Nikkei editorial predicts dark times for Japanese anime industry as China focuses on domestic animation – Interest


Editor’s Note (4/7): Content from the original Japanese source article was reposted on President Online on April 6, 2021 to promote the release of the author’s book Yasui Nippon: Kakaku ga Shimesu Teitai (Japan cheap: the cost of stagnation).

Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei published an op-ed on its online site on Tuesday discussing the effects of China’s recent pivot on its domestic animation industry. Although China was the country with the most contracts with the Japanese animation industry in 2016, the Nikkei article argued that China has been pulling out of the Japanese industry since 2018 due to tighter restrictions. government over anime streaming, among other factors. (In 2018, China had 121 contracts, which puts it in 6th place after the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, France and Canada.) And Chinese hosts.

While the Japanese industry continues to see little to no domestic growth in recent years, Chinese companies have increased their resources in Chinese animation. Historically, Japanese companies have outsourced some aspects of animation production to China, but the editorial points out that today Chinese companies are increasingly hiring Japanese companies to work on Chinese IPs. . In 2018, a company owned by the Chinese tech giant Tencent opened a studio called Japan color pencil animation, who works on animated works produced for Tencentstreaming services such as the hit series The avatar of the king.

Nikkei highlighted the higher salaries enjoyed by animators working for Chinese-owned animation companies. Unlike Japanese industry, which tends to rely on freelance work, Japan color pencil animation hires animators as employees, and even new employees earn a higher than industry average salary of 175,000 yen (about US $ 1,580) per month. Meanwhile, according to the most recent survey by the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA), only 14% of Japanese animators are permanent employees.

China’s pivot to domestic animation comes alongside a period of financial hardship for Japanese animation studios. According to rating agency Teikoku Databank, more than 30% of animation production studios in Japan were in the red in 2018. Bankruptcies and disbanded companies were also at a 10-year high. The management of an animation company said, “As the price of labor continues to fall, we are understaffed and cannot expand our business. It’s a vicious circle. If even one person withdraws, the company is unable to fulfill its end of contract, and many companies find themselves in the red. ”

The situation has made it more difficult to train young animators and the quality of animation is also declining. According to Japan color pencil animation CEO Bunjirō Eguchi, there are even cases where the company has outsourced to Japanese contractors, only for the main Chinese company to harshly reject the shoddy work produced by the Japanese side. “Bad service on the Japanese side could trigger industry stagnation,” he warned. “China has used its abundant capital to procure the resources for digital animation, and the quality of their animation is improving significantly. Japan had previously subcontracted to China, but now the situation is reversed.

According to the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), the total market value of the anime industry in 2018 is 2.1814 billion yen (approximately $ 20 billion). On the flip side, only 267.1 billion yen (about US $ 2.4 billion) of the proceeds – barely 12% of market value – went to animation companies. Nikkei observed that although about half of the anime industry’s income comes from overseas, more of the money goes to production committees that manage international rights than to production companies. animation. The production committee system prevents many studios from making a profit even if they produce a successful anime.

According to Teikoku Databank researcher Daisuke Iijima, Chinese companies are now trying to get Japanese animators to work in China in order to expand their domestic market. “They can easily offer three times the annual salary an animator would receive in Japan, so there will likely be more cases of Japanese talent overseas.” Nikkei cited a Chinese recruiting website, which had listings with a monthly salary of around 34,000 yuan (around US $ 4,800) and 30,000 yuan (around US $ 4,240) for host jobs based in Hangzhou and Beijing respectively.

Nikkei concluded the editorial with gloomy predictions for the Japanese industry and the anime’s fundraising production committee system. “The production committee system is effective in mitigating risk, but for Japanese industry to be competitive on a global scale, it is essential that it has a system that ensures efficient distribution of its profits.”

Source: Nikkei (Rei Nakafuji) via Otakomu

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