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Study: Animators Earned US$28,000 on Average in Japan in 2013

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Agency reveals full survey results of animators' working conditions

The Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) published on April 29 the results of its new study of the working conditions, average income, and working hours of animators in the Japanese animation industry. The study surveyed 759 animators.

The study reports that animators earned an average of 3.3283 million yen (about US$27,689) in Japan in 2013. The mode result for yearly income in 2013 was 4.0 million yen (US$33,000).

NHK News Report

The study's results gained attention on the Internet when NHK News reported part of the study's results on April 29. NHK News reported that young animators work an average of 11 hours every day, and in-between (dōga) animators — many of whom are in their 20s — earn a yearly income of around 1.1 million yen (around US$9,200). The in-between animator is the entry-level position in the anime industry, and this income average does not include animators in higher positions or with more experience.

According to sources, the NHK's Osaka branch office obtained results of the study early as part of research for a television program about the working conditions of young animators. The "Anime Seisakusha Kibishii Rōdō Kankyō" (Animators' Severe Labor Environment) program aired on April 29 and included the study's findings about in-between animators.

JAniCA's Full Results

JAniCA's published results list the income, background, and aspects of working life in a table that compares the working conditions of animators based on individual occupations. The table lists the average yearly income of in-between animators as 1.113 million yen (US$9,259) in 2013.

Directors and chief animation directors, the highest earners on the chart, earned an average of 6.486 million yen (US$53,960) and 5.638 million yen (US$46,900), respectively. Additionally, the report listed the average yearly income of the following positions:

  • 2nd key animators: 1.127 million yen (US$9,392)
  • Touch-up (shiage) animators: 1.949 million yen (US$16,268)
  • In-between animation checkers: 2.607 million yen (US$21,726)
  • Key animators (genga): 2.817 million yen (US$23,513)
  • Color key artists: 3.335 million yen (US$27,790)
  • Storyboard artists: 3.723 million yen (US$31,030)
  • 3DCG animators: 3.839 million (US$31,982)
  • Animation directors: 3.933 million yen (US$32,776)
  • Character designers: 5.104 million yen (US$42,602)
  • Producers: 5.420 million yen (US$45,174)

The survey's results include data from freelance and part-time workers as well as full-time employees.

31.3% of respondents said they worked on average 8-10 hours per day, 31.2% said they work 10-12 hours per day, 16% said they work 8 hours or fewer, 11.0% said they work 12-14 hours per day, 6.3% said they work 14-16 hours per day, and 2.6% said they work 16 hours or more a day.

Directors worked an average of 10.4 hours per day, chief animation directors worked an average of 11.4 hours per day, in-between animators worked an average of 11.3 hours per day, key animators worked an average of 10.3 hours per day, and 2nd key animators worked an average of 10.4 hours per day.

Additionally, the report noted that the average working hours in a month was 262.69. 15.9% of respondents said they work more than 350 hours per month.

The average days off per month for the respondents was 4.63. 25.0% of respondents said they have off an average 3 days or fewer per month, 29.9% responded that they have four days off per month, 15.9% said they have 5 days off, 15.4% said 6-7 days, and 12.3% said they have 8 days or more off per month.

When asked why they continue to do their current job, 65.1% of respondents said, "because the job is fun," and 60.9% said "in order to earn money." Additionally, when asked about their job plans for the immediate future, 61.7% of respondents answered, "I want to continue to do animation work." The second most popular response was "I don't particularly think about it" at 10.8%.

The report noted that the primary factors for the low yearly income for new animators is the low labor costs from neighboring Asian countries, as well as in-betweeners' signing contracts where they earn only a few hundred yen per animation drawing.

JAniCA vice spokesperson and animation director Osamu Yamasaki (Toward the Terra, Hakuōki, Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East) said, "I know the working conditions are hard, especially for the younger animators. If we don't take care of the animators that will succeed us, the industry risks becoming unsustainable."


JAniCA conducted a similar 2009 study with nearly identical results. Yamasaki cautioned people to not jump to conclusions on that study. He said that the salaries rise as animators are promoted to higher positions such as key animators and animation directors.

Animator Sachiko Kamimura (City Hunter, Doraemon movies) also drew attention to the industry's working conditions earlier this year, stating that newcomers work at a starting wage of roughly 120 yen (US $1) an hour. However, Noriyuki Fukuda (D.Gray-man, Lupin III vs. Detective Conan The Movie) said that the pay rate rises with more detailed work for experienced animators.

JAniCA plans to hold symposiums in the future to raise attention on the working conditions of young animators. The agency said that it hopes the study's results will create a mutual understanding and constructive discussion of issues related to young animators.

Source: Career Connection via Yaraon!

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