Before anime and manga became widely used, japanimation described the distinctive Japanese form of animation. Anime artists and creators mainly hail from Japan, but many American artists use the stylish characteristics of anime, such as the signature large eyes and small mouths of characters. The amount paid to anime makers varies, depending on the success of the anime and the cost of production.
According to Indeed, the average salary of Japanese anime creators is $49,000 a year. AltJapan notes that many high-earning manga artists clear over $900,000 a year on royalties alone, while lower-end earners make approximately $35,000. The popularity of the anime show and the amount earned from franchising items such as toys and novelty items determine the amount earned.
Average Cost of Anime Episodes
The Media Development Research Institute investigated the costs to make an anime production in 2010, finding several approximate values for 30-minute episodes that cost the U.S. equivalent of $145,214. The script costs about $2,640, episode direction totals $6,600, production costs $26,402 and key animation is around $19,801. Other costs include original work, art backgrounds, photography, sound, materials, editing and printing.
How Anime Is Produced
Anime production suffered with the collapse of the Japanese bubble economy in the early '90s, affecting the rental market anime makers heavily relied on. Because the costs to make an anime episode run anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000, convincing a company to invest that much in one show became difficult. The solution was to form production committees consisting of companies that might benefit from a show, such as DVD publishers, video game companies or record labels looking to promote new artists.
Anime in Japan is on a continuous decline due to falling wages and long hours. The number of animators in the industry, according to Japan Today, peaked in the middle of this century's first decade and has declined every year since. Much of the issue is economic, with some jobs going to Vietnam, India and Thailand. Americans are even producing stylized cartoons resembling anime sensibilities and tropes. Whether or not this is anime is in dispute, because many say anime can't be made outside of Japan, just as bourbon can't be considered bourbon if made outside the U.S. or Canada.
Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.