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Studio Pierrot Reveals Its Efforts To Improve Employee Well Being & Working Condition

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In a recent interview, Studio Pierrot’s Managing Director, Kiero Itsumi, shed some light on the studio’s approach to handling the working conditions of its employees amidst the evolving landscape of anime production.

Animator’s poor working conditions had been in the spotlight as 2023 wound down, thanks to the insane production scheduling of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2. However, based on Itsumi’s comments it seems that Pierrot has taken major steps to ensure that those working behind the scenes to deliver the final product are well rewarded and in a healthy environment.

The managing director began by noting that anime’s market has expanded, and that these days works of higher quality needed to be produced so that they could complete globally. This has also led to the increase in various costs.

While in the past, animators might have been expected to work with “grit and determination” in order to meet the higher qualities, Itsumi said that proper labor management was essential in current times.

“In the past, the anime industry was known for its thin profit margins, and there may have been an image that creators were expected to work in a way that disregarded labor standards. But nowadays, proper labor management is essential. The mentality of doing your best with ‘grit and determination’ from the Showa era no longer applies,” Itsumi said.

The point about labor management that Itsumi talks about is quite important here. According to a recent report, long working hours was a significant problem that a lot of animators faced in the industry, even as recently as 2017.

However, the labor reform laws that were enforced later did bring down the overwork that animators were forced to put in, with only 10 percent of those surveyed working 260 hours or more in a month (more than 100 hours of overtime) as of 2022.

Itsumi stressed that human effort, not automation, is behind anime creation, and prioritizing the well-being of creators is crucial for sustainable production practices.

In response, Studio Pierrot implemented significant revisions to salaries and retroactively increased overtime pay by 20%, demonstrating its commitment to improving working conditions.

“Humans, not computers, create anime. So, if those humans become exhausted, there’s nothing we can do. Such a way of creating things is not sustainable in the long run. That’s why, since I joined Pierrot, we’ve made significant revisions to salaries and even retroactively increased overtime pay by 20%. I believe we’ve been dedicated to improving working conditions,” the director said.

Coupling the 20% overpay, with reasonable working hours, sure sounds like a good deal on the paper.

Itsumi also expressed a desire for creators to receive more user feedback, and to convey this appreciation to Studio Pierrot’s creators, fostering a collaborative environment where everyone can thrive happily and sustainably.

“I want the creators in the field to see more of the feedback from users. When I see events like the overseas presentation for BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, everyone is so excited, and it really moves me. It’s like, ‘Wow, they love it so much.’ That’s the kind of reaction I want to show the creators. Everyone can move forward happily and sustainably. Pierrot aims to remain as such an anime studio in the future.”

Furthermore, Itsumi highlighted Studio Pierrot’s consistency in delivering quality works on a weekly basis. While acknowledging the benefits of producing long-lasting hits, he emphasized the importance of varied production approaches tailored to each project’s requirements.

Diversifying their portfolio also emerged as a strategic consideration for Studio Pierrot. Itsumi stressed the risk of relying solely on one project and advocated for a balanced profit structure to ensure financial stability and mitigate risks effectively.

The trend of not relying solely on a single production has already been displayed by Pierrot in recent times as they put the adaptations of Black Clover and Boruto, two of their long running series, on hold in order to focus on Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Arc.

They also continue to roll out seasonal installations of Kingdom anime series and focus on some newer works.

The fact that Bleach TYBW is being released in multiple cours also supports Itsumi’s statement of prioritizing various production approach tailored to the series’ requirement.

Source: Borderless

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