A health survey that was conducted for the first time by an organization of anime producers shed some light on the mental state of the anime creators who are currently working in the industry.
The results of the survey, which was carried out by the Japanese Animation Creators Association, revealed that 17% of people involved in anime production have experienced or may have experienced depression and other such mental illnesses.
Out of the 429 people who were surveyed, 73 people reported having suffered or experienced possible mental illness like depression.
Additionally, when asked about their degree of fatigue, 291 (68%) individuals reported having felt mentally fatigued and 285 (66%) individuals felt physically fatigued.
According to the organization, despite the popularity of Japanese anime both domestically and internationally, animators experienced health issues due to extremely demanding work schedules and other factors.
And due to this, they had decided to add some health related questions to the survey which aimed at revealing the reality of the industry.
“We conducted our first health survey because we believe there is a high possibility that health problems are occurring because working hours become longer when deadlines approach. We are aware that the number of depressed individuals is high, so we would like various people to see the results of this survey and use them to help improve the industry,” Yasuhiro Irie, president of the Japan Animators and Directors Association, said.
The harshness of the working environment was highlighted with an anecdote of a female animator living in Tokyo, who has cherished anime since childhood. She revealed that it was not uncommon for her to work overnight in order to meet weekly deadlines, and during such scenarios she can only go home for 30 minutes a week.
In an effort to stay at work, she keeps essential items like shampoo and towels in the studio. However, the absence of dedicated nap rooms, compels her to resort to using chairs or sleeping bags for sleeping.
Despite the challenges, she expressed her dedication to her role as an animator, finding fulfillment in her work. However, she couldn’t overlook the toll it takes on the mental health of her peers.
“I continue with my work as an animator because I find it fulfilling, but I’ve seen several people up close who have suffered from mental illnesses. I want people to think about the treatment of anime creators.“
The Japanese Animation Creators Association is a non-profit organization formed in 2007 dedicated to improving working conditions for workers in the anime industry.
The findings of the survey show the alarming situation of animators in the working industry.
While the issues of harsh working hours (recently, MAPPA fiasco involving Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2) and the lack of training provided to animators and animation directors have been highlighted, the health issues that plague the staff members have largely remained under the wraps.
Notable and influential figures like Ken Akamatsu have called for improvements of the situation of animators in the past, and recently agencies like NAFCA have also working towards the same goal.