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Animation Declining in Japan

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) has released an updated report on the status of the Japanese animation industry. Surprisingly, the anime market sales in Japan declined from a high of 213.5 billion yen in 2002, to 191.2 billion yen in 2003 (a 10.4% drop). There are about 430 anime production studios in Japan, with 264 of them concentrated in greater Tokyo and 70 of those are in the Suginami district.

Earlier this year, the Japan Digital Contents, an independent government agency, gathered 500 million yen each to start an investment financing fund for content production in animation.

A typical 30-minute TV episode costs 10 million yen to produce, however some cost as little as 5 million yen. Most TV series do not recoup their production costs through TV broadcasting and rely on other revenue sources (DVDs, licensing, toys, etc...) to make up the difference.

The report also states that employees in many smaller animation studios are not paid monthly salaries and don't have guaranteed stable incomes.

Japan use to provide most of the animation broadcast in South Korea, but now South Korea produces 30% to 40% of the animation on television in their country.

Moreover, feature-length anime movies released in theaters have dropped in revenue for several consecutive years. Box office revenue has dropped 53% between 2001 and 2003, from a high of 53.3 billion yen in 2001, to 33.7 billion yen in 2003.

Despite the decline in revenue, the number of TV anime programs continues to grow each year. In 2003, there were 2,850 episodes of anime broadcast in Japan, up from 2,748 in 2002. This was the second consecutive annual rise. Over 60% of TV anime is broadcast in the evening after 6:00 pm.

Sales of anime DVDs/videos were 92.59 billion yen in 2004 a 5.5% decrease from 2003. The sales of animation DVDs/videos in Japan was 80% Japanese anime and 20% imported animation. In 2004, the anime home video market was estimated to be worth 20 billion yen according to the Nomura Research Institute. The numbers were based on the amount of DVDs sold. METI issued a report in January 2004 stating that internationally 60% of the anime shown worldwide is made in Japan.

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Rick DeMott
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