Friday, June 12, 2009

Anime is ill in Japan

I get a bit spiky in my latest column for the Daily Yomiuri here in Tokyo. The Japanese government's support of the anime industry is all about so-called "public works projects," like wasteful construction expenditures, hollow museums, and ample lip service, with scant attention to the real poverty at the heart of the homegrown industry.

It's shameful. I know professional artists who can't make ends meet--yet the government is treating the entire industry like a circus that will serve its own ends.

At the same time, in the US, pioneeer Seiji Horibuchi is about to launch the most ambitious Japanamerican project ever to take root in bricks and mortar: the so-called "New People" project, or the J-Pop Center.

You figure it out. Then, let me know what you figured.

“News that the Japanese animation industry held its first ever state-of-the-industry symposium last month in Tokyo is as welcome as it is disturbing. Welcome, of course, because healthy organisms generally try to keep one finger on the pulse of their welfare. And disturbing because, after 60-plus years of activity, this was the anime animal’s first voluntary checkup–and the diagnoses are predictably bad.

Anime News Network, the largest English-language anime news Web site, notes that the pre-symposium survey received responses from at least 700 anime producers and directors. The results?

Anime employees in their 20s earn an average annual salary of 1.1 million yen, and those in their 30s earn an average annual salary of 2.14 million yen. Worse, veteran artists in their 40s and 50s survive on roughly 3 million yen per year. And most of them live and work in Tokyo–one of the most expensive cities in the world.

How’s that for soft-power glamour?" [read more here]


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