Teikoku Databank: Anime Industry Growth Slowed in 2019 to 11-Year Low
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
The financial research firm Teikoku Databank published a report on the anime industry for 2019 on Monday. The report noted that anime industry revenue (based on the revenue from 273 companies) amounted to 242.749 billion yen (about US$2.30 billion) in 2019. While the industry is still in a growth period since 2011, 2019's 0.5% increase in revenue is the lowest year-on-year increase in 11 years.
The report noted that while 2019 is the fifth consecutive year that there have been more than 300 anime productions in a single year, it is also the second consecutive year of decrease in total productions since the peak of 356 productions in 2017 The year 2018 saw 340 productions, and 2019 had 332. The industry had a total of 322 productions in 2015.
Average revenue for a company was 899 million yen (about US$8.53 million) in 2019. The average company revenue peaked in 2007 — prior to the burst of the "anime bubble" — when it amounted to a 1 billion yen (about US$9.48 million in current conversion).
Outsourcing and prime contract work amounted to 174.2 million yen (about US$1.65 million) of the total industry revenue in 2019, up about 3.7% from the previous year. Among studios specializing in subcontracting work, the average revenue for companies was 337 million yen (about US$3.19 million), a 5.8% increase from 2018, and the third consecutive year-on-year increase.
The report also noted the trend towards capital tie-ups, collaborations, and acquisitions to facilitate the production of anime, particularly from abroad. In particular, the report noted Netflix's investments to anime production, as well as the works of Chinese company Tencent's subsidiaries Haoliners Animation League and Colored Pencil Animation.
2019 saw only two anime companies declare bankruptcy, and one dissolution, compared to 12 companies departing the industry in 2018. The report noted that this reduction was largely due to manpower shortages, labor costs, and subcontracting costs beginning to level out in 2019, though it also cited unpaid or delayed payment to animators as the primary reason for bankruptcy.
The report's forecasts for future problem points for the industry include shortfalls in total manpower and training that might be unable to keep up with increased demand, despite foreign investment from abroad. In this state, productions are likely to see tight production schedules and corresponding decreased productivity, which may result in decreased revenue in the very long term. Prospects for 2020 and beyond are likely to include more adjustments to better work conditions for animators. This reflects growing awareness of workplace conditions and the larger move for Japanese mid-sized businesses to reduce overwork, but all balanced against the cost of implementing this change.
In the short term, the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has hastened the move to allow staff to accomplish certain aspects of production remotely. Some key animation and voice recording is already being done from home, but production efficiency has dropped in the transition, which will inevitably lead to production delays and unexpected cost increases. The report forecast that management efficiency will ultimately be the largest factor impacting anime companies' revenue in 2020.