6/9/2009: JAniCA Part I

100 yenThe other day, a symposium on working conditions in the anime industry was held. I didn't go, but I my co-worker, who is one of the directors of JAniCA (Japan Animation Creators Association), took a day off to attend this meeting. I read some articles on the net later about what has been discussed; they said that based on a survey that JAniCA conducted, the "average" young staffer in their twenties earn a meager wage (listed here in US Dollars) of $11,600. Those in their thirties make around $22,600, and the ones in the 40-60 range bring home $31,000. I imagine these figures must have some truth to them since they are based on actual survey responses, but $11,600 is unbelievably low. Sure, I had some rough times when I first started out as an inbetweener, and the least I probably earned was around $8500...but that was part-time work done decades ago, back when I was still in high school! Back then, the rate per single inbetween drawing was around $0.85 (based on ¥95 = $1). The current rate per single inbetween is currently around $2.65.

Top artists are compensated according to their skills and the level of contribution to a project. I mean, c'mon...does anyone really think that good artists will stick around long enough to reach a so-called "top artist" position that only pays $31,000 a year? I can only imagine that artists who make a decent living may have not have participated in the survey since they have no need for a labor union (even though JAniCA is technically not an union.)

I, for one, did not return the survey because I felt that it was no one's business but my own to know what I earn. My colleague asked me to return it to him, but I knew he was going to read it, and I was not eager to give out such personal information to him. Yes, I do earn way more than the so-called average wage, and I'm definitely not one of the highest-paid artists around. It just seems to me that the surveys were only filled out by those on the low end of the pay spectrum and not a fair assessment of what industry workers actually earn.

More about how artists work their way up the pay and responsibility scale next time.