According to this post, 10 million yen per episode is the minimum price for making an anime. I am wondering how this price compares to making a typical TV series that film human actor?

I guess if the story includes lots of special effects (story like Harry Potter which needs special effect for magic, or story like Star Wars where most background needs CG), it doesn't cost much when making anime as those are still drawings after all. It may cost a bit more if there are battle scenes, but compared to filming using human actor, anime should be a lot cheaper to make?

  • Depends on the actors used in the TV series. But in general, I think Anime should be the cheaper one. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 9:37
  • It sounds like voice acting only would be cheaper than live acting (where the whole person in on scene, acting out their lines both with voice and the rest of their body) but idk the real numbers. Also you'd probably want to splurge on an attractive live actor, whereas you don't care about looks for voice acting purposes.
    – Hakase
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 9:39
  • 1
    – Hakase
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


In most of the cases, yes.

As mentioned in the article: "How Do Anime Budgets Compare to American Animation Budgets?":

The answer is still "much, much cheaper." The average American 2D TV series like The Simpsons or a Nickelodeon show can cost quite a bit of money, typically US$1-2 Million per episode. The longer a show goes on, the more it costs to produce because most of the creative staff get a bump in pay every season. Recent episodes The Simpsons now cost over $5 million per episode to make -- and Fox has been desperately trying to renegotiate everybody's contracts because the show has become unprofitable. Nobody envisioned the show being on the air for over 20 years.

On the low side of things, cable shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Invader Zim are estimated to have cost a little over $1 Million per episode, and the really low budget stuff can go down to about $350,000 to $500,000 per episode. It's not cheap.

Anime, however, goes much, much lower. A typical show can cost as little as US$125,000 per episode. On occasion a very well-off production can go north of US$300,000 per episode, but that's pretty rare. Budgets for an anime are never made public, but that's the general level things are at.

There's also a breakdown of the costs in the Crunchyroll article: "How Much Does One Episode of Anime Cost To Make?" as follows:

Original work - 50,000 yen ($660)

Script - 200,000 yen ($2,640)

Episode Direction - 500,000 yen ($6,600)

Production - 2 million yen ($26,402)

Key Animation Supervision - 250,000 yen ($3,300)

Key Animation - 1.5 million yen ($19,801)

In-betweening - 1.1 million yen ($14,521)

Finishing - 1.2 million yen ($15,841)

Art (backgrounds) - 1.2 million yen ($15,841)

Photography - 700,000 yen ($9,240)

Sound - 1.2 million yen ($15,841)

Materials - 400,000 yen ($5,280)

Editing - 200,000 yen ($2,640)

Printing - 500,000 yen ($6,600)

If you suppose an average episode has 5,000 frames, the price per frame for an in-betweener is 220 yen or just under three bucks, which apparently is a rate that hasn't really changed much in the past 30 years. Japan Animation Creators Association rep, Osamu Yamasaki, commented [roughly translated], "30 years ago it was said that one person would draw 1,000 frames per month, but now if you can do 500, that's considered good." Under these circumstances, it's no wonder young animators are having trouble making it in the industry.

However, that's the general trend in expenses. There are ofcourse exceptions. An anime may cost way more than a particular show for the same duration of airing time. There are many such cases. To list a couple of them:

The Wind Rises had a reported budget of US$30 Million, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, with its infamous ten year production schedule, likely cost even more. Back in 1987 Akira was made for a then-record ¥1.1 Billion, which would be around US$10.6 Million today.

The reason for this general trend is because a TV show has to entail the payment of actors, writers, director along with sets and equipment such as cameras, studio space or shooting on location which adds more money to the show.

There are some extremely high priced sitcoms as well, such as Friends. In 2000, it was reported that each cast member was getting $750,000 per show. (After all of the perks were added it was $40 million per actor or $240 million dollars).

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    There is a lot of information here, but was the question answered? Does 1 anime episode cost less than 1 live-action episode?
    – MXMLLN
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 3:48
  • I think the first sentence answer that: "In most of the cases, yes."
    – cytsunny
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 6:51

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