Anime has plenty of rousing anthems, but some are calling this data downright depressing.

Many anime fans will tell you that their hobby keeps them poor, what with the never-ending stream of Blu-rays, figures, and soundtracks to buy. But a recent survey by Japanese employment site Career Index made what many felt was a startling discovery when its complied data showed a very small number of anime song and idol fans in its highest income bracket.

The survey asked 1,000 working men and women between the ages of 20 and 59 for their annual income, divided into three classes: less than five million yen (US$48,500), five to seven million, and over seven million yen per year. Participants were also asked which musical genres they were fans of, with their options being classical, jazz, rock, R&B, enka (a melancholy, world-weary style of Japanese ballads), J-pop, idol music, and anime songs, with multiple selections allowed for those who like more than one type.

Let’s take a look at what percentage of each income group identified as fans of each genre.

● Five million yen of less
J-pop: 67.8 percent
Rock: 29.1 percent
Classical: 20.5 percent
R&B: 16 percent
Anime: 15.5 percent
Idol: 12.2 percent
Jazz: 11.5 percent
Enka: 7.4 percent

● Five to seven million yen
J-pop: 61.2 percent
Rock: 32 percent
Classical: 23.8 percent
Jazz: 19.7 percent
R&B: 15.6 percent
Anime: 10.2 percent
Enka: 8.2 percent
Idol: 8.2 percent

● Over seven million yen
J-pop: 54.8 percent
Classical: 36.5 percent
Rock: 27.8 percent
Jazz: 20 percent
R&B: 16.5 percent
Enka: 7.8 percent
Anime: 6.1 percent
Idol: 4.3 percent

Rock, R&B, and enka all stayed fairly consistent across the three income groups, wavering by a maximum of only about four percentage points between brackets. On the other hand, the number of idol and anime song fans plummeted as incomes rose, with the two genres being the least favorite of the top earners.

Meanwhile, classical music rose steadily in popularity as income increased, and jazz also showed a noticeable jump when moving between the lowest and middle income brackets. So is this proof positive that anime and idol music, often derided as the most saccharine of bubblegum pop, only appeals to dullards or apathetic otaku without the gumption to make something of themselves in the working world?

Hardly. While Japan is undeniably in a golden age of idol music, the genre went largely dormant throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, save for a few select groups that made it big (and some of those, such as the extremely popular four vocalist unit Speed, weren’t strictly classified as idols). Likewise, while hardcore anime fans have always had a soft spot for their favorite series’ opening and ending themes, it’s only been in the last decade or so, with the rapid rise of otaku culture and exploding number of animation produced for TV broadcast in Japan, that anime music has really blossomed into a robust genre in its own right.

As a result of their newfound popularity, anime and idol music are genres with extremely young fanbases, with many members just starting their careers. In almost any economy, young workers earn less than their older counterparts, and the difference is especially pronounced in Japan, where many companies have a standard contract for new employees and dole out incremental pay bumps or promotions on a seniority-based system. That would also explain why classical and jazz, two genres generally popular with older listeners, saw their popularity increase among higher earners.

So don’t worry, liking anime and idol music doesn’t mean you’re destined to be listening to them in a rundown apartment on half-broken speakers. It just means that your age group’s time to shine, economically, is yet to come.

Related: Career Index
Source: Career Connection via Otakomu
Top image: Rakuten

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