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Anime Is Booming. So Why Are Animators Living in Poverty?


TOKYO — Business has never been better for Japanese anime. And that is exactly why Tetsuya Akutsu is thinking about calling it quits.

When Mr. Akutsu became an animator eight years ago, the global anime market — including TV shows, movies and merchandise — was a little more than half of what it would be by 2019, when it hit an estimated $24 billion. The pandemic boom in video streaming has further accelerated demand at home and abroad, as people binge-watch kid-friendly fare like “Pokémon” and cyberpunk extravaganzas like “Ghost in the Shell.”

But little of the windfall has reached Mr. Akutsu. Though working nearly every waking hour, he takes home just $1,400 to $3,800 a month as a top animator and an occasional director on some of Japan’s most popular anime franchises.

And he is one of the lucky ones: Thousands of lower-rung illustrators do grueling piecework for as little as $200 a month. Rather than rewarding them, the industry’s explosive growth has only widened the gap between the profits they help generate and their paltry wages, leaving many to wonder whether they can afford to continue following their passion.


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Source: New York Times

 
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