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How to Get Into the Anime Business
When Bloomberg Businessweek covered the anime business in 2005, the publication put a stunning $100 billion annual profit estimate on all aspects of Japanese animation and its merchandising worldwide. The majority of the anime business is located in Japan, but there are North American jobs in the industry as well. While securing a job in the United States may be a challenge, you can succeed with realistic expectations and a plan for success.
Identify a specific anime business profession to pursue. Because there's so much competition for these jobs, you need to demonstrate that you have skills and experience in a specific capacity. Think of your talents and -- if you've already completed higher education -- your degree and how these can be applied to the anime business. Translation, media production, voice acting, marketing, IT and other American anime business jobs are generally focused in California, New York and Texas. A Canadian hotspot is Vancouver, British Columbia.
Pursue education and experience outside of the anime business. Marc Handler, a veteran of the American anime business, advises that one way to get a job is to get a similar gig in any facet of the entertainment industry, earn some experience and work your way up. Media production for a local cable access show can be what gets you hired as an anime English dub editor or producer. Possessing a degree in Japanese as well as having spent time abroad in Japan is generally a must for anyone hoping to work in anime translation.
Prepare a portfolio or resume. The entertainment industry in general wants to see samples of your work before considering you for a job. Whenever approaching someone already in the anime business, you should present a sample of your work. This can include an original anime script or manga (Japanese comic), although remember that there's more original American manga than original American anime produced. It can also include speculative translations that you've done on manga or anime for your own portfolio. If you want to write for an anime website or magazine, include professional articles you've written on speculation.
Network locally or at conventions. If you're located near an anime business, ask to meet with someone from the office for a tour or an interview so you can see the industry up close and present your portfolio. If you can't get to a business, watch for industry professionals to appear at anime, comic book and science fiction conventions near you. Use the opportunity to present your portfolio and attend workshops detailing how to break into the industry.
If you can't get into the anime business or simply don't want to relocate, start your own company. Writing and drawing your own anime-style work is a way to creatively participate in the industry without relocating. Writing for anime news websites on a freelance basis offers more opportunities as well. Opening an anime store in your hometown allows you to be your own boss.
Consider applying for unpaid internships in the anime business, starting at as young as age 16. The anime business, like most businesses, appreciates the dedication and responsibility interns show. The experience can help you get a paying job in the future.
Do not share your speculative translation work online for anime "fansubs" or manga "scanlations." Doing so is illegal since you do not have the legal rights to translate anime for others. This can cause you to lose out on a job in the industry.
Remain professional when networking. While being enthusiastic can help you secure a job, anime businesses are more interested in your professional abilities and can dismiss you as a candidate if you focus more on yourself as a fan than yourself as a talent.
Amy McNulty has worked as a freelance writer since 2005. She has written for "Chocolate Zoom" and "The Japanese Tutor" among others. McNulty received a Bachelor of Arts in English with honors from Carthage College, where she also pursued minors in Asian studies and French.
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