Unfair Treatment Towards Animators and Creators


Andy Nguyen

Have you ever wondered how much japanese animators make from animating your favorite shows? Even if people watch popular anime from across the world, the animators for these shows could still be paid as little as $200 a month. Usually a twenty-four minute episode would take roughly a month to complete with four to five people working on scenes, but depending on the studio that people work at it could take shorter or longer than a month to animate. 


The animators work on an average of twelve to eighteen hours a day for an average yearly income of 1.1 million yen which is about ten thousand dollars, so not only are they being paid a little they are also being seriously overworked. The average American animator works around thirty to forty hours a week for $65,000 or more a year, so that’s basically saying that the average American worker would work for 255 hours a month whereas these animators would work for 360-540 hours a month.


On December 11, 2020, Sony bought Crunchyroll, which is a company focused on streaming anime, manga (a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels) and dorama (Japanese television drama), for $1.2 billion because they were struggling to put content online. Although it might seem sudden, Sony has been involved with anime for decades. In 1995, Aniplex, a Japanese anime and music production company, was established by Sony Music Entertainment Japan (SMEJ). Aniplex has been involved in the production of many anime series like Fullmetal Alchemist, Sword Art Online, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Fate, the Monogatari series and more. One of these series however, Demon Slayer, has received the title of highest-grossing film in history. The film Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train first premiered in Japanese theaters on October 16, 2020, and it overtook the previous highest-grossing film, Spirited Away, in just seventy-three days after its release to theaters, a movie that had kept its title of highest-grossing film for 19 years. 


Although the film was so successful making more than $287 million, the original manga creator, Koyoharu Gotouge, won’t be receiving much of that money. Japanese film insider and writer Hotaka Sugimoto explained to a Japanese editorial website called Business Journal that because Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba was Gotouge’s first published work, he would be seen as a new writer so that means that the upfront payment for the work can be incredibly low. Gotouge was only paid $19,208 for the production of the film. 


Many studios have also been through some similar experiences where they couldn’t gain much of the profits because of an old production system that would direct nearly all the profits to production committees. What this system does is that it protects the studio from the risk of failing and going bankrupt but in return if there were any unexpected profits, they won’t receive any. An article from The New York Times stated,“These committees are ad hoc coalitions of toy manufacturers, comic book publishers and other companies that are created to finance each project” (Ad hoc means “for this specific purpose”). They typically pay animation studios a set fee and reserve royalties for themselves”. An anonymous Terra Linda High School Junior stated, “It’s terrible because like drawing everything and working on animations is really time consuming and they should be more recognized”.


These animators put so much time and effort into their work because they love what they do but they aren’t paid enough to settle down and start a family. Like what the anonymous Terra Linda High School Junior said, these animators aren’t recognized for their hard work and because of these unfair wages, the manga we hope to see might not be a reality.