The Average Anime Salary In Japan Is Shockingly Low

The Average Anime Salary In Japan Is Shockingly Low

We already know that the work hours for animators in Japan are awful. But, as NHK reports, the average pay is shit too.

According to a Japan Animation Creators Association survey of 759 animators, the average yearly income is 1.1 million yen or approximately $11,900. And that’s working, again, on average, 11 hours a day. That’s rough for a country as expensive as Japan.

Even though anime is obviously big business in Japan, NHK adds that the domestic industry must compete with cheap labour in other countries in Asia.

Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs requested the survey, so this problem is on the Japanese government’s radar. An official from the Japan Animation Creators Association says that the development of young animators in Japan is key for the industry’s future, and the association hopes to hold a symposium about bettering work conditions.

Until then, young animators will be doing things like working insane hours and trying to figure out how to do basic things like pay rent and buy food.

Picture: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock


  • How is 1.1 million yen even possible? Lowest min wage is 667ph, at 11hrs, 5dpw, 52wpy ( Japanese don’t take much leave) that’s 1.9 million yen per year.

    • ever heard of the term service zangyou? (service overtime, aka non paid overtime)
      many japanese has no rights to claim overtime. and also these animators get paid per scene/picture.
      more pic you finish more you get paid, however when you can only finish painting small number everyday even when you spend over 11 hrs, there arent much $ to be made as animators.

      many drean to be a gengashi(original work artists)
      these are who drew the original key frames/scenes.
      they get paid heaps more but still weak pay.
      much better than average animators though.

      there were may be 5,6 animes each quater back in 90s, and when you make an anime, it sold reasonably well as vhs, dvd etc, just like CD did in japan.
      however now days you get 10-20 animes each quater, and you guessed it, it dorsnt sell.
      even mega buck studio like ghibli decided to quit.

      studios usually made money by selling dvd with price of over 5000yen per episode. and close tie to toy manufactures. not every anime has toys, unless your hardcode fans many will not simply buy 30000-40000 yen dvd boxsets for 10,12 episodes of anime.
      its a terrible spiral. they cannot pay more and they cannot raise price of merchandice even further as it will simply lose more sales.

      • Well the reason that they can get away with producing 20+ shows each season is that the advances in technology since the 90s have made animation generally much less expensive to do, so it’s not a case that if they made less, the animators would be paid more.

        Additionally TV anime isn’t primarily made with the intention to sell lots of copies. That’s factored into budgets but in most cases, anime is produced as a promotional vehicle. A bunch of companies get together and fund it, they buy a timeslot on a few TV networks late at night and produce a half-hour show and put their own ads in. This is why you used to see ‘brought to you by these sponsors’ messages. This is why you will see shows effectively used as promotional vehicles for certain idol seiyuu or bands. It’s also why so much stuff is light novel or manga adaptions. Kadokawa for example you see all the time (or Media Factory, their anime imprint) because they own multiple companies that produce manga and light novel publications, and they hope that by doing an adaption people will check out the original material if they like it, or will continue to be invested in the originals, plus it draws more eyes to their periodicals where they run other manga and light novel stuff. They publish a ton of general anime magazines too (they own the company that produces Newtype for example) so you’ve got a sort of serpent-eating-its-own-tail of producing anime to promote their magazines so they can put more material in their magazines. It’s kind of perverse really. Obviously this isn’t the only way there’s any money in it, but it’s one of the primary ways.

        OVA and Movie production’s way different funding-wise. Movies rely on ticket sales. That’s what Ghibli’s problem has been, actually. Miyazaki Senior was always able to put bums on seats in cinemas, but the others have failed. Despite being quite good films, Arrietty, Poppy Hill and Marnie all barely broke even. Princess Kaguya lost money because of its incredibly difficult animation style which made the production take too long (it was supposed to be a double feature with The Wind Rises). The Wind Rises itself wasn’t a massive success like Miyazaki’s usual work either, and ever since Kiki the studio has relied on his ability to churn out blockbusters. Ghibli hasn’t shut down, but they no longer employ animators or directors full-time like they used to. They’ll hire people on contract for specific films instead, more in line with traditional film production. I expect they’ll still be around for a bit yet.

    • Lowest minimum wage is 664 yen per hour according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Salary jobs aren’t paid hourly though, it’s not unusual to do a lot of unpaid overtime (I’ve had a few jobs for Japanese companies here in Australia that are like that too). The annual salary would be based on the nominal work week for 47 weeks a year (the average vacation time taken by Japanese workers is 25 days, and the official requirement is 5 weeks to reduce karoshi – death by overwork).

      To fit that you’re looking at 37 hour weeks. In reality you’re probably looking at forced unpaid shutdown periods between animation contracts that mean 40 paid hours a week but less than 47 weeks annually.

      It’s shit, of course, and they should be paid more. Unpaid overtime is a very common cultural problem.

  • The Average Anime Salary In Japan Is Shockingly LowThis phrasing makes it sound like the article is about the average salary of characters in anime.
    In all seriousness though, it’s depressing to hear that such a popular industry doesn’t reward the workers very well. If what you see in anime about manga and anime publishing is any indicator (A lot of them are commentaries on the industry), it gets really tough and I admire the dedication that people have to their art to endure this.

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