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New Report Explains How Animators Get Cucked
By WakeUpSnooze • 2 weeks ago

It’s no secret to anyone with internet access that the animation industry is in shambles right now. Not in terms of a lack of work, but a lack of sustainable business practices that allow for animators to work in a healthy and well compensated manner. We’ve talked about this issue several times here on the blog, but I wanted to circle back to it today to shed some light on new information brought about by a report on the industry in 2023 by the Japanese Animation Creators Association (JAniCA). Let’s see what they uncovered.

The report surveyed animators in 2023 regarding their entry into the industry, specifically when it came to selecting their first offers and contracts. 428 animators were surveyed and among them 21.7% answered they were not explained the terms of their first contract. This was the largest percentile group. So one major issue is the terms not even being properly negotiated in the first place. The second largest percentile group (18.7%) answered they could not find a long term employee contract for work, and instead had to rely on short term subcontractor arrangements. Why so much focus on short term agreements? Because anime studios often don’t actually acquire the IP rights to a series. Larger investors typically retain the rights to licensing, merchandise, physical copy sales, etc. which means the studio doesn’t make that much profit even if the show does well. They can’t afford to hire many animators permanently as once the series has been produced, the larger investor who holds the IP walks away with most of the cash and the animators are stuck with their compensation being restricted to a pay-for-frame model. Reports of starting wages for this have claimed around $1.47 per drawing can be expected. Overall the JAniCA survey indicated 47.3% of animators are currently freelance or self-employed, compared to 40.5% of permanent employees. So over half are dealing with contending with the innate struggles of moving studio to studio, project to project.

Basically, shit's kinda fucked.

So with this data it’s easier than ever to see how  this industry entered such a state of turmoil for those working in it. But why are we not fixing it? Industry veterans like Nishii Terumi refer to the “anime village” or “village company” concept in Japanese society. Essentially, what that means is many companies focus on harmony and unity among its workers over fresh ideas and innovation through disruption. Often a new idea won’t be seriously considered unless an extremely high proportion of the staff all agree they want to explore it. And that scenario first requires someone going against the grain and being the guinea pig who brings it up in the first place. As you may imagine, that could be an easy way for a subcontractor to find themselves back on the job search in record time.

Me three days after voicing a different opinion.

I know this probably isn’t as fun to think about as a BIG BOOBAS GOING BAZINGA IN NEW S-TIER DOUJIN article, but I found reading this survey’s results to be pretty illuminating. I already knew the industry was in shambles thanks to the Jujutsu Kaisen controversies, but now I feel like I understand why it’s in that state, as well as the financial and cultural hurdles blocking progress from improving conditions for workers. Were you aware about the problems facing the anime industry? Did you know the inner workings of why it’s such a struggle? Will research like this bring to people’s attention the need for change, or will concepts like the “village company” keep animators down for years to come? Learn to draw, buy some equipment, and earn that sweet sweet $1.47 for your first piece in the comments below!