It’s no secret that the anime industry has its fair share of problems.
Artists have been speaking out against their sometimes below minimum wage salary and long work hours, various producers have been attacking the production committee model saying it doesn’t equally share profits with creators, and agencies have been stepping up their fight against piracy to gain more revenue.
But the anime revenues are higher than ever.
The industry has never been more profitable (as the chart below illustrates) but fans still hear inflammatory comments like “Sooner or later, a slave revolt will come” from leaders like Toshio Okada, the Ex-President of GAINAX, who warns the current anime business model isn’t sustainable.
Interviews with studio heads and animators hint that the growing industry is facing issues that are starting to have a real effect on currently airing anime, like the animator shortage crisis.
It's now nearly impossible to produce 26ep high-quality shows.Studios are already doing their best within the schedule they get from clients
— ThomasRomain ロマン・トマ (@Thomasintokyo) March 31, 2017
So how can these issues be fixed?
Both fans and industry insiders have shared ideas on how to save anime from a restructuring. They tend to be some variation on:
Cut down the number of yearly productions to lower competition for anime series.
Create a singular anime streaming platform similar to Steam to provide easy access and lower piracy.
Support fan crowdfunding or alternative financing models for films, series, and manga.
Embrace more Chinese co-production deals that have in the past paid three billion yen in comparison to the 100 million yen budget of an average anime series.
Efforts to fully embrace any of these proposed solutions have been slow due to the nature of production committees. Having multiple companies invest in a project doesn’t lend itself to fast decision making or big risk taking to improve the industry. Studios other than Kyoto Animation and Sunrise, are essentially third-party contractors that are paid to animate a work and take on projects that production committees hire them to create.
Until big changes happen in the industry and studies are done, we won’t know the real impact these potential solutions could have on the industry.
What actions do you think the anime industry should take if they want to evolve in this new age of streaming, globalization, and piracy?
How do you think anime will be produced five to ten years from now?
What can fans do today to help support the industry in an impactful way?