Japanese Animators are Being Underpaid


Shanelle Diaz-Cruz

There are various charities that help underpaid animators like the Animator Dormitory Charity, which focuses on providing housing for up-and-coming animators.

Shanelle Diaz-Cruz, Journalist

It’s the beginning of a new season and whenever a new season comes around, so do new anime TV shows. Anime is loved by many and has inspired people all over the globe. To some, anime is considered an art form, both the story line and the animations. 8th grader Emilee Thorton says that anime gives her role models, although they are fictional characters. It sometimes pushes her to try different things. “I like anime because it’s, first of all, an easy way to pass time. Second, they [anime] give me people to look up to in a way. I know they aren’t real but still it can show me how to be a better person. Depending on the show and depending on the genre, it could inspire me to try something new.” 

According to the Association of Japanese Animators in 2019, the anime industry was worth a whopping 2.1814 trillion yen, which is approximately 10.9 billion dollars. With people loving and appreciating anime so much all around the globe, many would think that the people behind the scenes creating each and every frame of a scene would get a decent pay, if not more, but unfortunately that is not the case.

According to Vox, the Association of Japanese Animators said that most animators in their 20’s get paid approximately 1.1 million yen each year, which is around $10,000. The current minimum wage yearly in Japan is $15,744.41. 

This upsets anime fans all over the world. Animators play a crucial role in the anime industry and yet they are paid less than a high school part timer.

Sophomore Samantha Casarez wasn’t aware that the animators got such low wages and was very upset when she found out. “I don’t like that, I mean, they do so much. The major part of anime is the animation. Anime without the animation isn’t anime. For playing such a crucial part you’d think they’d get paid more. Without them it’s just audio. Animating isn’t easy. That takes life effort and skill. Especially when you match up the animation with the audio. I’d say it’s unfair.”

8th grader Jazmine Villarreal agrees with Casarez in that animators should get paid more. “I feel like that the animators deserve more pay since they devote a lot of their time to the series [the animators create] and … making content for the fans.”

Sophomore Songaya Daniels believes that the animators’ pay is absurd and believes that the animators are crucial when it comes to anime. “I feel that the animators getting paid approximately six dollars an hour is ridiculous. They deserve to be getting paid not just for their time, but also creating something that people enjoy watching. They are essentially like the actors because they draw all the actors out themselves.”

This reality for Japanese animators greatly upsets senior Dorothy Alvarado, especially as someone who wants to work in the animation industry. She was always aware that the animators were underpaid but this fact doesn’t faze her away from her career choice. It makes her more motivated, but it does make her anxious about her pay. “I always knew they were [underpaid], just not how much they were actually paid. I’m both more determined to make my art career work somehow and scared of whether or not I’ll earn enough to pay the bills, which is why I have an Instagram and am working on a project, so that I can try to gain an audience little by little each year, and hopefully that audience will help support me in the future.” 

Alvarado also worries for the health of Japanese animators since they have to sit for hours everyday. “At the rate Japanese animators work, their bodies go through great pain. For example, pain along the shoulder, back, and wrist. They’re also in danger of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. They should be paid enough to deal with their future health problems, not paid just enough to barely live.”

If you want to help Japanese animators, you can search for charities on gofundme.com and search for ways to help. There are many charities like the Animator Dormitory Charity that help provide dorms for underpaid animators. This charity works on various projects a year to try and help improve the anime industry and the life of animators.