Konnichi wa, minna-san!
It's time for my Anime of the Year Awards. Now, I am in no way an expert at anime but I do have experience with story, characters, and soundtracks from video games so I feel I'm qualified enough to do a list like this. As I explained before, mine will be a little different. While usually anything of the year awards are based off of things that year, my anime category is different. Because I only started really watching anime this year I have to alter my Anime of the Year Awards. I'm including both anime I watched this year and anime Ive seen prior to this year. (I do have a couple of anime on here that were made this year but I think you get my point.) You see, I wasnt allowed to watch anime as a kid unless it was approved by my parents. So most of the time, I didnt even bother to watch anime. Now that I'm grown up, I can start getting into it. I guess I can thank the gaming industry for being boring in April of this year!
Since that's the case, the anime I've seen prior to this year have all been English dubbed and edited. So because of that, I'm altering my categories to divide up both English and Japanese voice actors (seiyu) and English and Japanese opening and ending songs. Now because the characters are universal (you can only change a persons personality so much when you dub), all characters whether I watched them in English or Japanese will be judged together. Anime of the Year will also be judged like that; whether it was in English or Japanese they're both up for the award. Some rules: only one character, voice actor/seiyu, and song per anime. Now of course there can be a male and female character and voice actor/seiyu up for male and female character and voice actor/seiyu of the year from the same anime. If the same voice actor/seiyu appears in multiple anime, I will mention the anime they are in but the first anime I list will be what role Im nominating them for. I'll also list all of the roles they played if its within the same anime. Just like above, the first character that comes up is the role I'm nominating them for. I try to include all of their roles, no matter how small they may be. Now, when I judge these anime, I judge them as a whole; that includes all seasons and movies judged as one anime. If a special or OVA is treated as part of the story (like in Lucky Star's case) then I will put it in here but if not then it wont count (Cardcaptor Sakura's specials). Movies are usually part of the story so I will include any movies. For example, Cardcaptor Sakura's finale is actually the second movie not the last season's last episode. There's also something else I need to get out of the way. I know some of the longer anime need more definition as to when I watched them so here it is:
Pokemon (Seasons 1-3)
Yu-Gi-Oh! (Season 1 or the first arc)
I also have pulled my previous decision to completely exclude the English version of Cardcaptor Sakura. While the editors of Cardcaptors, as it was known internationally, destroyed the North American version that doesnt mean I can't recognize the people who did the voice-overs for the characters. On this list though, I will always use Cardcaptor Sakura as the name of the anime as well as the original Japanese names. Also, for those who dont know, for some reason they completely changed the voice cast for the English dub of the second Cardcaptor Sakura movie. So none of the voice actors who voiced the characters in the main series return for the second movie. I think it was a new editing or publishing staff but I'm not exactly sure. So when I list Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card, that's the second movie with the new voice actors.
I've already listed off a few that are in here but let me show off the full list since I didnt watch that many anime this year or in previous years. I'm going to list them in the order I watched them in from when I was a kid until now:
1998 - 2005 (In 2005 I lost contact with my friends who watched anime. I heard next to nothing about anime from 2006 - 2011)
Cardcaptor Sakura (English)
Megaman NT Warrior (English)
Kirby: Right Back at Ya! (English)
Cardcaptor Sakura (Japanese)
Daily Lives of High School Boys (Japanese)
Oban Star-Racers (English)
Lucky Star (Japanese)
Lucky Star (English)
These categories are based off of Animage magazine's Anime of the Year Awards.
So after that mouthful, lets begin!
Male Character of the Year:
Shaoran Li (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Ash Ketchum (Pokemon)
Yugi Mutou/Yami Yugi (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Megaman.EXE (Megaman NT Warrior)
Hidenori Tabata (Daily Lives of High School Boys)
Winner: Ash Ketchum
Aside from being my childhood hero, Ash really does show good character development as the series progresses. Although he is occasionally arrogant and egotistic, he does know how to care for his Pokemon and, in his own way, the other people around him. A couple of episodes stand out from the first season that shows his love for his Pokemon and his feelings as he shares his moments with them.
Keroberos (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Jordan C. Wilde (Oban Star-Racers)
Yuki Sanada (Tsuritama)
Female Character of the Year:
Sakura Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Konata Izumi (Lucky Star)
Yassan aka Literature Girl (Daily Lives of High School Boys)
Winner: Sakura Kinomoto
While I love Konata for being a total otaku; basically a female version of me from the game genres to the laziness to the mischievous sense of humour, and making Lucky Star really funny, I just have to give Sakura credit for this one. To be honest, she had this category from the beginning. She's a very selfless character and she always tries to make the best out of every situation. In fact, her magical power becomes extremely powerful if those she cares about are in danger. She even tries to make friends out of her bitter rivals. There's one scene in the anime that permanently cements her as a great character in my mind. I can't reveal it because of spoilers but its definitely something mature for her age. She does grow over the course of the anime from being unwilling to perform the task put before her, to facing danger without fear. Her personality just attracts you to her and its practically impossible to NOT like her.
Tomoyo Daidouji (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Eva "Molly" Wei (Oban Star-Racers)
Kagami Hiiragi (Lucky Star)
Ringo-chan (Daily Lives of High School Boys)
Best English Voice Actor (Male):
Eric Stuart - Brock and James (Pokemon)/Seto Kaiba (Yu-Gi-Oh!)/Meta Knight (Kirby: Right Back at Ya!)
Dan Green - Yugi Mutou/Yami Yugi (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Samuel Vincent - Jordan C. Wilde (Oban Star-Racers)/Yukito Tsukishiro (Cardcaptor Sakura)/Iceman.EXE (Megaman NT Warrior)
Winner: Eric Stuart
Not only does he voice the womanizing Brock and the ridiculous James, he also does the egotistical Seto Kaiba and the badass Meta Knight. I didn't pay much attention as a kid to the voices obviously but it was pretty amazing finding out the connections.
Samuel Vincent also voices another character in Cardcaptor Sakura but I'm keeping it a secret for spoilers-sake.
Sam Riegal - Minoru Shiraishi (Lucky Star)/Tristan and Rex(Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Best English Voice Actor (Female):
Veronica Taylor - Ash Ketchum, Delia Ketchum and Diglett (Pokemon)
Chiara Zanni - Eva "Molly" Wei (Oban Star-Racers)
Wendee Lee - Konata Izumi and Haruhi Suzumiya (Lucky Star)/Disguise Form Keroberos (Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card)
Winner: Veronica Taylor
I know some will cry foul over this one; I know Wendee Lee is considered one of the best in the business but come on, Ash's voice was my childhood. I still remember when I found out Ash was voiced by a female. My mouth dropped open. Besides, I got the chance to meet her at Fan Expo this year and she's awesome. Wendee Lee will probably have another shot next year since I plan on watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I don't know if I'll watch the dub or not but there's a good chance I will. I wonder if I should see Wendee Lee next year at Fan Expo if she comes. I'll have to find a Haruhi Suzumiya or Lucky Star poster if I want to do that! ;)
Rachel Lillis - Misty and Jigglypuff (Pokemon)
Brittney Wilson - Maylu Sakurai (Megaman NT Warrior)
Kari Wahlgreen - Sakura Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card)/Kagami Hiiragi (Lucky Star)
Michelle Ruff - Tsukasa Hiiragi, Minami Iwasaki, Yuki Nagato, and Minori Chihara (Lucky Star)/Tomoyo Daidouji (Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card)
Side note: I find it interesting how three of the four voice actresses for the main characters from the Lucky Star dub had met up 6 years earlier to do the dub for the main characters of Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card.
Best Seiyu (Male):
Tomokazu Sugita - Hidenori Tabata (Daily Lives of High School Boys)/Akira Agarkar Yamada and Tapioca (Tsuritama)/Clerk Sugita and Kyon (Lucky Star)
Minoru Shiraishi - Himself (Lucky Star)
Winner: Tomokazu Sugita
This guys voice is awesome! He sounds like a total badass even when speaking normally. A voice like this is why I think Japanese is a really cool language. Both of his characters in Daily Lives of High School Boys and Tsuritama are outrageously funny and a lot of credit goes to his sarcastic-sounding voice. A lot of credit still goes to Minoru Shiraishi who was pretty cool during his time on Lucky Star. He also brought a whole new level of humour thanks to his interactions with Akira Kogami on the show.
Miyu Irino - Tadakuni (Daily Lives of High School Boys)/Haru (Tsuritama)
Tomokazu Seki - Meito Anisawa (Lucky Star)/Toya Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Best Seiyu (Female):
Ikue Ootani - Pikachu (Pokemon)
Aya Hisakawa - Disguise Form Keroberos (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Aya Hirano - Konata Izumi, Herself and Haruhi Suzumiya (Lucky Star)
Winner: Aya Hirano
No, the voice actors for Pokemon will not win everything. I know that's what you were thinking this whole time ;) While it's amazing that Ikue Ootani can voice a character that says one word so well, Aya Hirano as Konata was simply too good. She always sounded sarcastic and condescending which perfectly fits Konata's character. Of course its all in good character. Shes able to handle a variety of voices as shown in the series whenever she makes a character reference and she is also a very good singer since she handles the majority of the ending songs of the first half of Lucky Star. I've also gone ahead and listened to the opening and closing themes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya which she sings and they're both very good. Aya Hisakawa also did an amazing job as Keroberos. Her Osaka accent is such a stark contrast to normal Japanese dialect, it's pretty cool. She is one of the reasons why Cardcaptor Sakura was funny.
Sakura Tange - Sakura Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Emiri Kato - Kagami Hiiragi (Lucky Star)/Koko (Tsuritama)
Pikachus Goodbye (Pokemon, Episode 36)
Sakura and the Last Judgement (Cardcaptor Sakura, Episode 46)
Lets Go to the Festival (Lucky Star, Episode 12)
Winner: Sakura and the Last Judgement
While I included this because it is part of Animages Anime of the Year Awards, its really a personal thing. So I picked episodes from anime that stood out either for their story, character development or simple enjoyment. Sakura and the Last Judgement was the climatic finale that the anime had spent its time leading up to. A lot of things were finally revealed in this episode as well as a couple of essential story changes. Its conclusion was satisfying and this episode contains the scene I mentioned during my explanation Sakuras win of character of the year.
Bye Bye, Butterfree (Pokemon, Episode 20)
Sakura and Her True Feelings (Cardcaptor Sakura, Episode 70)
To Be Announced (Lucky Star, Episode 24)
Best English Song:
Pokemon Theme Song - Jason Paige (Season 1 Opening)... Oh come on, you have to know this has no competition! Its obviously the best!
Cardcaptors Theme (Cardcaptor Sakura)
Best Japanese Song:
Platinum - Maaya Sakamoto (Cardcaptor Sakura Opening Season 3, Episode 70 Closing)
Waratteta - (I Was Laughing) - Sukoshi (Oban Star-Racers Closing)
Shiny Tale - Mix Speakers Inc. (Daily Lives of High School Boys Opening, Episode 12 Closing)
Motteke! Sailor Fuku! - (Take it! Sailor Uniform!) Konata Izumi, Kagami Hiiragi, Tsukasa Hiiragi and Miyuki Takara (Aya Hirano, Emiri Kato, Kaori Fukuhara and Aya Endo) (Lucky Star Opening)
Believe it or not, this was actually the category I spent the most time debating over. I listened to all the songs many times (especially in the case of Motteke! Sailor Fuku! That song was stuck in my head for 2 months) before I finally decided on Platinum. While Motteke! Sailor Fuku! was catchy as hell and it did end up in second, I prefer songs that have a deeper meaning than simply catchiness. Platinum was named Anime Song of the Year in Animage for two years in a row in Japan and I agree with that. Its simply a beautiful song that fits the feelings of the viewers at that point in Cardcaptor Sakura.
Catch You, Catch Me- GUMI (Cardcaptor Sakura Opening Season 1)
Chance to Shine - Akino (Oban Star-Racers Opening)
Anime of the Year:
(Animation Studio, year(s) on the air/Region)
Pokemon (Oriental Light and Magic Inc., September 1998 October 2003 (seasons 1 - 3)/North America)
Cardcaptor Sakura (Madhouse Studios, April 1998 March 2000/Japan)
Lucky Star (Kyoto Animation, April 2007 - September 2007/Japan)
Daily Lives of High School Boys (Sunrise, January 2012 - March 2012/Japan)
Winner: Cardcaptor Sakura
It was close between Cardcaptor Sakura and Lucky Star but my second ever anime wins the day. Cardcaptor Sakura was actually better by quite a bit at least to me, but the first movie dragged the score down. But of course it didn't win out of nostalgia. There's a really heart-warming story to this anime yet it remains serious when it needs to be. Its a good blend of story, humour and action. The characters are great, the soundtrack is simply amazing, and it's infinitely enjoyable to watch. This anime was also made over a decade ago and it has aged extremely well. I may have liked it when I was a kid but now I absolutely love it.
So, I know there wasn't a whole lot of competition when it came to my Anime of the Year Awards. Next year will be better I promise. Why? Because these are just a few big name anime on my to-watch list for next year:
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
There are a couple more big ones Im considering but those listed above are ones I will do for sure. Ive heard good things about all of them and theyre within the genre I usually like so why not? A few of the voice actors/seiyu might be back up again next year for my awards. Tomokazu Sugita is in 3 of the 6 anime listed above and Aya Hirano plays the titular character in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Even Sakura (Kinomoto) and Shaoran (Li) might not be done yet! They both star in Tsubasa Chronicle, the pseudo-sequel to Cardcaptor Sakura, another anime I plan on watching next year. They just reverse roles, where Shaoran becomes the star and Sakura becomes a supporting main character. Its a completely different universe but the same basic character models are used along with their names which is why I put pseudo-sequel in quotes. Theyre also a few years older than their Cardcaptor Sakura counterparts. Anyway, this concludes my Anime of the Year Awards. My Game of the Year Awards is next so look forward to that! Ill see you guys around!
Mata ato de!
P.S In case you guys are curious, I used this method in helping me determine the winner. I always find its best to be specific, so unlike MAL which uses definitive whole numbers, or GameSpot which uses the .5 system, I like the .1 system since its far more precise. I think using any other system aside from .1 is just lazy on peoples part. I rank the shows out of 20 but I multiply the score (8.5/10 = 17/20), and the movies and OVAs out of 10. The main show is obviously more important than the movies and OVAs right?
Pokemon: TV show: 8.2, Movie: 8.8, Movie 2: 7.5, Movie 3: 8, Movie 4: 8.3, Movie 5: 8.4 Movie 6: 8.5. Final Score: 8.2
Cardcaptor Sakura: TV show: 9.6, Movie: 7.9, Movie 2: 9.5. Final Score: 9.2
Lucky Star: TV show: 8.9, OVA: 9.2. Final Score: 9.0
Daily Lives of High School Boys: TV show: 8.5. Final Score: 8.5
Yu-Gi-Oh!: TV show: 6.5, Movie: 7.2. Final Score: 6.7
Megaman NT Warrior: TV show: 7.4. Final Score: 7.4
Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: Un-finished (added it since I saw a bunch of episodes as a kid)
Oban Star-Racers: TV show: 7.5. Final Score: 7.5
Tsuritama: TV show: 5.2. Final Score: 5.2