The latest job ad calling for animators to help create Miyazaki’s next anime feature film has drawn attention for all the wrong reasons.

Just last week, we were thrilled to hear that Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki had officially “withdrawn” his retirement in order to make one last feature-length anime film. That wasn’t the only good news for fans of the acclaimed animation studio either, as the company also announced that they would be hiring animators to work on the new movie.

The lengthy job description included details such as location and submission requirements, while also highlighting the fact that applicants of any nationality were eligible to apply, as long as they were proficient in Japanese. However, it was the section outlining the pay that caught the attention of overseas readers, who were vocal about their surprise at the low salary being offered, with their comments making news back in Japan.

According to local media, the monthly salary of “200,000 yen (US$1,797) or more” drew criticism from people abroad, who took to social media to voice their opinions.

This Japanese Twitter user shared some of the comments to the job listing with followers online.

Other comments from abroad included:

“I’m a professional background painter in 2-D animation and this is REALLY bad.”
“Are they kidding?! That’s less than a quarter of a regular storyboarding job in L.A.”
“$450 a week…meanwhile some actor does four days of work and gets paid $4 million.”

Commenters from Japan, on the other hand, offered a local perspective on the situation.

“Actually, 200,000 yen is higher than other animation companies in Japan.”
“Japanese animation you are enjoying is supported by movie guys with average annual income of 1.1 million yen (US$9,879) and monthly income of 90,000 yen.”
“Still you can live in Tokyo comfortably because that includes a lot of benefits from the government like healthcare and employment insurance.”

The different responses highlight the huge gap in pay levels between animators in Japan and their overseas counterparts. In spite of the criticism aimed at Studio Ghibli in response to their advertised wage, it turns out that it’s actually on the more generous side of the payscale for local animators, with a 2015 survey revealing that the average animator’s annual salary is well under US$10,000.

In addition to the low wage, the survey found that an animator’s average workday lasts 11 hours, and 54.9 percent of the respondents reported having four or fewer days off a month, including weekends.

Looking at the Japanese animation industry as a whole, the people sitting comfortably at the top rung of the ladder in terms of income are voice artists, followed by producers, series directors, computer graphics animators, production assistants, and then, towards the very bottom, are the artists who actually produce the illustrations enjoyed by millions of fans around the world.

It’s true that the Japanese animation industry relies heavily on the passion of its low-level artists, who, despite their talent, get paid a very small portion of the wealth generated by the internationally loved art form. While we hope there’s a way this can change in the future, for now we’ll be supporting the organisations doing their bit to help the situation with low-cost accommodation for animators to help them succeed in the notoriously low-paying industry.

Source: My Game News Flash
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