3rd Anime Oscars?

For the third year running, I’ve set up a mock award for anime, based on the Oscars and timed to coincide with Hollywood’s most prestigious annual awards. I’ve tried to make this award resemble the real Academy Awards as closely as possible, with a couple of allowances for the sake of relevance and convenience. This year I’ve introduced the rule that seiyuu are only eligible for each category once, which I’m pretty sure is the case for actors in the real awards. (If I didn’t do this, I may have been incredibly tempted just to nominate Hanazawa Kana for every role she’s been in this year.) Otherwise, eligibility rules are the same as previous years: I can only give awards to anime that I’ve actually seen, and while any anime that aired in 2010 can be nominated, I’ve deliberately favoured series that have finished.

As far as the real awards are concerned, it wasn’t a huge surprise that The King’s Speech dominated, picking up four of the major statues. I thought Tom Hooper undoubtedly deserved the Best Director award, while my pick for Best Film was basically a coin toss between The King’s Speech and The Social Network, and I wouldn’t have begrudged either of them winning. It was fairly obvious that Inception would be snubbed for major awards just going by the nominations.

As far as acting awards go, I was pleased that Natalie Portman won, considering how challenging the role she played in Black Swan was, and Colin Firth was a bit of a no-brainer. I have no idea about the supporting actor awards though, as I hadn’t seen many of the films that got nominated in those categories. Overall, I got around to seeing five of the Best Film nominees before the ceremony (which has been lambasted by many, including Roger Ebert… just to clarify my Oscar nerdism, my interest is in the results, not the ceremony, which I probably won’t bother to watch), but the film that I’m most hyped about seeing after this year’s awards are all done and dusted is, in fact, Inside Job… the Best Documentary winner about decadence and debauchery on Wall Street.

But you’re not here to listen to me ramble about hyped up, Hollywood movies made for critics, retirees and educated elitists. You want to know which anime and seiyuu I’ve put on a pedestal this year (or so I wish to believe). And I want to know what you think, so tell me where you agree and disagree, and where you think I’ve completely missed the mark in my choices. :p

Best Animation
Nominees:
Bungaku Shoujo
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Katanagatari
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Eden of the East the Movie II: Paradise Lost

And the award goes to: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
While the award is called “Best Animation”, the criteria is pretty much everything visual related, including art, character designs, consistency, action choreography and cinematography. Disappearance is an extraordinary visual experience, and I’ve waxed lyrical about it before. It’s far and away the best thing KyoAni has done from an animation point of view, which means a lot considering that, especially in their earlier years, they built their reputation by animating moe character designs with more care and fluency than everyone else, and it’s head and shoulders better looking than everything else this year. Katanagatari is the only TV series to be nominated, which is no surprise, since this is a category made to be dominated by movies and OVAs.

Best Anime nominee: Nodame Cantabile ~Finale~

Best Original Theme Song
Nominees:
“Kami-sama no Iu Tori” by Ishiwatari Junji & Sunahara Yoshinori + Yakushimaru EtsukoThe Tatami Galaxy
“Maids Sanjou!” by Yazawa Rieka, Omigawa Chiaki, Aoi Yuuki and Shiraishi RyokoSoredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
“God Only Knows” by Oratorio The World God Only KnowsThe World God Only Knows
“My Soul, Your Beats” by LiaAngel Beats!
“Sakasama Bridge” by SuneohairArakawa Under the Bridge

And the award goes to: “God Only Knows” by Oratorio The World God Only KnowsThe World God Only Knows
This award is for the year’s best OP, ED or insert song, and while the entries from the likes of Soredemo Machi and Angel Beats were very good, it’s hard to look past The World God Only Knows‘ bombastic 5 part 8 minute medley OP song. Oratorio The World God Only Knows (which I admittedly know nothing about) have really gone above and beyond with this song.

Best Original Soundtrack
Nominees:
The World God Only Knows
Angel Beats
Katanagatari
Yosuga no Sora
Sora no Woto

And the award goes to: Yosuga no Sora
Amazingly, to date (and to my knowledge), no official Yosuga no Sora OST has been released (although there are rumours swelling that it will come out with the Blu-rays). In a very competitive field, Yosuga no Sora was the anime that I thought had the best background music. Tender, heartfelt and dramatic, Yosuga no Sora‘s soundtrack managed to lift an otherwise forgettable work above the limitations set by its questionable script, and make it a worthwhile experience. The World God Only Knows and Sora no Woto probably have the more sophisticated compositions, but Yosuga no Sora wins for emotion and heart.

Best Anime nominee: Cross Game

Best Script
Nominees:
KatanagatariUezu Makoto, Nagatsu Seiko and Touko Machida (adapted from the light novel series by Nishio Ishin)
Cross GameMichihiro Tsuchiya (adapted from the manga by Adachi Mitsuru)
The Disappearance of Haruhi SuzumiyaShimo Fumihiko (adapted from the light novel series by Tanigawa Nagaru)
The Tatami GalaxyMakoto Ueda (adapted from the novel by Morimi Tomihiko)
Nodame Cantabile ~Finale~Ohnogi Hiroshi, Yokotani Masahiro, Maruo Miho and Yoshida Reiko (adapted from the manga by Ninomiya Tomoko)

And the award goes to: Cross GameMichihiro Tsuchiya
While good writing was at a premium in 2010, Cross Game takes this award with its emphasis on story and characters. It’s simple and unpretentious in its execution, but is so utterly heartfelt in its exploration of its characters and their relationships and earnest in what drives them. Interestingly, none of these titles are anime original (hence why I still think it’s pointless to have a “Best Original Script” category), and I’m a bit disappointed by that, since 2010 was supposed to be the year that original anime would become more prominent. The Tatami Galaxy and Katanagatari deserve kudos for their words-per-second dialogue, but I’m again showing my preference for heartfeltness over complexity.

Best Female Seiyuu in a Supporting Role
Nominees:
Yuuki AoiShiki (Kirishiki Sunako)
Tomatsu HarukaKatanagatari (Hitei)
Yazawa RiekaSoredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (Futaba Kon)
Sawashiro MiyukiKimi ni Todoke (Yano Ayane)
Orikasa FumikoKobato (Okiura Sayaka)

And the award goes to: Yuuki AoiShiki
This is always a highly competitive category, and I’m always partial to a sympathetic villain, so this year I’ve chosen Yuuki Aoi, a seiyuu I openly admit I underestimated in the past, for her portrayal of Sunako in Shiki. The “one role per category” rule is why I haven’t also nominated her for her performance in Soredemo Machi, instead going for promising newcomer, Yazawa Rieka (Futaba Kon). I didn’t nominate Sawashiro for Durarara!, because I thought she was better in Kimi ni Todoke. Hirano Aya as Miu in Bungaku Shoujo and Komatsu Yuka as Scanty in Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt were among the unlucky ones to miss out.

Best Anime nominee: Katanagatari

Best Male Seiyuu in a Supporting Role
Nominees:
Ono DaisukeDurarara! (Heiwajima Shizuo)
Koyama RikiyaKatanagatari (Souda Emonzaemon)
Sugita TomokazuSoredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (Moriaki Natsuhiko)
Yoshino HiroyukiThe Tatami Galaxy (Ozu)
Sakurai TakahiroCross Game (Azuma Yuuhei)

And the award goes to: Sugita TomokazuSoredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
For the first time since… pretty much since I’ve started doing this… I haven’t had any difficulty coming up with five decent nominees for this category. I loved Sugita in Soredemo Machi as Moriaki, the too-serious maths teacher who was constantly at war with main character, Hotori. He was pretty much the funniest thing about that show. Yoshino Hiroyuki was also good as Ozu in The Tatami Galaxy, and One Daisuke (who, I just realized, I’ve never actually nominated before despite him being good in almost everything), could have also had a run for his role in Working!.

Best Female Seiyuu in a Lead Role
Nominees:
Saiga MitsukiKuragehime (Koibuchi Kuranosuke)
Hanazawa KanaKuragehime (Kurashita Tsukimi)
Kawasumi AyakoNodame Cantabile ~Finale~ (Noda Megumi)
Sakamoto MaayaArakawa Under the Bridge (Nino)
Chihara MinoriThe Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Nagato Yuki)

And the award goes to: Hanazawa KanaKuragehime
The honest truth is that Hanazawa has had this award wrapped up since the beginning of the year with Kobato. The only question was if she could outdo herself. Well, she outdid herself twice, first in Bungaku Shoujo and then finally with Kuragehime, arguably one of the best performances she’s given in her career. It was this year that people finally recognized her, and she’s now getting the kudos and fan praise she deserves, after an extremely strong year, and several respectable ones preceding it. The field this year probably wasn’t as competitive as it’s been in previous years, and I also contemplated squeezing the likes of Tamura Yukari for either of her roles in Katanagatari or B Gata H Kei and either of Ogasawara Arisa or Ise Mariya as Panty and Stocking respectively.

Best Anime nominee: The Tatami Galaxy

Best Male Seiyuu in a Lead Role
Nominees:
Hosoya YoshimasaKatanagatari (Yasuri Shichika)
Ookawa TooruShiki (Ozaki Toshio)
Seki TomokazuNodame Cantabile ~Finale~ (Chiaki Shinichi)
Asanuma ShintaroThe Tatami Galaxy (Watashi)
Sugita TomokazuThe Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Kyon)

And the award goes to: Asanuma ShintaroThe Tatami Galaxy
Asanuma is probably the least known of the nominated seiyuu, but he gets the award this year for his excellent work in the extremely demanding role of The Tatami Galaxy‘s anonymous first-person narrator. This year’s other particular strong male lead performance came from Ookawa Tooru as Shiki‘s Dr. Ozaki, and I think it would have only made sense to choose between one of those two. Sugita gets two nominations this year, and the likes of Fukuyama Jun (Working!) and Kamiya Hiroshi (Arakawa) where among those who just missed out.

Best Director
Nominees:
Sekita OsamuCross Game
Yuasa MasaakiThe Tatami Galaxy
Motonaga KeitarouKatanagatari
Omori TakahiroKuragehime
Ishihara Tatsuya and Takemoto YasuhiroThe Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

And the award goes to: Ishihara Tatsuya and Takemoto YasuhiroThe Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Anyone who can make virtually every minute of a 2.5+ hour film utterly absorbing to watch, and feel like it’s over in an instant is doing a superb job. Ishihara and Takamoto are bold with their adaptation of Disappearance, choosing to be incredibly considered and deliberate with their pacing and tone, creating a work with a strong, dripping sense of tension, unlike anything in the previous Suzumiya Haruhi anime series. Arguably this field isn’t quite as strong as previous years, and for the first time since I’ve been doing this, Shinbo Akiyuki hasn’t been considered. However, the likes of Cross Game, Katanagatari and The Tatami Galaxy all had smatterings of very creatively constructed and directed scenes.

Best Anime nominee: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Best Anime
Nominees:
The Tatami Galaxy
Katanagatari
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Nodame Cantabile ~Finale~
Cross Game

And the award goes to: Cross Game
I continue to persist with only having five nominees for this category first out of protest to the real Academy Award for Best Picture allowing ten nominees, which I consider to be a cop-out, and secondly because I don’t think there’s been a year yet which has had ten anime worth recognizing. This year’s Best Anime nominees happen to coincide with the Best Script nominees, which could perhaps be seen as a sign that good writing this last year has been lacking and, thus, stands out. While 2010 had, in my opinion, three standouts, including The Tatami Galaxy and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Cross Game is this overall package as far as an anime series is concerned, with a grand romantic story rich in thematics, memorable, sympathetic characters, a script equal parts smart and emotive and solid directing.

Just as last year, instead of grand, sweeping ceremony music to go out on, I’ll offer something relevant instead:

13 Responses to “3rd Anime Oscars?”

  1. Ah…see, I would have had to have gone with Daisuke Ono, as well as Hiroshi Kamiya. Just on the principle that I have a deep love for both of them.

  2. No Shiki for best soundtrack? Not even nominated? Go die in a fire, S-K.

  3. @TIF
    You’re worried about Shiki? I’m trying to figure out how Fairy Tail’s soundtrack got snubbed :3

  4. @Arianna Sterling
    Hiroshi Kamiya didn’t really do anything that was new for him this year (which happens to be the exact same thing TIF said when I gave him the Best Male Seiyuu award last year). Daisuke Ono ran close in the supporting category, but I liked Sugita better, and the only lead role I can remember him doing last year was Psychic Detective Yakumo, and given how that role gave him nothing to work with, there was no way he was going to get nominated for that.

    @TIF
    It was either that or Angel Beats for the nominations. Shiki had some really good music, but it had some pretty tacky stuff in stages as well.

    @zzeroparticle
    Haven’t seen Fairy Tail. I’m only barely cognizant of the fact that it even has music…

  5. “Anyone who can make virtually every minute of a 2.5+ hour film utterly absorbing to watch, and feel like it’s over in an instant is doing a superb job.”
    I forgot for a second you’re trying to be serious with this post. To me, it felt like it forsook fluidity for the sake of capturing every nuance of the novel in order to please the depraved fan. So it wasn’t trying as hard to be a good, well-directed movie as it was trying to be a faithful adaptation. I’m a Katanagatari fan myself, and perhaps direction wasn’t as strong last year or maybe I’m just not paying enough attention, but it pales in comparison to the currently-running Break Blade movie series.

  6. Give anime orginals some more time. They’re gaining momentum.

  7. aww i feel sorry for katanagatari, it appears in almost every catagory and then wins nothing…

    and it was really good too…

  8. I thought Shiki was the best thing I saw last year, though I am of course biased because I love horror. Cross Game is about as good, as is Haruhi Suzumiya. I’d say of your top five nominees, Nodame Cantabile is the least deserving. Half of it is fantastic, and the other half is the same boring nonsense that made up Paris Chapter. Luckily, it was the second half that was the great one.

  9. @cyth
    Well, I’m no adaptation freak, but I had no problem with the fluidity of the whole thing. I like deliberate pacing, and I thought the movie, especially the first half, was so good at building tension, picking the right camera angles for maximum impact, and using light and shading to create the right tone and atmosphere. Granted, the second half of the movie isn’t quite as good as the first half. But I’m reasonably happy with my choice. It was either going to be that or Katanagatari (I can’t believe Motonaga, who’s made so much garbage in his career, could direct so amazingly well when finally given some good material to work with).

    @Janette
    I’m not inclined to disagree so far this year after Madoka Magica.

    @some loser
    I didn’t bother to count nominations before doing this (although perhaps I should have), but Katanagatari was nominated in 8 of the 10 categories. And I didn’t give it any awards. I could see why its fans would be disappointed. I guess it’s an indication that it did a lot of things really well, but didn’t do one thing in particular exceptionally.

    @Shinmaru
    Certainly Finale is the weakest of the Best Anime nominees, but I definitely wouldn’t have Shiki ahead of it, which had its own issues (such as ridiculous moments/characters that would break the otherwise scary atmosphere). I wasn’t going to nominate Shiki for Best Script or Best Director, despite both those things being well above average for an anime, because of issues I’ve described before. I can understand why TIF thinks I’ve done badly by it for not nominating it for Best Soundtrack but again, while its best is excellent, its worst lets it down. Then again, Shiki won an award from its 2 nominations, so arguably it’s done better than Katanagatari (an anime I thought was better) which didn’t win from its 8 nominations…

  10. Best animation – obviously somebody never watched Gundam UC.

  11. I hated Katanagatari. So much of the script was superfluous or clunky info dumps, and the story often was too tedious and drawn-out to be as clever as it clearly thought it was. I wished the episodes were half as long as they were to reduce the sheer volume of empty dialogue and scenes it had.

    I believe a good script should maximize the effect of every line it has. It should reveal characterization and motivation, provide information, or move the plot forward simultaneously. Also being a visual medium, long conversations have to be watchable. What worked so well about Bakemonogatari was that the cinematography complemented what was being said; the visuals focused the flow of the conversation. Katanagatari looked pretty, but as a kind of isolated image that didn’t serve anything beyond that.

  12. On one level, Katanagatari suffers from not having enough endearing traits to make it a personal favorite to anyone. This means it’ll get a ton of nominations because it’s rather good in many departments, but nothing will tip it in anyone’s subjective favor. I feel Mushishi got the same shaft in the decades posts, as while there was collective admiration of it, it kept losing to personal favorites (or, for this particular site, Monster). On the other hand, although I did enjoy Katanagatari, I do agree with kadian1364 that it wasn’t as good as everyone made it out to be. The writing was artificially gimmicky, which knocks it down a bit. Amusingly, I think Tatami Galaxy’s writing wasn’t superfluous at all; that rapid fire pace and content was perfect for what the show wanted to do.

    Real reason I’m commenting though is I want to tell Sorrow-kun “I told you so” to Amano Touko being Hanazawa Kana’s 2nd best performance last year. 😀

  13. @kadian1364

    I think you have a strong point here. Katanagatari is a technically wonderful show, yet I don’t think it’s a strong favorite among viewers for the year 2010, or for their personal all-time favorite lists for that matter. I think Elineas is spot-on for the reason behind this: It’s a very well-rounded show in terms of visuals, characters, storyline, etc. but because it’s well-rounded, it wouldn’t pique interest of viewers who can be biased towards certain aspects. Maybe another anime which is in a similar situation is Gankutsuou.

    @Elineas

    I love Mushishi. I think it’s one of the greatest anime that the last decade has to offer. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have outstanding characters; the episodic stories are unforgettable and brilliantly written. The reason why it doesn’t get first place is only because we had Monster in that same period of time. It’s unfortunate but these things happen (this reminds me of my pet peeve of how The Shawshank Redemption never won any Oscar simply because of Forrest Gump). I don’t know if this Mushishi reference is common within the anime blogosphere, but it’s an amazing show that I know many people would acknowledge.

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