Crunchyroll Anime Awards 2016: My picks

Hello there! Been a while. I'm sure you'll be glad to know that I am currently in the middle of typing up my now traditional year-end summary of everything I watched in 2016, but in the meantime I thought I'd post a little appetiser.

For the first time ever, Crunchyroll are hosting 'The Anime Awards': a big community vote to decide the best shows, characters and moments from this year's anime offering. There are 14 categories with at least 4 nominees, and to mark the occasion I thought I would run you through my personal picks from the selection (and perhaps some thoughts on who/what really should have been nominated).

You can find the nominees - and watch clips! - and information about the awards here: https://www.theanimeawards.com/ 

Anime of the Year

To follow the running order on the awards website, let's kick things off with potentially the most controversial category. I'm sure everyone will have their own very strong opinions on this, but one must acknowledge it is hard to see how one might compare Clannad with Battle Girls Time Paradox, or Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai with Gundam series 84.

The nominees for all of the categories have been selected by "independent judges", and I doubt will match up especially well with my personal picks, but I'm sure this will at least give us a flavour of how good a year 2016 has been for anime (if nothing else). Our 8 nominees are:
  1. Erased / Boku Dake ga Inai Machi
  2. Joker Game
  3. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress / Kotetsujou no Kabaneri
  4. Mob Psycho 100
  5. My Hero Academia
  6. Re:Zero (kara Hajimaru Isekai Seikatsu)
  7. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
  8. Yuri!!! on Ice

Reading that list I can't help but think it belies the tagline on the page of "It has been an amazing year for anime with lots of fantastic new series to fall in love with." In fact none of the contenders best an 8 from me on MyAnimeList looking back, and I'd usually expect 9 material to rate as anime of the year.

To clarify now, as it will be relevant for future categories as well, I finished neither Joker Game or Mob Psycho 100 so I can't really consider them in the running for any awards. The former did intrigue me initially as something a bit different to the usual fare, but didn't seem to have enough of an overarching plot between episodes to keep me invested and each one was hit and miss as to whether it would grab me. After the great success of One Punch Man, I was really hoping to love Mob Psycho 100, but I just couldn't. The characters irritated more than they intrigued and the jokes were either old and tired or not my thing at all. When the grandiose action - One Punch Man's crowning glory - kicked off there was just too much stuff happening on screen for me to have any notion of what was going on. Granted I only gave it two episodes before giving up (feel free to shoot me), but a big disappointment.

Unlike the following categories there are too many nominees here to talk about each in turn, so I'll narrow it down to my top 3: Erased, Re:Zero and Yuri!!! on Ice. In actuality these 3 all scored the aforementioned 8s along with My Hero Academia and Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (henceforth Rakugo), but come out a cut above because I found myself looking forward to each episode a lot more as they were airing.

Erased was fantastic. It had me hooked from the start. An interesting, though admittedly bizarre, premise with a perfectly executed tale of time travel murder mystery - one of my favourite genres. Until that ending. Why oh why was that the best they could do? I'm not going to go into it for fear of spoilers, but it was just so weak and pretty pointless really. Pulled me right out of the fiction and effectively ruined the whole experience for me.

Looking back I'm not sure what to make of Re:Zero. I got really into the first few episodes, then it took a bit of a dive before semi-recovering towards the end. A variant of the time travelling murder mystery, at least to begin with, I was naturally drawn into it despite having (re:)zero expectations and found I was even enjoying the protagonist's capering despite myself. But then it turned into an exercise of "how many downright unfair and horrific things can we make happen to the main character?" which, unsurprisingly, gets pretty painful to watch quite quickly, and made Subaru lose whatever likability he once had.

And lastly, Yuri!!! on Ice. A real surprise hit for me - another case of zero expectations leading to a pretty great payoff. It has a certain enchanting quality to it that keeps you captivated and hungry for more. It is certainly not without its problems, which I'll probably delve into further down and in my year roundup post, but I greatly enjoyed it for the most part.

I've sort of focused on the negatives here, but obviously these shows have a certain quality to be in contention. I think I'm going to have to award my vote to Yuri!!! on Ice on the basis that it does the least to cripple itself after getting me invested and that I was eagerly anticipating every Wednesday because of it. Also most exclamation marks.

With regard to my personal pick (separate to The Anime Awards' nominations), I was scrolling through the various titles of last year thinking "there are quite a lot of strong contenders here" until I remembered that Diamond no Ace Second Season finished last year. That wins. Hands down.

Hero of the Year

"Who rescued the damsel in distress, prevented the village from burning down, or saved the world from ultimate destruction?" asks the tagline for this award. Neither this category or those of "best boy"/"best girl" seem to be aiming for "best protagonist", and as it's followed up by "villain of the year" I guess we are just looking for the all-round "good-est person" with the deeds to back it up. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Satoru Fujinuma from Erased
  2. Mumei from Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  3. Mob from Mob Psycho 100
  4. Izuku "Deku" Midoriya from My Hero Academia
In the interest of brevity (especially following that essay on anime of the year above) I have to award my vote on this one to Satoru pretty much by default: I don't have the time to get into all the reasons why Kabaneri was a terrible show here, but Mumei in particular was a pretty awful character and undeserving of a nomination; I didn't watch Mob Psycho 100; and Deku was such an exact replica of the whiny shounen protagonist it was utterly infuriating. I think it's safe to say that, of the 3 I can judge, Satoru is the one with the most positive effect on the world around him as well, sewing up his victory.

My personal nominations: Luluco from Space Patrol Luluco, Shou Fu Kan(??!?) from Thunderbolt Fantasy (I know it's not an anime but damn was it a highlight of my year), Ohta from Tanaka-kun is always listless (ultimate good guy), Suwa from Orange, Kennosuke from Kuromukuro and Itami from Gate Season 2. Really tempted to give it to Suwa. I mean what a guy. Too good to be true.

Villain of the Year

So who was it giving our heroes the hardest time? Or who was just the downright creepiest creep of the year? Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Tomura Shigaraki from My Hero Academia
  2. Yoshikage Kira from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
  3. Biba from Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  4. Gaku Yashiro from Erased
Talk about a talent drought. Unfortunately I can't claim to have watched JoJo (I know, shame on me) and thus I am left with the other three. Much in the same vein as the previous category, Kabaneri belongs nowhere near this list. Biba was a terrible character with no depth and stupid motivations. Yashiro was definitely a good villain in Erased (and yes that is technically a spoiler if you didn't see it coming), but the ending once again ruined him for me. Which leaves me with "creepy hands guy" from My Hero Academia, who I can hardly say left much of a lasting impression on me or in fact the world he's in. He is creepy though, so he's got that going for him.

My personal pick is probably going to be Fango from 91 days. Basically completely off the rails and you have no idea what he's going to do next. Not to mention that charming Engrish. (Honourable mention to Betsu Ten Gai from Thunderbolt Fantasy, because of course)

Best Boy

Despite the subculture evolving around the terms "best boy" and "best girl" within the anime fandom online, and whatever connotations that might hold, I am just going to take this as "favourite male character". Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Arataka Reigen from Mob Psycho 100
  2. Izuku "Deku" Midoriya from My Hero Academia
  3. Yakumo from Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
  4. Yuri Katsuki from Yuri!!! on Ice
As stated previously I did not watch Mob Psycho 100 past the first two episodes. I can only assume from the way I've heard people raving about Reigen that his character does a complete 180 after those 2 episodes to become someone not wholly unfunny and grating, but hey maybe I'll never know. See above for Deku, he's not winning best boy any time soon. Interesting to see Yakumo nominated here. He's an intriguing character for sure, but hardly likable a lot of the time. On the other hand, whilst Yuri started out as pretty relatable (mmmm, katsu-don) he became increasingly frustrating as the series progressed. Ugh. A begrudging Yakumo I guess?

My personal nominations: Daryun from Arslan season 2, Ton from Cheer Danshi (what a hero), basically everyone from Daiya no Ace, Handa-kun and Kawafuji from Handa-kun, Kennosuke from Kuromukuro, Yottsun from Mayoiga (lololol), Ryou from ReLIFE, Sakamoto from Haven't you heard? I'm Sakamoto!, Saint George from Sekkou Boys (humour me), Ohta from Tanaka-kun, Kei from Flying Witch and of course Shou Fu Kan from Thunderbolt Fantasy. Damn that's a lot of people to choose from. I think I have to give it to Sakamoto though - I've got a t-shirt covered in his face after all.

Best Girl

See above. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Mumei from Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  2. Nico Niiyama from Kiznaiver
  3. Ochako Uraraka from My Hero Academia
  4. Rem from Re:Zero
Oh Mumei, you can keep trying but it's just not going to get you anywhere. I watched the first 3 episodes of Kiznaiver if memory serves, though I couldn't tell you anything about the characters. One look at the name and picture for this one instantly tells me she would grate on me. As female characters go I can't say Uraraka particularly stands out; she probably features even less than I expected she would. Though whilst she does have to be saved by the protagonist at one point it's nice to see that she's not powerless, as it were. Our standout winner here has to be Rem though. It helps that she's from a better series than the rest, but she is also badass and loveable in her own right, even if it did take some warming up to her. Probably still prefer Emilia though. Fight me.

My personal nominations: Luluco from Space Patrol Luluco, Emilia from Re:Zero, That girl with the ridiculously large head from Handa-kun (not really), Chito the cat from Flying Witch and Kayo from Erased. Also not an amazing selection to be honest. Tempted to go with Emilia for almost making me use the word "waifu" unironically, but I think it's got to go to Chito.

Best Fight Scene

A fairly straightforward category to interpret I think, though opinions are likely to differ on what makes a good fight scene. Is it the quality of the animation? The carnage that is wrought? The exposition that is beautifully unveiled by childhood friends clashing fists and wills? Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Mumei vs Kabane from Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  2. Shigeo vs Koyama from Mob Psycho 100
  3. Altland vs Moss from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
  4. Deku vs Kacchan from My Hero Academia
Finally a chance for Kabaneri to earn an award! Its action sequences were basically the only thing it had going for it, but even they weren't fantastic to watch to be honest - well animated but not super imaginative if I recall correctly. The Awards site handily gives me a link to the Mob Psycho 100 and Gundam scenes that I otherwise wouldn't have seen, so I guess I can throw them into the mix here though it's not super fair as I'm not invested in the characters or the context. The former was decent enough as fights go, but not particularly interesting or even that flashy (in the sense of original exciting stuff, there were plenty of explosions of course). The latter had the presence of giant robots going for it, but not a whole lot else.

Which leaves us with My Hero Academia. I remember enjoying this fight, even if it was a bit drawn-out (as with most things in that show), and I think I'm going to give it the award - as well has having some good straight-up action, Deku did some good mental problem solving to overcome his disadvantage in firepower and it ultimately led to some reasonable character development.

My personal nominations are a bit trickier. There were some good fights in Kuromukuro, and I quite enjoyed the action in Re:Zero every now and then, but there weren't too many standout individual fights this year that I can still remember. As a result I think I'm going to have to go with "every fight in Thunderbolt Fantasy", despite it not actually being an anime.

Best Animation

Even this has to be a pretty personal judgement given the plethora of animation styles on show in any given year. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  2. Mob Psycho 100
  3. Flip Flappers
  4. Yuri!!! on Ice
I hate to be bias here, but I really don't want to give Kabaneri anything. Granted the animation of the action sequences was probably above average, but nothing spectacular. It's hard to judge Mob Psycho 100 without having really watched it, but as I said above the fight scenes that I have seen have seemed to just take their outlandish animation too far so that it's impossible to make out what's actually going on.

Flip Flappers is another one that I haven't seen I'm afraid, but I don't have to investigate it to know that I'm going to be giving this one to Yuri!!! on Ice. I touched on it before, but there is just something beautiful and captivating about the skating animation in this show. Strangely enough it's quite rough - with faces going blobby and lots of reused shots - but there's a certain quality there that makes the motions seem so natural and fluid.

Just to mix things up I think Yuri!!! on Ice takes my personal pick for best animation as well. Honourable mentions to Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Sound! Euphonium and the masterpiece that is Thunderbolt Fantasy - I'm going to keep praising it until everyone watches it.

Most Heartwarming Scene

Nice to see a category like this being included. It acknowledges that anime isn't all about flashy animation and grand battles, and allows other shows to step up into the spotlight (albeit briefly). Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Kayo's first homecooked meal from Erased
  2. Makoto flies over her new home from Flying Witch
  3. Kakeru and Suwa learn to understand each other from Orange
  4. The kiss from Yuri!!! on Ice
When I said "other shows" I basically meant Flying Witch - what a great series. But I don't think it can win here. It was definitely a heartwarming show as a whole, but I don't think you can pull out any one particular bit to compete (although I think there were probably better candidates in there than what's been nominated here). This scene from Orange was certainly a powerful one, though again I think there were other scenes that I'd call more "heartwarming" than this one which sort of blurs the line between heartwarming and sad. Suwa is a hero though.

There seems to be a trend emerging here. I would again say that this isn't the most heartwarming scene from Yuri!!! on Ice that they've chosen. At this point in particular I would say the skating sequence immediately beforehand where we see Yuri actually performing well and everyone's reactions to that is more heartwarming than Victor jumping him afterwards. And the scene with JJ at the end of episode 11 would be top class for this category. As it is I am going to give my vote to Kayo's first homecooked meal from Erased, as you probably guessed by me cunningly leaving it to the end to mention. Another one that is equally tragic as it is heartwarming, but it serves to perfectly hammer home the awful situation Kayo has been in up to this point and how much Satoru is doing for her. It also makes us reflect on the value of the little things in life and perhaps how much we take for granted.

My personal pick may seem obvious, but that belies how many genuinely emotional moments there have been this year. Strong contenders from Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Sound! Euphonium season 2, Re:Zero, Shinkai's Your Name and even Haikyuu for crying out loud. But if I have to go with what struck the most resonant chord with me then it has to be when Seidou win the Autumn tournament to qualify for Nationals in Diamond no Ace season 2. I just love those kids so much and no one deserved it more.

Best Drama

"All the feels you can handle. Which anime made you reach for the tissue box?" asks the awards page. Not a statement exactly synonymous with "drama" if you ask me, so I'll just judge them on their own merits within this arbitrary category. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Erased
  2. Joker Game
  3. Kiznaiver
  4. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Got to scrap Joker Game and Kiznaiver right out of the gate then as they didn't keep me engaged enough to finish them. Erased and Rakugo are both strong contenders, though the drama in the former is more that of a "thriller" and that of the latter leans more towards more traditional "soap opera" drama. I'd be happy giving my vote to either of them really, but it probably goes to Erased for having me on the edge of my seat more.

My personal nominations are a bit muddled depending on the definition of "best drama". Sort of on a whim, and probably influenced by it only finishing recently, I'm going to give it to Sound! Euphonium season 2.

Best Couple

Again not exactly an objective statement one can make, but I'll take a swing at it! Our 4 nominees:
  1. Satoru & Kayo from Erased
  2. Katsuhira & Sonozaki from Kiznaiver
  3. Luluco & Nova from Space Patrol Luluco
  4. Yuri & Victor from Yuri!!! on Ice
I have quite a few gripes with these nominations, not least about the questionable couple status of the pairings, but ah well. It's not going to be the Kiznaiver couple I know nothing about and as much as I love Space Patrol Luluco, Nova was basically a jerk to Luluco for the majority of the show. I seem to be in the minority on this one, but there were just too many problems with the relationship between Yuri and Victor for me to really buy into it (I'll probably delve into this in my 2016 roundup). Which again leaves Erased to sweep up my vote in this category. Again debatable as to whether you can really call Satoru and Kayo a couple, but they certainly had enough adorable moments together to be worthy of recognition (so long as you ignore the creepy thing about Satoru being mentally a decade or so older...).

My personal nominations: the protags from Your Name, Kennosuke and Yukina from Kuromukuro, Kumiko and Reina from Sound! Euphonium 2 - OK, not really a couple (depending on who you ask), but their subtle interactions and the way they supported each other by always knowing what to say was always fantastic to watch - and Ton and his girlfriend from Cheer Danshi because that was hilarious. I think I'm going to give it to the Kuromukuro couple for being one of the most developed and believable pairings in anime, at least this year.

Best Comedy

I'm going to allow this. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Haven't you heard? I'm Sakamoto! / Samakoto desu ga?
  2. Keijo!!!!!!!!
  3. Konosuba: God's blessing on this wonderful world!
  4. Space Patrol Luluco
Let's say goodbye to the two 'K's straight away - I did not watch either, and I strongly suspect the only source of comedy in Keijo is from the initial "as if they actually made this" reaction. Which leaves us with Sakamoto and Luluco, both of which were fantastic comedies and worthy candidates. It's safe to say that both of them had their high points and points that didn't quite hit the mark, but both consistently made me laugh. In fact I'm tempted to say they're pretty much even on the comedy front, so because I already awarded Sakamoto "best boy" and I really want to acknowledge Luluco I'm going to send my vote that way.

There were a lot of other shows that made me laugh this year that can't really be classed as "comedies" (I'm looking at you Mayoiga), but in terms of competition for this category we're looking at Handa-kun and Sekkou Boys I think. Whilst generally entertaining, Handa-kun probably wasn't as reliable a source of laughs as the others. Sekkou Boys was also a bit hit and miss with its jokes (isn't every comedy anime?) but I still love the fact that it exists, and to avoid being boring and giving my personal pick to Luluco as well it gets my vote.

Best Action

I think this is going for "best series in the 'action' category" rather than which series has the best action scenes, which isn't always the same question. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Drifters
  2. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  3. Mob Psycho 100
  4. My Hero Academia
Using this method of judging it pretty much has to be My Hero Academia based on everything I have said above, as I also gave up on Drifters after an episode or two. Though I really don't think it was that brilliant.

Scrolling through the list of options it turns out it's really hard to separate "action shows" from "shows that contain action amongst other things". I think I'm going to give the cop out answer and say Thunderbolt Fantasy. Does this make me some kind of anime heathen?

Best Opening

Crafting the perfect opening for your series must be considered an art form, and one that I have lent a not-inconsiderable amount of time to pondering. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  2. Mob Psycho 100
  3. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
  4. Yuri!!! on Ice
Well well well, we meet again Kabaneri. In fairness you had a decent enough opening - some well animated action, a good representation of what the show is all about and the brilliant "what are you, human or kabane?!?" bit that plays every time - but a song that I didn't particularly like and an over-reliance on weird visual effects that actually made it pretty hard to see what was going on on screen let you down. Despite not watching the show I also have to praise the opening of Mob Psycho 100. It does a great job of conveying the unique brand of colourful madness that represents the series, and whilst it's not a song I would go out of my way to listen to on its own I have to admire the dedication to counting to 100 in there.

It's a real shame that I haven't really been able to give Rakugo the acknowledgement it deserves through these awards, but it's not a contender here either. Whilst the song is certainly interesting, there just isn't enough going on in the animation to make it worth watching - I ended up skipping it a lot of the time, which is a poor reflection on an opening's quality. Though really it was clear from the start that the winner was going to be Yuri!!! on Ice. The visuals are stunning - combining the marvelous skating animations of the show with that interesting almost minimalist sketchy style and fabulous splashes of colour - and the song is a real earworm that I have loved from the first listen and has stuck with me ever since.

My personal nominations: Your Name, Thunderbolt Fantasy (is there anything about this show that wasn't amazing?), Tanaka-kun, Haven't you heard? I'm Sakamoto!, Sound! Euphonium Season 2, Gate season 2, Flying Witch, Cheer Danshi, Arslan season 2, 91 days. And that's me being pretty darn selective as well, oh boy. Some super strong contenders here. Flying Witch's OP fit the tone of the show perfectly, I love the style, the animation and the song of the Arslan OP and 91 days' is also top notch, but I don't think anything is beating Sakamoto sadly. It's just so perfect. Oh, and obviously the Yuri!!! on Ice one is phenomenal.

Best Ending

If you're going to judge one then you have to judge them both. Whilst the dregs of music and animation are often saved for the ending sequence, there are certainly a number of gems out there that have been sadly overlooked due to the average quality of EDs and their unfortunate placing after the episode has finished. Our 4 nominees are:
  1. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  2. Mob Psycho 100
  3. Space Patrol Luluco
  4. Yuri!!! on Ice
If you still haven't managed to pick up an award Kabaneri then you're unlikely to manage it with your ED - a boring song with boring visuals, a typical ending. Again credit to Mob Psycho 100 for having a decent song and an interesting art style, but can't say it has me wanting to watch all the way through or download the music. Personally I prefer the OP to the ED for Luluco, which wasn't nominated above. The song is pretty lame and there isn't much action in the visuals, even if it is an interesting idea. Whilst again the ED isn't as strong as the OP, Yuri!!! on Ice is the clear winner hear. Unlike "HISTORY MAKER" the song didn't grab me immediately, but it has certainly grown on me over the course of the season, and whilst the visuals are just a series of static images they are quite cute and funny.

My personal nominations: Handa-kun, Haven't you heard? I'm Sakamoto! (just for the pictures), Sekkou Boys, Uta no Prince Sama Legend Star. Certainly slimmer pickings in this category. Tempted to go with Handa-kun for a simple concept well executed with a great song, but hard to argue with the legendary Sekkou Boys.

And that's finally it! I managed to write a lot more there than I was expecting, and without even saying a whole lot about anything. All-in-all I think it's safe to round-up by saying it's been a decent year for anime (if nothing else) and that Kabaneri was terrible.

I hope they do this again next year, as it's always fun to rank things and poke fun at other people's opinions. Perhaps let me know how you voted? I won't poke fun at you, I promise.


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