UTM’s First Wave Of Picks For Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards

It’s easy to be cynical when it comes to award shows, and even more so when they factor public voting polls into their decision process. Crunchyroll’s inaugural Anime Awards was met with a lot of criticism last year when Yuri!!! On Ice – the romantic figure skating show that garnered a devout audience within and outside the anime community – ended up sweeping in most categories. Whilst a vocal backlash shouldn’t serve to deny what was undeniably a special moment for anime, it’s also easy to empathise with those who feel like a lot of fantastic shows missed their shot at recognition because of its overwhelming presence throughout the categories.

The Anime Awards are making a return this year, however, and it’s looking like they’re making improvements. There’s more categories, a vast range of nominees, no bias towards shows in which Crunchyroll have streaming licenses for and a fancy live event to announce and congratulate all the winners. As it becomes increasingly clear that a lot of traditional film and media award institutes have little interest in recognising the outstanding effort that goes into anime production every year, the presence of a ceremony dedicated to highlighting its diverse display of handiwork and arranged by people with a vested interest in the medium does not go unappreciated.

We neglected to publish an end-of-year anime editorial for 2017, so as compensation we thought we’d list our picks for first round of voting for the Anime Awards 2018!

BEST ANIMATION

– Land Of The Lustrous (Orange)
– My Hero Academia S2 (Bones)
– Little Witch Academia (Trigger)
– March Comes In Like A Lion S2 (Shaft)
– A Silent Voice (Kyoto Animation)
– Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kyoto Animation)

There’s certainly room to question whether it’s fair game to include an anime with a film budget against a bunch of shows made for weekly television broadcast, but when said film is Kyoto Animation’s soul-stirring masterwork A Silent Voice it’s difficult to justify voting for anything else. Beyond its blooming seasonal scenarios and emotive depictions of characters, its evocative use of drawing techniques to represent social anxiety and the hallmarks of adolescent growth is a testament to just how powerful a medium animation can be when it comes to visualising our deepest feelings.

BEST CGI

– Land Of The Lustrous (Orange)
– KADO: The Right Answer (Toei Animation)
– RE:CREATORS (TROYCA)
– Attack On Titan S2 (Wit Studio)
– Knight’s & Magic (8 Bit)
– Inuyashiki (MAPPA)

The increasing prominence of CGI and 3D animation within anime is not a change that has necessarily been welcomed by its community en masse. Besides fan preference for the hand-drawn animation that has long been the lifeblood of the medium, there’s definitely a case for the sudden usage of CGI in a mostly 2D environment being jarring to the point that it breaks immersion. But if there was ever a show to sell the merits, Land Of The Lustrous is indisputably the one. For a show with a malleable, mineral-based cast that offers an intriguing take on the concept of body horror, the extra dimension does wonders to add depth – in both senses of the word – to pivotal moments in the story. Lustrous’ crowning achievement, however, lies in its expertly choreographed battle scenes, which utilise 3D movement to showcase levels of fluidity and intensity most action shows can only aspire to match.

BEST FILM

– A Silent Voice (Kyoto Animation)
– Your Name (Comix Wave Films)
– In This Corner Of The World (MAPPA)
– Girls Und Panzer Der Film (Actas)
– Kizumonogatari III: Reiketsu-Hen (Shaft)
– Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower (Ufotable)

The inclusion of Your Name in this category personally feels a little outdated – especially since in the UK its initial theatrical run was at the end of 2016 rather than 2017 for US viewers – but even if the body-swapping tale was monumental enough to earn its place as Japan’s fourth highest-grossing film of all time, it’s still second fiddle here to A Silent Voice. Besides the obvious points of it being an endearing story of redemption and an absolute tearjerker, the sincerity in which A Silent Voice handles the personal repercussions of bullying for both the perpetrator and their victim makes for a uniquely thought-provoking theme. Special props to its impeccable sound design, too, which implements aspects of Shouko’s hearing disability in its delivery of the smallest of background noises and tracks.

BEST OPENING

– ‘Shadow And Truth’ by One III Notes (ACCA 13: Territory Inspection Dept.)
– ‘Here’ by JUNNA (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
– ‘Shinzou Wo Sasageyo!’ by Linked Horizon (Attack On Titan S2)
– ‘Peace Sign’ by Kenshi Yonezu (My Hero Academia S2)
– ‘The Other Side Of The Wall’ by Void_Chords ft. MARU (Princess Principal)
– ‘Imawa No Shinigami’ by Megumi Hayashibara (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju S2)

Whilst it’s not exactly clear whether the criteria for Best Opening includes both the song and its accompanying animated sequence, the clarification wouldn’t do anything to make this category any less of a knife fight between two nominees. Void_Chords‘ bombastic ‘The Other Side Of The Wall’ serves as the perfect opening roar for an anime that slickly pulls off the arduous task of making steampunk cool again, but the casually cool jazz licks and rollicking, vocoder-led hook of ‘Shadow And Truth’ from One III Notes just about coup d’état’s the competition. Apologies for, uh, any butchering of the French language for the sake of references there.

BEST ENDING

– ‘Step Up Love’ by DAOKO x Yasuyuki Okamura (Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond)
– ‘Ishukan Communication’ by Chorogonzu (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid)
– ‘Kirameku Hamabe’ by Yukiko Ohara (Land Of The Lustrous)
– ‘Hikari, Hikari’ by Yuuka Aisaka (Recovery Of An MMO Junkie)
– ‘Behind’ by Karin Isobe, Yuna Yoshino and Lynn (Just Because!)
– ‘Kafune’ by Brian The Sun (March Comes In Like A Lion S2)

Anime endings generally tend to fall on the more sombre or pensive side of the musical spectrum, so it’s always a treat when a show signs off with a bonafide bop existing for the sole purpose of lodging itself in your brain for the next few hours. Bubbly and highly memorable, ‘Ishukan Communication’ is a wonderful encapsulation of all the things that made Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a delight to watch. Perhaps its only fault was its partner visual’s inclusion of a calendar segment detailing a week in the life of its main ensemble – a painstaking reminder that it would be a whole week before we were reunited with our fun-loving dragon friends.

BEST SCORE

– Made In Abyss (Composed by Kevin Penkin)
– Little Witch Academia (Composed by Michiru Ōshima)
– Land Of The Lustrous (Composed by Yoshiaki Fujisawa)
– The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Composed by Junichi Matsumoto)
– ACCA 13: Territory Inspection Dept. (Composed by Ryo Takahashi)
– RE:CREATORS (Composed by Hiroyuki Sawano)

Australian composer Kevin Penkin takes on a role akin to that of an artful puppet master with his score for the devastatingly beautiful Made In Abyss. For the duration of Riko & Reg’s descent into the unknown, he’s constantly manipulating the atmosphere and emotional tone to define the mood of every moment. There’s the unshakeable eeriness of ‘The First Layer’. The folksy rush of ‘Swings And Roundabouts’. The awe-inspiring choral sweep of ‘Hanazeve Caradhina’. It’s every bit as fantastical and magical as the show’s Ghibli-esque setting, and every bit as unpredictable as the show’s winding plot.

Want to have your say? You can find additional information and vote for your picks at the Anime Awards website before the ceremony takes place in Los Angeles on February 24th.

Joshua Pauley

 

UTM’s TV Shows Of The Year 2017

Besides our constant attempts at telling everyone how wonderful we think Twin Peaks is, we don’t give enough love to the very best offerings on television (although the majority of these comfortably sit on streaming platforms, hidden away from your Sky Plus box). This list is a shoutout to the serialised standouts from 2017. Continue reading “UTM’s TV Shows Of The Year 2017”

Hey, Anime Openings Can Be Bangers Too, Okay?

There’s probably a guy amongst your friend group that wouldn’t hesitate to call you a filthy weeb if he caught you listening to anything remotely anime-related. Continue reading “Hey, Anime Openings Can Be Bangers Too, Okay?”

How the End of Twin Peaks Addresses the Realities of Nostalgia

*THIS IS AN OBVIOUS SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO STILL HAVEN’T SEEN ALL OF TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN. GO FUCKING WATCH IT, BLOW YOUR MIND AND THEN READ THIS*

Regardless of what we want to call David Lynch and Mark Frost’s latest season of Twin Peaks, for however much it frustrated those who just wanted more of the original series, it has been an incredible ride. Continue reading “How the End of Twin Peaks Addresses the Realities of Nostalgia”

The Musical Performances in Twin Peaks: The Return Ranked

After 20 years, Twin Peaks has garnered a cult following unlike any other TV show. Continue reading “The Musical Performances in Twin Peaks: The Return Ranked”

The Definitive Performances From Show Me The Money 6

If your knowledge of Korean hip hop barely stretches beyond a certain killer whale, then it’s unlikely that you’ve heard of Show Me The Money. Continue reading “The Definitive Performances From Show Me The Money 6”