It is projected that the overwhelming majority of Japanese animation is produced overseas where labor costs are low... or lower that is, than the already ludicrously soft landscape currently available in Japan. A storyboard artist in the business may average a partially feasible monthly pay of JPY 280,000 (USD $2,726); while a keyframe animator is estimated at bringing in far less, at JPY 180,000 (USD $1,752) each month. The laboring grunt-workers, the in-betweeners, toiling away the majority of what fans of the medium see in the final product, may be fortunate to earn only JPY 50,000 (USD $486.78) per month, if new to the production studio.
According to reports, a single cel has the potential to earn an animator a meager JPY 200 (USD $1.94); which, as is the case with some projects, might be complicated and take the entire working day and then some to complete. It is also estimated that, per the union the Japanese Animators Creators Association, 20% to 30% of all animators receive an annual income of the range of JPY 1 million (USD $9,736) annually; which waters down to JPY 60,000 to JPY 100,000 (USD $548.14 to USD $973.57) monthly.
Accompanying these low pay rates, which are not salaried positions (as these are primarily for contracted workers) are picky advertisers, pickier television stations, as well as other animation production and post-production companies strongly seeking to establish a "fixed rate" for their subcontracted employees. Such rates would only augment select, existing laws that prohibit contractors from taking additional, part-time jobs to supplement their income. Also; animators and voice actors/ actresses [whom in mid-career may earn JPY 10,000 - JPY 15,000 (USD $97 - USD $146) per episode] do not receive royalties on profitable character licensing, compact disc, home video or other product sales.
"Sometimes I want to give up," an animator with roughly a year's experience, 26-years-old, employed at Oh Production, is quoted stating. "I never imagined it would be like this.''
Imagined or not, this is the reality many face in the Japanese animation business. Of the some 440 animation production companies in the country of Japan, sources report 70% are small, with only thirty or fewer workers. About 80% of the country's animation production offices are located in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area, where escalating property values even seem to conspire against struggling animators.
Yet, with the undermining of the standard of living of certain artists within the industry comes the observation that in order for preoccupied television stations, advertisers and merchandisers to bank on a property beyond what they can squeeze from domestic hands resultantly comes the tasking of in-between animation to external regions. Estimates of what percentage of animation production is outsourced ranges high, some of which are obscenely projected up to 90% even. (Nevertheless, animation production groups have acknowledged that more than half of their work, perhaps 60% for some, is in-between cel art inking and coloring.)