Make Anime In Japan, Get A Shitty Salary

[Image via Ytimg | P.A. Works]

Making anime isn't easy! Not only is it a highly skilled profession, but loads of talented people are trying to break in. P.A. Works, the studio behind anime Shirobako, is now hiring for whatever it's making next spring, and the hourly animator salary is not so good.

Actually, it's terrible.

What makes this so interesting is that Shirobako was a behind-the-scenes look at the trials and tribulations of making anime.

For new hire animators, pay starts at 770 yen (6.75) an hour. If an animator works 8 hours a day and 260 days a year, the salary would be the equivalent of $US14,040 ($18,307). 

That's way lower than what convenience store jobs pay! Those wages start at around 920 yen ($US8 ($10)) and can get as high as 1150 yen ($US10 ($13)) for the graveyard shift. And the hourly wage at McDonalds is somewhere between 980 yen ($US8 ($10).60) and 1225 yen ($US10 ($13).75). 

That's right, the animator salary is significantly less than minimum wage.

Online in Japan, commenters are comparing this to slave labour and calling it exploitive.

But as crummy as P.A. Works' pay is, the studio's hourly rate is actually above average! Which says a bunch about the sad state of anime work conditions.

As Kotaku previously reported, the average wage for animators in Japan is shockingly low. According to a Japan Animation Creators Association survey of 759 animators, the average yearly income is 1.1 million yen (US$9,648). 

At least P.A. Works has a nice looking studio that's located outside in a rural part of the country, so maybe the cost of living is slightly lower. 

[Image: P.A. Works]


    Many animation jobs, especially lower paying entry level jobs, have a mixed pay arrangement, where they're paid a basic entry salary and are also paid frame by frame.

    "The amount of money you earn from day to day changes … since it’s based on how many frame you draw. On Monday I might draw simple corrections on a whole bunch of frame (adding effects that were forgotten by other animators, or “Kii energy” or something like that) resulting in me being able to draw 40 drawings in one day and make over $150 depending on the series. Tuesday-Thursday however, I might have to do the trace-back and inbetweens for a super detailed shot from Tokyo Ghoul (which is really fun btw)…but results in me only drawing 5 frames per day each of those days ($12 a day or so)"

    Last edited 03/11/17 12:53 pm

    Its also a supply and demand situation. So many people want to be animators you can pay low for it. If animators were scarce they could demand top dollar but they're not.

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