How Anime Studios Exploit their Workers

Kalvin Crawford, Staff Writer

As cool as anime may look in this day and age, there is a catch behind it! There are a lot of anime watchers that don’t realize the toxicity common in the Japanese studios that produce the media we love.

 There is an estimate of about 200 animated tv shows made in Japan every year, but since there’s a lack of professional animators to go around, many new companies are hiring a high amount of freelancers who are really enthusiastic about anime.

 Freelancers are in-between animators who do all the individual drawings and follow directions from directors and higher level professionals. Unlike the pros, freelancers make around 200 yen per drawing, which in Japan is less than $2! This means they have to work a significant amount of hours just to afford basic necessities like food and housing. There are details that are being ignored by animation studios in the west like landscapes, fingerprints, and food, which take too long to draw.

The working conditions are so severe that an American animator in Japan named Henry Thurlow was hospitalized multiple times due to fatigue and illness brought by extreme exhaustion. Many freelancers work 400 hours per month and go 37 days straight without a day off! There was an animator who committed suicide; afterward, investigators say that his death was due to him working 600 hours a month.

Studios use freelancers because then they don’t have to worry about the labor codes. Due to freelancers being independent contractors, studio companies are able to enforce grueling deadlines and save money by not providing benefits to freelancers.

A freelancer animator and video game designer with the name of Terumi Nishii earns a small amount of money being an animator so most of her income comes from being a videogame designer, and she uses that money to take care of her family because the money she gets from being an animator is too small to even take care of herself.

Today, production committees set a low budget to keep the cost low for animated tv shows. Osamu Tezuka, the creator of “Astro boy, set crazy low expectations making it extremely hard for others to follow up. American journalist Diane Wei Lewis found out that women who didn’t work at the studios and rather worked at home were severe victims of being paid insanely low and exploited

With these facts stated, should people change their perspective about anime? I’m not saying to stop watching anime or hate the studios, but next time you judge an anime, let this come to mind. Another reason is with all the “torture” and unfairness the animators and freelancers have to go to the studios, seeing these negative insights on the web like “Oh this anime has the worst animations; oh these fight scenes are boring;” or seeing memes making fun of the anime saying “When the animators are not getting paid,” it may bring up more stress and could possibly lead to more tragic tragedies.