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Anime is not an entertainment model
bhl88 
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Posted 7/13/12
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source: http://anond.hatelabo.jp/20120712005200 (blog entry date: 2012-07-12)
original post: http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=463111

The following is a translation of a blog article posted on July 12, 2012


I quit working at an anime company. My position was production assistant. The company I quit is probably one of the top-ten companies in the anime industry. I will choose to write about only the bad side of things for the sake of expressing why I quit. The biggest reason would be the following.

In every single aspect, there just isn't enough money.
The anime industry in general has terrible financial circulation. The entire business is run on a hand-to-mouth basis, meaning most, if not all, income goes right back to the production budget. Even the biggest anime companies have only as much money flowing as a general middle-class/lower-class company.

Naturally, the income of an employee is small. The annual income of my first year was a little over 2,000,000 yen. The basic income did increase proportionately as I continued to work there year after year, but around the 3rd year, the increase flattened at 3,000,000 yen annual income. If you were to include seasonal/year-end bonuses, you can say that the basic income actually decreased after the 3rd year as the total annual income stayed put. When production is at max, a production assistant would be working from 12 to 14 hours a day (including stand-by), and as the anime work goes into the climax of the story, we lose the time to go home or sleep. This work is not worth the money.

Social insurance is unavailable (though I do hear there are some companies that provide it), and companies generally are uninterested in retaining employees. To the managers, it has become common sense for employees to go in and out. That is primarily due to risk circumvention with respect to the high leaving rates.

The studio is not anything as extraordinary as a company building, but rather just one floor within a rented mansion. The desks and floor were littered with personal belongings, and it was just a mess.

As a matter of fact, there were no permanent or regular employees. The production staff members were comprised of temporary contract employees only. They were probably all working on an operating agreement. "Make a contract with a company and become a horse carriage horse! (Madoka Magica style)" I am not aware of how administrators and executives are treated. The animators, directors, color finishers, and the like that work in the studio are not even employees. They are freelancers that are temporarily borrowing the workspace. Their salaries are per episode, or unit price per cut or per frame quality. However, there are a few that receive a stable salary under the name of "directing fees" or "restriction fees". Art, photography, and editing are done by separate companies or specialized factions within the company. There are a few animators who are sent from a different illustration company, but because most are freelancers, these animators are also treated indifferently, meaning their annual income could go as low as less than 1,000,000 yen.

In any case, there are many who suffer from mental stress mainly caused by lack of money. Most don't have the mental leisure to relax, and because the top members of the company are like that to begin with, we get a chain reaction to the bottom of the social grapevine. In fact, there are workers who have been diagnosed with some kind of mental disorder. I don't know about the percentage, but I have never felt such a situation to be so close to me.

Anime is made by the workers' love for anime and their varying levels of resolve towards responsibility.


There is no person worth respecting.
Once an anime is complete and airing, there is only beauty in it. I wonder how many people, aside from those that have experienced anime production, even imagine the production process? Unfortunately, the anime industry has very low standards. There are many people with low motives. There are many people who I would feel are like children when I'm talking to them. The workers are rotting. It's a level in which you can barely continue living even if you work without giving it a single thought. The administrators are pulling each other down. It is required for the creators to have "capability backed by experience and effort, or godly talents". They need to have luck, chance, and stamina to climb up, and even if they reach the top, they still wouldn't be able to survive anyway, or so it seems to me. There is no "As long as I keep trying, it'll pay off in the end."

To be blunt, there are many anime otakus here who have simply watched anime all their lives and don't know how to properly communicate with others. Regardless of gender, there are workers who can easily be mistaken for homeless people, and emit terrible odors. They don't (can't?) do even simple greetings. If the garbage pale is full, they stack garbage on top of it. They don't work even though they're at the studio. They don't clarify things they don't understand. It makes me sad to see female workers conversing about male anime characters when they themselves seem to not even have a clue about what makeup and attire is. It make me want to cry when I see workers complaining about compensation thinking they're working as briskly and efficiently as when they were younger, when in fact their quality and speed of work has obviously been declining as they would for anyone in their 40s.

I believe the core of anime production lies in the animators. Frames must be drawn for production to progress. Therefore, I must wait, even if it's for the animator's self-satisfaction or just pure laziness. The work site is very loose. Although there is a final deadline for broadcasts and delivery, most workers couldn't care less about being overdue for lesser deadlines during the process. Why? Because the responsibility over the entire production until the product is aired lies in the production staff members and not the animators themselves. If the animators fail to do their work, they just lose that money. However, the unfinished work must be done by someone else. (The production staff members must hire new people, distribute workload, basically restart the whole thing.) Not being able to reach workers, both by phone or email, is default.

Although reputation would obviously plummet, it would be better to have such workers than face a chronic shortage of workers. The job is perfect for a person who wants to sleep whenever he/she wants to, come to the studio whenever he/she wants to, answer the phone whenever he/she wants to, and can survive as long as there is anime and a neighboring convenience store (sarcasm intended, with the emphasis that it places a huge stress on the production team). It is ironic how it's these kinds of people, that allow the anime industry to continue to be operational.

However, I could not stand these attitudes. Their ties with others were loose. They couldn't care less about how others saw them. As long as they had one aspect they were highly talented in, everything other aspect could be missing. I can't become someone like that, nor would I want to, and therefore I couldn't come to respect them neither. I felt that you can perhaps survive by dreaming on, but you could never achieve happiness. (For the record, there are "normal" social people and those who have the attitude of a professional, as well as amazing workers who churn out finished products like a one-man assembly line. However, most are as I explained above.)

I had thought I was an otaku before, but I realized that I don't like anime to the extent I would forget eating and sleeping, and that I'm a normal person who knows how to enjoy having a girlfriend or boyfriend in the real world. There were many times I thought I was the weird one. When I would meet long-time-no-see colleagues at a marriage ceremony, no one would be watching anime. I have never met anyone who has ever watched an anime I had been involved in the production of, let alone on-time every week.


From now
"Anime is amazing! It is the ultimate form of motion picture media! I don't need money! I'm going to live with anime, and die with anime! It's fantastic, to be able to gain experience and get money for it!"

Or so I thought when I joined the company.

The standard income of the anime industry is dependent on the sales of DVDs and related merchandise. Therefore, the production is directed towards the buying customers. However, there are as many wills of production as there are staff members. At least, I was producing anime for myself. I thought hard, incorporated ideas, put forth all of my effort to make the anime even slightly better, went around lowering my head everywhere, just to make an anime that everyone would enjoy and that I myself would be satisfied with.

Commercial anime production is a work process divided amongst an enormous group of people. The process flows systematically and mechanically. The sectors that place orders never even see the face of workers working at the front. The given storyboards are blueprints that determine 80% of the finished product. There are some storyboards that make no sense. There are many times when the storyboards come late, and we would be churning episodes running along a schedule that would inevitably fail.

How much of my feelings were represented by the finished product? If I watch the episodes that I was in charge of, I can still clearly remember the moments of hardship, the difficult cuts, and the faces of members I dislike. However, who would think about that when watching anime? Had I only been in charge of the production that were framed as inconsistent episodes of shit anime, that had terrible DVD sales, and that wouldn't remain in anyone's memories?

I suddenly realized that I had lost even my sense of accomplishment for achieving a finished anime episode through working hard to retain a decent level of quality. I suddenly realized that I was not necessary here anymore. I couldn't think about continuing, about moving forward in this industry anymore. All I had acquired was some normal driving techniques.

I currently have no other licenses or degrees. If I hadn't joined the company as a fresh college graduate, I would have regretted joining. It was a good thing I joined. It was a good thing I quit. So, how should I go about living now? Well, I will leave putting feelings into anime up to the workers still working for sure.
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Posted 7/13/12 , edited 7/13/12
TL;DR

[Edit]...as it turns out, I didn't have anything better to do, so I read it.
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Posted 7/13/12 , edited 7/13/12
2,000,000 Yen = ~ $25,316 US

3,000,000 Yen = ~ $37,974 US


Ouch. Although, I did only earn $30K the first 2.5 years out of college (B.S Computer Science) at my first full time IT job. I recall feeling pretty 'poor' earning only $30K. It was kinda painful.

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Posted 7/14/12
oh you reposted this post of mine on animesuki, good good spread the awareness

i think the anime industry has so much Red Tape or Too much Bureaucracy that make the cost of making anime a lot and also like most businesses the bosses are the only ones that has higher salaries and the lower employees doing the dirty works but essential works have poor salaries, which is kinda unfair, those bosses always says work more harder so youll become a boss someday but how many positions are their for a boss anyway? its hard to aim for higher salary or boss if you know that the competition is so hard due to limited availability for that position too

i can recommend to the Anime Industry to become like a hybrid of Indie Film making with Crowd-Funding (like Kickstarter) and for promotional purposes they can stream it to sites like Crunchyroll and Youtube for a tolerable/watchable quality only so that their HD releases sell well
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Posted 7/14/12
Sounds like someone's butthurt. Whatever. Not all things in life are butterflies and rainbows.
bhl88 
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Posted 7/14/12

ckmox wrote:

oh you reposted this post of mine on animesuki, good good spread the awareness

i think the anime industry has so much Red Tape or Too much Bureaucracy that make the cost of making anime a lot and also like most businesses the bosses are the only ones that has higher salaries and the lower employees doing the dirty works but essential works have poor salaries, which is kinda unfair, those bosses always says work more harder so youll become a boss someday but how many positions are their for a boss anyway? its hard to aim for higher salary or boss if you know that the competition is so hard due to limited availability for that position too

i can recommend to the Anime Industry to become like a hybrid of Indie Film making with Crowd-Funding (like Kickstarter) and for promotional purposes they can stream it to sites like Crunchyroll and Youtube for a tolerable/watchable quality only so that their HD releases sell well


Even one can earn better flipping burgers at McDonalds :p
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Posted 7/14/12 , edited 7/14/12
It's not that surprising to me really, the industry has been barely hanging on in recent years. Maybe if Japan would broaden and branch out into the internet more the issues like this would lessen. And maybe if people would stop ripping streams off of legal sites not to mention downloading for free from torrents and the like that would help too...
Posted 7/14/12
I already knew the anime industry was crap, but this article is pretty informative.
Posted 7/14/12
It has never really been a cash cow or recognized by the rest of the world as valid. If you ever had the desire to work within the anime industry, you'd mostly do so out of the love for it.

Posted 7/14/12
that is crazy i mean i knew that it was bad BUT NOT THIS BAD, i mean holy shit people becoming mentally ill and getting paid so low for 12-14 hours for 25k is a really low price, i think working at mcdonalds is better
bhl88 
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Posted 7/14/12
But then if the anime industry gets better... the price would increase (for some stupid reason), quality would increase but quantity would drop like American animation.
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Posted 7/14/12

Shrapnel893 wrote:

It's not that surprising to me really, the industry has been barely hanging on in recent years. Maybe if Japan would broaden and branch out into the internet more the issues like this would lessen. And maybe if people would stop ripping streams off of legal sites not to mention downloading for free from torrents and the like that would help too...


Legal sites have nothing to do with it, or have you not see the very popular "Voice Actors against fansubs" thread which I helped revive recently? Fansubs may be convenient for us, but it is harmful to the industry which as we already know is abysmal. I wouldn't take the passage as completely literal, but it does express some discontent other have been expressing. More or less this brings into scope somewhat Dai Sato's strong opposition to the current industry. I already knew about animators wages determined on completed frames, but this shouldn't be taken lightly.
Animation studios' must negotiate with distributors locally and internationally. That is excluding broadcasting stations which must also be handled. Whether a website is considered a genuine and reliable source like Crunchyroll is irrelevant. If they don't have a license given to them by the studio they cannot legally offer that anime. Basically, all you've proposed is that we allow pirating/fansub groups to take credit and profit at the expense of the studio. Official sources need to get their crap together, but that isn't signaling a free for all to just let anyone rip-off their property.

The distributor takes a blow and the studio suffers a tremendous blow from lost profit. That wouldn't help the industry, it would cause it to degrade even more than the cesspool that it is. Giving in to pirating is not an option, it goes against the basic principle of a business, to profit. Without profit, studios suffers and eventually collapse. When they collapse, congratulations we have no anime at all anymore. No one will ever end pirating, but you can minimize its impact.
Posted 7/14/12
I just think they need to put it more out there commercialize it and more in other countries cause all we got is funamition, viz , Aniplex Of America ,(bandai thay ended it this year) and toonami its back but trying to be populer and all we need to do is to just support the anime industry buy its products to help it but we can still read the manga and watch the anime online while doing it.
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Posted 7/14/12

Izual wrote:


Shrapnel893 wrote:

It's not that surprising to me really, the industry has been barely hanging on in recent years. Maybe if Japan would broaden and branch out into the internet more the issues like this would lessen. And maybe if people would stop ripping streams off of legal sites not to mention downloading for free from torrents and the like that would help too...


Legal sites have nothing to do with it, or have you not see the very popular "Voice Actors against fansubs" thread which I helped revive recently? Fansubs may be convenient for us, but it is harmful to the industry which as we already know is abysmal. I wouldn't take the passage as completely literal, but it does express some discontent other have been expressing. More or less this brings into scope somewhat Dai Sato's strong opposition to the current industry. I already knew about animators wages determined on completed frames, but this shouldn't be taken lightly.
Animation studios' must negotiate with distributors locally and internationally. That is excluding broadcasting stations which must also be handled. Whether a website is considered a genuine and reliable source like Crunchyroll is irrelevant. If they don't have a license given to them by the studio they cannot legally offer that anime. Basically, all you've proposed is that we allow pirating/fansub groups to take credit and profit at the expense of the studio. Official sources need to get their crap together, but that isn't signaling a free for all to just let anyone rip-off their property.

The distributor takes a blow and the studio suffers a tremendous blow from lost profit. That wouldn't help the industry, it would cause it to degrade even more than the cesspool that it is. Giving in to pirating is not an option, it goes against the basic principle of a business, to profit. Without profit, studios suffers and eventually collapse. When they collapse, congratulations we have no anime at all anymore. No one will ever end pirating, but you can minimize its impact.


Well, I see your point but maybe you could elaborate exactly how I proposed that pirating/fansubbing was ok? It's just I'm not sure that I completely follow your reasoning that's all. True, pirating will never end completely that's obvious and of course the industry needs to get it's act together. From your thoughts, how would you minimize pirating?
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Posted 7/15/12 , edited 7/15/12
It seems like we're veering off to wrong direction. I despise the piracy, but I don't believe it's the reason why production studios are doing poorly at business.

It's true that anime industry has low standard which immature people have reign over production. I feel sorry for the production assistant who quit the company due to low pay and substandard work ethic by coworkers. Business-wise, most anime studios are independent companies who are fighting tooth and nail to win contracts from major Japanese publishers. Only a handful of studios are owned by large corporations where they can have stable operating budget to keep permanent employees.

Anime studios have to raise its standard by raising pay level and while weed out bad business practice. Only studio with high business standard and good pay is Studio Ghibli. The reason why immature and untalented people join the industry is that studios has loose independent nature which doesn't focus on making serious profit or rights. Everyone here knows that pay raise is super important, but what about day-to-day business practice in studios? If you're in charge of anime studio, then what would you do to change? Let's hear some ideas.

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