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NAFCA's 2024 Survey Shows Anime Industry Staff Are Still Overworked & Underpaid

The Nippon Animation Film Culture Association (NAFCA) revealed the results of its first survey on the working conditions in the anime industry. The aim of the survey was to confirm whether the actual situation matched the widely accepted image of the anime industry having low income and long working hours.

The staff working in anime industry were surveyed between a period of Dec 4, 2023, to Jan 31, 2024, and a total of 323 responses were recorded.

Among them, 59%, or 191 people, were animators, followed by 44 directors and 35 production-related staff, 27 character and mechanical designers, 23 prop and costume designers, 23 voice actors, 20 directors, 15 finishing artists, 14 working in art, 11 working Cinematography and CG each, 10 from the sound department, and 4 scenario writers.

The results of the survey showed that the anime industry staff were indeed overworked and underpaid, matching the general opinion which existed about the industry.

Anime industry staff work long hours:

The results of NAFCA’s survey pointed out that the average working hours of staff in the anime industry was 219 hours, which is quite high compared to the national average of 162.3 hours overall. The maximum working hours in the anime industry was calculated to be around 336 hours whereas the median was 225 hours.

Average monthly working hours of anime industry staff (excluding VAs)

Out of the respondents, 71.4% said that they worked 8 hours or more a day, while 30.4% of the respondents said that they worked 10 hours or more. On top of that 58.8% of the total respondents had 6 days off in an average month.

The numbers did not improve as the staff grew older as 69% of people in their 50s said they were working 8 hours or more, and 21% were working 10 hours or more.

While the working hours certainly look bad, the situation has actually improved in the last 6 years.

For instance, in 2017, approximately 30 percent of animators worked 260 hours or more in a month (more than 100 hours of overtime). This number reduced to just 10 percent in 2022. The number of animators who worked between 240 to 260 hours also saw a decline in the last four years.

However, despite the improvements, the situation in the industry leaves a lot to be desired. These numbers from the current NAFCA survey can be seen as a numerical manifestation of the anime industry’s chronic human resource shortage.

Going for a job wise segregation, the staff working in the sound department had particularly long working hours, with 38% of respondents in this job category working 12 hours or more a day. This was followed by directing at 22%, whereas staff from all job categories had more than 30% of the respondents working 10 hours or more.

However, the survey’s results also noted that only directors, designers, CG, and scenario writers have relatively comfortable working hours, while other types of workers are working extremely long hours.

It was also noted that women were more likely to work longer hours, even though there wasn’t much difference in the way men and women worked when it came to producing anime.

Close to 40% anime staff earn less than 200,000 yen a month:

Moving on to the remuneration part, the survey revealed that 37.7% of the total respondents answered that their anime-related work earns them less than 200,000 yen per month, or less than 2.4 million yen per year. And out of this, 77.6% people were not engaged in any work outside the anime industry, meaning they were living on an annual income of 2.4 million yen or less.

Looking at income by job roles, it was found that finishing and scenario writers had notably low incomes, with more than 60% earning less than 200,000 yen per month. Whereas 43% and 45% of animators and art directors, respectively, earn less than 200,000 yen per month, or less than 2.4 million yen per year in terms of annual income.

However, 11% of animators, on the other hand, reported an annual income of over 10 million yen, indicating that they can earn well if they hone their skills. As evidence, about 15% of the respondents answered that they earn more than 700,000 yen per month or 8.4 million yen per year in character/mechanical design and prop/costume design, which are said to be career advancement opportunities for animators.

Additionally, more than 50% of those who become directors said that they earned more than 500,000 yen per month, (6 million yen annually) making it possible to have a steady career in this field. However, comparing this to the annual average salary of project managers from outside anime industry, which is 8.915 million yen, shows that anime industry staff in general get low wages.

It was found in the survey that the finishing and audio related jobs also had the cheapest hourly wages in the industry at 667 yen and 875 yen respectively. The highest was the director’s hourly wage of 2,111 yen. In fact close to 14% of anime staff earned hourly wages between 600 to 800 yen.

The median hourly wage in the anime industry is 1,111 yen, which is barely more than the national average of 1004 yen as of March 2024 and slightly lower than Tokyo’s minimum wage of 1113 yen.

The survey concluded that even with the disparities in the industry, it was evident that the wages were abnormally low and that it was hard to refute the arguments against exploitation.

Source: NAFCA