Betting your health on creating a fantasy: Miscellaneous thoughts on JAniCA report
How do Japanese animators, directors and producers work? Perhaps you have some knowledge on that through documentary of Hayao Miyazaki or anime series SHIROBAKO. But being an Anime worker in Japan seems much harder than you think.
On September 26th, JAniCA, Japanese animation creators association disclosed the results of the research for accidents and injuries of Anime creators. The association collected answers from various workers in this business such as animators, production assistants, animation directors, background artists and others.
it is not surprising that some respondents have troubles on their arms, backs and waists as many cartoonists and novelists do. Those are occupational diseases for desk-working artists in a sense. However, who would think hyperpnea and ligament injury is found on this research? Unfortunately, it happens a lot. The research points out that 24.7% of the respondents injured at least once at work place. In addition, 35.3% of the respondents have heard such an incident around them. Accidents don’t always happen in a studio. Some respondents got injured on their way to work. One of the respondents had a slipping accident on the frozen road at 4AM.
(Source: JAniCA report)
What is the reason behind that? What makes Anime production such dangerous business? The top 3 reasons are exhaustion, lack of sleep and overworking. While new inexperienced animators earn less than 150 thousand yen per month, production assistants are sometimes required to work almost 24-7. In Anime series which have poor production management, they need to stay at office overnights to run the project smoothly as much as they can. Surprisingly, most of the Anime studios doesn’t count this waiting time as part of the work. In May 2019, Shinjuku Labor Standards Office in Tokyo recommended the rectification to MADHOUSE, one of the most well-known Anime studio in Japan. According to the accuser who had worked as an assistant production manager, the total overwork time in the busiest period were 393 hours in a month. In spite of that, he got paid only for 50 hours of it. In the case of A-1 pictures in 2010, the Labor Standards Office admitted the relationship between long time work at the studio and depression of one of the production assistants who committed suicide after leaving the position. According to the announcement of the lawyer, the assistant stayed at the office 7 days in a raw in the peak period, without any overtime fees.
What would happen on the Anime workers if they got injured? In general, Japanese companies have accident compensation insurance for the employees. However, most of Japanese Anime studio seem to hesitate to use this social system for their workers. Therefore, the animators and production assistants need to save the money or pay for the private insurance from their low wage. If they can’t? Well, the position will be replaced by someone new and the show will go on as if nothing happens even after severe accident. Although this working problem around Anime workers has been issued and discussed many times for decades, the situation doesn’t look changed at all. This industry is still attracting numbers of young people who have huge ambition and big dream. Then, only few of them survive after experiencing the obscurity. It should be noted that the Anime we enjoy would be based on not only the talented directors and animators but also self-sacrificing individuals behind the scene.