So continuing off from last week, here are the individual awards for lesser known categories. A niche category, if you will. No hating this time, just love for certain things that I thought deserved some recognition from the anime that aired this past year.
Best Character Designs: Kiznaiver
Courtesy of Mai Yoneyama, the character designs in Kiznaiver are very pleasing to the eye, each one distinct and with enough information tacked to the character to give off the kind of personality they possess. Nico’s childish pigtails and mismatched socks reveal her playful nature, Tengan’s dyed hair and bright yellow shirt proclaim his loud and boisterous personality, and so on. Much like how the opening reveals much of the characters’ personality within the few seconds each one appears, the same can be said of their character designs.
Best Eyecatch: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
Eyecatches can be as simple as the show’s logo tacked to the lower left side of the screen; some shows don’t even bother going through the trouble of animating an eyecatch. This is not the case Tanaka-kun is Always Listless. Every episode has a different eyecatch that is relevant to the episode’s plot featuring cute chibi versions of the main cast. Often times, sound effects and additional voice acting accompany these brief scene transitions, from Miyano’s hyper active yelling to Ohta’s encouraging “Hang in there.” They’re all adorable to look at and each one puts a creative twist to an often overlooked aspect in anime.
Best Next Episode Preview: Tales of Zestiria the X
One of the best aspects of the Tales Series is the without a doubt the skits. Skits are brief segments that pop up at certain points in the game, often adding more characterization, world building, or highlighting the relationships that certain characters have or develop with each other; though more often than not these tend to lead to some of the most hilarious moments in the games. For the anime adaptation of Tales of Zestiria, ufotable decided to utilize these skits as the next episode preview, adding in even more silly punchlines for both old and new fans to enjoy, thus making each episode’s next preview segment an enjoyable enough watch to patiently sit through the credits and wait for (which shouldn’t be too difficult, since the ending theme is actually pretty nice).
Best Romantic Relationship: Luluco and Nova from Space Patrol Luluco
Luluco’s romance with Nova got off on a shaky, unsure start; but the payoff to all of Nova’s indifference and Luluco’s panicking eventually led to the best written romantic plot I’ve seen in an anime in a long while. It takes time to develop, which is understandable given their young age, especially since this is the first time Luluco’s held romantic feelings for someone. Nova’s lack of response to Luluco’s bashful advances are also justified when it’s later revealed that he comes from a race of aliens that don’t comprehend emotions. But in the end, Luluco’s determination allows her unrequited love to be reciprocated. The eventual devotion the pair eventually shares with each other and the way that their feelings are conveyed make that typical “power of love wins all” cliche actually work, making the final battle scene in the finale that much more satisfying to watch.
Best Platonic Relationship: Haruta and Chika from Haruchika
Chika and Haruta’s relationship is one of the few in anime (or any form of media for that matter) where a pair of close childhood friends can remain close without any sort of romantic tension ever developing; and it’s a rare but wonderful sight to see. The pair share a closeness akin to a sibling-like relationship, though their peers are quick to assume that their relationship may be something deeper. It’s not; and both parties are often quick to dispel any such assumptions. Indeed, their relationship often stays within the boundaries of close friends and never goes beyond that and probably never will. How am I so sure, you ask? Because the first episode established that Haruta is about as straight as Ellen DeGeneres riding a unicorn over a rainbow.
Best Recurring Extra: Mila Babicheva from Yuri!!! on Ice
Mila doesn’t show up often, but when she does, she makes good use of her screen time. From her relaxed, sibling like relationship with Yurio off the rink, to her sillier, teasing side when commenting on some of the more…interesting performances of her colleagues, Mila seems to gain more and more fans each time she appears. Here’s hoping she gets more focus in later episodes.
Best One-Shot Character: Hidaka from Natsume Yuujinchou Go
I have a weakness for cute creatures, and this giant owl-like yokai hits all the marks on my personal cuteness meter. Every time it utters its catchphrase “I super-love”, it makes my heart melt, especially when its lonely backstory is revealed. Natsume Yuujinchou has always succeded in creating lovable characters that the audience can instantly sympathize with in the span of twenty something minutes, and Hidaka is no exception. I can’t help but feel a little jealous of Natsume for getting the opportunity to be hugged by such a large, fluffy youkai.
Best English Dub: Dangan Ronpa 3
BE WARNED: THE ABOVE VIDEO CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE DANGAN RONPA FRANCHISE
I could give this award to 91 Days, which brought back the casting director for Baccano!, and anyone who’s watched the English dub for that should know that he’s no slouch when it comes to perfectly recreating that old American accent from the Prohibition era. I could give it to Yuri!!! on Ice, another good, solid dub that featured believable Russian accents and a few edits to the script that improved upon an already well-written narrative. Instead, I’m recognizing this. Now, I’m not saying the casting is perfect. I still think Greg Ayers makes for an awful Monokuma and I still feel that the casting for the games fit the characters better than their anime counterparts (barring the few who kept their game counterparts’ voice actors). So why am I recognizing this, you ask? Because this dub is hilarious. I don’t know what the script writers were on when they wrote these lines, but it definitely helped to improve some of the more lackluster writing the show’s later half is known for. Thanks to this dub, we get classic lines like: “Kamakura, Kamakura yas queen”; “We live and die by the meme”; “I feel like he’s getting gayer with age”; and the best line: “Yeah, I don’t get this either, pretty sure I died.” So, thanks for the laughs, FUNimation.
Best Expressions: Haikyuu!! Season 3
Mob Pscyho 100 and Show By Rock # were all tough contenders to beat, but once again Haikyuu!! revealed that it hasn’t quite played all of its cards yet. While the latter two shows definitely had some memorable expressions, Haikyuu!! managed to keep the silly expressions coming with each new episodes, even having characters with typically calm dispositions like Suga pull a weird face. There’s only one episode left before this season wraps up, but I have no doubt that there will be more reaction worthy gifs to be made when the final episode airs.
Best Mascot: St. Valentine from WWW.Working!!
This was probably the hardest for me to decide with so many adorable pets and creatures to choose from. The cats from March Comes in Like a Lion, Makkachin from Yuri!!! on Ice, Antaro from Shounen Maid, the tanuki from this same show…But in the end, I chose a caricature of St.Valentine to take this spot. This St.Valentinte is presented in the form of a tiny old man in priest garb giving advice (usually in the matters of love, usually not all that good) to Daisuke, the show’s protagonist. I don’t know what it is about him, but seeing his permanently relaxed expression and hearing him give all kinds of weird advice to Daisuke made me like him a lot more than I expected to. Watching him dance his little jig in the show’s ending theme after each episode just made me love him even more. So there you have it, all those cute pets got beat by some dead old guy.