Well, the 83rd Oscars are over, and once again Japanese animation has been totally overlooked by the Academy. I’ve decided to remedy this by holding my very own totally legitimate Japanese Animation Academy Awards. These Anime Oscars will cover all the shows and OVAs that finished airing in 2010, as well as any films that were released on DVD (and therefore fansubbed) during that year.
Now, keep in mind that these are my personal choices… I’m sure the other writers for this site will have their own picks to share. And if you put together your own list of Anime Oscar winners on your blog, please let us know in the comments! We’d love to read it.
More below the break!
Let me tell you, August of last year was a very depressing time for anime fans. Most of the winter, spring and summer shows had turned out to be huge disappointments. Even more frustrating was the lack of any good comedy anime, with most of the previous offerings being either patently unfunny, painfully cliched or drenched in too much fanservice to be palatable.
Then along came Squid Girl, the sleeper hit of the fall season. Everybody dismissed this as another subpar comedy show like Seitokai Yakuindomo at first, but it quickly became the must-watch show of the fall season thanks in no small part to it’s Yotsuba-esque main character and her wonderfully innocent slice-of-life antics. Made of equal parts funny, heartwarming and adorable, this show easily takes the top spot as the best anime. Squid Girl may not have succeeded at invading the surface world, but she did invade our hearts.
Wow, that was corny. Er, moving on…
Runner-Up: Panty & Stocking
Best Movie or OVA
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
This was Kyoani’s chance to redeem themselves after the Endless Eight disaster, and in the court of public opinion they succeeded. This movie was a love letter to Haruhi fans, preying on their separation anxiety and causing them to rush longingly back into the arms of their lost love. In other words, this was exactly what Haruhi fans needed.
The film itself was a visual treat, featuring some solid animation and fantastic art design. The story was no slouch either, even if it was dragged down by Kyon’s incessant and entirely unnecessary narration. While not perfect, it did get the Haruhi franchise back on track, and set the stage for Kyoani to do a proper third season. For that accomplishment, I feel it deserves the title of best anime movie.
Also, I can’t believe Kyon chose that passive-aggressive jerk Haruhi over deredere Yuki. He must be a glutton for punishment.
Runner-Up: Railgun OVA
Best Male Character
Anime as of late has been devoid of interesting male characters, with most being simple carbon copies of each other. Because of that, it’s hard to think of a male who particularly caught my interest this year. In fact, the only character that comes to mind is the god-tier trap Hideyoshi from the otherwise unexceptional Baka to Test. Thanks to his effeminate looks, he’s become a meme unto himself… one that has made many a 4channer question their sexuality. In my book, that makes him a winner. Now if only he had a better anime to star in.
So yeah. He wins by default. That’s what I get for not watching Tatami Galaxy, eh?
Runner-Ups: Garterbelt, Briefs
Best Female Character(s)
Scanty and Kneesocks
I’ve already written about how Scanty and Kneesocks saved PSG from mediocrity. Honestly, I think the show would have been much better if it was about these two demonic vixens instead of those bitchslut toilet angels. Anyhoo, instead of repeating myself, I’m just going to let you all enjoy their drool-worthy transformation sequence.
Runner Ups: Maya Kumashiro, Ruri Goko (aka Kuroneko)
This anime was an unexceptional yet enjoyable slice of life offering, featuring memorable characters and forgettable music. Where it really excelled, however, was the fantastic animation. The HTT girls’ blobbish designs meshed well with Kyoani’s extremely fluid animation style, making them seem much more visceral then your average anime character. Perhaps that’s what contributed to the impact these girls had on the K-ON! fandom… despite being idealized and unrealistic sugary moeblobs, they still felt more like real people than your average anime protagonist. I think the excellent animation is primarily responsible for that.
KyoAni has sure come a long way since their breakout hit Haruhi. If they can keep up this level of animation quality, I look forward to more visual treats from them in the future.
Runner-ups: Highschool of the Dead, Samurai Girls
Best Art Direction
This anime was horrible… and not even in a Kampfer-esque “so bad it’s good” kind of way. It was literally an ordeal to sit through. Despite this, it was still very pretty to look at.
The painterly art style (as well as the terrifically sexy character designs) was what originally drew me into Samurai Girls. The story wasn’t bad either, which was a pleasant surprise. Sadly, after a few episodes of lighthearted fun, the show quickly devolved into a hentai fanservice fest that totally derailed the story and devalued the characters. When they tried to pick up the plot threads near the end, it had already been ruined beyond repair. As an attempt to successfully balance fanservice and story, Samurai Girls failed horribly. However, even it its darkest moments, it still had fantastic art and character design.
In the end, this show was a polished turd… worth watching only for the artwork.
Also, we never got to see the promised action scene of scantily-clad samurai girls blasting B-52s out of Tokyo’s skies using magical powers. What the hell?
Runner-Up: Panty & Stocking
Best Character Design
Poor Maya may have had her character raped by Occult Academy‘s asinine story, but she still manged to look damn sexy while captaining her sinking ship. I mean, just LOOK at that perfectly-matched ensemble: a simple yet distinctive one-piece white dress, long luscious black hair with matching thighhighs, and white braclets that double as brass knuckles. That’s an outfit that manages to be sexy, fashionable and badass, all that the same time. Maya undoubtedly deserves the title of this year’s Fashion Queen, and easily the best thing to come out of the otherwise disappointing Anime no Chikara project.
Runner-Ups: Kirino Kousaka, everybody in Panty & Stocking
Panty & Stocking
Like there’s any contest here. Even those who were alienated by PSG‘s inconsistent tone and irreverent humor admitted to loving its soundtrack. The electronic and dance music from the show was so catchy that anticipation for the soundtrack’s official release reached a fever pitch throughout November and December of last year. Unscrupulous individuals trolled /a/, claiming that they had a leaked copy that they were willing to give away. Amateur DJs ripped tunes from the show and remixed them countless times. And ordinary otaku like you and me feverishly counted down the days until the CD went on sale.
Even K-ON!‘s music didn’t build this level of anticipation. For the impact it had on the fandom, PSG’s soundtrack deserves the title of the year’s best.
Runner-Up: Sora no Woto
And now, a few special awards.
Sora no Woto
Space Hanamaru Kindergarten
Best Use of Gratuitous English
GOD MY OH!