Going to work for an anime company continues to be a terrible plan if your goal is to get rich.
In one of his most famous grumblings, Studio Ghibli co-founder and Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki lamented that the anime industry is full of otaku, whose creative abilities he’s less than impressed with. But really, it stands to reason that anime companies are staffed primarily by people who love anime.
That’s not just because of the allure of getting to be involved in creating content in the medium they enjoy, but because so many entry-level jobs in the industry pay woefully little. Illustrating how few anime professionals could conceivably be in the field because of the money is a recent survey from Japan’s AEYAC, a non-profit organization also known as the Young Animators Assistance Council (Wakanensou no Anime Seisakusha wo Ouen Suru Kai in Japanese). The workers’ advocacy group recently held an online poll asking animation company employees with three years or less experience in the industry about their working conditions and lifestyles. After sifting through the responses from the 153 responses it received (29 percent from men, 69 percent from women, and two percent from respondents declining to specify either gender), AEYAC presented some sobering data.
35 percent of those polled said that they still live with their parents, which in Japan is commonly a rent-free arrangement. An additional 18 percent said that while they have their own place of residence, they regularly receive money from parents or other relatives to help cover their living expenses.
One hour, each way, is generally considered an average commuting time for workers in major Japanese cities, where anime studios are predominantly located. However, 61 percent of the young animators who live with their parents reported having more than a 60-minute commute. On the other hand, 76 percent of those not living with their parents said it took them less than 30 minutes to get to work. That close proximity to the office, and thus more expensive urban real estate, might explain why nearly a fifth of the survey respondents need help making ends meet.
As a fan-oriented business with young people as its target market, anime will always, to an extent, be dependent on the generosity of Japanese parents, as enthusiasts too young to have full-time employment spend their allowances on figures, soundtrack CDs, associated manga, and other merchandise. But when that reliance on Mom and Dad becomes applicable to anime’s working professionals as well, it begs the question of just how sustainable the current business model really is.
Source: Anime! Anime!
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