an increase demand for more anime from the studios. Anime could cover all sort of genres that someone might be interested in watching. However, that means anime studios have to adapted the manga, webtoon, or light novels to turn them into anime in all sort of genres that people want to watch every season. This has turned the anime industry into a big business and anime studios want to get more money for the management than the animators that has produced the anime for them. To benefit the lives of animators, anime studios should improve the working conditions, and the animator salaries.
Before telling about the dark side of the anime industry, that producing one anime episode can cost a lot of money and work to do one. For most people from the anime community knows that anime studios have to adapted a written source like from a manga, light novel, video game, or a webtoon. The animators have to animate and draw the sources for each episode and the animators has to do in “A 30-minute work requires more than 3,000 illustrations. In-between animators receive about 200 yen (US$2) per illustration and can produce a maximum of 20 pages per day” (Sherman). Depends on the studio and the original source content, each season of an anime will be at least 12 episodes or more. For each animator has to produce about 36,000 illustration for a whole season of that anime. It can very tiring for the animators to produce this amount of work in for a long time. Additionally, they have to produce very good quality of work for the anime that they are working on. The anime TV series production cost can very high, after knowing the amount of anime episodes per season. For example, there was a company that has research on the amount of money is it needed to produce for one episode by “Media Development Research Institute Inc in 2018 reported that a single My Hero Academia 30 minute anime episode costs 12,000,000 yen, which exchanged to $108,480.00 USD”( Panda) The total price for producing for one episode has split up for many things is needed for one episode like the Original work ($467), script ($1,870),episode direction ($$4,675), production ($18,700), Key animation supervision ($2,337), Key animation ($14,025), in-betweening ($10,285),Finishing ($11,220), art backgrounds($11,220),photography ($6,545), sound ($11,220), materials ($3,740), editing($1,870), and printing ($4,675). From the financial report, it came from the first season of My Hero Academia with 13 episodes. After I calculating the amount of money the anime studio has to use to produced My Hero Academia first season and the cost will be $1,482,560 million. The cost of production could change depends the amount of detail and work for creating the animation for every anime. This example shows that the grand scale on the amount of money is needed for one of the most popular anime in recent years. With all the work and money that is going for every anime in Japan, it came with a price to the people working on it.
There has been reports of animators has died or sent to the hospital for overworking themselves in Japan due to above average overtime hours in Japan than around the world. This April, the Japan overtime culture has made the Madhouse production assistant to be hospitalized for overworking. Due to Sakaura the editor-in chief for the youth labor advocacy group has reported the cause of production assistant overworking due to the “crunch time, the assistant would work over 200 hours of overtime per month, and would be made to work all day and night even on weekends or public holidays. They had even collapsed due to overwork before and had been taken to hospital” ( Morrissy). Even with Madhouse, the one of the best animation studios in Japan that are well known for making Death Note and One-Punch Man that they do not think about the welfare of their workers. That they will exploit the animators love of producing anime to get the maximum profit from them by producing anime as much as possible. The meaning for “crunch time” in the anime studios is that the animators has to do a lot of work in a short amount of time to meet a certain deadline or quota. However, in the anime industry is not the only one in working industries in Japan that has some workers in Japan meet the same fate as the production assistant in Madhouse or worse. In the Japan working culture, there is a word that they used for people overworking themselves to death that is called “karoshi” and this word was used till 1960s and 70s in Japan. The Japanese government has not put a limit on the number of hours to work in Japan that the business will exploit that to gain a short-term profit that there are “Official figures put cases of karoshi in the hundreds each year, counting heart attacks, strokes and suicides. But campaigners say the real figure is much higher” (Lane). It is terrible that this is happening in our world that the companies are putting a lot of pressure on their employees to work a lot of hours. For change to happen, the workers need to speak up against management of their company and the government.
For change to happen, the Japanese people need to change their mindset and the government need to add laws to help the workers for better working conditions in corrupt companies including with the anime studios. The reason I said that the Japanese people need to change their mindset because they are afraid to lose their job by speaking up to the management about the bad working conditions and the long hours. Which it is true that anybody will be fear of losing their job or the career that they love to work in but the workers need to make a change in these inhumane working conditions. However, not just one animator that reports these problems will change the minds of the anime studios management corruption because they could just replace that animator with another one. There should be a lot of animators in several anime studios that has experienced in these inhumane working conditions that they should join or create a union. There are unions in japan like the Madhouse production assistant problem in the previous paragraph. The union they join that was mention from “ Sakakura reported that the Madhouse production assistant had joined the Black Company Union, a trade union formed in 2017 that offers consultation and support for workers across various industries”( Morrissy). For the general public, it not the anime studios animators that are suffering in these working conditions. That there are people from other working industries that could join the same unions as the animators that has suffering from having a high amount of overtime hours, crunch time and people that they know has to go to the hospital due to overwork. According from the author Hiroyuki Fujimura that wrote “Japan’s Labor Unions: Past, Present Future” in unions there is a way to get the attention of the management for the anime studios or any other working industries by using “strikes are used by labor unions as a means of negotiating with management and passing on request to them” (7). This is a way for the animators to make a move against the management and address the issues that is happening in their studios. According from Nick Green that wrote “Actionable Ways to Improve Working Conditions in the Anime Industry” the types of negotiation that “they bargain for rights, benefits, and wages by holding strikes, refusing to work until demands are met”(Green). The workers could apply pressure for doing the strikes against the management until they agree with terms. But there is a chance that not all of the terms will be met because the management and the union need to have a constant communication to address these problems. Also, the anime studios could improve the working conditions but there is a chance that they cannot improve the animator salaries and benefits for them. That there are downsides of having a strike because it will hurt the animators financially. It will hurt the animator more because due to the low paid, they usually get in a month for working for the anime studios that they cannot afford wasting time to do a strike. But that depends on how long the strike will go for, if it goes too long the animators might need to go back to work and not solve these problems.
There is an outside interference that not lot of money is going to the studios that could pay for the animator’s overtime hours or increase their salaries. After knowing the production cost for making one anime season that goes up to 1 to 2 million dollars. The way for the anime business to get a profit that make up for that loss from the production cost. The anime business model is that the consumers are buying the anime DVDs and Blu-ray discs. From a news report from Anime New Network by Rafael Antonio Pineda that he reported that “the general Japanese animation market is down 6.9% from the previous year, with total sales of 49.082 billion yen (about US$440.948 million)” (Pineda). Even though this is a slight decrease of total sales but from the same new article that the author mention that the sales are declining for two years. After knowing that the anime is a big market for Japan, but most of the money still do not go to the rest of the studios after making their own anime. Jennifer Sherman has written down in her news article about that NHK Close-up program “showed a graph of increasing annual profits in the anime industry. The small yellow bars represent the portion that anime studios receive. Because production committees hold IP licenses, as well as merchandising and distribution rights, profits from anime productions fail to reach studios” (Sherman). In the graph, it shows a red bar that goes around 2 million to 1 million yen. The red bar might be the amount of money that will be split off to the IP licenses, merchandising and distribution rights. This will be a huge blow to the animator that need the money for the studios to pay off the animator overtime hours. The anime studio management should have mange this better on agreeing the amount of money that is going to the IP licenses, merchandising and distribution rights. That they should use the money to increase the animator salaries but the anime studios rather want to decrease the labor cost instead.
There are some ways that could help fund the animators and production costs. One of the ways are public could help fund the anime projects that the anime studios want to produce in the future. According from “Crowdfunding Japanese Commercial Animation: Collective Financing Experiences in Anime” by Antonio Loriguillo-López that the name for the public to fund the anime or other project is “crowdfunding is a novel financing method that allows individuals to contribute to the funding of projects of any kind through small monetary contributions, either in the form of direct donations or, more commonly, in exchange for some degree of involvement in the result, such as a share in the profit”(3). This can increase the interest of the anime because the public fund a portion of the anime production cost. But with how high the production cost for one anime episode, it will be unlikely the public will fund more than one episode. It depends on the amount of anime fans that like that anime will fund that project. The crowdfunding should be good for to produce for a second season for that anime has already exposed to the audience and like the anime. Remember that most anime were adapted from manga, light novel, and webtoon that not a lot of people will read the material but there will be a small fanbase for that reading material though. There are legal anime websites on the internet that people could see videos of the anime. That this is another way to help increase the profits for the anime by using a subscription to a legal anime site. The very popular anime websites that are shown in the west is Crunchyroll, Netflix, Amazon prime videos, and more. The people need to pay a small fee per month on these websites to view anime and other shows but the biggest contribute to anime industry is Crunchyroll. According from Gavin J. Blair that “Crunchyroll has contributed more than $100 million to the Japanese industry through royalty payments in the 10 years it has been operating” (Blair). From that same author that wrote the article, the way for Crunchyroll send all that money to Japan anime industry by license the anime for the west to see the anime in United states and other countries in the world. This is quite huge for anime industry that the west could see the anime in a legal way instead of using illegal anime website to see the anime from Japan. The people will use Crunchyroll and know that they could make a small change to improve the animator salaries and they could produce more anime in the future.
For the future of anime, it is important for the animators to have a good working conditions and improve their salaries for them to make more anime for us in the future and be in love of what they do as an artist. It takes a lot of money to produce an anime season that the animators are the ones that are producing amazing anime for their studios. Even though, it is necessary for the management to meet a deadline to get an anime out for a season in the year, but the anime studios management need to plan out longer time for producing the anime. To prevent the animators to be overwork and go to the hospital or die by overworking. There are some solutions for the animators to step up against the management, if it goes bad for them. The reason it is important to solve this issue because anime is another form of entrainment that a lot of people like to watch for the animation and story telling that is different and diverse than the western cartoons.
Blair, Gavin J. “Crunchyroll’s $100 Million Contribution to Japanese Anime.” The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Feb. 2018, www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/crunchyrolls-100-million-contribution-japanese-anime-1083722. Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.
Cooper, Lisa Marie. “The History of Anime.” Right Stuf Anime, www.rightstufanime.com/anime-resources-global-history-of-anime. Accessed 3 May. 2019.
Frujimura, Hiroyuki. Japan’s Labor Unions: Past, Present, Future. Hosei University, 2012.
Green, Nick. “Actionable Ways to Improve Working Conditions in the Anime Industry.” Actionable Ways to Improve Working Conditions in the Anime Industry, Medium, 26 Aug. 2017, medium.com/@sasugastudios/actionable-ways-to-improve-working-conditions-in-the-anime-industry-6a7212583363. Accessed 3 May. 2019.
Lane, Edwin. “The Young Japanese Working Themselves to Death.” BBC News, BBC, 2 June 2017, www.bbc.com/news/business-39981997. Accessed 3 May. 2019.
Lopez , Antonio Loriguillo. “Crowdfunding Japanese Commercial Animation: Collective Financing Experiences in Anime.” Taylor & Francis, Rouledge, 2017, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14241277.2017.1298112. Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.
Morrissy, Kim. “Madhouse Production Assistant Hospitalized for Overwork, Demands Compensation for Unpaid Overtime.” Anime News Network, 10 Apr. 2019, www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2019-04-10/madhouse-production-assistant-hospitalized-for-overwork-demands-compensation-for-unpaid-overtime/.145557. Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.
Panda, Manga. “How Much Does One Episode Of Anime Cost To Make ⋆ Anime & Manga.” Anime & Manga, 18 June 2018, sotaku.com/how-much-does-one-episode-of-anime-cost-to-make/. Accessed 3 May. 2019.
Pineda, Rafael Antonio. “Japanese BD/DVD Sales Down 5.1% From 2014, Anime BD/DVD Sales Down 6.9%.” Anime News Network, 21 May 2016, www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-03-21/japanese-bd-dvd-sales-down-5.1-percent-from-2014-anime-bd-dvd-sales-down-6.9-percent/.100044.
Sherman, Jennifer. “NHK Program Discusses Anime Industry’s Financial, Working-Condition Problems.”, Anime News Network , 7 June 2017, www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2017-06-07/nhk-program-discusses-anime-industry-financial-working-condition-problems/.117144. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
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