For much of the history of anime, women were in charge of shiage (finishing), the tasks of inking, coloring, and cleaning up drawings. Despite its seemingly minor contribution to the creative process, shiage reflects important historical transformations in anime production, since compared to other aspects of cel-style animation, it is more subject to the influence of technological innovations as well as labor redistribution. In the late 1970s, animation work took on special appeal due to its associations with creativity, media consumption, and leisure culture. Advertisements for animation work in women's magazines reflected this changing image. These ads presented shiage as a creative hobby and a form of self-cultivation. This phenomenon shows how the convergence of production and consumption in “prosumption” supported new forms of value extraction and labor exploitation, both for the animation industry as well as for opportunistic companies that positioned themselves between would-be workers and studios.
Shiage and Women's Flexible Labor in the Japanese Animation Industry
Diane Wei Lewis is an assistant professor of film and media studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her articles on Japanese cinema have appeared or are forthcoming in Cinema Journal, positions: asia critique, and Screen. She is completing a book manuscript on the rise of cinema as a mass medium after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The book examines interwar discourses on the persuasive sensory realism of cinema and the new forms of alienation and intimacy engendered by new media technologies.
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Diane Wei Lewis; Shiage and Women's Flexible Labor in the Japanese Animation Industry. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2018; 4 (1): 115–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.1.115
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