Ryoko’s comments tally with other reports, including comments made by young key animator Ayane Nakamura in a video we profiled in 2019. Nakamura said she gets paid around 0 and 0 per month. A 2019 survey by the Japan Animation Creators Association found that anime workers aged 20–24 earned an average of 1,550,000 yen (US,660) per year — more than Ryoko and Nakamura, but still only around 60% of the national average for that age group.
The low, low salaries in Japan’s anime studios are well documented, yet new disclosures still have the power to shock. The latest insight into the matter comes from an animator who calls herself Ryoko, in a Youtube video uploaded by Animator Dormitory.
For a young animator, though, Ryoko says she is earning relatively well. Noting that many first-year animators can expect between 30,000 and 50,000 yen per month, she attributes her own “high” wages to her combination of employed and freelance work, as well as the fact that she got to do mostly key animation in those months. But she mentions another occupational hazard: pay often comes with several months’ delay. “Even with savings,” she laments, “it’s hard to make ends meet like this.”
Nakamura’s video features Jun Sugawara, the founder of Animation Supporters. The non-profit organization organizes crowfunding that subsidizes artists’ accommodation. It also runs the channel that hosts Ryoko’s video, as well as others on the subject. Sugawara’s work is remarkable. So is the fact that he has to do it at all.