Anime is more popular today than it has ever been, but its global rise has come with some serious pitfalls. From unfair wages to insane over time, the artists who bring our favorite series to life have some complaints to share. The anime industry is gaining a reputation for its unfair work conditions, and a recent interview with an artist on Star Wars Visions is only compounding the issue.
The conversation comes from Anime News Network as the site spoke with Joan Chung about her experience in the industry. It was there the former Titmouse animator discussed her work with Science SARU, and they said the industry as a whole has a major problem to address.
"Prior to COVID, the studio culture was vibrant and communicative," Chung said about her time as Science SARU. "Though I couldn't speak Japanese, I felt immediately welcomed into the company."
However, this kind of levity did not last. Chung said despite having a wonderful connection with her fellow animators, crunch became inevitable. This came to light as the artist did work on Star Wars Visions as well as Keep Your Hands Off, Eizouken.
"I have some horror stories from this studio, which are thankfully fewer than some of SARU's competitors. But – and this is a big one for me – a studio should not have its twenty-something girls crying in the bathroom, doing all-nighters. Neither should it have a production schedule that is so tight that it is unable to accommodate the mental health of the aforementioned production manager. I had to speak on her behalf to her supervisor and the CEO – and though they responded compassionately, practically there could not be much change. A culture with this much production pressure necessitated the long hours," Chung stressed.
"This year, Science SARU took on INU-OH, two single-season productions, as well as Star Wars: Visions – I do not believe this was a manageable number of productions. Its core employees range 40-50 in number, and though they liaise with many freelancers, the burden on the core team was heavier than it should have been."
Chung has since parted ways with Science SARU on good terms, but plenty of other animators aren't so lucky. Production houses like this and Kyoto Animation are often lauded for their focus on work conditions compared to others. Reports have surfaced from disgruntled employees at MAPPA and Toei Animation critiquing the companies for their impossible schedules and crunch culture. But as anime continues to rise, well - the industry can only take so much stress before it collapses. The combined stress of an industry's incompetence can bring the whole house down, so fans are eager to see how the market can make a change for the better moving forward.
What do you think of this candid discussion? Are you surprised by the anime industry's issues with fair wages? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB.