by Chris MaGee
In the past few months reports have been coming out of Japan about how grim life can be in the anime industry. In June there was word about how the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA), the union that represents animators, was lobbying to increase the abysmal pay that their members were receiving (some veteran animators have been getting by on only $30,000 a year!). Then in January there was rumbling that outsourcing of hours of labour intensive tracing, inking and colouring to animation studios on the Asian mainland was weakening the industry, while seiyū, or Japanese voice actors who work in anime, were having a increasingly hard time finding work.
Even above and beyond the current disastrous economic situation around the globe it didn't seem like a career in the anime industry in Japan was any fun, but things go from bad to worse after reading this article posted at AltJapan. Culled from a Japanese language website titled "Off the Record Animation Industry Gossip" the article features more bile and venom than I'd ever thought possible from Japanese animators. Here are a few choice examples:
"Animators have a special set of skills; they are craftsmen. So why are the salaries of these craftsmen on par with what you would pay a high-school kid working at a convenience store?"
"'Japanimation' may have been raised to divine status as a medium but the animators labor under conditions worse than those faced by slaves prior to the Civil War."
I've said it before, but very few of the people actually producing anime in the industry take much pride in 'Japanimation.'"
Yikes! I thought it might be a bit much to accompany this story with an image of the Roman slave ship from "Ben-Hur", but after reading those quotes I think it's pretty apt. If you're an anime fan who's not afraid to face the cold hard truth of what seems to be happening in Japan then this article is a must read.