Netflix, Mappa Netflix, Mappa

Animators were paid bottom rate on a recent Japanese production for Netflix, according to Ippei Ichii. The animator and storyboard artist took to Twitter to condemn the streaming giant, claiming that artists working on a Netflix show at Tokyo studio Mappa were paid as little as 3,800 (USD$34) per cut.

In an initial tweet, Ichii wrote in Japanese:

Apparently a producer working on a Mappa production for Netflix has suggested that the unit price be 3,800 yen per cut. Tv series are budgeted to 3,800–7,000 yen, and if animators accept this, their unit price goes down on the whole. Note: if you’re asked, I think it’s best to negotiate for at least 15,000 yen.

[Note: in the anime industry it is common for animators to be paid by the cut, i.e. shot.]

In a follow-up tweet, he added:

To avoid any misunderstanding, I have to say: as I see it, the problem is that Netflix, with all the resources it has, is starting to commission at low rates. The rates may be even lower than for tv series.

Netflix has released a number of Mappa shows, including Kakegurui and Dorohedoro. In April, the streamer debuted Yasuke, a series created by LeSean Thomas and produced for Netflix by Mappa. Last year, Netflix struck a production partnership with the studio.

In the past half-decade, global streamers have turbocharged their spending on producing and licensing anime, Netflix chief among them. The industry has grown to a record size as a result. Many have expressed hope that this new influx of revenue from abroad will improve conditions for Japan’s notoriously underpaid animators. However, those artists have been warning for some years that artists aren’t seeing much, if any, of the new money.

Ichii’s credits as a key animator include Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!, Little Witch Academia, and Gosick. He has served as animation director on Soul Buster, Suzuka, and Super Shiro.

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Deputy Editor of Cartoon Brew.