“Let’s just be clear: It’s not a ‘tough’ industry… It’s an ‘illegally harsh’ industry."
Animator and character designer Sachiko Kamimura (City Hunter, Arslan) recently prompted discussion among international anime fans with blog posts explaining that new animators are paid not on a fixed monthly or hourly salary, but for each completed drawing, meaning that starting workers can make as little as 120 yen ($1) an hour and that the demands of modern animation are making it even harder to make a living. Buzzfeed offers another perspective on this with the comments of rare Western anime worker and Pierrot Studio veteran Henry Thurlow.
Before getting hired, interviewers would warn Henry that it was a “tough industry”.
“Let’s just be clear: It’s not a ‘tough’ industry… It’s an ‘illegally harsh’ industry. They don’t pay you even remotely minimum wage, they overwork you to the point where people are vomiting at work and having to go to the hospital for medicine. They demand that you come in whenever they realize a deadline isn’t going to be met. That probably means about a month and a half of nonstop work without a single day off. Then you will be allowed to go back to your regular six-day workweeks of 10-hour days.”
For a salary that’s been as low as $100 a month, the never-ending work schedule has landed Thurlow in the hospital three times for exhaustion and illness.
“Keep in mind all of this hard work was essentially all for the sake of simply being involved in and credited in the animation projects I love.”