What Is This Housing Support Project for Young Animators in Japan?

  • To work in the animation industry is one of the dream jobs most young people aspire in Japan. For those who eat, sleep, and breathe anime, this is a dream come true! Since most people love animation, it is a great chance for them to get immersed in the medium they love. But do you know that most university graduates who start working in their first year face a lot of financial worries? Their low wage problem makes it impossible for them to pay their monthly rent in big cities such as Tokyo (東京). This is why the NPO Animator Supporters started a housing support project for young animators who are starting out in the industry in Tokyo.

    Background of an Animator’s Job


    Anime is an integral part of Japanese life and culture. Over the last few decades, it has grown from a small market to a vibrant and more internationalized sector of the country. The industry even broadened overseas wherein a growing number of foreign fans pay money to stream anime online. It then became a significant source of revenue for anime production groups.

    Working in the anime industry is handsome for the brightest stars. However, the story is different for those who are still in the lower levels. The average animator’s annual salary in Japan is under $10,000 which is not really that much.

    According to a survey conducted by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs in the working condition of animators, most of them work at an average of 11 hours per day. Half of them reported of having fewer days off a month. Most companies pay their animators on a production base which means that they are only going to be paid per frame of animation they complete. This is one of the reasons why low-level animators are not happy with their work.

    Animators are also burdened with the stress of paying for their rents which leave them with less time to concentrate on their art. It becomes impossible for them to survive in high-rent areas such as Tokyo, especially for those who have come from rural areas. Without further changes, the anime industry might collapse as animators will be leaving their companies. The future of the industry itself might be in jeopardy.

    The Reality of an Animator’s Life


    To be an animator, you have to brace yourself for long hours of poverty as you start building your career. This is even worse if you start in Tokyo where the rental fee is high. However, it is still the best place for rookie animators to receive an invaluable career mentorship from seasoned industry veterans. This is also the place where most anime studios are located in the country.

    Starting a career in animation needs full financial preparation or a job in another field to sustain your needs. Getting in is not easy as you will be spending years of rejection after rejection from studios. Once you get accepted, the pay will depend on what your job is and what you do.

    For starters, the best position would be Freelance Key Animator as you can actually demand the price of your work. However, most studios are hesitant of hiring foreign people because of language barriers.

    Most animators are overworked in a 6-day work week and they have to work at least 10 hours a day. Though it may sound like a harsh condition, working in this draining yet creative field is still one of the best places to develop a person’s artistic skills in animating.

    The Housing Support Project


    As a response to the low wage problem faced by animators, a housing support project was started on a Japanese crowdfunding site called READYFOR to ease the young animators’ problems. Behind the project is a nonprofit organization (Animator Supporters) which has successfully been providing housing for animators since 2010.

    The dormitories provided are located in Suginami Ward (杉並区), which occupies the western part of the ward area in Tokyo. It also offers discounts for rental fees and utility bills. At a price of 30,000 yen per month, many animators seem to be attracted to it and are continuously extending their support. They’ve also been improving their facilities to better accommodate many animators.

    Currently, 6 animators are given the chance to be accommodated in a two-story dormitory with 6 rooms designed in traditional and western ways. It is also an opportunity for the residents to mingle with each other in the dormitory’s common areas. Furthermore, it is aiming to reduce the financial stress and burden faced by fresh animators who want to work in the capital city. Having less financial problems will give them more time to concentrate on mastering their skills.


    For those who would like to support the growth of this project in the future, rewards are waiting for them in the form of dinner parties with animators and original video data, as well as illustrated works. Rewards will totally depend on the future success of the animators. If the animators will become successful, better rewards will be given to the supporters.

    You can learn more about this project by visiting the Animator Dormitory READYFOR page (Japanese only). You can also visit them on Facebook and Twitter if you want to receive more updates.

    Japanese anime has long been an iconic symbol for export around the world, thus it is necessary for the country to keep that image. The Animator Supporters is hoping that this housing support project will help boost the next generation of great Japanese talent. Since an animator’s job is usually considered as freelancing, the project is a great way for them to feel secure while eating well and dreaming about their career growth in the future. Animators can work and study anytime they like according to their pace in the dormitory’s 24-hour anime study room. The project is just one of the ways to encourage young anime workers to stay in their companies in order to strengthen this creative field which is already facing a declining number.

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