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Depression stalks animators in Japan

The fascinating universe of Japanese anime has captured hearts around the world, immersing viewers in vibrant narratives and imaginative worlds. However, behind the magic of the screen, a stark and challenging reality is revealed. The recent survey reported by NHK has shed light on the dark challenges faced by animators, highlighting that 17% of them deal with mental health issues, including the heartbreaking shadow of depression. These troubling revelations raise fundamental questions about the emotional health of those who bring our favorite stories to life.


In the bowels of the anime industry, the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAnicA) has noted that some animators see their health deteriorate due to busy work schedules. Strenuous work hours and tight deadlines have created a breeding ground for fatigue, both physical and mental. Previous media coverage has illuminated the adverse conditions, especially for newcomers to the industry, who reportedly often face a meager monthly salary of 50,000 yen (about $350). The suggestion of depending on parents’ financial support for survival compounds economic strains.

In response to these issues, the Association has taken significant steps by incorporating health questions into its annual survey. The results reveal a worrying panorama: 17% of animators confess to facing mental health problems, with depression being a disturbing shadow. Additionally, 68% of respondents express psychological fatigue, while 66% mention feeling physical exhaustion, revealing the deep intersection between creative work and health.

The situation becomes even more serious when details about the extreme working conditions become known. Animators sleeping in the office to meet weekly deadlines, and the normalization of having essentials like shampoo and towels in the office, highlight the constant pressure these artists face. A cheerleader shared the shocking revelation of spending just 30 minutes at home for a few weeks.

This dark landscape behind the creation of anime, although already familiar to many viewers, highlights the urgent need to address the challenges faced by animators. As public awareness grows thanks to media coverage and brave voices raised on social media, this pressure is expected to lead to positive transformations in the industry. Changes in working conditions, emotional support, and a more humane approach to anime creation can pave the way to a healthier future for those who bring our beloved animated stories to life.

Fountain: NHK

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