Unfortunately, we haven’t had the time this year to put together our own anime awards. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look back at what was generally a good year for anime!
Crunchyroll has done a good job of establishing a widely-respected Anime Awards – it’s impossible to please everyone, but this might be as good as western audiences are likely to get! While some of their categories (namely Best Boy, Girl and Couple) aren’t too important, there are some great categories here with some excellent selections.
Here are our picks from Crunchyroll’s 2021 nominations!
Best VA Performance (JP) – Riho Sugiyama (Minare Koda in Wave, Listen to Me!)
For us, this was really a split between Sugiyama and Kobayashi, the voice of Subaru in Re:Zero. Subaru is a fantastically emotive and exagerrated character in a world and story that facilitates that kind of acting. However, Sugiyama, through Minare (centre in image above), brings a raw, down-to-earth character to life with a leading performance full of energy but also punctuated by moments of nuance.
There’s also something to be said about the amount and speed of the lines in Wave. I read somewhere that the first episode has around 28 minutes’ worth of lines for Sugiyama, which is a remarkable feat!
Best Animation – The Great Pretender
Best Animation is always going to be a tight-run thing, and this year is no different, with at least four shows that could win the award! While I imagine Eizouken will win thanks to its popularity, if judging on the animation alone, we would like the award to go to The Great Pretender.
While the show itself can leave a little to be desired, the Great Pretender is undeniably exciting to look at. The show favours a flat, block-coloured style of animation which gives the show a slightly old-school vibe, while its bright, vivid colours give it a real edge. It’s not necessarily as easy on the eye as Eizouken or Beastars, which also deserves a mention, but in terms of its creative and stylistic ambition, The Great Pretender would be a worthy winner.
Best Character Design – Naoyuki Asano, Original Designs by Sumito Oowara (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!)
This is another award that is full of worthy winners. The Great Pretender does a great job of delivering real-life people with a sharp anime edge, while Yashahime and Toilet-bound both manage to create unique and exciting designs in saturated fantasy genres. However, it’s impossible to look beyond the charm of the lead trio from Eizouken.
Much like the show itself, the characters of Eizouken toe the line beautifully between being real and relatable, but also a fantastical ‘best version’ of ourselves, having fun in their world that drifts between real and imagination. Each character brings something to the story and none of the trio is given particular importance over the other, making it easy to enjoy them both as individuals but also as a group. As a result of that last point in particular, when it comes to a set of characters, Eizouken would be a worthy winner.
Best Opening sequence – Daddy! Daddy! Do! (Kaguya-sama: Love is War?)
Crunchyroll lists the featured songs as the nominees for best opening and ending. For the removal of doubt, we’re judging these on the opening as a whole, including the song, animation, direction etc.
Kaguya-sama is a show about taking the routine and relatable troubles of school love and blowing them up to war-like proportions. That ethos is apparent in their romantic, almost 80s-style intros! The first season’s intro was also award-worthy, but the second-season version might even be a little better.
Often, the best introd are those that seperate themselves form the show itself. The other intros are all good, also, but the slightly ironic style of Kaguya-sama’s introduction is what tips the balance for us!
Best Ending Sequence – Night Running (BNA: Brand New Animal)
This category is a little tricker for us, as we haven’t seen the majority of these. Just from the sall clip we’ve seen, Dorohedoro deserves a special mention, but we’re definitely going for BNA here.
Brand New Animal is a show that has a lot of promise but can’t quite decide what kind of audience it wants to target and isn’t always a great watch. From the first episode, it was clear that the outro was always going to be a stand-out part of this show.
BNA’s ending sequence is a concentrated solution of all the good bits of this series – it’s futuristic world, the bright colours and modern feel of of its characters and colour pallettes. A very good song helps to ties it all together and makes it a worthy winner of this award.
Best Score – OORUTAICHI (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!)
For us, this category was only going to go one way, Eizouken doesn’t just have a great score – it might be one of the best scores we’ve heard in any anime series.
Eizouken is a show that is light in many areas, including the characters’ lines and the animaiton in general. This choice allows the score to take a leading role in dictating emotion across the entire show, and it does so in such a gentle and unique way with sounds that we’ve not heard anything else.
There’s a joyous energy to the Eizouken score no matter what the scene, keeping that youthful and playful energy that runs through the whole series. This uncomplicated score perfectly rounds-off the series and is a deserved winner here.
Best Director – Masaaki Yuasa (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!)
The best director category is a surprisingly uninspiring collection, with few shows here that feel visually unique. Kaguya-sama deserves a mention, although season one felt more exciting than the second season from a visual point of view.
Thankfully, Eizouken is a deserved winner here thanks to how expertly it blends its reality and imaginary worlds. Clever choices, such as asking the voice actors to do many of the sounds in the imagined scenes, help to create a complete experience that pulls you in effortlessly.
2020 Anime of the Year – Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Unsurprisingly, this is a great category full of shows well worthy of your attention. Jujutsu Kaisen looks like a fantastic action series, while Beastars has quitly built a huge following. However, our choice, unsurprisingly, is an anime about a love of anime!
From the first episode, it was clear that Eizouken was going to be something special. Science Saru has a habit of creating extraordinary series, but even by their standards this show felt special. It just ticks every box – a great, primarily female cast, stunning animation, a beautiful score and a story that allows all of these technical elements to flourish. While it’s not as loud or dramatic as other shows from this year, it is a story that touches everyone that watches it, even reaching beyond traditional anime crowds thanks to its infectious spirit.
What were your choices for the Crunchyroll Anime Awards? Share your choices with us on social media and see who wins on February 19th!
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