Making anime seems like a dream job, right? In reality, though, your favourite shows are made possible through extremely long shifts, tight deadlines, and most importantly, keeping costs low. Today, we’ll examine just how much money you can make in various roles involved with anime production.

Animators

shirobako drawing gif
P.A. Works

These people are the lifeblood of a great show, yet their pay is actually pretty awful. A 2013 survey (only available in Japanese) showed that the average animator salary was around 1.1 million yen or $10,000 US dollars a year.

That was five years ago, though, so how do modern salaries compare? Understandably, industry insiders are hesitant to share details, but luckily for us, one of the industry’s largest studios, P.A. Works, occasionally has open job listings.

¥770 ($6.81) an hour. Basically, if you’re working a minimum wage job in America, you’re making more than entry-level animators. Even working full time, this only works out to be a little over $1000 a month. In Toyama, where P.A. Works is based, a small apartment costs around ¥70,000 per month. You do the math.

Voice Actors

The stars of the show, voice actors bring your favourite characters to life. Yet, for the first three years of their careers, they earn very little. Rank 15 voice actors make around ¥15,000 ($130) per episode, with agents and the taxman also taking a cut.

Once you’re established, you’re free to negotiate your own pay, and obviously, A-list actors demand higher pay. Additionally, companies that work with a small cast of regular actors can afford to pay more, as is the case with Funimation’s dub team. For instance, according to Paysa, Funimation dub staff make between $70,000 and $80,000 a year.

Directors

shirobako salaries

The director is the person who projects their vision of what a show should be, and makes it a reality. So how much do they earn? Well, that depends. According to the Shirobako team, the average salary is around $42,000 a year, but the JACA’s 2015 survey reported that it’s actually closer to $60k a year.

That’s pretty good, but remember: this isn’t a 9-to-5 job. In fact, you can expect to work 11-hour shifts, stay overnight at the office frequently, and when something goes wrong unexpectedly, you’re not leaving until the problem has been resolved.

The Verdict

Anime is a brutal industry to work in. It takes real dedication and passion to avoid burnout, which could be why 80% of animators quit in the first three years. Most people don’t realize just how much work goes into making even a single episode of any given anime, and when the truth hits, it hits hard. So, are we saying you shouldn’t work in anime? Not at all! If you love the medium and can accept the lifestyle of an anime creator, go for it! Just be prepared for what this means.

Header image: Noragami, Bones

Ian Garland

Just an ordinary guy who woke up one day in the magical world of anime reviews. Check them out... or don't, i-it's not like he likes you or anything...

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