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Thread: Insight on The Anime Industry

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    Exclamation Insight on The Anime Industry

    Before you cry at the sheer size of this post note that it is a very goood read, and will provide some very nice brain candy. This was originally posted by a member on MAL who translated an interview with someone that worked in the industry (The anime industry) and quit due to low wages, bad working conditions, and apparently staff-mates that were some hard core Otaku. He also talks about the price of box sets in Japan (They are redonkulous) as well as some other things about the culture most of those here probably are unaware of. To be frank, I'm asking you to just leave the thread if you don't have the time to read the OP and maybe come back later because it is LONG. That said there is some very good information provided.

    *ap19 is the original poster of this, and the translator.


    Quote Originally Posted by Production Assistant
    I quit working at an anime company. My position was production assistant. The company I quit is probably one of the top-ten companies in the anime industry. I will choose to write about only the bad side of things for the sake of expressing why I quit. The biggest reason would be the following.
    In every single aspect, there just isn't enough money.

    The anime industry in general has terrible financial circulation. The entire business is run on a hand-to-mouth basis, meaning most, if not all, income goes right back to the production budget. Even the biggest anime companies have only as much money flowing as a general middle-class/lower-class company.

    Naturally, the income of an employee is small. The annual income of my first year was a little over 2,000,000 yen. The basic income did increase proportionately as I continued to work there year after year, but around the 3rd year, the increase flattened at 3,000,000 yen annual income. If you were to include seasonal/year-end bonuses, you can say that the basic income actually decreased after the 3rd year as the total annual income stayed put. When production is at max, a production assistant would be working from 12 to 14 hours a day (including stand-by), and as the anime work goes into the climax of the story, we lose the time to go home or sleep. This work is not worth the money.

    Social insurance is unavailable (though I do hear there are some companies that provide it), and companies generally are uninterested in retaining employees. To the managers, it has become common sense for employees to go in and out. That is primarily due to risk circumvention with respect to the high leaving rates.

    The studio is not anything as extraordinary as a company building, but rather just one floor within a rented mansion. The desks and floor were littered with personal belongings, and it was just a mess.

    As a matter of fact, there were no permanent or regular employees. The production staff members were comprised of temporary contract employees only. They were probably all working on an operating agreement. "Make a contract with a company and become a horse carriage horse! (Madoka Magica style)" I am not aware of how administrators and executives are treated. The animators, directors, color finishers, and the like that work in the studio are not even employees. They are freelancers that are temporarily borrowing the workspace. Their salaries are per episode, or unit price per cut or per frame quality. However, there are a few that receive a stable salary under the name of "directing fees" or "restriction fees". Art, photography, and editing are done by separate companies or specialized factions within the company. There are a few animators who are sent from a different illustration company, but because most are freelancers, these animators are also treated indifferently, meaning their annual income could go as low as less than 1,000,000 yen.

    In any case, there are many who suffer from mental stress mainly caused by lack of money. Most don't have the mental leisure to relax, and because the top members of the company are like that to begin with, we get a chain reaction to the bottom of the social grapevine. In fact, there are workers who have been diagnosed with some kind of mental disorder. I don't know about the percentage, but I have never felt such a situation to be so close to me.

    Anime is made by the workers' love for anime and their varying levels of resolve towards responsibility.

    There is no person worth respecting.

    Once an anime is complete and airing, there is only beauty in it. I wonder how many people, aside from those that have experienced anime production, even imagine the production process? Unfortunately, the anime industry has very low standards. There are many people with low motives. There are many people who I would feel are like children when I'm talking to them. The workers are rotting. It's a level in which you can barely continue living even if you work without giving it a single thought. The administrators are pulling each other down. It is required for the creators to have "capability backed by experience and effort, or godly talents". They need to have luck, chance, and stamina to climb up, and even if they reach the top, they still wouldn't be able to survive anyway, or so it seems to me. There is no "As long as I keep trying, it'll pay off in the end."

    To be blunt, there are many anime otakus here who have simply watched anime all their lives and don't know how to properly communicate with others. Regardless of gender, there are workers who can easily be mistaken for homeless people, and emit terrible odors. They don't (can't?) do even simple greetings. If the garbage pale is full, they stack garbage on top of it. They don't work even though they're at the studio. They don't clarify things they don't understand. It makes me sad to see female workers conversing about male anime characters when they themselves seem to not even have a clue about what makeup and attire is. It make me want to cry when I see workers complaining about compensation thinking they're working as briskly and efficiently as when they were younger, when in fact their quality and speed of work has obviously been declining as they would for anyone in their 40s.

    I believe the core of anime production lies in the animators. Frames must be drawn for production to progress. Therefore, I must wait, even if it's for the animator's self-satisfaction or just pure laziness. The work site is very loose. Although there is a final deadline for broadcasts and delivery, most workers couldn't care less about being overdue for lesser deadlines during the process. Why? Because the responsibility over the entire production until the product is aired lies in the production staff members and not the animators themselves. If the animators fail to do their work, they just lose that money. However, the unfinished work must be done by someone else. (The production staff members must hire new people, distribute workload, basically restart the whole thing.) Not being able to reach workers, both by phone or email, is default.

    Although reputation would obviously plummet, it would be better to have such workers than face a chronic shortage of workers. The job is perfect for a person who wants to sleep whenever he/she wants to, come to the studio whenever he/she wants to, answer the phone whenever he/she wants to, and can survive as long as there is anime and a neighboring convenience store (sarcasm intended, with the emphasis that it places a huge stress on the production team). It is ironic how it's these kinds of people, that allow the anime industry to continue to be operational.

    However, I could not stand these attitudes. Their ties with others were loose. They couldn't care less about how others saw them. As long as they had one aspect they were highly talented in, everything other aspect could be missing. I can't become someone like that, nor would I want to, and therefore I couldn't come to respect them neither. I felt that you can perhaps survive by dreaming on, but you could never achieve happiness. (For the record, there are "normal" social people and those who have the attitude of a professional, as well as amazing workers who churn out finished products like a one-man assembly line. However, most are as I explained above.)

    I had thought I was an otaku before, but I realized that I don't like anime to the extent I would forget eating and sleeping, and that I'm a normal person who knows how to enjoy having a girlfriend or boyfriend in the real world. There were many times I thought I was the weird one. When I would meet long-time-no-see colleagues at a marriage ceremony, no one would be watching anime. I have never met anyone who has ever watched an anime I had been involved in the production of, let alone on-time every week.

    From now
    "Anime is amazing! It is the ultimate form of motion picture media! I don't need money! I'm going to live with anime, and die with anime! It's fantastic, to be able to gain experience and get money for it!"

    Or so I thought when I joined the company.

    The standard income of the anime industry is dependent on the sales of DVDs and related merchandise. Therefore, the production is directed towards the buying customers. However, there are as many wills of production as there are staff members. At least, I was producing anime for myself. I thought hard, incorporated ideas, put forth all of my effort to make the anime even slightly better, went around lowering my head everywhere, just to make an anime that everyone would enjoy and that I myself would be satisfied with.

    Commercial anime production is a work process divided amongst an enormous group of people. The process flows systematically and mechanically. The sectors that place orders never even see the face of workers working at the front. The given storyboards are blueprints that determine 80% of the finished product. There are some storyboards that make no sense. There are many times when the storyboards come late, and we would be churning episodes running along a schedule that would inevitably fail.

    How much of my feelings were represented by the finished product? If I watch the episodes that I was in charge of, I can still clearly remember the moments of hardship, the difficult cuts, and the faces of members I dislike. However, who would think about that when watching anime? Had I only been in charge of the production that were framed as inconsistent episodes of grozit anime, that had terrible DVD sales, and that wouldn't remain in anyone's memories?

    I suddenly realized that I had lost even my sense of accomplishment for achieving a finished anime episode through working hard to retain a decent level of quality. I suddenly realized that I was not necessary here anymore. I couldn't think about continuing, about moving forward in this industry anymore. All I had acquired was some normal driving techniques.

    I currently have no other licenses or degrees. If I hadn't joined the company as a fresh college graduate, I would have regretted joining. It was a good thing I joined. It was a good thing I quit. So, how should I go about living now? Well, I will leave putting feelings into anime up to the workers still working for sure."
    Quote Originally Posted by ap19
    Source: Anonymous Diary

    My comments. I don't exactly sympathize or empathize with everything here, but there are a few key things I would like to pick up. Note that I work my butt off to pay at least 200,000 yen to the anime industry every year, and that I am against your kind of piracy as a whole. I'm not exactly rich, so I only use 1,500 yen on food per week, which is a fourth of the average expenditures.

    You can compare and contrast this with other "terrible companies" all you want as if this was normal, but there is no denying that staff members are literally sacrificing their lives for the sake of making anime. It is a wonder why anime still exists when you think of it that way, but it's truly all because there are devoted otaku in Japan.

    For those of you who haven't worked before, 2,000,000 yen is as much as a part-timer who works at a convenience store for a whole year. If you were living alone, a moderate minimalist living would cost 1,500,000 yen per year per person in Tokyo. If you had a 4-person family, you would need at least 3,000,000 yen to barely survive. 90 yen = 1 U.S. dollar about. You have to think about this in Japanese standards, as there is no point in circumventing the situation by saying "Oh but it only costs this much to live where I am."

    As stated, the anime industry is financially garbage. This certainly isn't the only personal account I've seen of the battlefront, and it is easy to understand why blu-rays cost 9,000 yen on average per 2 30-minute episodes in Japan. This person mentions related merchandise, but most of that money goes to the merchandise manufacturers and not the anime company itself. You all like to criticize Funimation and Crunchyroll etc., but what they're doing is amazing, buying licenses for anime that get sold at such ridiculously expensive prices within the country of origin, so that they could be streamed for absolutely free, and sold at 3% of the original price. Yet you all still don't buy, and there are even some who frikin complain about their existence. It really makes no sense to me. These staff members have no obligation to continue working like slaves to churn out anime so they get pillaged by the world. I certainly have no obligation to continue paying for all of you pirates. If deficits caused by worldwide piracy, based on the number of torrents and fileshare downloads, was converted to Japanese blu-ray/manga/hentai game/doujin costs, it wouldn't be wrong to make an estimate of about 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen, which is greater than the Japanese national debt. (It would probably be around 400,000,000,000,000 yen by anime alone.) So it wouldn't be surprising if even 1% of you all paid even at the very low price of Funimation and Crunchyroll, it would make a huge difference. Feel free to retaliate with actual numbers (as if it's actually possible to get a summation of torrent files, downloads, and illegit streams) if you'd like, because I don't think I'm too far off in my estimates. There is also no point in saying, "Well Hollywood movies and American dramas are pirated too." Great, you can financially support them too.

    I've stated this in a couple of other threads too, but there is concrete proof that not buying DVDs damages the industry. Bandai Entertainment of America used to have an anime faction that held licenses to super-popular anime like Suzumiya Haruhi and K-ON. However, no one bought, even at the ridiculously cheap prices they had to offer. As a result, the faction went bankrupt and now Bandai Entertainment of America does not have an anime faction. This set a record for not making any company or country want to really promote a localization effort, because it simply wouldn't pay off. Former employees were crying when they saw the "Where can I download this movie?" on the K-ON movie trailers of youtube.

    Many mention making better use of the internet. However, piracy is unstoppable by any technological means. This is a given. It's just a property of the internet. Therefore, regardless of whatever online marketing methods they may use on the international front, it would be easy to assume that products wouldn't sell anyway, because piracy would still be rampant. Piracy is concrete proof of human nature; there will always be people who pirate without payment, proudly and without hesitation. Look at all of the localization factions that have virtually self-destructed. Online licenses simply won't sell as much as selling blu-rays. Note that the current money is barely enough to keep the industry active, meaning the current financial income is the bare minimum. If BD production was stopped, CR/Funimation licenses would have to be acquired in par with the BD prices of Japan, meaning CR and Funimation couldn't possibly stream or sell the way they currently do, which in turn means no one would join or buy at those ridiculously expensive prices. Even trying to promote localization or international online distribution from the anime industry side would just be too costly for the risks involved. Yes, there are many obstacles such as international trade regulations and import taxes. And as you can see from the above, they can't possibly afford risks at the moment.

    Though I'm not exactly in favor of banning piracy as a whole, the logic behind banning piracy is as follows. Let's say 1,000 people pirate anime for free without paying. Then, piracy is banned. 900 people would cut their ties with anime, but you can expect 100 more people to pay. Yeah, the loss on popularity isn't exactly nice, but right now, as I stated, the economic status is devastating, to the extent popularity would mean nothing if the whole industry collapsed.

    In terms of the working environment itself, Japanese companies generally have terrible working environments. They evaluate customs and manners more than actual capability and workload, much more extremely than you can ever imagine in the United States. You rarely ever get "your own feelings" represented by the work you do. I believe it's naive to think that you should be needed by the company, and that you should be represented by whatever work you do in general. However, I do find it special to an animation studio that the environment lacks sanitation at an extreme level, and that workers lack proper communication skills. You all have probably never encountered a real otaku, who you would all think has some mental or lingual disorders in terms of communication and social interaction. I couldn't bare working with those kinds of people, and I can imagine how impossible it is to come to a group consensus or create a group effort. It is ironic that the Japanese social style of honne and tatemae is supposed to make a virtual group consensus on the surface, but these kinds of otaku-ish people haven't a clue on reading the atmosphere, so honne and tatemae become defunct, making it very uneasy for the average Japanese person.

    Note that this article in particular only comes from the perspective of a production assistant. He complains about the happy-go-lucky attitude of the animators in terms of doing whatever whenever he/she wants to. However, according to other accounts from the animators' perspective, most wouldn't be able to deal with these terrible conditions if they didn't resort to these happy-go-lucky attitudes. It's not that these animators don't have a sense of responsibility; it's just that the work is so gruesome, animators can't retain the mentality to deal with every minute detail so diligently. As a result, you get these whatever whenever attitudes the production assistant is talking about.

    "Production is directed towards buying customers." What sells? Anime like Infinite Stratos and Highschool DxD, those that place a heavy emphasis on hentai and moeblob. I don't know if this is necessarily the case for you all, but I would like less hentai and moe in anime. However, those kinds of anime just don't sell as much. If they had money, they wouldn't need to worry so much about incorporating hentai and moe anymore.

    One of the top ten companies. Wouldn't be surprised if this was AIC. From what I know, at least Kyoto Animation, Shaft, Sunrise, A1 Pictures, IG Productions, ufotable and Satelight have their own company building.

    You all might want to read about the Japanese Law on the Punishment of Illegal Downloading/Uploading, which will go into effect starting October 1st. j0x was nice enough to promote my posts on his OP. My posts are here, here, and here.

    The kind of people who defend piracy without paying (excluding those who really face extreme poverty and destitution) are all delightful criminals who exploit the situation on the basis that the exploited are too stupid to do anything about it. Then the anime industry will die, those pirates all won't get penalized, and only those who worked so hard to keep the whole thing going will be lying dead on the battlefield. Now that would give anyone reason to start complaining. Even if the industry didn't collapse, there'd still be much reason to complain given that it's impossible to stop piracy and that there will still be pirates who say "Great, keep up the good work." to a diligent supporter of the industry, like some 15th century aristocrat talking to a slave.

    Honestly after I read this I wasn't sure what to feel anymore. I've been pirating/streaming video for quite some time, and based on what he says in the above quotes, a single season 12-13 episodes (This is in Japan) is around 80,000-100,000 JPY that's roughly 1,000 USD. If this is true than I myself have watched easily more than 150,000 USD worth of shows illegally. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with that, but knowing the salary they make while producing shows is just saddening. On average these workers are making about 30,000 USD a year for a job that requires A LOT OF WORK, in modern day America you can make more money than that in a year by working at freaking Wal-mart full time.

    I don't even want to know the living conditions of those who have this salary at ages of 30 and up, by then if you have a career that you started out of college you should be making at least 40k a year and I'm sure the average is around 60k at least here in the U.S.. This makes me feel bad about myself for all the money I've taken out of the industry, because these people are literally dying to support and create what they love. If they have a family to feed on that pittance of an income and on top of that probably work crazy hours so they are never home with their families I feel really sorry for them.

    I myself have tried my hardest to buy things and put money back into the industry, but I no longer have a job and I still have about a month of high school left so I'm not looking. Since I've lost my job I've spent around $2,000 on anime related stuff (i.e. figurines, shows, manga). That's nothing compared to how much I've watched over the past three years, and I kinda feel bad about it. On the other hand I think there is something that could be done to help pump money back to the producers.

    If they were to say have a few major anime production companies come together and create a website of their own like Crunchyroll, and break down the subscriptions to multiple levels they could make some bank. Here was my idea, they could have 4 membership levels. Free, Standard, Super, and Ultra.

    Free - These members can create an account and have access to all or most of the sites shows for free, but with normal stream quality like 300p, by simply providing an email, and the standard things you would need to join a forum. This level would also have advertising in the stream to provide revenue much like hulu, and twitch do.

    Standard - These members would pay a monthly fee of about $5 (Around 500 yen) for access to all the shows at standard definition. There would probably be less or no advertising at this level, but maybe some so those who join are more tempted to upgrade.

    Super - For another $2 ($8 a month like netflix) these members get access to all shows in high definition. Absolutely no advertising in streams.

    Ultra - For $10 these members could download the show directly to their hard drive as well as stream whenever they want, with no advertising.

    My thought behind this idea is that on this site the companies that have already produced metric f***-tons of shows could either hire fansubbers, or just have the shows subbed themselves, and put them on the site like any other streaming site. Face it most of the U.S. community that pirates, downloads subs anyway. This way they could make a database of shows much larger than any other and at least pull some money out of it even paid membership rates aren't high they would still make more money off of it, and most likely more than any other illegal streaming site. Maybe even add a forum section where members could chat and set up some kind of group watch area where you could watch shows with fellow members.

    Sure even with this in place there will be those that pirate anyway, but I feel they could rake in some decent dough with this idea. I know I would subscribe to at least a $5 a month sub, it's cheaper than everywhere else so why not?

    Anyone else think this would be a good idea?

    The one thing I do know for sure after reading this article is that anytime I stream from now on I'll have to think of those who made it and I have a new found respect for them. When I get older and get a job I will start to buy more shows so I can at least begin to pay back what I owe to these people who work for less than what I will be making in a year or two at half their age.

    Well I'll say my part, congrats to anyone who actually read all of this! What do you think of this, and what did you learn? How do you feel about pirating and streaming now that you have read this?

    For anyone that might be interested here is the original thread on MAL,

    http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=463111


    TL;DR
    Yeah good luck with that...

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    Senior Member Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa has a reputation beyond repute Kumagawa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insight on The Anime Industry

    Anime is not meant for western market anyway so itīs not like they're losing money when I pirate stuff. However, if they'd actually make a crunchyroll style site I'd pay.
    Also, banning piracy things isn't going to stop anything. See: prohibition era.

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    Default Re: Insight on The Anime Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagawa View Post
    Anime is not meant for western market anyway so itīs not like they're losing money when I pirate stuff. However, if they'd actually make a crunchyroll style site I'd pay.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagawa View Post
    Also, banning piracy things isn't going to stop anything. See: prohibition era.
    While yes anime is intended for the Japanese market upon its original release, it goes without saying that is still has a massive presence at least here in the States (There are other where it is quite popular as well.). Just look at all the websites we have dedicated to anime and manga made by native English speakers. Now as much as most people hate dubs, buying the Funimation DVD/BR does go back to supporting the industry. You pay money to the American company, which in turn bought the rights to publish and localize the show. They make better profits then they will buy more shows to publish. The same thing for Crunchyroll if you buy a subscription you are helping it works the same as stated above.

    I donít expect people to stop pirating nor do I think itís even possible to make it stop (It is not going to happen there were even pirates before the internet.). My point being in the States (Not sure where you live, so might be irrelevant for you) the box sets are so much less than in Japan itís like a metaphorical middle finger to the producers to not buy it. In terms of Blu-rays the prices here are about 1000% less than in the country they are made. For twelve episodes 80 USD is not that much. On Xbox video you can get a lot of shows for around 20-30 dollars and that includes streaming and downloading to multiple devices.

    What Iím really trying to say is that I understand there are plenty of people that canít afford the shows or merchandise (you can buy figures from Japan for less than the shows cost on a lot of sites.) and some that wouldnít even have access to it without pirating. However on the other side you have the complete opposite where they could easily afford it, but because they donít care at all about the producers they just stream/torrent it. Even if they loved the show or movie they would rather steal from them and not put forth effort to keep the series alive and making new content. Itís sad to me to hear even in Japan where anime is produced it is barely being held together by the hardcore Otaku (Which from the article are a deathly sight.) who are willing to pay that much for a show. If the prices go up just a little bit more and they canít afford it without literally starving to death the anime industry will likely fail.

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    Default Re: Insight on The Anime Industry

    I dont think it will fail. A new equilibrium will be reached. The industry may become less diversified due to lack of profitability but those that are able to restructure their business strategy will survive.

    But I agree supporting the industry is a good idea. Some ways to incentivize purchasing officially licensed merch would be cool. maybe more collectors sets extra artwork in the package. perhaps additional back story included? IDK i just think they could separate themselves from the bare bones copies that float freely on the internet.

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    Default Re: Insight on The Anime Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by GuiltySpark View Post
    I dont think it will fail. A new equilibrium will be reached. The industry may become less diversified due to lack of profitability but those that are able to restructure their business strategy will survive.

    But I agree supporting the industry is a good idea. Some ways to incentivize purchasing officially licensed merch would be cool. maybe more collectors sets extra artwork in the package. perhaps additional back story included? IDK i just think they could separate themselves from the bare bones copies that float freely on the internet.


    I think I see what you mean, like adding an art book or something to the box sets? That would give more people in the other areas of the world more of an incentive to buy emí The only thing with that is I think it would increase the overall price of the sets. This for Japan canít really happen without them losing a large portion of sales. And unless that art book or whatever doesnít come ONLY in the package people would just buy them elsewhere. And there are those people that donít care and if they just want the pictures would download the scans of them anyway. Itís a tough situation regardless of what they do, I still think an official streaming site with more content and more importantly NEW content would bring in more money than anything. Maybe Iím just delusional?

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