It seems like just yesterday that anime was this niche thing that the nerds would gather around and discuss everyday, but more so everyday anime is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon, to the point that multiple live-action adaptations have come out just this year, with more coming in the future.
This effect is being felt greatest by online streaming companies like Netflix and Crunchyroll, where their model has been more than lucrative. Netflix especially has become the poster child of investment in anime, as they announced 12 new series a few months ago, and it was released that much of their 8 billion dollar budget for next year would be going to anime project. Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos even admitted that “We’ve more than 30 original anime projects in various states of production.”‘
Certainly, as an anime fan, I’m happy. More original content, in general, is going to make a Netflix subscription even more worth having than it already is, but the fact that Netflix is making a serious investment in anime specifically, as opposed to live-action, is a sign that anime is becoming a popular and influential medium.
Many of the shows that they are getting I’m excited about. Whether it be last season’s Kakegurui, this season’s Children of the Whales or the next season of Seven Deadly Sins, the content that Netflix is bringing to their library is good.
Of course, none of this really gets at what a lot of people find objectionable about the anime industry, to begin with: how cheap it is. It has been a widely reported that many anime studios, including ones that have worked with Netflix in the past, have severely underpaid animators. Most starting animators in Japan now only make about 10,000 USD a year, with many having to live in big cities close to the studio where costs of living are much higher.
This lifestyle is largely unsustainable, with low pay and high workload, many can’t do it. According to a report that came out this year, 80 percent of animators leave the industry within just 3 years. What’s worse, the wages that animators get paid is below Japan’s minimum wage in most places, and even though the practices of animation studios is well-known, little has been down by the Japanese government to help the situation.
Netflix has been seen by many in the industry as a solution to the razor-thin profit margins that exist at many studios, with it being widely reported that the budgets for Netflix shows are significantly higher than a typical TV series.
This, however, that the industry’s long-standing problem of underpaying animators is solved. There is currently nothing that says that animators are getting paid more from these projects, and working conditions and workload have remained serious burdens on animators. If there is one thing that Netflix could do for the Anime Industry, it would be to foster an environment in which studios care about compensating their workers fairly, and that animators do not have to get paid slave wages just to do what they love.
How do you guys feel? What concerns do you have about the industry? Leave a comment and let me know.