There’s a reason why the same parents who encourage their kids to become doctors or lawyers don’t try to steer them into becoming anime studio employees.
It may not be the biggest or most famous anime studio in Japan, but Tokyo-based Xebec has produced a couple of respectable successes in its 20-year history. Most recently, it’s been the company behind the various animated branches of the To Love-Ru franchise, and Xebec can also count Negima!, Love Hina, Martian Successor Nadesico, and Sorcerer Hunters among its greatest hits.
Given the studio’s better-than-average track record, landing a job there is probably makes an aspiring animator feel pretty lucky…at least until he sees his paycheck. Recently, an Internet user claiming to be a new Xebec hire shared the details of his payslip, and the picture suddenly didn’t look quite as nice as the polished visuals anime is known for.
Before we start counting yen, the employee describes his working conditions as:
● A three-month contract
● Only base pay and commuting allowance (no social insurance benefits)
● No limit on how much work he has to do each day
So, at the end of the month, how much does he take home? A mere 131,330 yen (US$1,095), calculated as 130,000 yen in base pay, 5,300 yen to cover his commuting to and from the office, and 3,970 yen withheld for income tax.
Needless to say, that’s not a lot of compensation for full-time work, which prompted the following comments online:
“Geez, are they giving him a part-timer’s paycheck?”
“I think he could make more money selling self-published manga at Comiket while he looks for a new job.”
“Or working as a waiter.”
Still, it’s widely known that if monetary gain is your primary motivation, going into the arts, and anime production in particular, isn’t the shortest path to riches, which caused other to say:
“As long as you’re living at home, that’s enough to get by on. Struggling musicians have it worse.”
“He can think of this as a learning experience while he sharpens his skills, but only if he’s actually got a future in the anime industry.”
And in Xebec’s defense, 130,000 yen a month works out to 1.56 million yen a year, which is more than some studios pay their animators. Still, this serves as a reminder that the Japanese animation industry is largely powered by the passion of its low-level artists, so if there’s a series you’re a fan of, don’t forget to enjoy it in a way by which a few bucks trickle back to the people who worked on it.