2nd Anime Oscars?

More mock awards on the anime blogosphere (as if there haven’t been enough), this one being a sequel of the one I did last year. Just like the last effort, this set of awards will be structured to (somewhat) resemble the real Academy Awards, cheekily timed to coincide with yesterday’s ceremony. Again, these awards are completely biased by what I’ve seen (as well as the small detail of my own taste), and I’m pretty much going to conveniently ignore ongoing series except where it’s utterly clear that there’s no worthwhile competition within cooie. The other anomaly is Bakemonogatari, which is near enough to completion that I may as well treat it as such. I’m also going to snub worthwhile series like Aoi Bungaku and Kemono no Souja Erin because I still haven’t finished either (which is unfortunate, because what I’ve seen of both series has been outstanding, but they’re not what I’d call “easy” shows to watch, which is why I’ve been pacing myself with them). Oh yeah, and seeing as I’ve had to try to recall an entire year’s worth of anime, songs and seiyuu, there’s almost certainly something or someone I’ve unintentionally left out, so feel free to point out if you think I’ve tripped up.

As far as the real Oscars are concerned, I can’t see anything obviously objectionable about the results. I’ve only seen four of the Best Film nominees (Inglourious Basterds, Avatar, Up and Up in the Air), but from what I’ve heard of The Hurt Locker from people whose opinions I generally respect on such matters, there’s no reason to begrudge its win (and isn’t it awesome that a woman won Best Director). It’s definitely a film I’m looking forward to seeing (it was only released here a couple of weeks ago and has been in limited release until just recently). The best film I saw from last year was Up in the Air, and I was a little disappointed that it walked away empty handed. George Clooney in particular probably has reason to feel a tad unlucky. At this point I’ll be honest: I’m relieved Avatar didn’t win. Was it an achievement? Yes, as a piece of filmmaking it’s marvelous… revolutionary, even. But the story, the script in particular. Guh! “Unobtanium”? “Fight terror with terror”. Puh-lease. I kinda hope that Best Film winners have higher standards for script and story than that. Onto anime…

Best Animation
Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
Eden of the East
Eve no Jikan

And the award goes to: Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
When in doubt, go with the incumbent. However, on this occasion, there was no doubt. Canaan and RideBack had some amazing set pieces, and Eden of the East had the usual Production I.G. polish. Kara no Kyoukai did it all, though… it was almost always fantastic to look at, the cinematography was outstanding and everything was so fluid. Only Shinkai and Miyazaki have put together anime that are better animated, IMO.

Best Anime nominee: Aoi Hana

Best Original Theme Song
“Futuristic Imagination” by School Food PunishmentEden of the East
“oblivious” by KalafinaKara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
“Super scription of data” by Shimamiya EikoHigurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei
“Kioku” by Younha feat. GOKURideBack
“Shangri-La (Y.Sunahara 2009 Remodel)” by Denki GrooveTrapeze

And the award goes to: “Futuristic Imagination” by School Food PunishmentEden of the East
A new category this year. Music is a matter of taste, moreso than most things I think. Whether anyone’s going to agree with my choices for best theme songs of the year, I’m not sure. Most of these songs are fairly “serious” and have something of a similar beat. School Food Punishment‘s “Futuristic Imagination” was my pick: it’s a rocking song and I may have been slightly biased by the incredible paper-cut ED sequence that goes along with it.

Best Original Soundtrack
Spice and Wolf II
Toaru Majutsu no Index
Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou

And the award goes to: Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
Honestly, I haven’t been paying as close attention to soundtracks this year as I did last year, so this might be a slightly uninformed choice. This time, I’m basically judging the soundtracks on their ability to set an atmosphere within the anime themselves. And, on that front, Kara no Kyoukai is probably the best choice. Some of Kajiura Yuki‘s tracks in the movie series are epic (which is a word I reserve for times when I want to make a statement).

Best Anime nominee: Clannad ~After Story~

Best Script
Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
Eden of the East
Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season
Clannad ~After Story~

And the award goes to: Eden of the East
Just as last year, I didn’t bother splitting this into “Original” and “Adapted” categories, but with original anime starting to come into vogue (thank you, Anime no Chikara), that might change next year. This was a tough decision, and it was basically between Bakemonogatari‘s snappy dialogue, Kara no Kyoukai‘s intensive philosophizing and Eden of the East. In the end, I went with Kamiyama Kenji‘s “johnny”-laden screenplay, which adorned a fascinating game-like mystery with super topical commentaries about society and corporate life, a dash of humour and a splash of romance.

Best Female Seiyuu in a Supporting Role
Itou MikiMaria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season (Ogasawara Sachiko)
Koshimizu AmiUmineko no Naku Koro ni (Ushiromiya Rosa)
Hirohashi RyouTaishou Yakyuu Musume (Ishigaki Tamaki)
Satou RinaZoku Natsume Yuujinchou (Taki Tohru)
Tanaka RieCanaan (Liang Qi)

And the award goes to: Hirohashi RyouTaishou Yakyuu Musume
Maybe this is me subconsciously making up for the fact that I didn’t nominate Hirohashi last year despite three particularly good performances (Kimikiss, Clannad and ARIA The Origination). This is one of the particularly competitive categories, and there were so many seiyuu who were lucky to miss out, like Sakamoto Maaya (Canaan) and Sawashiro Miyuki (Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou) and pretty much the ensemble cast of Bakemonogatari. Picking a winner was pretty much splitting hairs, but I think Hirohashi gave the best all-round performance, and made the most of her character’s screentime.

Best Anime nominee: Kara no Kyoukai - The Garden of Sinners

Best Male Seiyuu in a Supporting Role
Nakata JoujiKara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners (Araya Souren)
Inoue KazuhikoZoku Natsume Yuujinchu (Madara)
Sugita TomokazuUmineko no Naku Koro ni (Ronove)
Koyama RikiyaRideBack (Okakura Tenshirou)
Miyauchi AtsushiEden of the East (Mononobe Daiju)

And the award goes to: Nakata JoujiKara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
This, on the other hand, isn’t a terribly competitive category, and just as last year, it wasn’t easy to find five noteworthy performances. Nonetheless, my choice in this category was so far ahead of all the other nominees, it was barely a contest. My idea of a good performance is either one which is memorable or incites a strong emotion, and the emotion I felt towards Nakata‘s character, Kara no Kyoukai‘s main antagonist, was terror. I love a genuinely scary bad guy, and I particularly respect the actors who can pull them off convincingly.

Best Female Seiyuu in a Lead Role
Nakahara MaiTaishou Yakyuu Musume (Ogasawara Akiko)
Saito ChiwaBakemonogatari (Senjougahara Hitagi)
Sakamoto MaayaKara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners (Ryougi Shiki)
Orikasa FumikoRistorante Paradiso (Nicoletta)
Mizuki NanaRideBack (Ogata Rin)

And the award goes to: Saito ChiwaBakemonogatari
Conventional wisdom probably demands this choice. Saito just owned this performance. She was so convincing, and brought so much nuance to a character which probably wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without such a good seiyuu, at pretty much the top of her game. Itou Kanae, who played the other female lead in Taishou Yakyuu Musume, and Ohara Sayaka, for her work in Umineko, were among the unlucky to miss out on a nomination.

Best Anime nominee: Bakemonogatari

Best Male Seiyuu in a Lead Role
Kamiya HiroshiBakemonogatari (Araragi Koyomi)
Nakamura YuuichiClannad ~After Story~ (Okazaki Tomoya)
Fukuyama JunSpice and Wolf II (Kraft Lawrence)
Mitsuya YujiTrapeze (Irabu Ichiro)
Kimura RyoheiEden of the East (Takizawa Akira)

And the award goes to: Kamiya HiroshiBakemonogatari
This was a tough decision, basically between Kamiya and Nakamura, and while Nakamura was probably better in Clannad After Story‘s dramatic moments, Kamiya showed more range and a lot of vocal chemistry with the excellent Saito, who won the previous award. I was also thinking of nominating Toradora‘s Majima Junji, probably feeling a touch guilty that I hadn’t nominated Toradora for anything up until this stage, but I didn’t think his performance stacked up against the ones I did go with.

Best Director
Kasai KenichiAoi Hana
Kamiyama KenjiEden of the East
Hirao TakayukiKara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
Shinbo AkiyukiBakemonogatari
Takahashi TakeoSpice and Wolf II

And the award goes to: Hirao TakayukiKara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
The two stand-outs were obvious, IMO, but the decision much harder. Almost all of Kara no Kyoukai‘s films were well directed, but the fifth was particularly noticeable, and Hirao very intricately weaved together a non-linear story, filled with deft repetitions and cycles. On the other hand, Shinbo may have made his best anime yet with Bakemonogatari, streamlining many of the techniques he played with in his comedic works like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei but not sacrificing an iota of the eye-catching flair that marks all his shows. In the end I chose Hirao for being so bold… he made a film that stood out in a series, but still blended in cohesively. There aren’t many directors in anime that are bolder than Shinbo, and probably less that make it work.

Best Anime nominee: Eden of the East

Best Anime
Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners
Clannad After Story
Aoi Hana
Eden of the East

And the award goes to: Eden of the East
Eden of the East was my pick for best of the year, and I stand by that. All of these anime excelled in one way or the other, but Eden of the East was the most well rounded title. An engaging mystery story, strong, likable characters, sparkling animation and an artstyle that radiates a sense of charm completely foreign to most other Kamiyama anime, Eden of the East executes pretty much everything with wit and poise.

Cue sweeping awards ceremony music. Actually, at this point, this song might be more appropriate.

10 Responses to “2nd Anime Oscars?”

  1. Hurrah for Eden! I suppose I’ll also have to let my personal dislike towards Kara no Kyokai stay out of this.

    Where I definately disagree is for both the male seiyuus. Honestly, I don’t really see what Kamiya did with Arararagi that’s deserving of much praise. Pretty much any of the other 4 would’ve been a better choice. For supporting male seiyuu, apart from whathisface who voices Jack Vessalius (guessing you haven’t seen Pandora Hearts), my choice would’ve been Oshino Meme from Bakemonogatari.

  2. Best original soundtrack is kind of tough because truth be told, there’s not a whole lot that really impressed me out of 2009. KnK winning the top spot is deserved and I guess if I had been nominating stuff, my choices would have been to replace Index with Umi Monogatari and Bakemonogatari with a soundtrack that I’m currently reviewing. I’m really not a fan of the latter since Kousaki’s minimalistic music isn’t my thing and a standalone listen of the first OST pretty much confirmed that.

    I am surprised to not see the Bakemonogatari ED though for the theme song category :p

  3. Mizuki Nana – RideBack (Ogata Rin)

    I’m assuming that’s supposed to be “Mizuki Nana – White Album (Ogata Rin)”. Would have been the only choice other than Saito Chiwa. My only real beef with choosing Saito Chiwa is, I think, she does this same character and voice in other roles. It’s not something that she did unique to Senjougahara.

    Also, you’re flat out wrong on the male lead seiyuu. Shouldn’t have even nominated anybody but Nakamura. Kamiya slips way too often into “Zetsubo Sensei” mode for my tastes. Nakamura’s dramatic moments were special; the likes of which I have not seen in anime before.

  4. @Scamp
    Now I feel like a bit of an ass, because Oshino Meme’s seiyuu is an obvious choice for a supporting male seiyuu nomination. I thought about Bakemonogatari several times trying to figure out which of the supporting female seiyuu deserved recognition, but completely missed a worthy candidate for the male side of things.

    Yeah, completely forgot about Umi Monogatari as well. I think we’ve talked about its music and decided that the soundtrack was the only worthwhile thing about that anime. Does it deserve a nod ahead of something like Index… yeah, probably. I know you weren’t a big fan of Index’s soundtrack, but I still thought it was good. As far as Bakemonogatari’s ED is concerned, it’s a killer theme, but I wouldn’t have it ahead of the ones I nominated, or even some of the OP songs from the same series, like “Stable Staple” and “Renai Circulation”.

    I guess I’m not familiar enough with Saito’s works to recall any of her characters that resemble Senjougahara. A lot of her characters that I know are like Aika (ARIA), Hazuki (Tsukuyomi) and Kokoa (Rosario + Vampire), who are varying degrees of the childish, tsundere, petulant type. As for the male seiyuu, it’s splitting hairs, but my preference was for Kamiya, who was also able to hold himself quite well in the more far-out comedic moments (which, as you say, sounded like his Zetsubou Sensei voice). No doubt that Nakama was convincing, but I was more impressed with Kamiya’s range.

  5. I agree with most of these decisions, though I would probably give Casshern SINS the best anime award. Kara no Kyoukai was visually incredible but it didn’t resonate with me quite as much as Casshern.

    Also, try DtB 2’s soundtracks. It’s quite fun.

  6. Best Animation
    Yup, I’m with you on this one. The next strongest contender would be Rideback, followed by Canaan. KnK movies like the second and fifth warrants the victory.

    Best Original Theme Song
    To be honest, I think “seventh heaven” by Kalafina should’ve been nominated instead of “oblivious”. “oblivious” is typical of Kajiura’s style of music, but “seventh heaven” and perhaps “sprinter” breaks the mould more conspicuously for me. I actually don’t like “Futuristic Imagination”, it’s nothing special both as a song and as a theme. Oasis’ “Falling Down” is the better theme, even though not as an Oasis song. I wonder why this wasn’t nominated instead.

    Best Original Soundrack
    No contest for me. In terms of sheer number of great soundtracks, KnK should win it and I agree with you. I think it’s Kajiura’s best work yet, too.

    Best Anime
    I would give this to Clannad ~After Story~ instead. Putting aside Bakemonogatari (which I haven’t watched a single episode yet), ~After Story~ is more memorable and really grabs you by the heart. Kara no Kyoukai is great but its inconsistent, and I evaluate it more as a whole rather than a collection of episode. Eden of the East is provocative and deep with its social commentary, but it lacks the special factor that makes me remember it. It’s unique but it’s not special (I know, this sentence sound strange).

  7. Watching Kara no Kyoukai cemented my love for Jouji Nakata even more. He can do no wrong.

  8. @Shadowmage
    Yeah, I definitely need to get around to seeing Casshern SINS. Whenever I do something like this, I usually quickly realize how many great anime I’ve missed and haven’t caught up on.

    I was careful to title the award “Original Theme Song”, which eliminated “Falling Down” from being eligible… but then I didn’t bother to research whether the other songs were released for their respective anime first or not (and I kinda suspect at least a few of them weren’t). Still, I personally think that “Futuristic Imagination” is a better song than “Falling Down”.

    He’s great isn’t he. A top-line male seiyuu with a unique voice in an industry where top-line male seiyuu are arguably in short supply.

  9. I think Jouji Nakata did equally well (or perhaps better) as Edmond Dantes in Gankutsuou.

  10. @AC

    I agree with that, actually. Nakata’s Count is maybe my favorite anime performance ever. Just brilliant.

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