Given the magnitude of Japan's recession, it should perhaps come as little surprise that the fantasy-obsessed animation industry has received a hard dose of reality.
Yasuo Yamaguchi, executive director of the Association of Japanese Animators, said the industry has been rocked by the country's deepest recession since World War II.
"The spread of free Internet downloading is having a deadly effect," he said.
Japanese animation is roughly a $2 billion-a-year industry. Revenues peaked in 2006 but have since fallen off, as lower advertising revenues lead to fewer new programs.
Yamaguchi said the animation industry is important to Japan's economy and that the government should be helping it through these tough times with subsidies.
Unlike some big screen animated features from the United States that rely almost completely on computer animation, in Japan, almost all features are drawn by hand -- a labor-intensive craft practiced by thousands of young artists each year.
I disagree with the comment that says piracy is a big problem. I find anime fans to be the most loyal and will go buy alot of things at stores and conventions. They even buy the costumes to dress up at their favourite characters! Sure piracy does happen but not to the extent of tv shows and music.
And if you are pirating anime, think of the poor guy drawing one page at a time in his tiny un-air-conditioned room!