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Anime The Almighty Buck

Japanese Anime Industry In Danger Of Fragmentation 435

ChibiOne writes "The Asahi Shinbun has a story about the critical state that the Japanese animation industry currently faces, claiming: 'As merchandisers grow rich, the animation industry is losing jobs to cheaper labor abroad.' The article quotes Oh Production President Koichi Murata as saying: 'Unless something is done, Japanese anime will be ruined.' An animator, toiling away on cels in a tiny Tokyo studio, might be fortunate to pull in just 50,000 yen [about $500 USD] a month."
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Japanese Anime Industry In Danger Of Fragmentation

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  • by youknowmewell ( 754551 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:40AM (#9323452)
    Didn't know Indians could do anime, too...
    • Re:Anime outsourced? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cebu ( 161017 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:04AM (#9323562)
      Not India, but most certain South Korea. Quite a great deal of Japanese animation is done in Korea; though many North Americans would like to think that anime is strictly from Japan. High profile projects such as Macross Zero, Naruto, amongst many others have benefit from foreign collaborations.

      In fact, many of the smaller animation studios must look for partners internationally due to limited local resources, lack of funding, tight schedules, and a host of other issues.

      Even the high budget North American fare uses animation studios in Korea; as many already know, the Simpson's is animated in South Korea.
      • by LiberalApplication ( 570878 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @08:48AM (#9324892)
        Even the high budget North American fare uses animation studios in Korea; as many already know, the Simpson's is animated in South Korea.

        A lot of our favorite toon-shows were animated in Korea. If I'm correct, these included the original G.I. Joe series, Gem, He-Man, the Snorks, and pretty much most of what was aired on Saturdays in the 80's. When I was in elementary school, I recall having wondered why there were goofy names sporadically mentioned in the credits of such cartoons. Then I realized I was Korean and that my name was goofy too.

    • Actually, much of it is going to Korea I would guess (the southern half).

      This is not really anything unusual, the 'Simpsons' has been drawn in korea for quite a long time now.

      And anyone who thinks South Korean is some kind of 3rd world low-wage country wants to go and try and live there! Seoul is the most expensive citys in the world to visit according to at least one study.

      I guess they just do a good job for a resonable fee.

      International competition is just part of the reality now, and if someone else
      • Re:Anime outsourced? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jack Porter ( 310054 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @05:22AM (#9323818)
        Seoul is more technologically advanced than any US city, kind of like a more traditional Tokyo.

        It's not really that expensive - many daily things like eating out at restaurants, cell phone bills, internet (I get 50Mbps for $US30 a month), taxis, subway are cheap.

        Accomodation is expensive only because they have the "key money" deposit system where you give a landlord $50,000-$150,000 to live rent free for 2 years, after which time they give you all of that money back again (with no interest). There is a hybrid system with a reduced deposit amount ($15K->$80K) and a low monthly rent. But if you've got some cash you don't mind tying up for a while, it's very cheap.

        Korea is beginning to feel the outsourcing pinch from its neighbours, notibly China - where they're beginning to make things for cheaper than the Koreans can at comparable quality.
    • by iamacat ( 583406 )
      The "cheaper labor" would be Americans :-) Actually Chinese and Korean according to the article. Another example of how short-sighted greed can ruin culture/world-class skill set of a country. I am one of the job-based green card holders, so I guess I should feel a bit guilty to complain. But we were a) limited in number each year, b) had to be paid prevailing wages, so hiring an American wasn't out of the question and c) payed US taxes and consumed goods produced by other people here.

      The worst thing is t
      • by zero_offset ( 200586 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @05:06AM (#9323766) Homepage
        I hope Bush and his gang get voted out of the office, and replaced by people who objectively weigh advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing for american citizens

        Unfortunately, nobody who fits that description is running for office.
      • by Kamel Jockey ( 409856 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @05:08AM (#9323780) Homepage

        like rising unemployment because of outsourcing

        Um... you don't think that little dot-bomb bust we had 4 years might have been responsible for the jump in unemployment we had then? Besides, unemployment in the USA has been going down, not up [bls.gov] for the past few months now. And to put it in an even better perspective, it is at the same rate now that it was when Clinton ran for re-election in 1996, but of course no one complained about "high" unemployment back then.

        And if you think Kerry is going to do anything about outsourcing, then perhaps he should demonstrate some leadership on that issue by selling all of his stock in the Heinz company, which rakes in millions of dollars a year due to outsourced labor abroad. Or he should reject all contributions from the Hollywood Left, which has been outsourcing jobs to Canada for many years now.

        • Re:Anime outsourced? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Genom ( 3868 )
          Um... you don't think that little dot-bomb bust we had 4 years might have been responsible for the jump in unemployment we had then? Besides, unemployment in the USA has been going down, not up for the past few months now.

          Two things the unemployment numbers don't address - Folks who have had their unemployment benefits run out on them before being able to find work, and "underemployment" - folks who have taken low-wage jobs (food service, retail sales, etc...) in an attempt to make ends meet, while they
      • "Protectionism" is not an accurate word, it carries a negative connotation.

        "Welfare" is the accurate word, but it's dirty too; better to call it a "living wage", or a "'fair' dividend from the fruits of collectively-owned AUTOMATED production", or just a $25G stipend [marshallbrain.com].

        Offshoring is just the beginning of the increasing "screw everyone else" trend...

        --

      • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @05:38AM (#9323858)
        If you're sensitive about the whole outsourcing thing, you'd best not read this. I know it sounds like flaming, but anyway. read on if you want.

        Bush didn't suddenly start outsourcing. I hate the guy as much as the next level-headed person, but let's not blame him for this one. Outsourcing isn't a good thing. It's not a bad thing, either. It's economic ebb and flow. At the moment, the jobs are going away from the US. Before, they've been going to the US. Give it a few more years, and the jobs will be coming back.

        Complaining about this, as fashionable as it is, underlines the lack of objectivity when discussing this issue. How someone can defend themselves and their friends being paid vastly overblown salaries (and yes, US salaries are high, even when compared to cost of living) when people in these countries are just as able (which they are - India has schools too, yet Indian society places more emphasis on the importance of studies than American society - which favors athletic prowess), and more needing of the salary. It's being selfish.

        Want to get jobs back to the US? Lower the wages. For US IT professionals to demand comparatively high salaries almost demands their jobs are sent elsewhere, especially when we're dealing with one of the most "footloose" industries present. If you want to keep your job, make sure you're the only one who can do it. Get special knowledge. Make yourself irreplacable. If you just sit at your desk all day, hammering out code anyone could do, you are replacable. It's not just IT this principle works for. Almost every single labor market out there works this way. If the workforce demands a higher salary than an alternative workforce, guess what? The work goes somewhere else.

        Please folks, I can understand exactly where you're coming from on this one, but no-one moaned when this same phenomenon was working the other way round, and it's just plain immature (and selfish) to complain now.

        • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @07:52AM (#9324408)
          I hate the guy as much as the next level-headed person

          "Hate" is level-headed now?
        • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION ( 553878 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @08:04AM (#9324499)
          At the moment, the jobs are going away from the US. Before, they've been going to the US. Give it a few more years, and the jobs will be coming back.

          If by "before", you're talking about the 1960s or something, then yes, you would be correct, but America has been running trade deficits for an extremely long time--jobs have, for my entire lifetime, always flowed out of the United States. The countries they flow to change, the direction does not. There is no ebb, there is only flow.

          How someone can defend themselves and their friends being paid vastly overblown salaries (and yes, US salaries are high, even when compared to cost of living) when people in these countries are just as able (which they are - India has schools too, yet Indian society places more emphasis on the importance of studies than American society - which favors athletic prowess), and more needing of the salary. It's being selfish.

          I don't defend the level of my salary--I defend the fact that I have a job at all. After all, the problem isn't that wages are falling, the problem is that people are losing jobs. Being unemployed in America doesn't suck much less than being unemployed in India. Not being able to afford food or medical bills sucks wherever you are.

          I don't mind so much if U.S. wages fall if it means otherwise starving countries like India will actually have food. What makes me angry is that the profits of outsourcing aren't going to just Indians--they're going to the super-rich Americans at the top of the economic ladder--the people who no longer have to work for a living, if they ever did. The free-traders chant how selfish we Americans are and how we should sacrifice for poorer workers abroad--yet they say nothing about the people in America who benefit from outsourcing. In other words, the particular Americans who are richest and sacrificing the most, end up being the ones who sacrifice nothing!

          If we are going to have fiscal and monetary policies that force the worst-off Americans to sacrifice to help the rest of the world, then we need redistribute incomes in this country. Otherwise, your complaints about the selfishness of American workers are very deceitful.

          Want to get jobs back to the US? Lower the wages.

          Or subsidize health care and education like Europe and Canada. Or eliminate regressive Social Security taxes. Or make regular income taxes more progressive. Or have the government stop borrowing so much money from Asia. Basically, have the goverment stop doing everything it possibly can to make sure Americans don't have jobs.

          Get special knowledge. Make yourself irreplacable. If you just sit at your desk all day, hammering out code anyone could do, you are replacable. It's not just IT this principle works for.

          Who's just talking about IT? How do you expect 250 million people to find "special knowledge"? If you want to make sure there's no place in society for unskilled American labor, fine, just don't complain when unemployed factory workers start mugging you--it's the only job left them, now.

          Please folks, I can understand exactly where you're coming from on this one, but no-one moaned when this same phenomenon was working the other way round, and it's just plain immature (and selfish) to complain now.

          I wasn't alive to moan when the phenomenon was working the other direction. Were you? [globalpolicy.org] The only selfishness I see are those at the top of the American pyramid stealing the last few scraps of bread from those at the bottom.

      • I hope Bush and his gang get voted out of the office, and replaced by people who objectively weigh advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing for american citizens

        You mean like John Kerry, who voted for NAFTA?

    • Didn't you see Super Troopers? It is all about Afghanistanimation!
  • Does this require an obligatory slashdot kudos of:

    "Anime is dying!"
    "In Soviet Russia, anime fragments YOU!"

    Or something else?

    * Caimlas misses the old trolls (OOG)
  • by Antity-H ( 535635 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:45AM (#9323473) Homepage
    Considering the enormous quantity of anime which can be downloaded for free on the internet, sometimes including very high quality fanmade subtitles.Maybe the independant Japanese animator could try to find a business model similar to that of the RIAA ?

    Something like selling anime directly to the masses who can't wait to see the next episode, using the internet. Maybe he could make a small company with some of the fan translator.

    The interest here would be once more to shorten the chain between producer and consumer. For everything which can be stored and transmitted on electronic medias, the internet still seems to be the best solution.
    • by dekeji ( 784080 )
      Maybe the independant Japanese animator could try to find a business model similar to that of the RIAA?

      You mean, a business model like extortion, press releases, and whining to Congress?

      If, instead, you mean that artists should sell directly to consumers, that is a model that the RIAA dreads because they are the middlemen that are to be cut out.
    • I agree. I've always wondered how long it would be before a large anime studio partnered with a fansubbing group and sold an official release online via BT or something for a small price, maybe $3 or so. I realize sharing would be an issue, but I think the anime community would support DRM for something like that. For example, I could see it being very successful if the studio doing Naruto paired up with ANBU & Aone on something like this (although I'd be pissed cuz I love their free, excellent quali
    • Internet distribution could help the industry, but I suspect it won't help the animators. I suspect that Anime suffers from the same curse as does writing, music, photography, art and other creative endeavors -- too many people are willing to do it for free or at minimal pay. Outsourcing isn't too blame, although it contributes to the problem. If you look at the pitiful amounts that most newspapers, magazines, and book publishers pay, you will see that its is impossible to earn a decent wage in most crea
    • Here is the issue in a nutshell. The world is full of kids who love to draw anime and comics and such, and some are quite good. The world will always be full of such people, millions and millions of them. But the industry does not need ten million anime artists, or even one million anime artists, or even twenty thousand. So there will always be someone good who is willing to work for peanuts. It's just like music: ninety-nine percent of musicians never rise above the bar band level, even though many are hig
  • No surprise there. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OwP_Fabricated ( 717195 ) <fabricated&gmail,com> on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:45AM (#9323475) Homepage
    Anyone notice that a lot of the AMERICAN cartoons we like (Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, Clerks, and I believe Invader Zim) are all animated primarily by Korean animation farms? Also, I will take this opportunity to interject my worthless 2 cents about current anime: It sucks. I haven't seen a decent anime made after 1998.
    • Was Spirited Away [metacritic.com] too mainstream for you?

      Seriously, that's part of the problem. Animation is a very painstaking and laborious process and - popular though it is among some groups - Anime is a niche market outside Japan. Perhaps there is a need for films that reach out more to a mainstream demographic?
    • by FromageTheDog ( 775349 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:03AM (#9323558)
      This is because, quite frankly, you must be making valiant efforts to ignore recent releases.

      A short list of currently running (or recently concluded) anime series which are of excellent caliber:
      • Macross Zero
      • Yukikaze
      • Gilgamesh
      • One Piece
      • Full Metal Alchemist
      • PLANETES
      • Monster

      I could go on and on. But anyway -- what I'm more concerned about:

      I'm a big fan of anime licensing, as it allows me to obtain high-quality DVDs of said anime, but that sentiment is dependent on the assumption that these animators toiling away benefit from this indulgence on my part... It would be nice if the article had gone into some more detail, such as:

      How do the really successful studios do? I'm thinking of places like Production IG, Studio Ghibli, Bones, etc. Are my hard-earned dollars reaching these guys, or is it getting absorbed somewhere along the way by the equivalent of the RIAA? That's a rather disheartening thought... As it is, I'm not sure what to think of the article since it's written based on the perspective of a small outfit, and the world being as it is, small outfits tend to get stepped on regardless of the industry...

      - Fromage
      • How do the really successful studios do? I'm thinking of places like Production IG, Studio Ghibli, Bones, etc. Are my hard-earned dollars reaching these guys

        I don't know the specifics about these companies, but from what the parent article says, the issue is not the money reaching the studios, the problem is the money from the studios reaching the actual cel painters. Besides which, as far as I can remember, Ghibli doesn't use actual cels any more anyway, it's all done on computer. I may be wrong on th
      • I'm not trying to start a flamewar here, but my main issue with anime is the extremely low signal to noise ratio. Whoever is making most of the crap I see on Adult Swim doesn't deserve more than $500/month. There is SO much junk anime out there that it simply isn't worth my time to look for good stuff, and in fact it's not even worth my time to consider the genre worthwhile. I rely on friends to point me to the good stuff, and even that has mixed results. I think the industry needs some serious quality
        • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @07:27AM (#9324240) Homepage
          Exchange "anime" -> "books", "making" -> "writing", "Adult Swim" -> "Amazon" and you have a nice description of the fiction market. Do the same for music and it fits there as well. Ditto sculpture, photography and so on.

          Most of anything creative is bad, almost by definition. As a poster pointed out elsewhere, you have a situation with millions of people willing to do the craft, with an inverse exponential talent distribution - and subjective criteria for what constitutes a good instance, so you can not reliably actually separate the wheat from the chaff. You will end up with mostly crap no matter how you do it. Today you may have a thousand releases, 950 of which are no good (in your eyes, of course). If you allowed only twenty releases a year, you would end up with 19 lousy examples and one good one.

          Hollywood is no different. Most of it is bad. What is not bad for everyone is good for some people, but bad for others. Very, very few movies (Hollywood or other) are actually good for a large majority of recpients. You can even argue with some plausibility that Hollywood is streamlining its process to such a degree that they increase its hitrate for one audience segment (male, european/american, 15-30) at the cost of losing most other demographics altogether.

        • by DavidBrown ( 177261 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @07:36AM (#9324284) Journal
          I don't think that the overall quality of anime is particularly different from what it was five years ago. At that time, I was actually trading VHS tapes with a physician in Osaka. I mailed him the American dub of Sailor Moon and he sent me Evangelion (what a deal that was), and other programs taped off of Japanese TV.

          One of the tapes he mailed me was his annual opening title/end credits tape of virtually all anime that was broadcast new that year. After watching about twenty minutes of this, I came to the conclusion that Sturgeon's law (90% of everything is crap) applies to Anime. By the end of the tape, I was even singing my own theme song, "Another f*cking show about a bunch of f*cking kids, f*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck".

          And by the way, Edward rocks. She provided much-needed comic relief in Cowboy Beebop, until she was removed just prior to the last few episodes which were all chock full of angsty torture (and which were also very good).

        • by the_greywolf ( 311406 ) * on Thursday June 03, 2004 @08:08AM (#9324528) Homepage
          I'm not trying to start a flamewar here, but my main issue with anime is the extremely low signal to noise ratio. Whoever is making most of the crap I see on Adult Swim doesn't deserve more than $500/month. There is SO much junk anime out there that it simply isn't worth my time to look for good stuff, and in fact it's not even worth my time to consider the genre worthwhile.

          so don't watch CN. the stuff CN shows appeals to the majority of their audience. that's what people watch, so that's what they show.

          as another post mentions, Noir is a good adult show. some others from my collection:

          • Serial Experiments Lain - a very dark techno-drama. the ending is something most kids couldn't handle psychologically.
          • Noir - assassins seeking answers about their past. quite bloody and violent.
          • Neon Genesis Evangelion - also a violent series. they make a concerted effort to make it light-hearted about half-way through, but the end quickly becomes quite intense, and "End of Evangelion" could not get any ratign other than R. it's too bloody, too violent, and too psychologically intense.
          • Grave of the Fireflies - post-WWII story of orphans in Japan. no kiddie stuff here, either. from the get-go, you deal with the fire-bombings and a lot of death.
          • Ghost in the Shell - another intensely violent movie. an action thriller.
          • Millennium Actress - purely a psychological trip. too confusing for kids to enjoy, but light-hearted enough to get a PG.
          • Perfect Blue - from the same guy that did Millennium Actress, but it's more psychologically intense. some violence, and featuring a non-x-rated sex scene (she's an actress) and nudity (a photo shoot).
          • Mahoromatic - a great deal of nudity and only one quite perverted character. very fun and light-hearted, but the constant titties and Shikijou-sensei's constant and overly lewd comments make it inappropriate for children. it's not pr0n.
          • Gunslinger Girl - recently aired on Japanese TV. very violent series about cybernetically enhanced schoolgirls.
          • Voices of a Distant Star - short sci-fi movie dealing with distant relationships from a whole new perspective.

          there are Anime for every genre, and some that cover so many genres that they can't be called anything but unique. Ranma 1/2, for example (by the same lady that brought us Inu Yasha), is what i call an "action drama romantic comedy". there's a lot of nudity in it, but the pure wittiness of it brings no end to the fun. (what's not funny about a boy that turns into a girl when wet and has to deal with a dozen people that literally both love and hate him? it's a love polygon so complex it would give soap opera directors brain hemorrages.)

          there's the unusual movies (Metropolis), and the shows so odd they're fun (Those Who Hunt Elves). and there are non-pr0n shows that appeal to the perverts in us (Steel Angel Kurumi).

          look around and give something a chance. there are several Anime databases out there that have all the information you need to learn about shows. and there are a lot of Anime out there that you might enjoy. read summaries and find something that appeals to you. then rent it or download it and see it for yourself.

          please don't judge all Anime because of a dozen or so sour series.

    • The only surprise here is that there were any animators doing cel work in Japan at all. As in the case of American animation, one would think that all of the cel work would have gone to South Korea by now. Though I hate to see people lose work to offshoring, I don't think that this alone will destroy Japanese anime. I'm more concerned that the recent popularity of anime in the U.S. will result in Japanese anime made for Americans. Just as suburbanized ethnic food tends to lack flavor (ie, suck), Americanize
    • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:24AM (#9323635)
      I haven't seen a decent anime made after 1998.

      Then you haven't seen Lain, FLCL, Spirited Away, Cowboy Bebop, or any number of other series I could name.

      I always see this criticism that "anime sucks" now, that it was better in the good old days. Well, as with most things, there really was no "good old days" and you're probably just remembering anime as you first encountered it, when it was new and different to you. But anime itself is not very old (the 1950's, really, was the start of it), it generally wasn't really much better than the level of American Saturday morning cartoons until at least the mid 1980's (and even then the good stuff was mostly confined to guys like Miyazaki and Leiji Matsumoto), and it's actually diversified since then. Yes, there's a lot of crap, but there was *always* a lot of crap... there's also some good stuff too these days, in a variety of styles that didn't even exist a decade or so ago.

      It's true, though, that the money has run out on a lot of studios, and it shows in many cases. Series are shorter than they used to be - there are fewer long-running TV series now, and OVA's (straight-to-video releases) now usually run just a few episodes. But a series like FLCL demonstrates just how much you can do with a short series and not much money - it's a brilliant satire/parody of anime cliches, and one of the most energetic, fun, funny, and in the end seriously well-written series I've ever seen. As in, actually somewhat profound.

      I don't necessarily think financial hard times are always a bad thing in art and entertainment. The appetite for anime in Japan is insatiable - it's everywhere, and it's not dying anytime soon. If producers are forced to work on shoestring budgets with compacted storylines, maybe they'll focus a bit more on plot, character, and *interesting* animation rather than just overblown Hollywood-style productions. FLCL showed the way, we'll see if others can pick up where it left off.
      • Ah man, Cowboy Bebop is just the best thing ever... even though it cycles the whole series in just a month or so, it's still running almost every night on Adult Swim for how long now? There's a good reason for that kind of We Are Not Pulling This Off The Air mindset. I still choke up every time I see that scene at the end of Hard Luck Women where Ed & Ein take off on their own.
      • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Thursday June 03, 2004 @05:06AM (#9323768) Homepage Journal
        I haven't seen a decent anime made after 1998.

        Then you haven't seen Lain, FLCL, Spirited Away, Cowboy Bebop, or any number of other series I could name.

        Half of those were not made after 1998. Lain and Cowboy Bebop were 1998. FLCL was 2000, and Spirited Away (which I didn't particularly like) was 2001.

        I disagree that there are no decent anime being made (in any of a number of various genres from serious drama to silly comedy), but, just like any other medium (television, film, stage), the good stuff only comes along every once in awhile. Anime is not a genre; it's a medium. The medium has certain common styles whose popularity come and go (although not all works have those common styles), but then so do stage musicals.

        --
        Evan

  • hark (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ryan Broomfield ( 693349 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:47AM (#9323485) Homepage
    When business wins over talent, the business fails and the talent eventually pops up again. Just remember what happened with Atari and its developer relations. Games were mass produced, programmers paid poorly, and cheap products were rushed to launch. This isn't so much of a danger to the anime industry as the landfills. Fortunately, anime merchandise is easier to dump than 4 million ET carts.
    • When business wins over talent, the business fails and the talent eventually pops up again. Just remember what happened with Atari and its developer relations.

      And Disney, which is still in a creative black hole when it comes to animation.
  • Have a system similar to the old patronage system. Where artists (read: animator, recording artist, film director) set up websites where people can "donate" money to their next project. Once a predefined amount has been raised they go away an make the film/track/album/cartoon and put it up on the Internet for anyone to download. Those who don't have Internet access can buy a copied version from anyone willing to provide that service.

    Those wishing to break into the industry need to make a name and fan bas
    • by Daedius ( 740129 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:15AM (#9323605)
      An average person is greedy and couldn't care less about the aspirations of a random artist on the internet. People believe something is popular largely because corporations make them popular and get lots of money to pay their artists (outsourced or not). This is reality.
    • by iamacat ( 583406 )
      I released a program and setup an amazon honor system account for "tips" recently. As a result, I got at least 8000 downloads (counting only versiontracker) and about $50 in tips. Only two people payed $10 that I suggested.

      Granted, I wrote the program because I thought it was a good idea and said myself the tips are optional, so as for myself I am happy I got a nice dinner for two :-) But I doubt optional donations can provide the main income for people who are not already famous - and then they probably h
    • Patronage was a way that very rich individuals supported artists and received reflected social status in return. Often there were religious reasons at work also (pay for a church, receive salvation). Key to the system was that very rich *individuals* provided the financials and received the consequent glory. I don't think this would work so well with large groups making voluntary donations to a project.

      I'm not saying that donations from the many can't work (although they probably won't, unless they are for
  • Anime die? HAHAHAH never.

    As long as wonderful talents like Hayao Miyazaki exist, great anime will exist.

    No one does Anime like Japan (DUH)

    I simply do not see it being outsourced to indians.

    Look raise the prices of the stuff. Export it to other countries... bring more money in... and dont censor it :)

  • by Max Threshold ( 540114 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:00AM (#9323543)
    Where the hell can you live in Japan on 50K yen a month? When I lived in Okinawa, I think the cheapest rent on the island was about three times that.
    • It seems more like a hypothesis on what they could only get in the future, if things continue that way.

      though, if you would make more working at mcdonalds whats the fucking point of being a cel paint slave for that price? especially when besides outsourcing computers are drastically making the job less labor taking???????

    • The cheapest rent was $1,500?!

      And here I was thinking that Tokyo was expensive.

      As for where they can live, the cheapest rent I could find on chintai.co.jp in Tokyo itself was 13,000 yen (about $120). So it is possible.
  • Some Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by dncsky1530 ( 711564 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:00AM (#9323546) Homepage
    50,000.00 JPY = 451.859 USD, about 5422.30 USD per year
    per capita GDP is $28,700 (2002 est.)
    factbook on japan [cia.gov]
    Matsumoto said one U.S. toy manufacturer offered his company about $10 million (about 1.1 billion yen) for the rights to market merchandise featuring the characters of an animated cartoon his company hadn't even completed. The figure was particularly eye-popping for Matsumoto because it was 100 times what animated films earn on average from broadcasting rights in Japan. - One has to wonder why their aren't any regulations regarding corperate responsibility and minimun wage laws on this matter.
    • Because the Japanese government isn't overbearing and doesn't feel it needs to control every aspect of daily life? I don't know that this is not the case, it just seems like it is to me. Its more like a capitalist environment in this case. If japanese animators can't afford to live, they won't be animators anymore. If the quality goes down the fans will reject new anime and the anime companies will be forced to pay japanese animators more money to use their talent. If they can have Korean animators do
      • If they can have Korean animators do it for less and the fans still like it, why should a government step in and tell them they have to pay more just to have it done at home?

        Because one of the responsibilities of government is to manage the national economy. When you have massive unemployment due to outsourcing to other countries, your economy suffers.

        A responsible government would offer incentives to keep manufacturing jobs in the country without actually passing laws to force it.
  • Animation field (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dammitallgoodnamesgo ( 631946 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:01AM (#9323551)
    It's worth pointing out that the people interviewed in the article who are complaining about the death of anime, are employed by production houses who work on the very family-friendly anime - and with specific reference to "Chibi Maruko-chan" there was a well-known legal case from the voice-actors last year, as they weren't being paid residuals. I suspect that the situation is rather different for companies which make otaku-friendly anime - and I [i]KNOW[/i] it's different for companies who work with NHK. Actually, it's the otaku-friendly anime, and bishoujo anime specifically, which is powering Japan's anime boom.
  • Saw on Japanese TV (Score:4, Informative)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:04AM (#9323563)
    I saw a program about this on Japanese TV not so long ago.

    The main problems with outsourcing animation is that the Koreans and Filipinos doing the animations are going to get better in these industries and create more competition for the Japanese animators themselves later on.

    Even though this is the case, from what I've seen from Japanese schoolchildren with no formal art training in comic animation, there's no danger of Japan running out of creative talent.
  • not new... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:17AM (#9323611)
    This is not all that new. Japanese animation work (esp. inbetweening, cel painting) has always been outsourced to Korean and Chinese studios. Some of the threat has come from the fact that there are a shortage of _good_ animators and keyframers in Japan, and there is more demand for new Japanese animation right now that what Japan has the ability to output.

    Also, Japanese animators have always been underpaid. Osamu Tezuka (the "father of manga") started his influencial animation studio within the ideal of producing cheap limited animation via underpaid animators. And it worked, and the industry was born.

    Additional ranting:
    Right now there are 130 (!!) new TV episodes airing in Japan every month. There are just not enough employees to produce that much animation w/o outsourcing some of the labor. But 90% of it is crap anyway (naruto, inuyasha, etc.etc). Who cares if that gets outsourced more and more. We'll still have quality animated works from studios such as Production-IG (Innocence) and Madhouse (Satoshi Kon movies) so what's the worry if those fast-made 100+ episode franchise series gets outsourced? Were they worth that much to begin with?
  • too bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There is very little awesome anime compared to the junk. Perhaps now there will be more of a focus on getting good scripts and stories before letting some clone "demon warrior princess vs mechanical mega modrons of combined force" run.

    We want more ghost in the shell and akira quality film and we want more ghost in the shell SAC quality TV series. For this I am willing to pay more money than I would for hollywood movies, so I am sure they will be able to support themselves finacially.

    For the rest of the "a
  • I don't get Anime (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 )
    Can someone please explain what it is about Anime that makes people go ga-ga?

    I just don't get it -- what am I missing?

    It just looks like a caricatured cartoon to me.

    Help!
    • by Daedius ( 740129 )
      In a word - escapism. Why do people read fiction books? Why do people like paintings? To feel a part of a world that is perfect and actually has meaning. Few people have that opportunity in reality.
    • by zonix ( 592337 )

      I just don't get it -- what am I missing?

      Well, for one thing, that which gets censored outside of Japan.

      Meaning besides the beautiful artwork, the openmindedness the Japanese culture permits the artists to express. You won't see that much anywhere else than in Anime.

      z
  • by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:35AM (#9323675) Homepage

    Those d@mn over paid arogant japanese, with their big SUVs! Serves them right!

    Oh wait...

    (can you taste the sarcasm?)

  • All of the money goes to the suits and none of the hardworking artists.

    Thats the problem. Its that simple. Pay the artists what they are worth, and stop ripping them off.

    This problem has been happening forever here in America. It happens in teh game industry too. The voice talent get all of the money, the profits go to all of the suits, and the real talent behind the picture get pennies. The director is generally well paid but they dont make Mike Myres money folks.

    So much for that trickle down economic
  • by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @05:26AM (#9323830) Homepage
    If you are a genius, and by that I mean an actual creator of fine art, you will always be in demand. Simply put anyone can rip off one idea, but if people want more, they'll come crawling back.

    This article sounds more like the whining of an executive not getting his cut than the plight of the animator itself. I'm not saying that animators aren't being treated unfairly. I'm saying that the president of any company generally cares more about what's in his wallet than some paeon animator's.

    Anyone following baseball should know the senario. If George Steinbrenner wants the city of New York to give anything to the Yankees he says, "Oh, if I don't get it, the cost of business will increase SO much that I'll have to move the team to New Jersey." Then he goes back to sleep on his bed of mint $10,000 bills.

    Let's take a look at a key sentence in this article.

    "Yet an animator, toiling away on cels in a tiny Tokyo studio, might be fortunate to pull in just 50,000 yen a month."

    The important word here is "might." This implies that the author does not know what an animator makes. Without any sources for that figure other than a nameless 26 year-old animator, you have to conclude that the statement is at best suspect, at worst a lie.

    From what I have read and heard about Japan, they face the same problem we have here. The cost of living is higher in Japan than in nearby countries. However, has cheap Mexican labor ruined CARS? No. Even the Fords made in the good old US of A will flip over and explode.

    If Japanese production companies are so important to Anime, they can demand more money. Anime is far too lucrative to die out. What is more likely, however, is that these are Anime stripmines, churning out series like Harlequin churns out romance novels, or that these are just a bunch of guys who have a knack for tracing.

    Like I said, maybe I'm wrong about the "Oh Productions" that the article speaks of, but you can't have it both ways. If you are the genius behind the anime, than you will be able to command the money. If you are just some guys who copy and color, then you are probably a dime a dozen in Japan and a dime for 2 dozen in Korea.

    Either way, Anime itself is not ruined. At least, not by ink and paint jobs leaving Japan.

    SW
  • by cherokee158 ( 701472 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @06:17AM (#9323974)
    Before you know it, their cartoon characters will start having lips and noses...oh, the horror.
  • by Cornelius Chesterfie ( 604463 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @06:20AM (#9323980)
    Is budget cuts the reason why we have 30-second-long scenes where the only thing moving on the screen is the lips of the character?

    Or the reason why Rurouni Kenshin spends 5 episodes doing "powering up discussions" and then another 5 episodes jumping towards his enemy while exciting music plays in the background, and in the end you don't even see him slashing the ****ing opponent, because conveniently, "KENSHIN IS 2 FAST A SWORDSMAN 4 U 2 C!"

    WTF!?
  • Hand painted cels? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @06:43AM (#9324079) Homepage Journal
    ... the wallets of the animators who piece the cartoons together are as thin as the cels they painstakingly paint.
    I was surprised to hear anime makers still do this. Disney started scanning inked sketches, then coloring them on computers, maybe a decade ago. The only hand colored cels Disney makes these days are those specifically for sale to collectors and tourists.

    This move has a clear downside: it eliminates a whole class of entry-level jobs available to those who want to enter the industry.

    Any thoughts on the disadvantages (or advantages) in terms of quality?
  • Good deal (Score:3, Funny)

    by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @06:46AM (#9324087) Homepage Journal
    An animator, toiling away on cels in a tiny Tokyo studio, might be fortunate to pull in just 50,000 yen [about $500 USD] a month.

    Seems like a good deal to me. With Anime, that's $250 per cel!
  • The article is saying artists' pay is decreasing at exactly the same time the films are making more money from merchandising.
  • This is a good. Let the grunt work go, then maybe keep some of the story design and character development.

    Beats the alternative of completely offshore anime.

    Face it, if the same basic product costs 1/10th if it is produced in a cheap country, people will likley buy that version. Many goods can't cover a cost difference of this magnitude. My only hope is that the market will adjust and this spread is something that we (expensive countries) can compete with.
  • Cels? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday June 03, 2004 @07:48AM (#9324380) Homepage Journal
    Isn't it strange that the article spends a lot of time bemoaning the plight of the cel painter? Cel's are obsolete in modern anime, only a few companies (extremely cheap ones and Studio Ghibli) still use them. Almost all companies do their coloring on computer these days. It's possible they just kept the old terms for whatever reason, but somehow I wonder if this article isn't similar to one bemoaning the number of buggy whip manufactuerers going "overseas".
  • ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zareste ( 761710 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @08:18AM (#9324616) Homepage
    Japanese anime will be ruined.

    Good God. I've heard some stupid claims before, but this one's just the icing on the cake. I don't even want to acknowledge that I just read an article quoting some complete moron bitching about how anime will lose its hideous industrial manufactured look because other more intelligent companies have realized "wait, you mean there are artists outside of Japan that are at least as good?"

    It's a clear ploy, if I ever saw one, to pretend this guy's little company has some sort of place as a pioneer. But here's the painful reality dude: If you stick with the sucky artists you have right now and pretend nobody exists outside your general area, you were doomed from the start, and posing as the holder of a meaningless 20-year tradition of Japanese animation (which was begun by artists using American techniques) is not, by a long-shot, going to save your dead-end company. I bid you a good pre-riddance.

  • by Tsu-na-mi ( 88576 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @09:39AM (#9325432) Homepage
    The anime industry in Japan has mostly moved away from cels to to computer-based animation. Only a few legacy shows, like Chibi Maruko-chan or Sazae-san (which has been running since the 60s, I think) still use cels. Most new shows are of the digital ink-and-paint variety and many also feature a lot of 3D CGI assist. 5 years ago this was not so true, but practically every show made in the last 2 years is almost entirely digital.

    This has stemmed the flood of outsourcing to a small leak. Almost any show you watch has a batch of Korean names in the end credits, but it's still mostly japanese. And all the top jobs are still held by japanese animators.

    I know someone who was a former animator, ran a small studio in the late 90s, and was later a consultant for a DIP software company (Animo). One thing he said sparked the changeover was this: In order to make sure that work farmed out to studio XYZ in Korea matched the next scene farmed out to studio ABC in Thailand, the industry created a standard set of colors for cel paint. Being a relatively small industry, this led to one company making all the cel paint for everyone. A small, old, established company that had been doing it forever. And an old man who had been doing the job of master pigment mixer forever, having things his way, etc. Well, one day he, the only guy who really knew how to mix all the colors, had a heart attack and the industry realized their livlihood rested on the health of some crotchety old man at the paint company. Most studios switched over to digital within a year. ^_^
  • by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 ) <ra5pu7in.gmail@com> on Thursday June 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#9326863) Journal
    I'd have to say that Japanese anime has been on a downward track for quite a while. A few dedicated artists are maintaining the high road, but much of what gets played on TVTokyo is slapped together art with so-so dialogue and a few formulas (robots, girls in school uniforms, that kind of thing). The demand, both in Japan, in the US, and throughout the world, for anime has created a market that will buy drivel -- making it much harder to find the real quality pieces.

    BTW, that artist making 50,000 yen is like the artists at Disney - he is typically not the one who originated the characters, setting, or story. He simply draws and fills in based on original art. These are the slightly better than minimum wage drudges. The scripter and original artist do make better money.
  • Not suprising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordZardoz ( 155141 ) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @12:20PM (#9327397)
    Its like any other media endeavour. The talent that is actually most directly responsible for creating the product gets a very small chunk of the pie.

    For animation, the publishers get the money.
    For videogames, the publishers get the money.
    For books, the publishers get the money.
    For music, the publishers get the money most of the time.

    The only exception is for movies and for music, where the stars get a big chunk of money. But that is because a singer is always directly associated with the song, and can choose not to sing so no one gets any money.

    TV and Movies (moreso for TV though), a particular actor usually comes to be known for the character and can destroy the endeavour by not co-operating.

    And the same happens with authors, though they need to hit it big before they can get a reasonable deal.

    Animation and videogames are more collaborative though, and one person is not able to just pull the plug on the deal as above.

    You will not get paid adequately for your services if your reasonably replaceible, or of the publisher can do the deal without you.

    END COMMUNICATION

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