Anime is booming. So Why Do Animators Live In Poverty?

Netflix has also got involved, announcing this month that it will team up with WIT Studio to provide financial support and training for young animators working on studio content. Under this program, 10 facilitators will receive approximately $ 1,400 per month for six months.

But a lot of the smaller studios are barely climbing and don’t have much room to raise salaries, Chou said. “It’s a very low margin business,” he says. “It’s a labor intensive business.” He added that the studios “that manage to adapt are the big ones, the public ones.”

Not all studios pay such low wages: Kyoto Animation, the studio that an arsonist attacked in 2019, is notorious for avoiding freelancers in favor of employees, for example.

But these studios remain outliers. If something isn’t done quickly, Sugawara believes, the industry could one day collapse as promising young talent give up to pursue a job that can improve lives.

This was the case with Ryosuke Hirakimoto, who decided to leave the industry after the birth of his first child. Working in the anime had been his dream of a lifetime, he said, but even after years in the business, he never made more than $ 38 a day.

“I started to wonder if this lifestyle was enough,” he said on a video call.

He now works in a nursing home, part of an industry where the high demand for workers in a rapidly aging society is rewarded with better pay.

“A lot of people just thought it was helpful to be able to work on anime that they liked,” Mr. Hirakimoto said. “No matter how much they were paid, they were ready to do the job.

Thinking back on his departure, he said, “I don’t regret the decision at all.”

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