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The Cost to Produce One Anime Episode Posted Aug 20, 2019

Anime is a shortening of the word animation. But it’s most often used to refer to animation produced in Japan. It’s not a far cry to say that hundreds of millions watch anime. You may not think much of it when you see a random anime episode airing on TV. What you don’t realize is the amount of effort and money spent to make this episode come alive.

The Cost to Produce One Anime Episode

Unlike Hollywood and other big-budget markets, anime is a highly competitive market with a lot of people staking their livelihood on its success. The consumption of anime is easily visible if you take a stroll in any search engine. Japanese anime as we know it used to be exclusively made for the Japanese audience. The growth of the Western appetite for anime has led to the production of anime on different nations’ soils. We’ll be showing you how much money it takes to produce a single anime episode from start to finish.


Before we start delving into the makings of an anime episode, we should talk about the profitability of the anime business. First things first, animes aren’t intended to be profitable by the ads that run while they air on TV, unlike soap operas, for example. Almost every TV anime starts at a profit loss and have to break even using other marketing methods like manga, live shows, DVD sets, and other forms of merchandise. The industry’s gears are grinding thanks to the popularity of a few shows that make it big.

The Total Cost

A special report made by the Media Development Research Institute reported a few interesting findings in the Japanese anime industry. A 30-minute episode can cost on average around 11 million yen, which is about 100 thousand dollars, according to the current Japanese yen exchange rate available today. If you’d like to break it down a bit further; an average episode has about 5000 frames, bearing in mind the total cost, the price per frame amounts to 220 yen. According to a viable source, this rate hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years.

A Breakdown

If we settle on the price of a single episode costing on average around 11 million yen, we can stretch it out a bit to see which processes consume most of the capital. The production itself, taking into consideration salaries and other legal procedures, takes most of the lion’s share with a whopping 2 million yen. The key animation is considered one of the most expensive processes in the anime since it requires drawing the pivotal positions of characters in the anime, usually done by hand. The drawn backgrounds, sound, and finishing, adding up to 3.6 million yen, each costing 1.2 million yen to produce individually.

One may look at the anime industry in Japan and think that it’s one of the most profitable businesses there is, yet that’s far from the truth. The anime industry is doing its best to stay afloat and become more profitable as the working conditions of workers in the anime industry is not the best.

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