How to Get an Animation Job in Japan

So 1 year ago my fiancée and I made the decision to drop everything in the UK and get the ball rolling on moving to Japan. The plan was simple, get a visa, see the sights, then get a job before the cold rolls in. So after lots of planning, 4 months ago we flew out to Japan, had a blast and as luck would have it have found ourselves working in animation companies in Tokyo. So if you want to take the plunge, here is my advice on how to get an animation job in Japan.

Us

Prerequisites

  • Willing to work much longer hours and take potentially a big pay cut. Wages are lower in Japan and standard working hours are until at least 7pm.
  • Studying Japanese language. Most companies want to see you are actively trying to learn, even if they have in house translators. Get a head start by checking out my lesson!
  • A showreel ready that shows off your best skills. Keep it around 1 minute and don’t be afraid to have multiple reels to show off different skill sets.
  • An A4 formated CV. Keep it simple, 1 page and clean formatting. You may not be able to get as creative as you want but be glad most animation companies don’t ask you to submit a rirekisho!

visa
1: Get a working holiday Visa

  • If you are from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark or Norway then this is your foot in the door.
  • This will allow you to visit the country for 1 year, travel and apply for jobs in any field to start work at a moments notice. I can’t stress enough how much an advantage this gives you over applying from abroad as animation employers normally want you to start yesterday.
  • There are a variety of requirements for this, but overall the process is fairly quick and it only took about 2 weeks to get my WHV. In fact I was initially turned away for applying too early (6 months before my trip. They recommended 2 months)! Check out the embassy info page which has all the requirements.
  • For more information, there is a great post here with lots of WHV info.

Tokyo Cityscape

2: Save up and come to Japan

    • Or more specifically Tokyo if you just want to land a job ASAP.
    • I’d recommend you come with money and time in hand to travel for at least one month so you can acclimatise & get practising your language skills.
    • There are many advantages you have by being in the country as opposed to applying from aboard. First off it proves your willingness which looks good to employers. You are also able to come in for interviews, work in house on animation tests and you are able to take on short term freelance jobs which can often develop into full time positions.
    • I recommend bringing a laptop (& more) with you to run your software of choice incase you are asked to do a remote test. I was asked to do one while applying for polygon and even though I was hitch-hiking at the time 700 miles away from Tokyo, I was able to complete the animation test which landed me the job.

3: Apply to the right companies

Here are my recommendations on which studios are most foreigner friendly and are worth prioritising when you being your search for animation companies in Japan:

  1. Polygon Pictures – Large studio. Foreigner friendly. Translators in house.
  2. OLM – Large Studio. Foreigner Friendly. Managers often speak English.
  3. RTT Asia – Part of a large network. Foreigner friendly. Translators in house.
  4. Marza – Mid-Large studio. Foreigner friendly. Translators in house.
  5. Konami – Large studio. Foreigner friendly application process.

Another notable mention is Aoki Studio who are smaller in size but ran by non Japanese so communication is in English. Though if your Japanese is conversational & progressing well you could check out Digital Frontier.

  • Apply in English unless your Japanese writing is very good, I wouldn’t recommend getting friends to write your application in Japanese as it will create a false impression.
  • When applying, stress you are in Japan already, have a visa and are learning Japanese. Make sure they know you could start tomorrow morning, as they may just ask you to!

polygon pictures

Final points

This by no means guarantees that you will get a job, but being in Japan is such an important step to take. Japanese people are very humble and strongly believe in doing business face to face, so being here ready to come in for interviews at a moments notice to suit their schedule is key. If all else fails, make sure you come over with a mind set to travel and fall back on non animation jobs such as English teaching while you keep pushing animation companies. So if things don’t quite work out, at least you will have a fantastic trip and enjoy your time in Japan.

If you want to do a bit of travelling first on the cheap, check out my guide to hitchhiking in Japan.

Any questions please check out my Japan animation FAQ first, then drop me a comment or say hello on twitter, cheers!

Posted on November 4, 2013 in blogPosts

About the Author

Dean Wright is a 3D artist and film maker. He writes about the VFX industry, Motorsport and working life in Japan following his time there in 2013-2014. Having worked internationally at major studios, he now lives in London freelancing for a wide range of clients.

Responses (113)

  1. mandy
    November 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm · Reply

    Nice one guys, have a good time out there xx

  2. Vivek P
    November 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm · Reply

    great stuff .. thanks

    ps: how much time did ppi take to reply after you gave in your run cycle ?

    • Dean Wright
      November 15, 2013 at 12:43 am · Reply

      Glad you found it helpful 🙂 PPI Took about a week to reply, I also had a round of feedback on the test with some minor tweaks. Cheers!

  3. Alexander
    January 15, 2014 at 4:45 am · Reply

    As a sophomore in high school (in the US), I have thought for a while about my future career, and am set on an animation job in japan. I love art, and animating, and have been drawing since i could remember. I also hate business economics, financing, etc, so a career in art is all i want, but people discourage me for this.I don’t mean to bother you, but what did you go to college for, and what did you major in/ get a degree in. What do you need to get a degree in to get a job like this, and do you have to at all. What should I aim for if trying to land a job like this in the future.

    • Dean Wright
      January 15, 2014 at 11:58 am · Reply

      Hi Alex,

      Don’t let people discourage you! You have to follow your passions and if it were not for animation I would also be in the economics field (I was good at it at high school) but I chose the art route and never looked back. My degree was in Computer Animation and Visualisation, so rather than just animation, I learnt a lot about 3D art in general. If you want to come to Japan one day a degree will definitely be a big help (or even essential depending on the visa requirements coming from the US). However through my experience I would say a degree is not required to get a job if you have the talent and a showreel to prove it. You may be able to impress people enough that you have potential, though you may have to go in at a lower level like a runner (coffee and filing!). You may move up higher in the 3 or 4 years it would take to get a degree and you will also make a tonne of connections with cool people as everyone loves a runner who makes good coffee 😉

      Good luck with your choice and let me know if you end up in the industry, ill more than likely bump into you one day 😉

  4. curio
    January 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm · Reply

    You guys are awesome! I was researching Japanese schools to land an animation job there, but I felt old and should be applying directly, my Aunt there could support me if I apply for Jobs (asking them to support my studies is too much!) I haven’t told them yetand you inspired me to try applying and skip schooling! But I should do my show reel first. I just wanna ask though, have you studied Japanese first before going to Japan? Also, have you tried applying on studighibli, Gonzo, mad house or other 2D animation studios? Are they like the ones you’ve mentioned? Is student visa okay to apply for jobs? Well if ever I study in Japanese language school first, what if I find a job during or after my studies? Should I go back in our country to change my visa to working? Thanks in advance!

    • Dean Wright
      February 1, 2014 at 9:53 am · Reply

      Hey thanks very much I’m glad you liked the post. Definitely get your showreel together ready to impress! Neither of us studied Japanese properly before. Just some self study for a few months leading up to the trip. As we work in 3D we haven’t looked at Ghibli and other 2D studios, as much as we would love to work for them! I don’t think you can apply for jobs on a student visa, I think maybe part time only, so if you want a full time position you’ll need a working visa or working holiday to get you started. I know one girl who was studying and was working part time at an animation studio to get her foot in the door. Its damn hard work though to do that but if you impress companies enough then they will sponsor your full visa. If you have never been to Japan before though consider travelling for a month first to see if you like it and to get a true taste of the country 🙂

  5. Kaila
    March 6, 2014 at 1:41 am · Reply

    Hi!
    I’m a junior in high school (California), and had also thought of being an animator in the past…then now reconsidering it.
    I don’t excel in other subjects-math and science being the worst-but I do really well in english and creative writing, and got accepted to a national leadership program in San Francisco that had this journalism/media arts/film/animation section of it that you had to actually apply for separately-and I did-and I actually got into it after sending some of my drawings.
    But something I worry about is financial stability, coming from a low income family and I’ve been raised with the mentality that money is everything, even though I really do love art. My mom has been pushing me into government sort of work or law-yes I’m asian-and my dad doesn’t care, but I want to major in something I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life, so how do I know if I’ll regret it or not..?
    I know you can’t answer that (Hahaha) but I really could use some advice. Should I apply to schools in Japan for animation? Do I need to be familiar with computer science to do 3d animation? I’ve missed a lot of opportunities for that sort of thing because of my school’s education system-it’s really flawed-but I remember once taking a media arts class and I really enjoyed drawing storyboards and writing a script/screenplay, and even filming in general(not just animation), so I don’t know if I want to go into screenwriting or animation >.< (Been torn for a long time)
    Any advice is welcome!!!
    THANK YOU <3

    • Dean Wright
      March 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm · Reply

      Hi,

      Thanks for the comment. I had a similar decision at college, go towards finance or arts. I chose arts and never looked back, simply because although I could be making more money that way, I knew for certain I wouldn’t be as happy. Also, if you work hard and are willing to move where the jobs are you can do alright financially in animation as you move up the ranks (so I’m told! 😛 ). I wouldn’t dwell on missed opportunities as i know plenty of animators who got into the game well into their 30s or even 40s. IF you are in California you already have a head start as there is a great animation school there as well as the best animation studios in the world. For us Europeans, getting visas and such to work at American companies is not so easy! So you have a lot on your side compared to some, so embrace your location and start looking for animation networks nearby, you may just find someone local to help you out.

      Good luck!

      Dean Wright

  6. Heather
    March 8, 2014 at 9:54 pm · Reply

    Hey,
    Just read your blog and it’s really interesting, I have a few questions though that would help regarding my own situation.
    Me and my partner are thinking about the move to Japan, I’ve already live there and have JLPT N2 level Japanese and he has a master in Animation but no Japanese skills.

    What were your Japanese skills like before the move? He’s nervous about not being very skilled at Japanese.

    Hope all is well, thanks for blogging!

    Heather

    • Dean Wright
      March 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm · Reply

      So pleased you found my blog interesting. Before we came to Japan we had a few months of self study under our belts (basically from when we booked the flights until the flight date!) and even now we are far from fluent. But with the right companies and a good showreel you can make it over here. But working life is very different, so if its his first time coming to Japan I’d recommend trying it out on a working holiday visa first to get a flavour 🙂

      Also, to kick start his Japanese lessons, check out the Michel Thomas Method Japanese audio courses. They help you find your feet very fast and I loved learning that way.

      Good luck!

  7. Satyajit
    March 27, 2014 at 1:17 am · Reply

    How much would it cost to get an animation degree in japan? And how to apply for animation schools. And i want to learn animation before i apply for the job.

    • Dean Wright
      April 4, 2014 at 8:50 am · Reply

      I’m not sure how much it would cost to study in Japan, but normally it is cheaper in your own country. So it may be best to study at home first, then look into moving abroad for jobs 🙂 Cheers!

  8. Richard
    April 16, 2014 at 11:51 am · Reply

    I like you story, and i just wanted to know if i need a college degree to get a work visa or working holiday visa. I want to go to the manga industry i have found a lot of information online and i have even talked to a foreigner who wants to become a mangaka. is in japan. I live in America

    • Dean Wright
      April 17, 2014 at 1:15 am · Reply

      I’m afraid I don’t know much about the Manga industry as its quite separate from the animation industry. However I would say that from what I know its incredibly competitive and the salary can be very low so I’d recommend researching more before you decide on your degree 🙂 All the best!

  9. Irakli
    April 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm · Reply

    Hello,
    Nice Post. are you still in japan? and how you like it? is it necessary to know Japanese to get proper job there? i’m also interested in moving in japan maybe for 2 years or so. already filled pages for recruiting that you mentioned here.
    Thank You

    • Dean Wright
      April 22, 2014 at 10:23 am · Reply

      Hey, yes still in Japan! Working hard 😉 The working hours are longer than what I’m used to in the UK but overall enjoying it. I’m learning Japanese but I’m not great by any means so you don’t need to be fluent to come on over. Glad you found the post useful and good luck!

  10. nochan
    April 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean,

    Thanks for this post, very useful. I always worry about my Japanese as it isnt very good, but your post gave me hope. I have noticed that its mostly CGI companies, I guess you are 3D animator, but what kind of tips would you give to a 2d animator then? I specialise in hand drawn animation, and im pretty good with after effects and illustrator and premier pro, it has always been my dream to become animator in japan. I have an idea of how to animate in 3d but I am not as good in it as with lightbox x] people always tell me that 2d is not so popular so i wont find a job, indeed it has been difficult here in the UK. but hey 4 years at uni does not count for nothing and i am not giving up that easily. anyways i will appreciate your advice x]

    • Dean Wright
      April 27, 2014 at 3:39 am · Reply

      Hi,

      Indeed I do work in 3D so cannot help as much in regards to 2D. What I will say is from what I have heard 2D animators out here get paid scandalously low wages. Below minimum wage due to how they hire people to dodge the law from what I can see. I hear that the only way people get started in 2D over here is by living with their parents for a long time as the pay does not cover your living costs. I have not researched this extensively though so don’t take my word for it, just what I have noticed here and there.

      A good friend of mine in the UK works as a 2D animator and is having some success in Ireland. It seems Dublin has some good work in and maybe France is worth looking into as well. With skills in AE and Illustrator you may be able to find work in Japan though in other avenues other than 2D animation. At least to get you started while you search for the ideal job. If you just want to give Japan a try though give the Working Holiday Visa a shot and you will be able to travel and will almost certainly be able to find a job English teaching or bar work as a temporary measure 🙂

      Good luck man!

  11. Khad
    April 27, 2014 at 11:26 am · Reply

    Very Helpful, Many thanks for sharing your great experience.
    Any idea on the acquisition side how can i get a Japanese series and dubbed it to the Arabic language in order to distribute in in MENA.

    Let me know your Thoughts,

    Thank you,

    • Dean Wright
      April 28, 2014 at 7:24 am · Reply

      Thanks Ill drop you an email 🙂

  12. Micchi
    May 16, 2014 at 7:10 am · Reply

    Hi. I applied to those companies you listed! However I am a concept artist/illustrator not an animator. I really would like to work in Japan since I loved it so much there and studied abroad there before. Do you know any other companies I could apply to that are more either color stylist type jobs or illustrator jobs?

    • Dean Wright
      May 18, 2014 at 4:39 am · Reply

      Nice I hope you hear back from them 🙂 Most animation studios have a 2D department but may not require that many illustrators. So although these companies may have an opening, I’d suggest looking around for more specific 2D design studios which is a bit out of my knowledge. There is a pretty extensive list of studios on here though that might be worth checking out http://www.cgstepinside.com/cg-studio/

      Good luck!

  13. Tif
    May 29, 2014 at 10:00 am · Reply

    Hey Dean!

    Fantastic post!

    If you are applying to animation jobs in Tokyo and considering the salary where would you say is feasible to stay for 1 person. Would it be more feasible to stay outside Tokyo and commute in? If so where is good? Also how much on average is bills, food and expenses a month. What is social life like after work, in terms of meeting people after work for a drink or dinner. Is it easy to make friends who speak english.

    Tif

    • Dean Wright
      June 3, 2014 at 3:09 am · Reply

      Hi Tif, nice name for an animator (If you are into rendering or texturing!). It is feasible to stay in the center if you have some experience and negotiate a little bit on your salary. I would recommend living close to work as the commute is not cheap and always extremely busy. Plus if you have to work late, being close to home will save you a bundle of time. Social life varies from company to company, what you put in you get out so if you get organising then people will join 🙂 English speaking friends, again depending on the company should be fairly easy to come by and there are plenty of clubs to find online if you want to get into that. But I would recommend a bit of study and hit the bars to talk to the locals. Japanese people are very friendly and will always do their best to have a fun conversation, even if its tough at first.

      Good luck!

  14. Maddy
    June 8, 2014 at 1:57 am · Reply

    Hi Dean!
    Nice article! I have been working in Japan for almost 2 years ( not in animation industry though) and will go in for my Masters in 3D Animation this year in Japan(will be learning Japanese for one year before that). I was talking to one of the professors in an open campus and he told me that animation in Japan is different from animation in US. So if i wanted to learn Disney/Pixar style of animation, I should go to the States rather than Japan. Since you have worked in 3D animation both in UK and Japan, I would like to know your thoughts about it and do you find 3D animation work different in Japan from UK or US?

    • Dean Wright
      June 8, 2014 at 3:02 am · Reply

      Actually I have just shot a video interviewing an ex Disney animator on exactly this question, the differences between working here and in the US/ Europe. I’m still editing it at the moment in my spare time, but if you sit tight for a few weeks I will put it up here as soon as I can. Maybe follow me on twitter or youtube so you will get notified when its up 🙂 Cheers!

  15. Maddy
    June 8, 2014 at 5:08 am · Reply

    Sure, will eagerly await the video, many thanks for writing this article. I am sure there are many like me who want to make a future in animation in Japan and will find this useful.

  16. Han
    June 22, 2014 at 7:05 am · Reply

    Hey,
    Really useful post!
    Cgstepinside doesn’t seem to be working anymore 🙁
    Just wondering where else/how else can I find a list of CGcompanies in Japan

    Han

  17. Sanaa Lee
    June 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm · Reply

    You didn't say if you could be from America to get a holiday visa !?!? 0.o

    • Dean Wright
      July 21, 2014 at 1:42 am · Reply

      Unfortunately I don’t think America has a working Holiday program, but you will have to check on the Japanese embassy website in the US.

  18. Crip
    June 28, 2014 at 2:23 am · Reply

    Hi kind sir, i am very happy because you could succes in your goals. i have read all the comments and i got some question, please be rude, i don’t want to get falses hopes.

    what do you know about 2D animator’s salaries now , i read that they have very low salaries, i would really like to work as a 2D animator but i would like to be able to eat though…and i have read that the transport speacially on tokyo is really expensive. but what if i am good at it? would my salarie get a power up? because anime sells a lot for what i know.

    Do i need a degree in 2D animation in order to apply to a job, because i am lerning independiently, and i know some people that are good at it and they haven’t studied in a college.

    what do you think if a make a short about an intense fight(because i like to make fights with drama, because i have great ideas in my mind XD) before appling, will this help me?

    are 2D animator able to get a job as easily as 3D animator(as you showed us) are able to?

    thank you very much, also sorry my English, i am not a native speaker:). i hope you answer me, if you can’t, there is no prblem:)

    • Dean Wright
      June 28, 2014 at 8:16 am · Reply

      Hey. Well as I animate in 3D I have limited experience of 2D out here. I can only say that from what little I have seen and heard about the 2D animation industry is that you are right, the pay is very very low. I have heard stories that when starting, the salary is so low that you have to be living with your parents and paying little to no rent/ expenses to be able to work in 2D animation. I’m sure it improves if you are very experienced of course. The competition is fierce, so even if you are amazing, you will be up against people who are equally as good if not better.

      A degree always helps, but if you are good and produce a short film that gets attention and into festivals then you don’t need a degree to do well in animation. From my experience, right now the animation industry is healthier in 3D, so you may find it easier to get work if you study 3D and VFX, but the 2D industry certainly is not dead and I hope it makes a big resurgence 🙂

      If you are just starting out, I would set your sights on getting experience in your own country first before looking at other countries as have a few professional jobs under your belt before you start looking abroad will definitely help a lot.

      Good luck!

  19. Jason
    June 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm · Reply

    Hi, I’m also a 3D animator and I’m actually going to Japan to study Japanese for one year, and if I like it there, perhaps I will look for a job there as well! I was just wondering how long were you given to complete the run cycle? Also, you said that the wage is lower. Will it be enough to rent your own apartment and not stress too much about money? Thanks!

    • Dean Wright
      July 1, 2014 at 11:13 pm · Reply

      Hi, that’s cool you are coming to study Japanese. That will help a lot when you look for a job. I had a few days to do the run cycle as I told them I was traveling at the time. The wages are lower here but you should be able to afford a room in a share house or something no problem 🙂 good luck!

  20. Lucas
    July 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean. I just watched your interview video, and it’s awesome. I am currently living in states and looking for a job as a 3d animator. I got an animation test from ppi and submitted it. I have watched your reel and yours is much better than mine. I am a new grad without any industry experience. I don’t know if I could get hired by ppi. Also, compare to US, I heard that Japanese salary is much lower, is that true? If so, I may consider stay in US, but I love Japan. Ps. I can speak Japanese, not much fluent though.

    • Dean Wright
      July 7, 2014 at 2:13 am · Reply

      Hi Lucas,

      As a new grad it may be difficult without some more experience under your belt, but if you make it as easy as possible for a company to hire you then you can improve your chances. The salary is lower here, most of the foreigners I have met who work here are here for personal reasons (travel, adventure, relationships etc) over any career choices. I myself am here for the experience of living in Japan, which in my opinion is well worth the pay cut! Speaking Japanese will be a big help and having some reading ability is a huge advantage so that puts you in a good position. The best thing you can do is research about your visa options and in the mean time get some work experience to put on your CV and showreel 🙂 Good luck!

  21. Rabin Son Munthe
    July 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm · Reply

    wow awesome, do u have any animation company references? must we speak Japanese fluently? especially to our co-worker

    • Dean Wright
      July 21, 2014 at 1:44 am · Reply

      The companies I recommend are mentioned in this post. They are the ones that are most likely to speak English so you won’t need to be fluent, but its great if you know some Japanese and can make friends with your Japanese colleagues for sure 🙂

  22. Rabin Son Munthe
    July 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm · Reply

    wow awesome, do u have any animation company references? must we speak Japanese fluently? especially to our co-worker

    • Dean Wright
      October 16, 2014 at 9:00 am · Reply

      If you apply to the right companies you won’t need to speak Japanese, but it will open up more options if you do study.

  23. Ken
    July 31, 2014 at 4:35 am · Reply

    Wow Dean, I managed to jump from your reddit post (cool animation btw!) to reading up on this great article regarding advice on how to get in the industry. I currently work for the government here in my province in Canada, but I’ve decided to return to school to study art (visual communication design, basically illustration) — but in Korea, not Japan.

    I thought very long and hard about studying in Japan… but the cost of tuition at any of the top schools is incredibly expensive (Tama Art University, Musashino, Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto University of Art and Design, 東京藝術大学 …ちょっと。。。たかすぎるね!). Even with the incredible cost, and the impossible odds that I could pass any entrance art exams (let alone the Japanese language ones) to even get accepted in the first place, I still nearly decided to apply, as I have quite a few Japanese friends who are all artists (we met through Urban Sketchcrawl, and I have visited Japan at least 4 times in the last 6 years). Needless to say I am very disappointed that I cannot afford to study in Japan. Korea still has very good art programs, with far more reasonable tuition rates, and I am humbled and encouraged by the very solid fundamentals many Korean artists display in their work. Reading your post here, and the enthusiasm you show for the language, the country and culture, makes me feel very wistful and a bit sad though. I can’t help but feel excited for you = ) I only wish I could have partaken in that kind of adventure there too, instead of simply just visiting.

    In any case, forgive this long post. You put up so much great info in a succinct manner, and your open, friendly and engaging conversations with everyone makes me wish I knew you in real life. My very best wishes to your continued happiness over there in Japan, Dean — I mean that. = )

    ケン

    • Dean Wright
      July 31, 2014 at 4:48 am · Reply

      Hi Ken,

      That’s a really nice comment, thanks man. It is expensive here for sure, but if you do well in your studies you could move here to live and work if thats what you want. Besides I have friends out in Korea who love it so I think that’s cool you are studying out there 😀 I wish you all the best with your work man and take care!

      Dean

  24. Arturo
    August 1, 2014 at 2:38 am · Reply

    Hello Dean!

    Thanks for putting this up! Been months that I been looking your blog! ( ninja )

    This helped me to learn about the 3D animation world in Japan and where to look for companies. I also loved the interviews you have on YouTube , really helpful =) and ofc the smash video! when I first saw it on Kotaku I thought it was a real commercial lol .

    Cheers!

  25. Andy
    August 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean!

    I’m wondering if you could give us some more details on what the current 3d industry is like in Japan. For example are there actually plenty of jobs and is it as competitive compared to say the UK? Is it preferable to be more skill focused or is it more desirable to be able to do a bit of everything?

    I’ve watched your interview with Stephane Mangin that was very interesting too. It really seems like you have to take the plunge and get into the country to stand the best chance of landing a job. So with that in mind, roughly how much would you need for living costs per month in Yen?

    Cheers for taking the time to respond. Wish you continued success in the future.

    Andy.

    • Dean Wright
      August 5, 2014 at 1:09 am · Reply

      Hi Andy,

      As with the UK, the industry out here is a bit of a mix in terms of skills required, but as a rule of thumb I would say Generalist skills are a bit more valued out here. However large studios such as Polygon Pictures will hire you into a specific area of expertise, though moving to other departments may be easier than the UK if you want to change skill set. There are quite a few jobs around for the right talent, so there is competition as in Europe, though big companies like Nintendo and Toei will definitely require some if not fluent Japanese skills to get your foot in the door, so your options are more limited.

      Taking the plunge is definitely my best advice and dont beat yourself up if you dont land a job, try to have a good time while you are here as well. In Tokyo, If you get in with a decent long term rental, just a bit out of the main city center you could get something for around 60,000 JPY a month. But realistically you could spend half of that or ten times that depending on where and what quality of place you are looking for. Maybe you want to put aside 2000jpy a day towards living costs, you wont be going for loads big nights out with that kind of budget, but you can have some fun. So 120,000jpy a month maybe, so £700 or so? You could live for half that budget or triple it, it really is up to you!

      I’m glad you have found this blog useful though and thanks for your support 🙂

      All the best!

  26. Yuske
    August 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean,

    Your blog is awesome! It is really helpful! It seems you are learning japanese in Japan and how are you doing that?

  27. Luffie Key
    August 11, 2014 at 5:11 am · Reply

    How long did it take you to land a job at polygon pictures? :O

    • Dean Wright
      August 13, 2014 at 1:53 am · Reply

      It took a couple of weeks after doing a test for them to hear back. Then I was called in to interview and it was another couple of weeks before I received an offer 🙂

  28. Riri
    August 13, 2014 at 1:49 am · Reply

    Hi Dean!

    Your blog has helped me find some company that allows english application!
    Thank you!

    I was wondering, I am a recent graduate who came to Japan to work in the 3D industry.
    I can speak conversational level Japanese, and I applied to PolyP.

    They told me they required Wireframe after I applied, so I provided them with what I can.

    How long, do they usually take to reply?
    Is there any hope for me to get in, or should I keep applying for other 3D Jobs?

    Thank you for your time and advice, espeically your blog!

    Riri

    • Dean Wright
      August 13, 2014 at 1:52 am · Reply

      Hey Riri, they took about a week or 2 to reply so you have some time before you may hear a response. It is always good to keep applying to other companies though as you want to have a few options on the table. Good luck!

  29. Stefan
    August 18, 2014 at 12:42 am · Reply

    Hi there and thank you very much for this information. I am currently studying animation and looking at possible job opportunities abroad after university since animators seems to have a hard time finding jobs where i am. So i decided to study some japanese because of my earlier travels over there and interest in the country while working on my showreel and this thought of maybe looking over there came up. Didnt think i would find a good site like this so soon. So thank you very much!

  30. Eduard
    September 6, 2014 at 11:00 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean! I’m just finishing my 2 year animation studies and this month I’m gonna go to Japan (Tokyo) for a year. I’ll be studying japanese and of course searching for a job. Do you know if there is any animation study that it’s OK with non experienced animators (without counting on the 2 years studying)? Thanks a lot!

    • Dean Wright
      October 16, 2014 at 8:55 am · Reply

      Hey that’s great you are going to Japan. Studying Japanese will help out a lot of you can improve quickly. I would say that you may have to begin applying for internships if you are just starting. Polygon pictures have a big program so maybe follow them on Facebook and email them to keep up to date. Good luck!

  31. Trake Starr
    September 18, 2014 at 6:18 pm · Reply

    Hey Dean – Really awesome post, Thanks for sharing – Ofcourse your post is in regard to Animators, I am curious what you think of the feasibility of an animation compositor trying their luck in Japan? I'm primarily AFX based, but am learning Harmony/Stage as well. Do you think I may have a shot out there knockin on studio doors? (I have industry experience here in Los Angeles – I just want a change of… worlds)

    • Dean Wright
      October 16, 2014 at 8:59 am · Reply

      Hey thanks for messaging. You should be good to take a shot in Japan as a compositor. My advise is targeted towards animators but really this could apply to most people in the creative sector. The companies I worked in were often looking for talented compositors, especially the larger ones like Polygon Pictures so it’s worth a look. All the best!

  32. Peddry Saint Louis
    October 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm · Reply

    i've been watching animes since i can remember , if i could get a job with an anime industry in japan i could die happy.

  33. Suggie
    October 16, 2014 at 8:47 am · Reply

    Hi! So glad i found your blog! I am currently studying architecture. Is there any chance for me to get to work in these animation companies??

    • Dean Wright
      October 16, 2014 at 8:52 am · Reply

      These companies I recommend are geared towards tv animation, so not architecture unfortunately. However the working holiday system should still be good for you to get over there, you will just have to target different companies. Architecture is big in Japan as self builds are way more common than the UK and it’s not unusual for people to rebuild their house every 30-50 years, so best of luck!

  34. Arfandi Azzahar
    October 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm · Reply

    Hi, what are the specifics to getting the holiday working visa for Japan? I've checked and it states that you need a certificate of eligibility from a representative from Japan. I'm assuming this would be from the employer. Does it apply to you when you were trying to apply for the visa?

  35. Heather Himi Cake Fraser
    October 18, 2014 at 3:13 am · Reply

    Hi Dean, I've previously messaged before and I was wondering if you could give any tips or know about companies located in Kansai area. We currently live in Osaka and my partner is looking for an animation job, if all else fails we will relocate to Tokyo later on but if you know any companies around here that would help out a lot.
    Thank you so much!

  36. Jay Hime
    December 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm · Reply

    If a person goes to an animation school in the US, is it possible for them to someday work in anime? I feel like it wouldn't be possible since US art schools don't teach anime..

  37. Marc
    December 25, 2014 at 11:37 am · Reply

    Hello there!

    I’ve been watching anime for as long as I can remember, I’ve Always dreamt of being able to work in Japan as an artist or anything that has to do with anime, but as life always swaying and leading me into other parts of the world, I have lost touch of what I loved to do and I guess my goal. I grew up in the Philippines, moved to Japan for 3 years (shinjyu kyu prefect to be exact) and finally moved to America. I always wanted to be an artist who can draw for some of the good ranking companies as well as other starting combines where ever I can land on as a step for my dreams. I’ve studied quite a lot while I was moving from country to another. I am 24 now and I’m still eager to do what I’ve been wanting to do do a long time but never got my self get back on track since money is always the problem and I have barely have any time to work on my craft. Is there any possible way for me to land a job going back to Japan as an artist? I’m pretty rusty on my craft but still striving to make it better. I know how the points of trade In Japan since I’ve live there long enough how the people of Japan really are very modest and honest lovong for the most part. I’ve joined many groups in my past about other students who draws animate being a seiyyu and etc. I’ve learned so many ideas and feed off the positive vibes I get around them. I really want to be a part of a tight knit well oiled company/group in Japan. I guess you can say it a matter of time and being scared to take that step is what really kills me. Hell I can even be a runner if that’s what it takes just so I can learn better and to see what is in store for me. Is there any small but good companies who can hire me as an illustrator? Sorry but I don’t quite remember how to put it in words but. As a person who draws and copies other artist work before they put it into production wise?

    Thank you for reading hope you can shine some light and insight!

  38. Anime Lover
    December 26, 2014 at 10:58 am · Reply

    Konnichi wa Dean Wright. Before I ask a question, I would like to thank you for posting this information. It really helped a lot. I am a first year college student who is studying in a University in the Philippines. I don’t really have a problem with the requirement you posted above because since third year in High School, I started to study Nihongo by myself (self study). I already memorize the Hiragana and Katakana and some of the Kanji and I already memorize their numbers and lots of common Japanese words and Phrases. I planned to make some animation and manga after I graduate and it would be more convincing in my part to do it in Japan with the other animators for Japan is the home of anime and manga, so may I ask if a person who graduated from the Philippines can become an animator without further requirements needed?

    • Dean Wright
      January 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm · Reply

      Its very tough to break into the 2D manga/ anime scene in Japan. Lots of the anime is going 3D actually so maybe consider that route 🙂

  39. Sant Arellano
    January 8, 2015 at 5:19 am · Reply

    Very informative!! A bunch of my friends work in a studio called Toneplus, a lot of their staff is multi-nacional. The goverment required them a degree, I'm working to get mine and try my luck for an animator position, my question is this: Does the degree have to be in animation? Or can it be in a related field like graphic design or communication?

    • Dean Wright
      January 9, 2015 at 5:16 pm · Reply

      If you want to work in animation then an animation degree with help. But its never necessary as its your show reel that they will pay most attention to.

  40. Dean Wright
    January 9, 2015 at 5:17 pm · Reply

    If you want to work in animation then an animation degree with help. But its never necessary as its your show reel that they will pay most attention to.

  41. Sant Arellano
    January 9, 2015 at 5:48 pm · Reply

    Dean Wright Oh I know, I was talking about what the goverment will look for in terms of degrees that relate to the position.

  42. Dean Wright
    January 10, 2015 at 5:19 pm · Reply

    Sant Arellano Ah I'm not sure regarding the specifics, I would imagine any degree would be acceptable, even if it is not directly related to your field of work. You would have to check the embassy website for your country.

  43. Abhishek
    January 31, 2015 at 10:22 am · Reply

    Hello,
    This is a really good article mate.
    I really need your advise on few things

    I am pursuing IT in my college for the B.TECH program.I am currently in 4th semester,There isn’t much of animation in my course.
    I want to know what necessary computer programs I must know for doing 3D animation?
    I am simultaneously gunning for being a Animator of my own and author of my own Manga(BTW I have written the contents for 3 episodes and I am progressing on the next episodes slowly but surely)

    This is a recent devlopment in my life and to be honest I am really freaked out,this is completely going to change the course of my life, All my life I was running aimlessely but now I have found something that actually intrigue me.Your help will really be appreciated mate

    • Dean Wright
      February 2, 2015 at 8:52 am · Reply

      Hi, If you want to get into animation there are a lot of options open to you software wise. For general 3D, you should look into Maya or 3DS Max which are the most commonly used. If you want to do effects like fire and such then Houdini is a great tool. Nuke for compositing and you will need to have a good knowledge of Photoshop and perhaps other Adobe CC products. If you want to do high end modelling look into Zbrush or Mudbox. So yeah depending on what field you want to go into in animation, you have to decide which software is right for you 🙂

      • Abhishek
        February 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm · Reply

        Thanks for replying,
        I want create animation like in Naruto and DBZ so,

        I should study
        Maya
        3ds Max
        Houdini
        PS and Flash….
        Anything more you wanna advise bro?….

  44. mark
    March 30, 2015 at 8:19 pm · Reply

    hello Dean,
    thanks for sharing your experiences and information, thank you very much!! Could you share with us what software you use to make animes such as tokyo ghoul, death parade and such. I have been searching a lot but nothing noteworthy has come up yet, i would be very great full if you could tell us. I really wanna get into animation and stuff but due to lack of software i cant, which is very sad. I sometimes even draw manga, but haven’t published it (too scared to do that).

    great job dean and keep it and hope to hear from you soon!!
    best wishes

    • Dean Wright
      March 30, 2015 at 10:00 pm · Reply

      Hey, thanks for getting in touch. I didnt work on those animes, but I can tell you I use Maya for 3D animation, its the most popular software. You can easily get a free trial on their official website http://www.autodesk.co.uk/products/maya/free-trial

      If you want to do 3D animation, look into Blender which is completely free and a great place to start. 2D wise, there is no excuse to not just pick up a pencil and paper and get animating! No software limits! But if you want to try some industry 2D software, try the free trial of Toon Boom https://store.toonboom.com/downloads/try or flash http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/flash.html and just have a google for some video tutorials as there are thousands of resources.

      Most importantly, publish your work! Share it on facebook, deviantart, twitter, to your friends, get it out there! You wont improve otherwise. Show the world, get their feedback and improve, its the only way 🙂 Good luck!

      • mark
        April 5, 2015 at 11:02 am · Reply

        thank you again for the information, i will definitely give those softwares a try and i mostly do use pencil and paper for my work. I also have showed to it my friends and some other people and they did comment on how good it was and how i could further improve it.

        thank you so much again, also would you recommend using anime studio for making animations?

  45. Trini
    April 7, 2015 at 4:35 pm · Reply

    Hi! This was a great article. I’ve found my self wanting more and more to live in or around Tokyo one day and, wanderlust aside, the more practical reason is having an art career set there lol your article here has inspired me even more. Me and my guy would ideally like to live their after marriage. He’ll graduate college soon and is majoring/minoring in a slew of languages( including Japanese) and electronic media, so there’s no doubt he’d find a job.
    I am currently in college (Kentucky) and getting my BA in illustration. If I have enough to pay for it, I’d love to go back to school and get a graduate’s degree in animation. Of course that may or may not happen. I have a paperback ‘how-to’ drawing book in the works of being published, which can aid in my getting hired, but I’ve yet to create any kind of animation related works. I was wondering though, do you know anything about jobs for concept artists in Japan? Both 2D and 3D studios alike, as well as video game firms hire concept artists to create the still visuals and character designs before the actual animating happens, but I’m not sure how that works in Japan. Do you know of any of the firms hiring artists to do this job? What about storyboard artists? Or do the animators double up jobs and take on these tasks themselves?
    My ideal job would be doing concept art and character design for the art firms there so it would be a real dream true if that could happen! 😀 Thanks in advance!

    • Dean Wright
      April 22, 2015 at 2:55 pm · Reply

      My experience is on the 3D side, so 2D within those companies is usually a small department and only found in the largest of studios. So if you want to work as a 2D artist in an animation studio then I’d say target the big and famous animation studios and game companies like Konami for instance. Good luck 🙂

  46. Willy
    April 12, 2015 at 3:23 am · Reply

    hi dean

    great post, you give me a lot of advices, but this question still stuck in my mind

    does 3d animator get jobs in anime industry ?? well, i mean anime industry is all about 2d right ?

    thanks in advance

  47. Anthony Gray
    April 18, 2015 at 11:14 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean,

    I was curious as to how the applying process for a job went when you were on a Working Holiday Visa. The guidelines for the working holiday state that this isn't a way of getting full time employment. when researching information about the working holiday visa it says "The Scheme enables visa holders to enter Japan for a long-term holiday, and if necessary, work on a casual/temporary basis to supplement travel funds. It is not for the purpose of regular full-time employment in Japan. " Were you only employed part time? Most of the jobs are full time. Wouldn't getting a full time job be breaching the statement above?

    • Dean Wright
      April 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm · Reply

      No its fine you can work full time for short periods. But you cant use the WHV to go there and ONLY try to get a job forever. So you should travel a bit. Then maybe work for a few months, then travel again, or hold a part time job and travel on your days off. I eventually found a job that was willing to sponsor a full visa so that meant I could stay longer. Good luck!

  48. Alexandria
    May 1, 2015 at 5:04 pm · Reply

    Hey Dean!! I’m currently a Freshmen in High School. I’ve always wanted to be an animator since I was like.. 9 years old. I don’t know any Japanese which is pretty bad but I plan on learning as I grow. Is there any Animation Studios you suggest to apply at first? I also would like to know what kind of degree I would need to be an animator. What’s your favorite part in being an animator in Japan? What’s the Lowest and highest amount someone could be paid? What’s the longest hours someone can work? Sorry for all the questions! I’m just really curious and interested. Have a nice day! =D

    • Dean Wright
      May 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm · Reply

      Hi Alex,

      The best studios I recommend are on my post here, so I suggest you start with those. If you want to be an animator, I’d recommend a 3D animation course that offers some technical experience along the way as coding knowledge and technical understanding will help you a lot. The best part about working in Japan is the country itself, the culture is fantastic. Please check out the FAQ which answers many of your questions http://getwrightonit.com/japanese-3d-animation-industry-faq/

      Good luck and take care 🙂

  49. Ai Chan
    May 19, 2015 at 11:08 am · Reply

    How about square enix do they foreigner friendly? Cause my lifetime wishes is to study further in japan and get a job at square enix company..BTW there is a foreigner there his name is wan hazmer he's from my country..how can I be like him? Since im studying in my country malaysia..I'm taking diploma right now in multimedia course..and planning want to further my studies in degree in japan..just how..please help me..advice me..I want these dreams of mine come true…please MR.DEAN..sorry for my bad English..and grammar..

    • Dean Wright
      May 21, 2015 at 9:45 am · Reply

      I think you may be able to get in with Square Enix if your English is good but if you learn Japanese its going to help a great deal. Studying in Japan will definitely be a good idea to improve your connections and language skills 🙂 Good luck!

  50. Thisis Pj
    May 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm · Reply

    Hey ..this post was quite helpful(although I dint understand the main part). I'm from India ..nd I completed ma degree in animations including 2d,3d ..so wud there b any chance for me to apply for a job there??…I don't mind if I have to take an extra course in Japan ..I had visited 'the country once..for karate competition..I like the place..nd knw their culture..well, at least a bit. I also can manage the language..so can I expect any gud animation jobs in Japan ..??and ma dedication is also good..

  51. Azif Bozz
    August 1, 2015 at 6:55 am · Reply

    im studying for Animation, i wanna move to japan because i lovve their tradition and lifestyles….. this post was quite helpful

  52. Bradan thomas
    March 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm · Reply

    Hi I am a sophomore in high school and relly wanted to move to Japan and work in 2D animation but the pay is so low it’s not worth it im not good at 3D animation or I wood try to do that. But becuss it is so low in Japan I have been researching on how to start my own company/studio and have desided to make my own company in the USA but in order to do this I need a good amount of money so I am learning how to become a underwater welder since I like welding inyway and will one day open my own 2D animation studio and it will be so good all the animaters in Japan will won’t to work thare. The only reason I’m telling you this is to see what your thoughts are on what I’m going to be doing with my life and if I shuld go a difrent route. I hope I get a reply 🙂

  53. Naser
    June 9, 2016 at 12:49 am · Reply

    Thanks a lot for the useful information

  54. carl v
    October 4, 2016 at 7:23 am · Reply

    thanks for this blog, helps a lot.. i’ll apply to japan tonight.. maybe some 3 companies listed from your post.. hope i get the job.. 🙂

    • Dean Wright
      October 4, 2016 at 10:30 am · Reply

      Good luck with your Japanese job applications!

      • Carl v
        October 12, 2016 at 5:34 am · Reply

        thanks,
        Polygon Pictures replied, they said i’m on screening process.. XD

        • Dean Wright
          October 12, 2016 at 5:36 am · Reply

          Congrats! 😀

          • Carl v
            October 12, 2016 at 5:38 am ·

            thanks, i really don’t know what screening process do, but when you say congrats, i guess it’s the first step of something good? haha.. 🙂

          • Carl v
            October 13, 2016 at 11:32 pm ·

            i didnt got the job .. hehe.. although still hunting for one.. are there other cgi companies in japan? 🙂

          • Dean Wright
            October 14, 2016 at 2:02 am ·

            That’s a shame but timing is everything. Give it a few months, perhaps brush up a few personal projects and you can reapply to any and all the companies you tried. Next time, you might catch them just when they are looking for your skills. All the best.

  55. Kisura
    October 10, 2016 at 11:30 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean ,
    How many years of experience do I need to have in order to get a 3D Animation Job in Japan ? .
    I’m currently doing my diploma in 3D animation & after I finish the diploma I’m going to do a bachelors in 3D Animation.

  56. Kisura
    October 10, 2016 at 11:30 pm · Reply

    Hi Dean ,
    How many years of experience do I need to have in order to get a 3D Animation Job in Japan ? .
    I’m currently doing my diploma in 3D animation & after I finish the diploma I’m going to do a bachelors in 3D Animation.

    Thanks,
    Kisura

    • Dean Wright
      October 11, 2016 at 4:56 am · Reply

      Hi Kisura,

      Having a degree in 3D animation will help a lot. If you are coming from abroad, I would recommend gaining work experience in your home country for at least a year to help add to your CV and showreel. Though all that really matters if the quality of your showreel and good luck with timing when you apply to companies in Japan.

      All the best!

      Dean

    • Dean Wright
      October 11, 2016 at 4:56 am · Reply

      Hi Kisura,

      Having a degree in 3D animation will help a lot. If you are coming from abroad, I would recommend gaining work experience in your home country for at least a year to help add to your CV and showreel. Though all that really matters is the quality of your showreel and good luck with timing when you apply to companies in Japan.

      All the best!

      Dean

  57. Aditya
    December 16, 2016 at 8:23 am · Reply

    Hello mam,
    This is Aditya from India, i am crazy about animation and love to sketch anime character and also story boarding as well as script writing. at the moment i am doing BCA but i would love to come in Japan and work with other animators so is there any chance for me to do this after completing my graduation from here i.e. India? please guide me about everything i must have to do before visiting there.
    waiting for your reply…………..
    Thank you

    • Dean Wright
      December 18, 2016 at 12:49 am · Reply

      Hi Aditya. I have met many Indian animators in Japan so can certainly say it is possible. After your graduation, it may be best to get some work experience in your home country first, but all you really need is a great show-reel and persistence to keep applying for animation jobs in Japan. Your animation skills matter most!

      All the best,

      Dean

  58. Claire
    April 6, 2017 at 7:59 pm · Reply

    Hiya Dean,

    First off, thanks for making this resource, it is a trove of information!!
    I’m 24, living in SA, and I took the ‘no degree’ route as South Africa doesn’t really have a degree for animation. I’ve got 3 year experience in VFX and other peripherals now (SA, like Japan, requires you to be a generalist) however most of the work I’ve done has been on live action footage (clean ups, greenscreens, ect). Are there companies that do this in Japan? I’ve seen a wealth of 3D companies, but not many VFX ones.
    Secondly, I have no contacts in Japan, so I’m sending out emails to as many companies as I can find, is there a specific format I should be following to be considered polite (bearing in mind I only speak English. Still learning Japanese).
    Lastly, if I don’t manage to find a job prior, I plan on risking it all and going over anyway to look for a job (and visa sponsorship). Do you think this is viable for an English speaking person? I am passionate about learning Japanese, but its a process.. not aided by the fact that no one I know is Japanese.

    Thank you for your assistance and time!
    Claire

    • Dean Wright
      April 7, 2017 at 8:59 am · Reply

      Hi Claire,

      It sounds like you are doing everything right. I can’t recommend anything else than to do what you are doing. Send polite emails in English, learn Japanese in your spare time and consider going out there one day. Treat it like a holiday and enjoy yourself while also trying to make good contacts and network while you are there. Perhaps reach out to Japanese VFX recruiters and artists on linked-in to build up a network. You may even get lucky and find some artists interested in a language exchange for instance! Learn Japanese in return for your English and make good friends and connections at the same time.

      Good luck with everything! Dean

  59. Laura
    August 24, 2017 at 1:53 pm · Reply

    HI Dean,

    Loved your blog, it was extremely helpful. I’m a 9th grader intending to do 3d animation in japan. I have a few questions that are troubling me. I intend to start study the Japanese language but don’t know exactly the best time to start it it. Also, would you recommend me getting the extra schooling in america or in japan? Is the income high enough to maintain a steady living? Would be better to start at a small studio instead of a large one? If so, witch one would you recommend and is it easy to find a studio that’s hiring? … I know that’s a lot of questions but I hope you can give me some advice on them.

    Thanks!! Hope you have a great time in japan! Aiya

    • Dean Wright
      August 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm · Reply

      Hi Aiya,

      That’s great you are already getting into 3D animation, I didn’t start until I was several years older. The best time to start studying a language is yesterday! You can never start too soon, if it is something you enjoy as well. I think studying in your home country is best first and try to get some work experience, this will help you when you apply for animation jobs in Japan. I wouldn’t worry about studios yet, you need to study more and see what specialism within animation is right for you.

      All the best!

  60. oksana
    September 27, 2017 at 11:58 am · Reply

    Hello!) Thank you so much! I have only one question. What about character designers or concept artist? I’m working in CG studio, but i want work with other companies

  61. Emma
    October 16, 2017 at 5:48 am · Reply

    Hi Dean,
    I am from Pakistan, Thanks a lot for the useful information I’m currently doing my bachelor in 3D animation. How many years of experience do I need to have in order to get a 3D Animation Job in Japan?

    • Dean Wright
      October 16, 2017 at 9:27 am · Reply

      There is no strict rule to this. It is your showreel that counts. But building up 2 or 3 years of work experience at home will help build your portfolio which will help your application for sure.

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