I had the opportunity to attend the Crunchyroll Anime Awards on Saturday, February 16th. This was the first time I got to go, as last year I couldn’t make it down to Los Angeles, and the year before that, I wasn’t writing articles for Anitrendz.
I’ll start by saying that I had a great time. I went with my friends and we all really enjoyed the venue (and the two free drink tickets). You can tell how much work and dedication went into the event.
Having the presenters stream the awards from Twitch HQ kinda made me question why I was in San Francisco to begin with. If I wanted to, I could have watched everything from the comfort of my living room sofa. At first, it felt like the only real benefit to making the trek all the way to San Francisco was for the atmosphere of the awards show. Going with my friends was a definite plus, but I could have watched it at home with them instead. It’s like any sports match. Sure you could pay for a ticket, get yourself out to the stadium, and stand in line with a bunch of strangers, or you could grab your friends and watch the game from the comfort of your living room. The main reason people bother going to live events is to see things with their own two eyes, and the ability to see the presenters respond to their cheers. There is something special about live events, and watching a live stream projected on the wall of a warehouse doesn’t elicit the same reaction. The audience/presenter interaction is thrown out the window when things are live-streamed. Yes, you can get a general idea of how people feel by looking at Twitch chat, but trying to get individual thoughts out of Twitch chat is like drinking from a firehose. Speaking of drinking from a firehose, I have a great respect for Tim Lyu, who played the role of the “Voice of the People”. I think he did an excellent job converting all those emotes and half-sentences from Twitch chat into coherent thoughts for the presenters.
I don’t mean to say that there weren’t some cool things going on at the venue. Attendees got raffle tickets for a very nice and expensive looking prize pool, and my roommate even won a figure. Also, there were some well made Devil May Cry 5 pins and some fun plastic pennant flags with labels like “Best Boy’, “Anime of the Year”, and “Best Fight Scene” available for the attendees. Kizuna Ai made a brief appearance for the awards, which was an unexpected, but welcome surprise, and I’m glad it was kept as a surprise. Masahiko Minami, the president of Studio Bones, gave a speech thanking everyone for his industry achievement award, which was particularly cool, as I can say that I got to stand mere feet away from the President of Studio Bones.
I think from a reporter’s perspective though, I think there were perhaps some missed opportunities. I saw Mr.Minami enter The Foundry a little before 5 pm, as I was standing in line. But then, I saw neither hide nor hair of him until his acceptance speech near the end of the awards show. I understand that there may have been some circumstances preventing it, but I would have given my left hand for the chance to interview him during some of the time between his arrival and his speech.
Now on the topic of the award categories themselves, I think that there were a few awards that were missing from the process as a whole. I really would have liked to see an award for best Soundtrack or best Sound Design. These two elements are literally the “audio” half of the “audio-visual media” that is anime, and are integral parts of any show. Also, when one of the presenters is a composer, I think it feels a little awkward for there to be no award that spotlights his craft.
The highlight of the evening for me was after the awards presentation. The presenters came to The Foundry from Twitch HQ, and it really began to feel more like a party. I got to talk with Kevin Penkin, Mother’s Basement, Glass Reflection, and so many others. Getting the chance to talk to them about the awards and their work made the trip a thousand times better than any at home watch party.
Overall, I had a fun time at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards, and if it is in San Fransisco again, I will attend. I think there could be some changes made to the formatting of the awards, and I look forward to what is in store for next year.