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This Week in Anime
And the Award for Best Anime Awards Goes To...

by Monique Thomas & Christopher Farris,

Beyond arguing about whether your fave made it in, what's the point of anime awards? Chris and Nicky discuss the pros of the various fan and industry awards ceremonies.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.

@Lossthief @BeeDubsProwl @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Nicky, we put up with a lot here on This Week In Anime. From bad shows to Netflix scheduling dumps, we soldier through it all for the sake of the column itself. If you ask me, for all our trouble, I think we deserve an award.
While I agree that being able to trudge through countless of series for the benefit of our beloved readership is an achievement worthy of recognition, I'm perfectly content to remain thankless for my hard efforts if it means I don't have to go out in front of hundreds of people and have a final boss-scale battle with my own crippling stage fright.

But maybe they could mail it to us? That'd be nice.

Understandable. I personally have never really jibed with the whole awards show ceremony format. I'm apparently in the minority, though, since it seems like over the last few years, we've had several academies and organizations popping up to annually recognize what supposedly constitutes the objective "best" of a given year of anime.
This isn't the first time Crunchyroll has pushed its own Anime Oscars (not referring to Rose of Versailles) and it certainly won't be the last. This year, they happened to host it live in Tokyo as well as streamed it. The full ceremony can be viewed via Crunchyroll's official YouTube channel.

In attempting to emulate other established and highly recognized awards that exist for film, anime are nominated into a series of categories such as Best Animation, Best Character Design, etc. by a selection of judges. The top six get compiled into a list for both the judges and the public to vote on.

Apparently, judges still have quite a bit of weight compared to the public to keep things feeling a little more official than a glorified yearbook contest since otherwise it'd be too easy for the series with the largest fanbase to flood the inbox, just like any other voting contest. (Full details here.)

As far as these sorts of things go, I think it's a pretty good balance. I've never been too keen on the way things like the Academy Awards keep decision making confined to a nebulous panel selection. Having public opinion at least part of the process makes something like the Anime Awards feel more useful to discuss in terms of the current climate of popularity around different series.

That said, Crunchyroll's Anime Awards have only been around since 2017, so they are clearly still fine-tuning the proceedings. In particular, the categories of things are all over the place, especially with regards to recognizing genres and what "counts" therein. A lot of it just seems like overlap for certain shows to sweep categories, like Demon Slayer taking both Best Action and Best Fantasy.

I feel that the way that they compile nominations between judges must result in a law of averages where the most popular shows get in while smaller niche series are more likely to be snubbed regardless if that was the intention. Anime is a super diverse and prolific medium so it's impossible to expect judges to watch every show. This has been an issue among fan-run awards. Even the Oscars struggle with this as very few voters actually watch most of the films.
In terms of niche stuff, I was at least happy to see my beloved Birdie Wing get a nomination for Best Original Anime. Even if it expectedly lost to my also beloved, and easily more popular, Lycoris Recoil.

On the other hand, Yurei Deco? Really, guys?
Everything from the fall season was also omitted from competing, a decision I can't argue with given the timing, since most of them were still airing when the noms were being compiled, but nonetheless leaves us with a rather weak lineup. A majority of big hitters of the year were reserved for fall and leaves to question whether those titles would be eligible to receive proper recognition next year.
It's funny how a lot of people presumed the fall exclusion rule was to stop the Chainsaw Man anime from sweeping everything, when with the benefit of hindsight we now know that Bocchi the Rock is far more likely to pull that off. Not that the Anime Awards are immune to upsets, since after an evening dominated by Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer, the big talking point was Cyberpunk: Edgerunners walking away with the AOTY prize.

I mean, among all the choices there, it would've been my pick, but still.

I care less about the specific results. I already know my taste isn't going to line up with a lot of people. If people are happy that their show won, then good for them! I think many anime are worthy of recognition.

Outside of Japan, anime is rarely recognized for its achievements. There were no anime films nominated for the Oscars this year. Even the much smaller animation-centric Annies didn't have much in the way of anime, with Inu-Oh and Tonko House's Co-pro Oni: Thunder God's Tale being the biggest names despite the hundreds of titles produced each year. It speaks a wider issue of how we treat art on an international level, and many people look at awards as a sign of prestige and as recommendations.

To their credit, the Annies did also lightly recognize Edgerunners. Though if they were going to give a nomination for Best Storyboarding, I would have gone with Kai Ikarashi's sixth episode instead of just the premiere. But what do I know.
There's a ton of great titles here and I love seeing them recognized too, but trying to pin down what constitutes anime as both animation and this larger part of a media landscape also requires a lot of inside baseball that can only come from dedicated otaku, most of whom aren't necessarily working in animation, TV, or film directly.
Reasons like that are probably why other awards arrangements from dedicated anime fan outlets have sprung up in recent years. So we get things like Reddit's r/anime Awards, which have been going since 2018.

The page they've put together there is pretty nice and, just speaking personally, way more my speed. They've got detailed writeups for every nominee and winner. It feels a little more like "Best Of" lists from review outlets, where you can take your time and get a sense for why the people behind them made their decisions.

Other anime communities have their own ratings as well. MAL has always prided its user ratings, and I tend to keep an eye on Anime Trending, which also has its own awards.

I enjoy gazing at such metrics just to see what's going on in places, but I can't say I consider any of them authorities of taste since it's impossible for any singular anime community to represent anime fans as a monolith. As one of the largest anime-specific streaming platforms, CR might be able to cast a wider net than a single subreddit, but even it's not immune to participance problems.

I appreciate the work Anime Trending does. Especially on Twitter where I spend most of my time interacting with visible community and reactions (for now...). It's useful to see how things shake out over the course of the seasons, and can be fun to see an anime you favor turn out to be a dark horse favorite. And both the Anime Trending and Reddit awards did wind up proving me right about what might've happened had Crunchy allowed Bocchi onto the field.
And hey, who am I if I don't also mention our own readers' weekly rankings and our extremely robust Best of the Year 2022 list brought to you by all the lovely folk doing editorial here on ANN.

Which you BETTER read if you haven't already because we're always pouring our hard blood, sweat, and tears so you guys can know what's the the cream of the crop!

In terms of broad decision making, I think I honestly prefer the fan vote option over the more insular academy/council/juror thing. That better reflects which entries rose to be defining tastemakers across audiences.

Meanwhile, not to be too biased, but a Best Of list like ours there is more what I like to see in individualized takes. Basically, just tell me what you, personally, liked most out of the year.

I agree there's a lot of fun in celebrating with your fellow fans, but we're not filling up a whole venue just so I can tell everyone I think they should be watching Pui Pui Molcar, and what about people outside of our circles? Not everyone who watches anime is as "plugged in" as we are. Awards are a way of reaching a wider audience too, maybe that's part of why just having confirmation bias isn't as fun for me.
That's a fair point. Anime's permeated the mainstream enough that plenty of people are aware of, and maybe even watched, stuff like Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. And yet for all our jokes about a #BOCCHISWEEP, there are a lot of people who watched and loved those shows who still have no idea what a Bocchi is.

So the most well-known streaming service in Crunchyroll broadcasting from a glitzy stage to at least give nominal attention to stuff like Call of the Night and Birdie Wing might be a meaningful effort.

Even if said broadcast in this case was a Japan-focused affair which had its livestream happening in the wee hours of the morning in the American part of the world.

It doesn't seem great for encouraging people to participate or hyped, though it might be better for actual industry people if they could receive awards in person. It's kind of a strange middle where I don't feel CR awards has enough recognition or input from the industry yet to be considered an authority on anime as a technical craft, but I also don't feel like there's enough reward for being a judge or a voter. Even when I DID vote, I felt underwhelmed because I wasn't passionate about the noms, which is a whole 'nother process.
I have heard from people who got to attend past Crunchyroll Awards ceremonies that it's a fun evening, at least. As an enjoyer of social situations, I can see it. But that, and the whole "show" definitely feels like that: A show, of authority and importance, perhaps more for the investors and production committees Crunchyroll is now involved with than the fans who might benefit from learning that Love After World Domination exists.
Either way, we don't have to wait for a bunch of suits to get up on stage for people to learn how cool anime is. Break the silence by making your voice heard! Speak up for the things you want to be appreciated. Tell us your own anime nominations and why. Comment on what you think of our new column format, and don't forget to give love to the best people in your life every day!
It would be nice to see the medium get to a point of recognition where something like the Oscars can be assed to include more regular anime nominations. Spirited Away is still the only anime film to win the Best Animated Feature category from The Academy, and that was way back in 2002! If I've got any more hot takes here, it's that Revue Starlight The Movie should absolutely have gotten a nod here, since it can't be any more of a franchise feature than a Shrek spin-off sequel.
I would personally throw my hat in for more people to see Inu-Oh and I'm always grateful to see stuff in front of unlikely eyeballs, like when On-Gaku: Our Sound got put up on Criterion Channel not too long ago. As much as some people might groan about it, it was pretty neat to see Chainsaw Man talked about by people who don't normally keep up with anime seasonally, all of which we could see a little more of if we keep celebrating anime for its best merits on a daily basis and not just as a big event.
Until then, even if you're not on board for the big celebrations themselves, there's no denying that seeing the discourse spin out in the main anime fandom and others works as a fun conversation starter. And the possibilities are heartening: If a tie-in to Cyberpunk 2077 can take home the gold at the most ostentatious night in the industry, maybe there's hope for all of us.

Perhaps they oughta call that alleged upcoming rerelease of the game the Anime Of The Year Edition.

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