The anime industry is booming today thanks to its large number of titles and streaming services, but it remains unhealthy on its own. The data is often inconsistent, but it's not uncommon when we see news that anime artists have low wages, and studios have a constant staff shortage and creepy crunches. On average, artists work 230 hours a month, says Polygon.
The latest anime by Masaaki Yuasa and Science Saru, Hands Off The Cinema Club, shows not only the joy of creating animation, but also the professional struggle from the animators' point of view. The series follows a group of high school girls making their own anime: the enthusiastic and idealistic Asakusa, the wealthy young model and aspiring animator Mizusaki, and the sarcastic Kanamori.
In the third episode of Let's Achieve Something! the girls have to prepare an animated short to prove the value of their newly established studio to the student council in a very tight timeframe. Mizusaki is protesting and wants to take the time to do something good, but the sad reality is that the anime industry is saddled with high stakes and a lot of limited time.
Working 55 days, they have to cut the animation timing from five to three minutes, since the latter would require 3,600 drawings and many sleepless nights over two months. This episode and its sequel, Hold That Machete Tight, recreate the high-pressure environment that has become the norm for professional anime artists and animators, right down to the morbid joke when Kanamori finds Asakusa sleeping under the table.
Even with a well-balanced workload, we can still see the physical effort required to complete a three-minute animation. At one point, Yuasa emphasizes Mizusaki's ink-stained hands, covered in cuts, calluses and plasters. This is the price to pay for what anime demands - for its big ambition and the amount of artwork that artists create for as little as 200 yen [$ 2] per drawing.
The low wages in the anime industry go back to the time when Osamu Tezuka, the "godfather of anime," began to thrive in a nascent environment. The production costs for his Astro Boy series were small, but he also created a precedent that had never been done before. Cheap anime production is the norm nowadays, which means that despite the amount of time and effort it takes to create these shows, their creators often have to rely on outside help. That is, outsource work or hire freelancers.
Despite the fact that they spent the second half of the episode trying to find a balance between quality and efficiency, they are still behind schedule. Less than five seconds of footage takes a group 20 days. As the lead times get shorter, the price reductions become more significant and the tension between creativity and efficiency increases.
Ultimately, Asakusa puts idealism aside and works on masking animation frame reuse, lack of detail and static or repetitive backgrounds, and creating lines to simulate movement - strategies not usually employed by Yuasai himself, but so often used by his colleagues. by industry. In other words, these are some kind of tricks that animators have been doing for years so that they can finish the job without burning out.
This anime suggests that this is part of a structural problem, highlighting the artists' dissatisfaction with the need to deliberately do inferior work because time is absolutely not on the animator's side. Towards the end of Episode 4, when the work is finally nearly finished, the usually idealistic Asakusa makes the rather devastating observation that her film is "more the result of a passion that collapsed about cheapening and racing against time." For a show that mostly consists of humor, optimism, and the heroines are flying in the clouds, this is an amazingly grounded moment that brings everything back to earth.
But this would not be a project from Yuasa if its nature were completely dark and cynical on a par with reality. The episode ends with a triumphant presentation of their short, where the audience comes to understand the value of their work.
Of course, this is just another step, as the girls immediately take it apart, discussing shortcomings and potential improvements. In the very last episode, they are still struggling with the logistics side of animation by outsourcing the work. Mizusaki speaks directly about the difficulty of creating at least one drawing and notes that, despite the additional time for their new project, she will have to work at home and on the road.
In an interview, Eunyoung Choi, the show's producer and co-founder of Science Saru, said the following about the project: “everyone on our team shared ideas based on their experiences,” and that with leaders like Yuasa, the team “can express how they feel ".
While it is difficult to gauge the actual working conditions of the show itself, it seems that the first six episodes gave some food for the mind to young artists looking to work as an anime director or animator.
"Hands off the cinema club!" although it raises many of the problems of modern animation, it says nothing about how you can change the situation. But at the very least, it shows the reason why someone would fight against time in such terrible working conditions: the joy that other people experience, fascinated by the art you have created, is inimitable. And the show reflects those ideas, intended as a message for high school students who have a passion for the craft. While anime values art, it also asks us to appreciate the blood, sweat, and sleepless nights of those who gifted the art to us.
The Topic of Article: Like ”Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!” tells the story of the difficult days of anime artists.