Terumi Nishii: Netflix's Bigger Budgets Haven't Trickled Down to Actual Animators
posted on by Kim Morrissy
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable and Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya character designer Terumi Nishii was recently interviewed by ITMedia regarding the effects of foreign investments on Japanese anime, starting with Netflix.
According to Nishii, budgets on Netflix anime are roughly "twice" or "three times" the amount of a regular anime. However, animator wages have not raised accordingly. She remarked that the animation production companies "don't seem to be thrilled," and that the work is as hard as ever. Although she is not in a position to state definitively where the money is being spent, she said that from what she has heard, the money received by the production companies has tended to go to capital investments. Many companies are in the red, and need the money simply to stay afloat. To use an analogy, she said, "It's like if it rains in a desert. It gets swallowed by the sand, and it's not enough to make plants grow."
Nishii also explained that this is hardly any different from business as normal in Japan. Anime IPs belong to the companies, and animators do not reap their share of the profits. According to her, creators are asked to sign an agreement ceding their creative rights to the work. With games (e.g. mobile games), it's common for people who worked on the project to sign non-disclosure agreements, making them unable to even say what they worked on.
Nishii further noted that from a producer's perspective, there are various issues in working with Netflix; for example, Netflix does not have the rights to the home video releases and goods. However, this makes no difference to the animators and subcontracting companies, because they would never have control over the IP in the first place. She hopes that fans can understand the situation that animators are in. If fans are more in the know, then companies may also feel more inspired to rethink their approach to making anime.
In the interview, Nishii also mentioned that she personally is in a fortunate position because she works directly with Vince Shortino, former General Manager at Crunchyroll Japan. He works as "a kind of manager" for her and connects her with clients. She supplements her income with work on games, which she says tends to pay better than anime.
Nishii has previously spoken out about poor conditions in the anime industry, saying that "No matter how much you like anime, it is not advisable to come to Japan and participate in anime work. Because the animation industry is usually overworked."
Nishii is an animation director and character designer, and she also draws the Crown of Ouroboros manga. She has worked as a character designer on such anime as Penguindrum, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable, Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya, Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern Part 1 and 2, Servant × Service, and A Town Where You Live. She has served as chief animation director on anime such as Penguindrum, Servant × Service, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable, and Fushigiboshi no Futago Hime.
Source: ITMedia (Seinosuke Itō)