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Don't Anime Me

July 15, 2019
The cost of hand-drawn animations in the age of automation

Imagine what the cost of producing just about anything digital would be if you had nothing but your hand, your brain, and a pencil to work with.

No fonts. No searchable library of free or near-free graphics. No way to make an exact duplicate. No copy and paste. No Photoshop or Illustrator. Nothing but your hand and a pencil.

If this was your world and the conditions you had to work with, how many videos would you be able to produce? Probably none, right? The cost of doing so would be so high that it could not be justified. 

We live in an age where automation is everything, and where everything is or will soon be automated. Get used to it. 

Japan lives in the same automation age as I, a Westerner, does. Yet it appears that not everyone who lives and works in Japan does. Take the business of hand-drawn anime, for example. According to this report by Vox, the people who work as animators in can barely make ends meet and yet are forced to work an unreasonable number of hours.

In case you are wondering: "anime" is simply the Japanese word for animation. It refers to either a style of animation made in Japan, or an animation created in the style of the latter. Among the better-known anime are Sailor Moon, Pokemon and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The working conditions that Eric Margolis describes in the Vox article referenced above are not limited to the artists drawing the world of anime. One could argue that most every manual worker around the world is getting screwed one way or the other. However, it's undeniable that those conditions are the consequence of the progressive devaluation of human work.

When technology appears to deliver in mere seconds -- and at near no cost -- what would otherwise require an intensive and prolonged combination of thoughts and/or physical actions for human, then the product of human work itself takes a hit. In a way, modern technological development (AI, IoT, computers in general) is throwing a brick in the balance of what we value as humans. Discovering what will be needed to counterbalance the relentless advances of technology in our daily life may be a matter of survival. Ironically, this fight for the survival of the human soul in the face of technology is a recurrent theme that drives many, if not most, ... animes.

 

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