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Anime’s slave labor problem

Anime is nearly exclusively hand-drawn. The ability to produce hand-drawn animation fast requires both skill and expertise.

With roughly 200 animated TV series produced in Japan alone each year, there aren’t enough talented animators to go around, according to Shingo Adachi, an animator and character designer for the popular anime TV series Sword Art Online. Instead, studios rely on a sizable group of enthusiastic freelancers who work for little or no pay.

“In-between animators,” typically independent contractors, work at the entry level. After the top directors create the storyboards and the lower-level “key animators” create the key frames for each scene, they are the ones who create all the individual drawings.

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