The anime industry is brutal. The average salaries can get low. Just how low? Let’s have a look at how they break down per position.

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The Japanese Animation Creators Association published results of average salaries and ages for different production jobs in the anime industry. Before we get to that, Tokyo-based animator Thomas Romain created a helpful flow chart that might help better explain how the different production jobs relate to each other.

Website Washi’s Blog also has a helpful explanation of the different productions and how they fit into the process.

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This survey is for 2015, so 2016 might be slightly different. Over 750 people participated in the survey, with a nearly 60 to 40 percent breakdown between men and women. Via Yaraon!, All Nationz and 4chan, here are the results of the industry survey:

Series Director

  • Average Age: 42 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 540,833 yen ($5,036)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 6,490,000 yen ($60,437)

Chief Animation Director

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  • Average Age: 43 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 470,000 yen ($4,378)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 5,640,000 yen ($52,521)

Producer

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  • Average Age: 39 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 451,667 yen ($4,206)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 5,420,000 yen ($50,471)

Character Designer

  • Average Age: 38 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 425,000 yen ($3,958)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 5,100,000 yen ($47,491)

Animation Director

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  • Average Age: 38 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 327,500 yen ($3,045)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,930,000 yen ($36,602)

3DCG Animator

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  • Average Age: 34 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 320,000 yen ($2,980)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,840,000 yen ($35,764)

Episode Director

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  • Average Age: 41 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 316,667 yen ($2,949)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,800,000 yen ($35,391)

Storyboarder

  • Average Age: 49 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 310,000 yen ($2,887)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,720,000 yen ($34,647)

Art Director (Background Art)

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  • Average Age: 35 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 285,000 yen ($2,655)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,420,000 yen ($31,864)

Color Designer

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  • Average Age: 38 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 278,333 yen ($2,593)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,340,000 yen ($31,120)

Cinematographer

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  • Average Age: 34 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 265,833 yen ($2,476)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,190,000 yen ($29,723)

Production Assistant

  • Average Age: 30 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 257,000 yen ($2,394)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 3,090,000 yen ($28,788)

Key Animator

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  • Average Age: 36 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 235,000 yen ($2,189)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 2,820,000 yen ($26,271)

Inbetween Checker

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  • Average Age: 35 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 217,500 yen ($2,026)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 2,610,000 yen ($24,314)

Layout Artist/Rough Keyart

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  • Average Age: 38 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 195,000 yen ($1,817)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 2,340,000 yen ($21,800)

Paint Staff

  • Average Age: 26 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 162,000 yen ($1,509)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 1,950,000 yen ($18,167)

2nd Key Animation/Clean-Up

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  • Average Age: 27 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 93,333 yen ($870)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 1,120,000 yen ($10,434)

Inbetween Staff

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  • Average Age: 24 years old
  • Average Monthly Salary: 92,500 yen ($862)
  • Average Yearly Salary: 1,110,000 yen ($10,340)

The top positions, such as a series director, make a good salary, but if you compare that paycheck to what a television series director gets or what a Hollywood filmmaker makes, it’s significantly less.

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More disconcerting is how when you move down the scale, there are people who aren’t even making minimum wage. According to Mainichi News, Tokyo, where many anime studios are located, has the highest minium wage in Japan (it varies by location) at 907 yen ($8.4493) per hour.

So, if you worked eight hours a day, 5 days a week and 52 weeks a year, you’d make 1.886 million yen ($17,569), which is more than the two lowest paying jobs in the poll and nearly as much as the Paint Staff make. Considering how anime staff work longer hours and the crunch they endure, the per hour page for the lowest earning anime jobs is less than minimum wage. That’s depressing.

It’s even more disheartening when you realize that more anime is being made than ever before, yet there are people in the industry who don’t even earn a living wage.

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