Or if I rearranged the words, the VMA Awards or the AMV Awards 🙂 .
It is certainly possible for an anime show to be good or at least watchable without stellar music, voice acting, or animation; however, it does definitely help. For example, for the first half of Shana 2, the only redeeming features of the show was the well-done OP/ED, Rie Kugimiya as Shana, and the good animation. So this part celebrates those components of an anime that aren’t vital but significantly help it along.
Before I get to the awards I wanted to mention that I’ve been having computer troubles with the computer that’s connected to the internet. Between spending a day trying to fix it so it wouldn’t need a reformat, moving all the important files off so we can reformat and taking this opportunity to finally back up our digital pics onto dvd discs, I haven’t had the time to finish writing these or watch much anime. Luckily, I have an old laptop (it has a Pentium 3 chip in it 🙂 ) that I can use to keep connected to the internet until it’s fixed.
Top Seiyuu “Discovered”
Winner: Marina Inoue
Yes, Marina Inoue is not a new seiyuu and I’ve liked characters she’s done in the past like Yoko from Gurren Lagann. What’s different is that before this year I never really paid attention to how well she voices her roles and recognizing when it’s her. It was the perfect match of her voice to the character of Kana in Minami-ke that really started my deeper appreciation of her work. From that point, I started to look for her roles and I continued to be impressed with how well she can match her voice with the character’s thoughts and actions.
Best Performance by a Seiyuu
Winner:Rie Kugimiya as Taiga from Toradora
Runner-up: Rikiya Koyama as Kogarashi from Maid Guy
Rie Kugimiya often will play the short tsundere with violent tendencies character in a show. It’s a combination that always will spice a show up and is one of the reasons why she’s one of my favorite voice actors. I figured before Toradora started that she really couldn’t surprise me by doing another short tsundere with violent tendencies role but it became readily apparent that I was wrong. While it’s still obviously her doing Taiga, she’s never been this good before.Some of excellence with Taiga is due to the great story but she’s definitely been a huge factor in taking a well-worn character type and making it feel authentic. When she’s tsun-tsun, her anger fits the situation and when she’s dere-dere, her love-sick attitude is realistic as opposed to when she was Louise in Zero’s Familiar where her personality was artificial and lacked vivacity.
Male: Hiroshi Kamiya
Since no single male voice actor really stood out from the crowd this year, I decided to prepare of a list of favorite performances to see if I could find any overlapping names. Two roles on this list were Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou and the Sensei from Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I was surprised when I found that Hiroshi Kamiya did both roles. The pair of characters are polar opposites; one’s theatrical, loud, likes to over-react and is prone to huge emotional swings whereas the other is calm, cool under pressure, mature, and considerate of other people. The fact that I didn’t realize or even think to myself that either performance sounded familiar speaks highly of his ability. As does the way he was able to fit his performance and delivery to impeccably match the type of character he’s playing.
Female: Marina Inoue
Marina Inoue kept appearing in shows I watched and kept impressing me with her voice work this year. Often the characters that Marina Inoue voices have to have a very scary and imposing “I’m ticked off” voice in their repertoire. Marina has one of the best angry voices around. When you hear it it’s easy to understand why the other characters wither when being subjected to it. And yet when these same characters are supposed to be happy, Marina can infuse their demeanor with such boisterous happiness that it’s contagious to the viewer. What really impressed me and helped her earn this award is that, even though it’s relatively easy to recognize a Marina Inoue role, each character is distinctly different from each other. For example, Kana from Minami-ke is the sneaky middle sister but Iku Kasahara is the energetic idiot in Library War and Chiri Kitsu is the angry perfectionist in Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.
Best Seiyuu Cast
Winner:Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei inherited a large number of characters from the first season and added even more characters during it’s run. One of the things that is needed for shows with big casts like this is many distinct voices so it’s easy to pick out who’s saying what. With every additional voice used, though, the chance of duplicating a voice or picking a bad one increases. This problem didn’t plague this show though; in truth, almost every single voice used was unique and well done. I already mentioned Hiroshi Kamiya’s Mr. Despair and Marina Inoue’s character but the list goes on. Of particular note is the illegal immigrant Maria and the student that’s known as Kafuka.
Best Overall Opening
Runner-up: Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Tastes in music are really subjective to begin with and for me this is compounded even more in regards to anime because I don’t know Japanese. Therefore any category that relates to music is going to subjective.
Kaiba’s opening was great on many levels. It had a song that was good all by itself and it helped get the viewer ready for the show by getting them in the proper state of mind. The animation used showcased many of the characters of the series and helped reinforce some of the core concepts of the series. It was also pretty to look at, which always helps as well.
Best Overall Ending
Runner-up: Someday’s Dreamers Season 2
The ending got picked for essentially the same reasons that the opening got picked. I do think it’s a bit funny that the same singer of the OP/ED also did the ending to Chaos;Head and just about no one liked that song.
Best Overall Music
If the music in the series is average then I’ll not even notice it enough to form an opinion about it. Therefore, any show that I can remember some of the background music after the fact means it’s above average. The music to both Kaiba and Clannad are used to good effect but it was only Kaiba that had music that actively wowed me while I watched it.
Best Music Soundtrack
Winner: Somedays Dreamer’s Season 2
I often don’t like anime soundtracks even to shows that I liked the music because the full versions of the songs aren’t as good as the parts used in the show. However, I found that I liked the soundtrack to Somedays Dreamer’s Season 2 better then when the pieces where used in the show. One reason why I like this soundtrack is the wide variety of instrumental music genres on it. There’s a couple Celtic songs, a blues rock one and a synth-pop track to name but a few. I also think it’s entirely possible to like this album without ever watching the anime which is another way it’s different from most albums.
Best Animation Style
Runner-up: Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
I think the reason most people thought Kaiba was an experimental anime was because of the odd animation style employed. It certainly does appear odd when looking at screenshots but it’s a totally different story when watching it in motion. I found that the style of the animation works very well with the story, it’s ideas and the overall tone. If the creators had decided on a more realistic or detailed animation style then I really think that it would have been an impediment to the show.
Runner-up: Xam’d: Lost Memories
I mentioned earlier that I liked Kurozuka even though it was almost a purely action show. To successfully pull off that type of show and not rely on character development and plot, the action needs to wow us almost continuously. In anime, that also means the animation needs to impress and Madhouse’s Kurozuka impressed. It looked good, it moved good and it was artistic, detailed and imaginative.
Top Animation Studio
There’s no question that Madhouse deserves this award. No other animation studio had the sheer number of quality shows this year that Madhouse had. Some of there shows included Kaiba, Maid Guy, Kurozuka, Mouryou no Hako, and Chaos;Head. I’m surprised how infrequently their name comes up in the anime community when talking about great animation studios. And I hope 2009 sees more great shows from Madhouse.
Read Part 0 – Introduction and Anti-awards here.
Read Part 1 – Character Awards here.
Read Part 2 – Cast and Assorted Awards here.
Read Part 3 – Genre Awards here.
Read Part 5 – Memorable Moments and Favorite Episodes here.
Read Part 6 – Top 10 Anime of 2008: #10 – #6 here.
Read Part 7 – Top 10 Anime of 2008: #5 – #1 here.