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Directors Dispute Reports of 'Poor' Animator Salaries

posted on by Egan Loo
Osamu Yamasaki, Cindy H. Yamauchi describe own experiences

The J-Cast News website notes that a June 29 Mainichi Shimbun article reported on an animator who earned only 70,000 yen (about US$760) a month. The Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) conducted a survey earlier this year and said that there are anime staffers in their 20s who work 10-hour days for an average annual salary in the 1 million yen (US$11,000) range. According to JAniCA, 80 to 90 percent of the prospective talent pool do not continue as full-time animators since they cannot afford to live on the salaries.

However, animation director Osamu Yamasaki (Anime V Comic Rentaman, Gestalt, Itazura na Kiss, Toward the Terra) wrote in a June 19 entry in the "Anime Kantoku Hinemosu Nikki" (Anime Director's All-Day Diary) on JAniCA's website that the actual conditions are not so "dire" and animators are not necessarily "poor." According to Yamasaki, the following positions receive these payments per anime episode:

Television series sound director: 150,000-180,000 yen (US$1,600-US$2,000)
Television series director: 200,000-250,000 yen (US$2,200-US$2,700)
Animation director: About 300,000 yen (US$3,300)

Yamasaki adds that an animation director can spent a month and a half on an episode, so the effective monthly salary would be in the range of 200,000 yen (US$2,200). A television series director can work on 25 to 26 episodes in a year (including a half year of preparation before broadcast), so that position's effective monthly salary would be about 500,000 yen (US$5,400).

By contrast, a sound director can finish an episode in only two days and can work on two to three titles simultaneously. As a result, a sound director can do three episodes in a week and 12 episodes in a month. That gives a sound director a possible monthly salary of 1.8 million yen (US$20,000) and a possible annual salary of over 20 million yen (US$220,000).

A scenario writer can earn about 180,000 yen (US$2,000) on an episode and work on one to two episodes a month. That would give the writer a monthly salary of about 300,000 yen (US$3,300) per series. If the writer can work on three or more different titles a month or earn royalties on a hit series, he or she can earn in the range of 10 million yen a year (US$110,000).

A photography team can earn 800,000 (US$8,700) to 1 million yen (US$11,000) an episode. A team of four to five members can finish one episode in three to four days. That gives the team a combined salary of 4 million yen (US$44,000) a month.

An in-between animator earns about 250 yen (US$2.65) per drawing. (Each television episode uses 4,000 to 5,000 drawings, although the task is split across dozens of people.) One step higher on the salary ladder, an inexperienced key animator can earn 4,000 yen (US$44) on one cut (shot).

Another animation director, Cindy H. Yamauchi (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Sōten Kōro, Black Lagoon), also disagreed with JAniCA's survey. She describes her experiences in a series of English-language blog entries.

Source: J-Cast News

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