My father started at Walt Disney Productions in 1938 at $15 per week. Thirty-eight years later, I began work in the Disney feature story department at rate of $130. When I left a decade later (1986) I was up to a whopping $40,000 per year.
And in 2008 there is this:
The Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) have set itself up as an unlimited liability intermediary corporation this week to continue its efforts in improving work conditions in the Japanese animation industry.
... 90% of the animators and directors are freelancers, and those who have trouble making ends meet are expected to face increasing hardships as they grow older. In particular, there are veteran creators in their 40s and 50s who are getting by on ... $30,000 (US) a year ...
Roll that figure around on the tip of your tongue a minute. That's $600/week ... $15/hour. That wage wouldn't buy you much of a life style in Los Angeles, and Tokyo's considerably more expensive than L.A.
But it gets scarier:
... One 59-year-old had to cut back due to deteriorating physical health, and now subsists on $1,000 (US) a month. Some of the 59-year-old animator's former colleagues now receive public assistance or are now homeless ...
I'm in my fifties. I read that and think, There but for the Grace of God ... As bad as some situations are here in the Los Angeles animation community, they don't hold a guttering candle to the work realities faced by animation artists in Japan.