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A few weeks ago, I visited the bukatsu “club” scene at the public middle school that my son is attending. We checked out the art club because my son who has won awards at art exhibitions and often has its works exhibited on a regular basis wanted lessons on oils and other mediums to further his skills. But when we arrived at the club in session, we saw an all-girls’ class with each of them working on manga illustrations. Even though the art teacher was a truly experienced art teacher and professional, she told us that the club would not be doing anything BUT manga illustrations … apparently, that’s all students are interested in these days.

However, if we have a kid inclined in that way, maybe we should acquaint our kids with the hard facts or figures regarding career prospects. Today’s edition of the Daily Yomiuri, “SOFT POWER HARD TRUTHS/Anime ills” reports that:

“Anime employees in their 20s earn an average annual salary of 1.1 million yen, and those in their 30s earn an average annual salary of 2.14 million yen. Worse, veteran artists in their 40s and 50s survive on roughly 3 million yen per year. And most of them live and work in Tokyo–one of the most expensive cities in the world…Nearly 50 percent of the respondents are working on spec (without contracts), and nearly 40 percent have no healthcare coverage whatsoever.” Those are the figures given by Anime News Network, the largest English-language anime news Web site from its survey received responses from at least 700 anime producers and directors.

1 million yen is likely less than what an average sarari / salaried man earns on his bonus in the course of a year’s earnings. Those salary figures are pretty shocking and smack of a poverty line really.  I have a friend who graduated from an art university but mostly freelances for book cover illustrations and such. As we visited the Ghibili Museum together, she explained to me that a talent for drawing is not enough to work in the manga/anime industry. You need to not only be really really gifted at drawing, but you must really like to be constantly drawing at a hectic pace. My sister-in-law worked for over ten years in Tokyo as a design artist, she spent years designing company products and souvenirs, but in all those years, she could not afford the rent in her tiny one-room apartment in Shibuya.

The article also tells us that “that anime and manga are no longer selling as hard commercial products to Japan’s next generation. They may be downloaded for free…so there’s no profit in that” … and that “[t]he industry is focusing its efforts on the dwindling and ever more effete demographic of fortysomething (or arafo, “around forty”) otaku–mostly single males who are seeking a kind of sexual-romantic therapy via so-called moe, or soft-core porn, titles…By producing erotic anime, the industry is abandoning titles for children and sophisticated adult consumers.”

On the other hand, there is one field related to the industry that is currently potentially lucrative – that of the skill of creating digital content. Digital Hollywood University is a place that turns out “professionals who can create “digital content” or transform it into many different forms.” According to the university’s website, “Manga” and “anime,” are highly profitable digital content that Japan has long brought forth and that “Manga” and “anime” are now in the process of being digitalized, gradually spreading to overseas countries” and the school at the same time focuses on English skills, because it is the international lingua franca of “digital content”. The website explains that until recently “different industries dealing with broadcasting, newspapers, publishing, music, movies, or video games have developed independently. However, because of the rapid increase in the use of computers and the Internet in the past few years, all these industries are now integrating into a single industry, under the name of “digital content.” The total sales in the digital content industry now is estimated to be tens of trillions of yen. It is believed that the digital industry will grow to be one of the biggest industries in Japan.”

Prospective anime/manga students should be encouraged to visit the annual Tokyo International Anime Fair and Digital Content Expo to feel the buzz on the industry. And do lots of research on the field first, one place to start is Digital Animation School.

Hardcore kids deadset on manga/anime careers are advised to truly evaluate their abilities/talent … lest they end up drawing anime/manga erotica … in a few years’ time!

Read the entire article here (link will expire in a couple of weeks’ time).


Anime schools:

The Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music:
See article Tokyo Art University Establishes Anime Art School

The Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music has established a Masters degree graduate school intended to instruct would-be anime filmmakers and movie directors. While Tokyo University and Keio University have included anime as a part of the curriculum, this is the first time it a Japanese university has gone so far as to establish a graduate school with such a major emphasis on anime creation.

The establishment of the school is being hailed as academic recognition of the global popularity of Japanese anime. The new graduate program will feature major fields of study including movies, animation, and media video. Based in Yokohama, the 70-student program is set to begin during the 2005 academic year.

In related news, Tokyo University has announced plans to establish a program intended to raise students able to compete in the global animation and videogame industries. Anime directors Mamoru Oshii and Katsuhiro Otomo, Studio Ghibli Producer Toshio Suzuki, and manga artist Takehiko Inoue have reportedly all been invited to participate as instructors.

Until now, individuals hoping to learn about animation had little choice but to attend minor vocational schools. The rush by Tokyo’s prestigious universities to incorporate animation-related curricula is being seen by many as strong evidence of anime’s rising position in Japanese culture.


Yoyogi Animation School
(Yoyogi Animeshon Gakuin)
1-20-3-CS-4 Yoyogi
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Fax: 0120-210-595
Courses Years
Animation 2
CG Animation/ Games 2
Voice Acting 1
Digital Animation Artist (Digital Ink & Paint) 1
Manga/Comics 1
Animation Production Management 1
Background Artist 1
Animation AV Operator 2
Animation Camera 2
Illustration 2
Junior Novels 1
Music Artist 2
Music Business 2
Multimedia Creator 1


Tokyo Designer School
(Toukyou Dezaina Gakuin)
2-11 Suragadai
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101
Courses Years
Animation 2
Game Creator 2
Character Design 1
Computer Graphics 1
Manga/Comics 1
Illustration 2

Toho Gakuen Professional Training College of Film
Courses: Movie・Music Video・Animation・Novel・Comics

1-18-25 Takadanobaba, Sinjuku-ku, Tokyo,169-0075

College of International Design
(Kokusai Dezainkarejji)
2-22 Asahi-cho
Kouchi-shi, 780

Courses Years
Graphic Design 2
Interior Design 2
Architecture 1
Manga/Comics 1

Amusement Media School
(Amyu-zumentomedia Soukou Gakuin)
2-29-8 Higashi
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0011
Fax: 03-3406-5070

Courses Years
Voice Acting 2
Game Creator 2
CG Animation Creator 1
Multimedia Creator 2
Manga/Comics 1
Computer Game Creator 2
Novels 2
Comics 2
Animator 2

They also have night courses for other areas of interest.



Toei Animation Institute
(Toei Animeshyon Kenkyuujyou)
Surugadai Bldg.
1-2-5 Surugadai Kanda
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101
03-5281-2730 (Japanese)
Toei has just built their own school.

Courses Years
Digital Animation Artist (Digital Ink & Paint)
Background Artist

Tokyo Animation School
(Toukyou Animeta Gakuin)
3-4-9 Mizakicho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0061
Fax: 03-3234-2469

CG Games
Voice Acting
Animation Character Designer
Background Artist
Airbrush Illustration
Junior Novels

Japan Manga Institute
(Nihon Manga Gakuin)
1-3-98 Nishinakanobe
Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142
Fax: 03-3785-0298


Career School Fare
(Kyariasuku-ru Fa-re)
Part of Tokyo Designer School
4-16 Sakurahamachou
Shibuy-ku, Tokyo 150

Various Manga/Comics

Kodansha Culture Center
(Kodansha Karucha Senta-)
1-15-12 Toranomon
Minato-ku, Tokyo 105
Fax: 03-3501-3674

Comic Illustartion
Illustration 24

Multimedia Art School
(a-to gakuen)
3-8-7 Nishi Azabu
Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0031

Courses Years
Special Animator 1
Animation Content (?) 1
Technical Art 1
Story Comics 1
Digital Comics 1

Tokyo Game Designer Institute
(Toukyou ge-mudezaina-gakuin)
1-47-3 Yoyogi
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053

Animation Creative
Digital Animation
CG Animation & Game Character Design
CG Animation & Games
Voice Acting Talent
Game Creator

Here are links suggesting other animation schools:

Animation/cartoon related colleges and university listing (pdf)


Best Animation Schools – including After Effects, Premiere, Flipbook, Flash and Dreamweaver; Autodesk Maya; Anime Studio; Apple Shake; and Pixar RenderMan. School of Film and Digital Media resources also include a Vicon motion capture system.

Computer Animation School Review – online resource for finding the right animation school, program or degree. You can find training courses in graphic design, drafting, digital media, television or film editing.

Animation Schools in Japan

Anime Gakuin (Japanese only)

Digital Hollywood University

Students who are interested in anime/manga careers should also visit the annual Tokyo International Anime Fair and Digital Content Expo.

You might also like to view this more general listing of universities and colleges focusing on arts & culture:

— By Aileen Kawagoe

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