”Who’s ending up with those profits?” he wonders.

Although Japan prides itself on hospitality and customer service, service industry jobs still tend to be pretty low-paying. No one is going to scoff at you for flipping burgers or working a cash register, but you’re unlikely to get rich doing it.

But according to Jun Arai (@arasan_fourth on Twitter), you’re still better off doing one of those jobs than animating the Pokémon anime series, financially speaking. The 45-year-old freelance anime animator, who’s been working in the industry since 1997, recently tweeted:

“The Pokémon anime pays 4,500 yen (US$42) per animation cut, which means it’s made with some of the lowest-paid artwork in the anime industry. If you work that out to an hourly rate, it’s less money than you get paid working part-time in a convenience store.”

“The series is a hit, so who’s ending up with those profits?” Arai went on to ask in a later tweet.

▼ A sample of Arai’s animation work, from Gurren Lagann

While low pay for rank-and-file animators has become an increasingly awkward topic for decision-makers in the anime industry, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First off, in anime production parlance, a “cut” refers to a short animated sequence, but there’s no specific length, or more importantly number of animation frames, in a cut. Some are short and some are long. Some require just a few frames per second, while others far more if the movement needs to be smoother.

Because of that, it would be somewhat unusual for an anime studio to designate animators’ pay on a flat per-cut basis, since different cuts will take very different amounts of time to draw. It’s also worth pointing out that while Arai has an impressive career, working as an animator on fan-favorite series like Love Hina, Emma–A Victorian Romance, Higurashi When They Cry, Gurren Lagann, and Sword Art Online, nowhere on his resume does he list any professional involvement with the Pokémon franchise, so it’s debatable how well-informed he is about the production’s pay scale.

Source: Twitter/@arasan_fourth via Hachima Kiko
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