Thursday, March 13, 2008

It Ain't Just U.S. Animation ...

There are other areas of the globe facing outsourcing and workplace issues; author Aaron Bynum brings the reality into focus:

...[T]he Japanese animation industry--which occupies 62% of the world market, according to China Daily--has become apprehensive over money matters. The quality of employment for animators has not improved in several years, and for many reasons; while the expanding work load for the overwhelmingly predominant array of small animation studios has become burdensome, forcing producers and financiers to look toward external markets for grunt work ....

Naturally enough, Japanese companies making good money from current quality product are nervous this newer trend could maybe kill the golden goose:

... "Unless something is done, Japanese anime will be ruined," Koichi Murata, the President of animation production group Oh Production, stated recently ...

But it's not just corporate execs who have worries about the state of Japanese animation. The artists also get stressed:

With constant on-the-job training and relentless television schedules that call for twelve-hour workdays, for every day of the week, these new graduates and others of the Japan cartoon market are finding themselves vastly outpaced by the demands of wealthy broadcast and satellite television stations (who in turn, contract studios for a fraction of the animated property's estimated worth) ...

The problem in Japan, of course, is the problem any "high wage" country faces: at some point, companies figure out moving some of the work to a low-wage area of the globe saves them money. And the home-grown artists find themselves trapped in jobs with stagnant/declining wages.

Of the some 440 animation production companies in the country of Japan, sources report 70% are small, with only thirty or fewer workers. About 80% of the country's animation production offices are located in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area, where escalating property values even seem to conspire against struggling animators.

"Sometimes I want to give up," an animator with roughly a year's experience, 26-years-old, employed at Oh Production, is quoted stating. "I never imagined it would be like this.''

The relentless push for "more ... faster ... and cheaper" is a phenomenon stretching around the world.


Anonymous said...

As a boomer geezer fan for cartoons & animation, but a newbie "otaku" (Japanese for cartoon fanboy), I understand some of the driven studios & a little Japanese culture. However, it's not only "More, Faster & Cheaper" from the production side.
Fansubbers are making an impact & the "new breed" are following the "More, Faster & Cheaper" creed. Anime News Network has an interview with an older fansubber.
Fansubbing & "fans" who'd rather download stuff for free instead of paying to support the industry put pressure on anime to make it cheaper also.

Anonymous said...

fan subbing has killed off a couple of the major US anime companies

...just from downloading alone. One I know of for sure is dieing on the vine.

A couple years ago Best Buy because of their policy shipped warehouses full of unsold anime back to the publishers. Now the publishers dumb enough to spend that money owed best buy and were stuck with all these DVDs they couldnt wouldn't believe the amounts of DVD's spilling out of garbage dumpsters. I saw it first hand.

Site Meter