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American Animator in Japan Offers His Take on the Industry's Wages and Work Environment

posted on by Bamboo Dong

A couple weeks back, veteran animator Sachiko Kamimura brought to light the harsh work environment that many new animators find themselves working in in Japan, sometimes earning as little as 120 yen an hour. Since then, other animators have chimed in regarding her claims, with some saying, "it's really best not to use [her] statement as a reference."

A few days ago, Buzzfeed published an interview with Henry Thurlow, one of the few American animators working in Japan. Thurlow's credits include Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto Shippūden, and more, and he can attest to how difficult it can be for new animators.

Henry Thurlow
"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."

He's expanded on his pay in a Reddit AMA that he did a couple months ago, mentioning that there were months in which he only earned $300. His schedule has been so grueling that he's been in the hospital three times for exhaustion and other illnesses.

Henry Thurlow / Pierrot

Asked if it was worth it, Thurlow says that when he was working in New York, "the artist inside of me was screaming at the fact I wasn't making really high-quality feature films and series. Now everything about my life is utterly horrible, however the artist in me is completely satisfied."

Check out the links above for more quotes and insight into Thurlow's experience.

[Via Cartoon Brew]

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