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Before You're A Famous Anime Creator, Life Is Hard

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Now, Hideaki Anno of Evangelion is rich and famous. But he wasn’t always that way. He’s paid his dues in full, even when he was barely getting paid at all.

Way back in December 1984, Japanese manga Comic Box Jr. (via Himasoku) published a piece in which Anno went through, month by month, what he had experienced that year.

1984 would prove a turning point for the young Anno. Nausicaä, for which he animated a key scene, was released, and that December he established Gainax.


In this panel comic, Anno described what happened and also listed how much money he made each month. It’s eye-opening if you are unfamiliar with how crap anime pay is. But if you are already aware of that, then this will seem somewhat normal. Sadly.

(Note: The average total monthly salary of a full-time worker in Japan in the mid-1980s was around 317,000 yen. Use that number to compare Anno’s monthly pay.)


January to March

January (1月)

Because of NXXXXcaä*, sleeping at the studio with the cockroaches. Didn’t have a place I could go home to anyway.

SALARY: 150,000 yen

*Anno humorously censored the movie’s title.

February (2月)

The final spurt continues. No socks, because washing them is a pain in the ass. Snow continues for days, and I go get deep-fried tofu.

SALARY: 150,000 yen

March (3月)

The prime of my life.

With my NXXsiXXX salary, got a three-piece suit. Also got a girlfriend. Yay!

SALARY: 200,000 yen

April to June


April (4月)

Illness got worse, and I recuperate at a friend’s house. Broke up with my girlfriend, and since I’m not working, I fervently read Dazai. I’m lonely...


May (5月)

Because of MaXXXss*, staying overnight at Anime FXXXnd**. This period continues like before. Gruelling.

SALARY: 300,000 yen

*Here, apparently, Macross. **Seems to be the studio Anime Friend.

June (6月)

MacXXXX keeps on going.

When it finishes, I’ll do part-time or whatnot. It’s exceedingly hot.

SALARY: 150,000 yen

July to August


July (7月)

Got a color TV and been going to play pachinko. But, getting that money back is impossible, and seeing the light, I give up. It’s futile...


August (8月)

Back in home the first time in a while (my hometown, though, is Ube in Yamaguchi). Partying, days fly by. But then, when I get back to Tokyo, I’m behind in my schedule and unable to work.

SALARY: Nothing

September (9月)

Now, I’m spending my days having fun. For a friend’s wedding, I head back to Osaka by bike. It should’ve cost only 4,000 yen, but I got nabbed by a motorcycle cop and it ended up being more expensive than going by train. (I got the bike from from Mr. M.)


SALARY: 10,000 yen

October to December


October (10月)

Got paid for part-time gig I begged Mr. K for, and I think I’ll go get a part-time job painting Mr. M’s villa in Nagano. I’m happy food money materialized!

SALARY: 80,000 yen

November (11月)*

Now, living with two friends in a six-tatami mat studio we’re making. I want my own room asap!!


*No salary listed.

December (12月)*

Amid this plight, I guess the new year will come... I’m anxious. But without thinking, hohoo!


*No salary listed.

That December, the studio Anno co-founded was Gainax, which would go on to create Evangelion. The rest is anime history.