Oct 23 / Sozoroo TEAM

Challenges and Future Prospects in the Anime Industry

The anime industry, with a history of over a century and annual revenues exceeding 2.7 trillion yen, is a symbol of Japan's cultural heritage. However, the industry is facing challenges due to grueling working conditions and the aging workforce. This article focuses on the establishment of an organization aimed at addressing these issues and explores the challenges and potential solutions confronting the industry.

Issue 1: The Vicious Cycle of Animators

A pressing issue in the anime industry is the shortage of skilled animators. The proliferation of production committee systems has made anime production more accessible, leading to an increase in workload and a severe shortage of animators. Particularly, the outsourcing of animation production overseas has exposed the inadequate skills of new animators. This lack of skill is exacerbated by the fact that the crucial role of "in-between" animation (a process to smooth movements between keyframes) has diminished, depriving animators of a fundamental training ground. Consequently, a substantial number of animators now lack the skills and knowledge necessary for their work. This has led to veteran animation directors and chief animation directors having to correct or even redo the work of these less-experienced animators, as the aging workforce approaches its limits.

Issue 2: Low Wages at Production Companies
Low wages at anime production companies are another significant problem in the industry. Despite the anime market's growth, animators and small production companies struggle to benefit from the profits. The production committee system distributes profits based on the investment ratio, which tends to favor larger companies, leaving smaller entities with limited returns. Addressing this issue may involve strategies such as allocating part of the copyright royalties to production companies, an approach already adopted by some companies. This problem, while not discrediting the committee system's benefits, highlights the need for industry-wide improvements.

Challenges in the Voice Acting Industry
As a broader issue affecting the entire anime industry, the problem of stagnant voice actor compensation has come to the forefront. The industry is experiencing a growing divide between voice actors, with many facing constraints related to production budgets and fees. This issue has raised concerns about the disposable nature of young voice actors and their contribution to cultural development.

The Harsh Realities of Production
The world of animation production is characterized by grueling working conditions. Anime production requires at least two years to complete, with fluctuating schedules. The industry is currently composed primarily of workers in their late twenties to early thirties, with an increasing number leaving as they approach their forties. This trend raises concerns of a potential future shortage of skilled professionals.

Income Disparities
Income disparities among animators vary significantly, particularly affecting newcomers who face financial constraints. Earnings rise in proportion to skills and recognition, with some animators receiving higher fees through exclusive offers from production companies. There is a notable gap when comparing these earnings with opportunities abroad.

Evolution from Past to Present
Analyzing the formation of grueling working conditions in the animation industry and their origins by comparing the past and present. It highlights the importance of the foundational period for animators, as well as the inadequate guidance provided in the field, leading to skill limitations and workforce attrition.

Improving Working Conditions
Improving working conditions in the anime industry requires cooperation from production companies and a reevaluation of education. Raising awareness about the industry's realities and difficulties is vital, both for promoting better working conditions and quality of life.

The Need for Animator Skill Certification
The proposal of an animator skill certification aims to address the mismatch between what the industry demands and what animators offer. By objectively assessing animator skills and encouraging production companies to recognize animators' abilities, this certification can play a crucial role.

An organization has been established to address these challenges, and with these initiatives in place, the anime industry can look forward to a future where it continues to captivate audiences worldwide, nurture new talent, and evolve with the changing times.