According to industry reports, the average cost of a simple 60 – second 2D Animation is around $6,000. A whole episode will more or less cost between $100,000 to $300,000. A 12 episode long Season can cost up to $3.6 million. Remember, this is only the production and does not factor in the marketing costs. While these production costs tend to seem pretty incredible, they don’t come anywhere near the cost of other animated shows. Take the Simpsons for instance.

A single episode of the Simpsons costs about $2 million USD (much of that going to the voice actors who’ve been keeping the show alive for nearly 30 years). Other American shows have similar costs, with many coming in around $1 million per episode. According to experts, part of the difference in cost in the industry boils down to Japan’s reputation of paying animators very low wages compared to other countries.

Demand for anime has grown massively and production costs have risen, but studios haven’t increased salaries. Many studios have closed because they can’t find animators. Some envisage that animators could start leaving Japan for foreign animation studios.

Also, a report published by the Media Development Research Institute Inc in 2018 noted that a single My Hero Academia 30 minute anime episode costs 12,000,000 yen, which exchanged to $108,480.00. The report also broke down where all that money goes. Costs are set for current exchange rates:

  • Original work – 50,000 yen ($467)
  • Script – 200,000 yen ($1,870)
  • Episode Direction – 500,000 yen ($4,675)
  • Production – 2 million yen ($18,700)
  • Key Animation Supervision – 250,000 yen ($2,337)
  • Key Animation – 1.5 million yen ($14,025)
  • In – betweening – 1.1 million yen ($10,285)
  • Finishing – 1.2 million yen ($11,220)
  • Art (backgrounds) – 1.2 million yen ($11,220)
  • Photography – 700,000 yen ($6,545)
  • Sound – 1.2 million yen ($11,220)
  • Materials – 400,000 yen ($3,740)
  • Editing – 200,000 yen ($1,870)
  • Printing – 500,000 yen ($4,675)

Why Are Animations So Expensive to Make in the United States

Making animations tend to be expensive especially since a lot of work go into creating it. Even if it is a very simple Animation it still needs a lot of work. Anime already is one of the cheaper variations of Animation, maybe because it is comparably simple in style.

According to reports, Anime was invented because of the high Animation costs and was specially developed to cost less. If you think anime can only be made in Japan then you will need to have a quick rethink. Animes are made in America too.

Below is a very rough and simplified look at how Animators work and how long it takes to only create 60 seconds of Animation.

  1. The Concept Phase

This is always the first phase for the creation of animations. In this Phase, the Animators will draw concepts to the characters. They will also do a little test Animations and try to work out how the characters move. Then they will start to conceptualize the backgrounds, lighting, and style of Animation. Also note that in this phase, they will also settle on an overall mood and colour to match the story. This phase is the most creative and also the one phase where most projects just straight out die.

  1. The Story Board Phase

Once the Project passes through the first Phase, then the Animators will go to the second Phase. In this phase the action, the “Movie sets”, the cuts and the composition of the whole story will be drawn out as a reference for every Animation. Also note that in this Phase, the backgrounds and “Sets” where the story takes place, will also be developed and drawn for later reference.

  1. The Animation Phase

Note that this is the phase where the actual Animations will be created. First, the key frames will be created by the leading artists. These are drawings that show the action and movement with huge gaps in between them. Then the missing animation frames in between these key frames will then be drawn each individually by a lot of animators.

Have it in mind there are between 24 and 31 frames in one second of an Anime. And each and every one of these frames has to be drawn at least partially! This is where most of the work lies and this phase of the Animation Project are the most time consuming and most expensive part of creating an Animation.

  1. Cutting Phase

This is the final phase of creating an Anime! At this point, all the animated scenes are being cut together, colour corrected and final details and effects, as well as the music and voice – overs, will be added. Also remember that Music and Dubbing the Animation is also a major cost point in creating an Anime. Almost every Anime has original Music and every single Anime needs voices for their characters, obviously. In Japan and other countries as well, there are people who do voices for Animation as their career and these professionals are not cheap.

Conclusion

These are the works that go into creating every minute of Anime and depending on the studio, creating only 60 seconds of Animation can take anywhere between three weeks and up to two months. And even though Anime is not as expensive as other Animations like 3D rendered Animations or very detailed as other 2D Animations, it still is not cheap to make.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can You Make An Anime If You’re Not Japanese?

Yes, you can make an anime even if you’re not from Japan, but you need to have a Japanese proficiency of the average standard. If you are not planning to learn Japanese, just draw manga in English and publish it in your country’s comic industry (assuming it to be an English Speaking one).

  1. Can You Create Your Own Anime?

Making an anime is not an easy work. It’s an entire process of building and illustrating a world, finding motivations, weaving stories– this is a major undertaking. However, it’s also a great exercise in creativity. So if you’re passionate about anime, you’ll probably enjoy making your own.

  1. What Are Some Ways To Create Your Own Anime Show?

The following are the simple ways to start your anime show;

  • Find a platform
  • Learn your craft
  • Select your media
  • Choose a video editing app
4. How Do You Animate Anime?

The following are guidelines on how to animate anime;

  • Write a script
  • Sketch storyboards
  • Design your characters
  • Cast your actors
  • Record a radio play
  • Work out your poses and time them to the radio play
  • Animate the in-between
  • Assemble your scenes (refine story as needed, make sure scenes hook-up)
  • Compose your score and add sound effects
  • Add effects to visuals as needed
  • Create your title cards and credits
5. What Software Is Used In Anime Production?
  • Toon Boom Harmony
  • Character Animator
  • Autodesk 3ds Max
  • Adobe Animate
  • Vyond Studio
  • Toonator
  • Animaker
  • Toonz
  • Moho
6. What Is The Number 1 Anime In The World?

One Piece is the number 1 best-selling manga of all time, it is the most searched for show in the United States. According to the report, the beloved show following the Straw Hat pirates (had the most search volume across the country by a mile). The anime was the most searched for in a whopping 25 states.

7. What Are The Programs Used To Make Japanese Anime?
  • Adobe Animate- This can be integrated with all Adobe services
  • Character Animator- For 2D animation
  • Autodesk 3ds Max- For the most complex animations
  • Toonz- Popular among anime studios
  • Moho- Easy-to-use animation software
  • Toon Boom Harmony- Great vector drawing technology
8. What Software Do Anime Studios Use?

Anime studios in Japan typically use software from RETAS STUDIO and the Adobe Creative Suite. This is a suite of applications by Japanese company CELSYS that is similar, but not quite the same as Toon Boom Animation Studio, which is used often in the US.

9. Does Anime Need To Be Made In Japan?

Of course not. Anime doesn’t have to be strictly Japanese, but some rules have to be followed up.

10. How Can You Make Your Own Free Anime?

The following are tips on how you can make your own anime;

  • Choose a skin tone
  • Choose the eye
  • Add tear and eyebrow
  • Change the hairstyle
  • Choose the nose and mouth shape
  • Choose the artistic style you like
  • Add gesture and accessories
  • Add texts to express yourself
11. Is The Anime Industry Growing?

Anime industry growth is estimated to get to $43 Billion USD by 2027. The Anime Industry has been growing exponentially for the last decade or so, and it increased during the pandemic. It has definitely made some major investment changes over time, and now its fruits are showing. Anime has come a long way since its inception in 1917.

12. How Many And What Types Of Employees Do You Need To Start An Anime Series?

Anime production needs as many as 2,000 people for the production of a single episode with the price ranging from US$100,000-300,000 per episode. In most cases, the studios cannot afford to produce a whole season before airing it because even a 12 to 13 episode series takes as much as US$2-4 million.

There are two types of employees you need to start an anime series, and they are; Animators and Artists.

13. How Much Does It Cost To Make An Anime?

To make an anime episode can cost between US$100,000 and US$300,000 to have it produced.

14. What Is The First Ever Anime?

The first full-length anime film was Momotaro: Umi no Shinpei (Momotaro, Sacred Sailors), released in 1945. It was a propaganda film commissioned by the Japanese navy featuring anthropomorphic animals.

15. How Much Does It Cost To Make A Single Anime Episode?

The average cost of a simple 60-second (2D) animation is around $6000. While a whole episode can cost between $100.000 to $300.000.

16. Is The Anime Industry Dying?

The short answer is No! It is still broadcast on TV and has also gone somewhat mainstream.

17. Is Anime 2d Or 3d Animation?

Anime 2D is currently more popular in Japan. Although much of the rest of the world has developed towards creating primarily 3D animation, but the core market for animation in Japan still largely has a preference for 2D works.

18. How Big Is The Anime Industry In Japan?

The global anime (Industry) market size in Japan was valued at USD 23.56 billion in 2020 and has gotten up to USD 25.46 billion in 2021. So by 2025 the anime industry is expected to reach a value of $30 billion with over 60% of that revenue to come from overseas.

19. Is Anime Big In Japan?

The straight answer is yes! It’s a massive multi-billion-dollar Industry. This figure includes everything from the light novel to anime games.

20. Is Anime Japanese Or Korean?

Anime is Japanese for ‘animation’ Outside of Japan. The term anime simply refers to Japanese animation.

21. Do Anime Characters Even Have Lips?

Absolutely, a number of anime include lips as part of the style. Lips are usually reserved for the more female-oriented anime, or more feminine characters (since visible anime lips often just means they’re wearing lipstick).

22. If I Wanted To Make An Animated Tv Show, What Would I Need To Get Started?
  • A stylus pen
  • Drawing gloves
  • A large graphic tablet
  • A small graphics tablet
  • A flash animation program
23. Is Anime Cheaper Than Live Action?

Both films can be expensive to make but animation, as stated earlier, is more time consuming and may require a higher budget. A live action film can be very expensive if it has some CGI (Computer Generated Image). A live action film without any CG will probably cost less to make than an animation film.

24. How Much Is Naruto Worth?

Naruto is worth about $10.3 Billion

25. What Type Of Software Should Be Used By Someone Who Is Totally New To Animation?

Listed below are the best animation software app for beginners;

  • Cinema 4D
  • Adobe Animate
  • Adobe After Effects
  • SideFX (Houdini)
  • Blender
  • Pencil2D
  • ​Animaker
  • OpenToonz
26. Do Animators Still Draw Every Frame?

Not really. The animators don’t need to redraw everything for every frame. Rather, they build each frame from layers of drawings. The cartoon characters are drawn on clear film, so the background shows through.

27. What Software Does Pixar Use?

Presto is the proprietary software developed to be used in-house by pixar Animation Studios in the animation of its features and short films.

28. Where Can You Animate For Free?

Below are the list of places you can animate for free;

  • Animaker
  • Blender
  • K-3D
  • Powtoon
  • Stykz
  • OpenToonz
  • Pencil2D Animation
  • Plastic Animation Paper
29. What’s The Longest Anime Ever?

Sazae-san is by far the longest-running anime series of all time, with over 2500 episodes till date.

30. What Is The Most Expensive Anime?

The listed below are the most expensive anime;

  • The Wind Rises: $31,000,000
  • Stand By Me Doraemon: $35,000,000
  • From Up On Poppy Hill: $28,000,000
  • When Marnie Was There: $11,300,000
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya: $53,400,000
  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock: $31,000,000
31. Who Is The Strongest Anime Character?

Listed below are the most powerful and strongest anime characters;

  • Ryuk
  • Zeno
  • Arceus
  • Lain Iwakura
  • Osamu Tezuka
  • Haruhi Suzumiya
  • The great forest spirit (Princess Monoke)
32. Why Is Anime So Expensive?

Creating animations is expensive because there is a lot of work involved in making it. According to Masamune Sakaki, a CG creator in the anime industry, an average 13-episode anime season costs around 250 million yen (or $2 million). He also made it clear that most anime can’t recoup this expense, and the industry rests on the windfall of a few big hits.

33. Why Are Japanese Animators Paid So Little?

The major reason an animator’s salary is so low is that most studios pay by commission. The entry-level “in-betweener” who makes all of the individual drawings, only earns 200 yen per drawing, which is around $1.83 in US dollars.

34. What Was The Most Expensive Anime Ever Made?

Steamboy! The budget for Katsuhiro Otomo’s (Japan) Steamboy anime is estimated to have reached 2.4 billion Yen ($20 million; £12 million), making it the most expensive animated movie in Japanese history.

35. Is Photoshop Good For Animation?

Definitely! Photoshop is a good tool for animation and can be used to create some pretty complex graphics. While it doesn’t have the high-end animation after effect and cannot be used for cinematic animation, it can still render good 2D animations.