In recent times, it has become ever more apparent that animators in Japan’s anime industry have it rough. You may recall a story from just a few weeks ago wherein Studio Khara, the talent behind the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, were able to pay potentially newly-hired animators just slightly more than the industry average at around $920 USD — which really is not great, especially when you consider the need to pay the always costly Tokyo rent. Standards for animator pay in Japan are quite low, but there’s a few things available to industry outsiders that they can do to help, and even change the lives of the next generation of creatives. This is where the Non-Profit Organization known as Animator Supporters comes in:
Animator Supporters have identified 3 key risks for Japan’s animation industry workers:
- Animators in their twenties often make no more than 90,000 yen a month
- 90% of new animators quit within 3 years due to low pay and harsh working conditions
- Without proper support and mentoring for animators, Japanese animation as a cultural pillar risks collapse
Jun Sugawara from Animator Supporters has come forth to present the organization’s fundraising goals in English. As of now, they have run 3 successful crowdfunding campaigns both within Japan and overseas to tackle perhaps one of the biggest issues facing young animators today: housing.
The yearly “Animator Dormitory Projects” aim to raise money for affordable dorm-style housing for animators. Paying no more than 30,000 yen a month including utilities costs, animators can skirt Tokyo’s rent prices and live in an environment where they can not only survive, but thrive. Remember the point about young animators not receiving proper support and mentoring? The goal with the dormitory project is to allow an environment where new animators can learn from the more experienced hands.
This year, the English campaign lives on Indiegogo’s Generosity platform, and Jun has outlined the project’s mission and history:
・To make an environment where start-up animators can devote themselves to their work without worrying about whether they can pay their house rents or make a stable living
・To bridge the skill gap caused by income inequalities
・To create a space where start-up animators can learn techniques from skilled animators so that they will be able to make a stable living in the animation industry.
Since March 2014, we have established the Animator Dormitory in order to achieve these goals. In Animator Dormitory, animators can stay live there for 30,000 JPY per month (including utility expenses). They will also get chances for social exchanges beyond the boundaries of companies and receive technical support for illustrations and drawing.
• March 2014 First Animator Dormitory opened in Asagaya
• March 2015 Animator Dormitory in Ogikubo opened
• March 2016 Animator Dormitory that is bigger opened in Asagaya
• March 2017 Girls Animator Dormitory opened in Naritahigashi. As of May 2017, eight animators are living in the Animator Dormitory.
Of course, what I’m hoping to inspire through outlining all of this is at least your visit to the project’s page, here. With a campaign that is running until the year’s end having already eclipsed 50% of its goal, it is exceedingly clear that many people value the prospect of improved conditions for the people working so hard to create the content we love. And hey, there ae some pretty sweet perks for donating as well. Do you want to actually just hang out and chill with these folks? Well, that’s a perk you can unlock at just a $150 USD donation if you’ve helped in the past, and at $300 if you are donating for the first time.
One of my favorite aspects of the project as a whole is the human aspect brought about through social media, especially Facebook. The animators who you are supporting often take the time to write their feelings out, conveying them to all of the project’s followers. Check out some recent examples:
These creatives have already gained so much through the project’s support — how cool is this?
One of our residents, Mr. Masaaki Tanaka, has been credited as “Assistant Animation Director” in episodes 36 and 37 of “Attack on Titan”! pic.twitter.com/UGzuOxJjS7
— animator_supporters (@animatorsupport) June 21, 2017
As a hyper-avid consumer of Japanese animation, the chance to affect meaningful change in an industry that has done so much to enrich my life these past 12 years or so is an incredibly meaningful one. My goal is not necessarly to coerce everyone to donate to this project directly – after all, we all have our own lives and circumstance to deal with – but merely to raise awareness. If we can help foster the creativity of the next big name in anime, someone that perhaps the next generation will be able to consume and enjoy, then I know we will have done our little bit to keep the industry alive.
Thank you Animator Supporters for your continued dedication, and know that you will have my continued support.
2017 Animator Dormitory Project: Generosity.com
Animator Supporters: Official site (Japanese)