The long debate about the working conditions of animators in Japan’s anime industry always turns into a heated discussion among the fans. Most of us know that they overwork & low pay are the common adversaries of people working in the anime sector. But how much do Animators earn in Japan? What is the average income of these animators working in the anime industry? Will anime come to an end because of these animators? Well, keep reading.

In this system, any profit made by the anime will be returned to animators and those directly involved in the anime-making process.

How big is the Japanese anime industry?

According to The Animator Dormitory Project, the Japanese anime industry has been producing more anime than ever. With its market size reaching more than ¥2,000,000,000,000 ($18.8 billion), the environment surrounding animators remains severe.

Low salaries, long working hours, and illegal contracting are still very common.

What is the Animator Dormitory Project you ask?

The Animator Dormitory Project is an initiative to provide housing so that up-and-coming animators can focus on their work. Without desperately trying to make the ends meet considering the high cost of living. And also to offer a place where these animators can receive technical support from experts.

How much do Animators earn in Japan?

how much do animators earn in japan
Image Courtesy of The Dormitory Project Youtube Channel

A new animator, Ryoko, who has been in the company for 9 months and has been a resident at the Animator Dormitory released information on his/her starting salary. On 1st February 2021, through their Youtube Channel.

  • The salary from April to December 2019 is 668,000 yen (US$6,000), which is 7,4000 yen (US$670) in terms of monthly income.
  • The average monthly income of animators in the first year of joining the company is around 50,000 yen (US$450) per month. And if it is low, it is 30,000 yen (US$270) or less.
  • This depends on the studio while being both a freelancer and a full-time staff member during those months.

Average Salary of animators in their 20s

According to a 2015 survey conducted by JAnicA, the average monthly salary for an animator in their 20s is around ¥90,000 (approx. $800). Making the yearly salary about ¥1,100,000 (approx. $10,000).

  • It is not uncommon that the monthly salary for the first-year animator is less than ¥30,000 (approx. $270).
  • The earnings are drastically low despite the hard labor, overtime work, and long working hours. Because in most cases, animators are hired and paid according to the price work pay system.

What is this price work pay system?

This means that animators, incomes are determined by the number of frames they draw. For a newcomer, it takes time and practice to become skillful enough to draw quicker and make a fair amount of earnings per month.

For a typical TV anime series, an animator makes less than $2 per frame. Therefore if an animator draws 300 per month, their monthly salary is only:

  • 300 frames × ¥200 (approx. $1.80)
    = ¥60,000 (approx. $550)

But drawing 300 frames per month is a really challenging task for new animators. With such a busy schedule, animators generally do not have enough time to take other part-time jobs. Which makes it even harder to make a stable living.

Why are the animators being paid so low and how can this problem be solved?

average income of animators in japan
Image Courtesy of Pinterest

The current anime production system in the industry is one of the biggest reasons for the animator’s low income. It is quite costly to produce anime. If an anime does not become a hit, it will result in a huge debt. So, in order to avoid such a situation, the current anime production system requires a production committee.

  • It should be consisting of TV stations, movie production films, ad companies, publishers, and large anime studios. The production cost is collected from each party so that the burden can be reduced.
  • In a way, these production committees are necessary for avoiding large debts, but simultaneously, they bring some issues.

What are they?

  • For example, the production fee paid from the production committee to the anime studio is, in many cases, insufficient.
  • 1 in 4 anime studios is in debt. As a result, although the committee may avoid risks, anime studios work in debt. Consequently, studios cannot pay enough salaries for animators, and animators have to live in poverty.
  • In addition, profits made by the sales of an anime only go to the production committee. So even if an anime becomes a hit, animators do not benefit at all from the sales.

Anime might come to an end in the near future

Most anime studios are located in Tokyo. This is another problem new animators encounter as they have to move to Tokyo and pay expensive housing rents from their very limited income.

  • Because of their extremely low income, many new animators have to quit their dream of becoming an animator before they are even able to develop their skills.
  • 90% of animators quit their job within 3 years of starting. With many animators quitting their job, it also makes it really difficult for experienced animators to each animation technique to upcoming animators.

If they are fewer and fewer upcoming animators, it’s possible that anime will eventually disappear.


Don’t worry about that last line. New initiatives like WIT Animator School powered by Netflix and the Animator Dormitory Project, there’s positivity to look forward to.

I hope you got to know about the average income Animators earn in Japan. If there’s anything you want to add, then let us know in the comments down below!

Sources: Dormitory Project Youtube, Dormitory Project Instagram

Also Read: Top 10 Anime Series with the most number of Episodes

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Madhumoy is a high school understudy at Don Bosco High School, Tinsukia, Assam. He doesn't like to claim himself as a writer, but you can always find him somewhere jotting down his thoughts and turning them into art in their own right. When Madhumoy isn't writing, he's most likely watching other TV shows, watching anime, reading non-fiction or experiencing other paths and systems. Madhumoy lives with his grandparents and parents and a little hope.