The L.A. Times gifts us with this upbeat saga:
For the last two years, [Aya Yokura] has spent up to 100 hours a week at her workstation — a low-paying, labor-intensive job that helps bring Japan's famous style of animated cartoons to life. Although the 26-year-old earns only about $10,000 a year and lives with her mom to make ends meet, she and a few thousand Japanese artists like her fill a crucial role in the technical process of creating this visual entertainment form, known as anime.
But even as anime's popularity grows worldwide, the Japanese artists who do much of the work are finding their jobs at risk.
"I left a Tokyo Disneyland job, which had benefits and a higher pay, to pursue this dream" of being an anime artist, said Yokura, who works on the popular series "Naruto" and "Bleach" for the animation production studio Pierrot Co.
The problems plaguing the industry are numerous. Seeking lower costs, production companies for decades have been outsourcing the work to animation companies in South Korea, India, Vietnam and elsewhere, where scores of trade schools have cropped up and artists can be hired more readily. ...
But dreams die hard. Yesterday a woman called me from Atlanta. She wanted to know about getting into the hand-drawn animation business in Los Angeles. She had her heart set on it. I told her:
"It's tight out here, there's lots of competition for just a few jobs and those we've got are taken by veterans with lots of production experience. You'd be really smart to stay where you are and not come."
But she's probably coming.
It's hard to dissuade people from their ambitions and aspirations. If you want to be a cartoonist, or writer, or tightrope walker, who am I to say the field is too full and the competition too stiff? There's that one in a thousand chance that you're the genius with the natural gift and work ethic that will knock everybody's socks off and you will be wonderfully successful.
Jaded as I am, I know there are times when following your passion is the best road to travel. Added to which, job opportunities rise and fall, and it's tough to predict whether a segment of any particular market will be roaring or foundering when you're ready to jump into it. (Could anybody have predicted the 'toon boom of the nineties in, say, 1985? That in 2010, animation would be a major driver in full-length movies? Could my predecessor in this job have forecast that the 700-member Motiin Picture Screen Cartoonists over which he presided would morph into the 2900-member Animation Guild? Doubt it.)
The future is always unknowable. Even though it's a reasonably safe bet that hand-drawn animation will not be regaining the high-ground it held in 1994, and that a chunk of lower-tier animation work will be outsourced to low-cost providers, the market is ever-changing, and it's not insane for a twenty-something to chase after her dream job. (At that age she has the time and the opportunity, so why the hell not? My only advice would be to pursue your heart's desire in an area of art that is robust rather than fading.)
If you don't grab at that brass ring when it floats by, the chance to yank it free might never come again. No matter how long the chances.