6/16/2009: JAniCA Part II
Written by Cindy Yamauchi   

fistful of yenIn this industry, you usually don't get promoted based on seniority alone--you have to prove your value through your work. If you don't have much to offer, you don't get promoted, you don't get a raise...and even worse, you won't find enough work to sustain a living. That's just the reality of show business, and I'm sure it's the same in many other industries as well. The real problem is not so much about how each individual is treated, but the fact that the anime industry as a whole does not generate enough revenue to take good care of everyone involved. How the industry manages to survive right now is a big mystery to me, considering only few hundred DVDs are sold per volume nationwide for many of the titles out there.

Let's compare the anime industry to a restaurant business. You're a restaurant owner, so you deserve the biggest paycheck because of that position. You worked hard to build your business up to where it is, and have invested years and years in education and training. You also pay your head chef handsomely, for you know that his skills can make or break your business. The guy washing the dishes, on the other hand, is only making what is considered typical for that kind of work, and is obviously unhappy about it. You wish you could pay him more, but there's a limit to what any given restaurant can make. The dishwasher may take one of three courses of action to try to remedy this situation:

A) Complain to you, the restaurant owner - "Hey, everyone else my age is making $50,000. I should be paid that amount, too. I really don't think it's fair for you or the chef to be making so much money while I only make minimum wage."

B) Work harder to build more useful skills and experience - "I heard that ten years ago, the head chef was just a dishwasher like me. I know I can be like him if I really want to."

C) Leave - "To hell with this, I quit!"

Now, which type of guy would you give a raise to? Every penny must be spent wisely. As the restaurant owner, it is natural for you to invest your limited budget in personnel who can contribute to the success of the restaurant. A dishwasher can be easily replaced , but someone showing talent and ambition is harder to find. I don't know much about the restaurant business, but I think you get the picture.

The anime industry, can only make so much money no matter how hard they try, especially when the economy is this bad. It's only natural for the industry's business owners to spend more of their money on people who can contribute to the business, and less on those who can be replaced by more affordable offshore contractors. JAniCA has shed some light on the problem that this industry has long suffered, and that alone is a very important step in improving working conditions (which, by the way, has already made some great strides over the years). But, if what they're asking for is a bigger slice of a tiny pie, then that is not very realistic, since what they'd be asking for is unconditional love from the sponsors who fund the shows. If securing a decent wage for all--even those who hardly produce at all--is the ultimate goal, then there is a need for a more efficient system to replace the current one. Please note that there are many honest, successful people in this industry living within the existing business model, so it is unfair to blame the system as the root of all sins. Although I think JAniCA is placing too much emphasis on the bad side of situation, it is also true that every system has room for improvement. I hope JAniCA continues to concentrate on such issues and does not turn into a labor union full of disgruntled workers.