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New Survey Reveals Gender Disparity In Anime Film Industry

The Japanese Film Project (JFP) released the results of a survey that was conducted to investigate gender disparities and improve the working environment in the Japanese film industry’s production sites on Dec 12, 2023.

This time, the survey expanded its scope to include both anime films and also theatre works. In addition to that, the new survey also examined the gender ratio in “assistant roles” in the anime film industry, instead of just focusing on the decision making positions.

Gender Disparity In Anime Film Industry

The movies that were considered for the survey included One Piece: Film Red, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, Suzume no Tojimari, Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Scarlet Bond, Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night, and others which released in 2022 and managed to earn over 1 billion yen in box office revenue.

The results found gender disparities in both decision making roles (director, producer, animation director, art director, scriptwriter, music director, character designer, cinematographer) and the assistant roles (animators, production assistants, art staff, etc.).

The ratio of female workforce that was involved in the anime film production over the period of the survey was found to 46 percent (2697 female staff out of 5917).

Breaking down into categories, the ratio of women who worked in the role of directors, animation directors/chief animation directors was found to be 41 percent (65 women out of 160 staff), whereas the ratio went down to 18 percent (56 women out of 315 staff members) when it came to women working in producer related roles (any roles with the title producer in it).

Out of the 15 art directors in the survey, only three were women, bringing the ratio to 20 percent.

The overall ratio of women who were involved in the main roles (i.e. directors, animation directors, cinematographers, music director, scriptwriter/screenplay, character designers, etc. but excluding producer roles) was found to be 31 percent (124 women out of 400 staff).

When it came to the assistant roles, the ratio of women was slightly higher at 50 percent (2345 women working in assistant roles out of 4906). Out of this the ratio of women working as animators came at 58 percent (1137 out of 1952), and those working in art related position was 53 percent (144 out of 274).

However, the ratio of women working as production assistants was only 32 percent (24 out of 75).

JFP Gender Gap survey
Decision making roles on top, assistant roles in bottom row

On the other hand, the ratio of women who were part of the production committee was only 28 percent (82 out of 296).

JFP Gender Gap survey

In short:

  • Ratio of women in anime film industry based on survey pool (decision making + assistant roles) – 46 percentage
  • Ratio of women working in assistant roles – 50 percent
  • Ratio of women in main roles except producers (comes under decision making) – 31 percent
  • Ration of women in producer roles (comes under decision making) – 18 percent

While gender disparity in the anime film industry was lesser compared to the live-action industry, which had 0 percent of women working in roles of directors, and 5 percent as assistant directors, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Professor at Yokohama National University, suggested that the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

“Since I specialize in the research of animation, I would like to touch on the production site of anime films a little. Unlike live-action film sets, the anime production site has been said to have a relatively large number of women. However, when discussing in the category of ‘staff,’ it is not possible to simply compare the female ratio between, for example, production management employed by companies and animators, which have many freelancers,” Sugawa said.

According to her, anime industry employs many skilled freelancers who often work on multiple projects, and are credited on them too. This will result in a higher number of female staff being shown on the survey, which is based on staff credits listed in the Film Yearbook, instead of giving an actual idea of the female staff working in the industry.

“In such cases, the number of women who do not have “binding contracts” is numerically higher, but it is difficult to see that they are actually involved in multiple productions at low wages,” Sugawa pointed out.

The JFP is a non-profit general incorporated association that examines the gender gap, working environment, and lack of young talent in the Japanese film industry , and conducts surveys and recommendations to resolve issues.

Source: JFP blog, Oricon

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