How many hours a month do anime artists work in Japan? Survey finds crazy number, unhappy workers

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

By this point, it’s become pretty common knowledge that people in the anime industry work incredibly long hours. That’s a reputation the industry has even in Japan, a country that’s already famous for overworking itself.

But just how much are Japan’s animation professionals working? To find out, JANICA (the Japan Animation Creators Association) partnered with publisher Dai Nippon Printing to carry out a study of working conditions in the anime industry, collecting 382 responses from artists, animators, writers, directors, editors, and producers. 312 provided information about their working hours, and the average was 230 hours a month.

Assuming a 20-day work month, that calculates out to a grueling 11.5 hours a day. The only way to get those 230 hours a month down to a regular-job-like eights hours a day or less would be to divide it up into 29 days, essentially giving animators just one or two days off in an entire month (and it’d be completely impossible in a non-leap-year February).

On the financial side of things, the 360 respondents who shared their data made an average of 4.4 million yen annually, which isn’t a bad sum if you’re not worrying about the hourly rate. However, just because it’s the mathematical mean doesn’t guarantee that anime pros all make that much, as roughly 40 percent of the respondents earned less than three million yen a year.

Of course, long hours and low pay are the norm in many sectors of the entertainment industry. Most people who pursue a career in anime aren’t doing it because they see it as a quick path to riches or a cushy, low-pressure job. They’re doing it because they love the art form. That love can sour, though, when it’s burdened by such heavy workloads. “Our schedules are enough to make your head spin,” said one 20-something woman who works as an animator. “Every day, I’m eating into my savings, rushing blindly to get my work done, and I find myself thinking ‘Just what was it that I ever liked about anime? Why do I stick with this industry?’ Sometimes I can’t find the answers anymore. It’s using up all of my mental and physical strength, plus my money and my time.”

Similar frustrations were expressed by a foreign-born male anime animator in his 20s, who moved to Japan as a student because of his love for anime and was later able to find work in the industry. “I haven’t been able to get hired to work on the anime series I like,” he said. “My work schedule is so busy that I don’t have enough time to practice and improve my drawing skills…My pay is low, and I barely make enough money to buy groceries, let alone afford insurance or pay into a pension.”

There is a possible silver lining, in that while JANICA has only now released the results of its study, the survey itself was carried out in November and December of last year. The foreign-born animator mentioned that as difficult as his working conditions were, they were gradually getting better compared to how they had been before, and hopefully that improvement is something that’s continued for him and also spread to others in the profession. Even if incremental improvements are being made, though, the anime industry is still a very tough way to make a living, and likely will continue to be so for some time to come.

Sources: via Yahoo! Japan News via Otakomu, JANICA

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Live with parents or burn through your savings? Survey of young anime workers draws bleak picture

-- Want to help save the anime world’s favorite colored pencils? Then take this survey

-- Low-quality laughing stock of current anime season sends hidden cry for help in closing credits

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Grueling 11.5 hours per day?

I do that six days a week, at a job that is most certainly a wee bit more demanding physically than sitting at a desk and doing animation.

No sympathies from me.

They certainly have my sympathy. Having to work even a 40 hour week is bad enough, if it's not something one loves or finds emotionally fulfilling. But, 11.5 can be soul-crushing. Add that to commute and sleep time, and it doesn't leave any time for life itself.

BTW, just because your job sucks, it doesn't mean everybody else's needs to suck, too.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Leaning your head over a desk to make drawings over 10 hours a day can hurt you more than working on construction carrying heavy materials all day. It causes severe pain to your back and the lack of movement in bad sitting stance can block blood from reaching your feet causing even more pain once you standup. A friend of mine had to be hospitalized due to backbone issues.

Manga creators, animators, game developers, musicians, they all go through these abusive work conditions because companies know there are too many out there willing to take the suffering.

Once the passion is gone they are simply replaced by younger blood.

Anyone who ever worked for entertainment industry knows how things are, most won't stay in the industry for more than 3 to 5 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've always wondered when these articles come about salaries in Japan, whether they include the twice annual 'bonuses' in the data.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

oldman_13Nov. 24  02:09 pm JST

Grueling 11.5 hours per day?

I do that six days a week, at a job that is most certainly a wee bit more demanding physically than sitting at a desk and doing animation.


Really? I don't know if you're a foreigner or Japanese (I'll assume foreigner), but why on earth would you accept such a schedule? That's not a life! That's worse than those animators, who certainly have at least my sympathy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Assuming a 20-day work month"

WTF this is Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’ll take daiku work, please. I’ve done it and loved it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Grueling 11.5 hours per day?

I do that six days a week, at a job that is most certainly a wee bit more demanding physically than sitting at a desk and doing animation.

No sympathies from me.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

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