I continue to enjoy Shirobako, the slice-of-life show about a group of girls who realize their dream of going to Tokyo and working professionally in the anime industry. In the show we get to see everything about how animation is made in Japan: the hectic schedules, the dysfunctional personalities, the directors who won't finish the storyboards for the last episode, the voice acting recording sessions.

In one story arc, a 2D animator gets upset when it's decided that an important scene he's preparing to animate by hand will be done with CG. I enjoyed this part of the story because I, too, obsess about overuse of CG in traditional anime, especially when it's taken beyond animating exciting mountain racing scenes to the realm of actual character animation, which -- as of 2014, at least -- can feel quite unnatural, as seen in the otherwise excellent Knights of Sidonia and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. There's a very "meta" segment in which the main character Aoi talks with another production assistant about how far CG animation will go in the future. "Will hand-drawn anime ever disappear?" "I don't think so, since there are always things better expressed using traditional animation. But the number of anime series being produced is increasing, so when you think about the need to control quality, CG will certainly be more important in the future."

Shirobako is interesting for another reason in that we get to see what people working in the industry are paid on average, thanks to a graphic a Reddit user posted showing what salaries the animators, production assistants, directors and producers pull in annually. The bottom line is that the salaries of everyone involved with creating animation in Japan are frightfully low, with all the jobs except Executive Producer paying below the median income of jobs in the U.S. Starting animators make only $9400 per year, which explains why many of these jobs have been exported to South Korea, China and the Philippines. The only people raking in cash in anime are the A-list voice actors like Hanazawa Kana (the voice of Kuroneko from Oreimo and Mayuri from Steins;Gate), who are managed by smart talent agencies which charge big bucks to have their voice actors appear in an anime or game. We're sometimes frustrated by these talent studios, who often demand tens of thousands of dollars in royalties to include Japanese voices in English visual novels we want to publish, occasionally causing projects that would have gone through to be abandoned.

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