When winter winds howl through the air and the snot dribbling down your nose starts to freeze into tiny icicles, that's how you know that the most hallowed time of year is upon us once again–the time of year when anime fans gather round and vote for which anime bishounen is truly "Best Boy."
The 2020 Crunchyroll Anime Awards are finally here.
But how do you possibly choose between Mob and Bucciarati? And if that's not hard enough to decide as is, what do you nominate for "Anime of the Year?" Don't worry. I gotchu' fam'.
Anime of the Year
Upfront, I placed my Anime of the Year vote with a major caveat––my real top anime of 2019 (not to mention, my top TV show period) was not on Crunchyroll's shortlist. That show is, of course, Attack on Titan. Season 3 was a genuine masterpiece of storytelling, character-building, tension, and animation, and Crunchyroll's failure to include it in their top 2020 category will forever be a stain on their record.
That said, of the options we do have, it really comes down to Demon Slayer and Mob Psycho 100 II. The Promised Neverland, and Vinland Saga––both great shows––didn't quite make the cut for me (although I'm sure Vinland Saga will as it catches up to the manga).
Mob Psycho 100 II, the phenomenal second season of Mob Psycho 100, easily solidified the series amongst the best shows of the entire decade. It's ridiculously wholesome with a solid emotional core and gorgeous battle sequences. I'd go so far as saying it's better than Demon Slayer on every front short of actual animation.
But to me, "Anime of the Year" isn't necessarily reserved for "the best" anime of the year, so much as "the most definitive." And in that regard, Demon Slayer gets my vote. The series went from a decent manga that most people didn't care about to one of the most talked about shonen series of the decade. Ufotable's incredible battle animation is largely to thank, but Demon Slayer also has a lovable cast of characters that keeps me wanting to come back. I'm hoping the next season will live up to the hype.
Keeping in line with "Anime of the Year," Demon Slayer's Tanjiro is an easy choice for "Best Protagonist" category. He shirks a lot of the traditional shonen hero tropes, displaying unprecedented levels of empathy to even his most evil opponents. As a result, despite the fact that Demon Slayer marches to the same tune as plenty of past shonen fare, Tanjiro makes the series feel like a nice change of pace.
As horrendous as Isabella was in The Promised Neverland, my vote for "Best Antagonist" could only ever possibly go to Garou from One Punch Man. A great antagonist is one who believes that they're the protagonist of their own story, and in Garou's story, he's a beacon of hope for monsters who get a bad rap. That doesn't stop him from saving kids or being a big dweeb. Dude just wants to be a monster.
Ah, "Best Boy." Always the hardest category. A "Best Boy" isn't just "nice" or "likable." He's husbando material, your one and only. Tanjiro is nice, but he's not "Best Boy." Mob, on the other hand… Well, he's the kind of guy you'd need to lift up out of the dumps every now and again. But at the same time, he's loyal to a fault and would always support you in following your passions.
Bucciarati, on the other hand, would straight up die for you. He's a bad boy with a heart of gold, the kind of person who would join the mafia with the goal of getting drugs off the street. I love Bucciarati, and if the real world was as bizarre as JoJo's, I'd give him my vote. But I'm looking for a boyfriend, not a martyr. As hard as it is to reject Bucciarati, my point goes to Mob.
Nezuko. No question. Come on.
Finally, we get a category with an Attack on Titan Season 3 nomination. Tetsuro Araki's direction of the Return to Shiganshina arc was absolutely unparalleled. From its full display of the sheer terror leading up to Erwin's charge to the incredible shots throughout the Levi/Beast Titan fight, and everything beyond, it's hard to imagine a more perfect season of anime. This one is a no brainer.
Again, Attack on Titan Season 3 takes the cake. Demon Slayer certainly had the more beautiful battle animation, but the animation in Attack on Titan Season 3 served a greater goal that enhanced the narrative. For instance, the POV ODM gear shots placed viewers directly into Levi's shoes as he sped through the streets in his life-or-death fight with Kenny. The animation in AoT wasn't just badass; it was immersive.
Best Character Design
As far as new character designs go, it's hard to top Dr. STONE. With his crazy green-tipped hair and tan robe-coat, Senko Ishigami truly feels like a young anime Bill Nye, assuming Bill Nye existed somewhere in the JoJo-verse.
I'm just going to keep saying it: Attack on Titan Season 3 was perfect. The score exacerbated the intensity of every scene, and the gorgeous, haunting opening of the first half of the season perfectly set the mood for the rest of the show.
Best Fight Scene
Oh man. Levi vs. Beast Titan. Did you really think I'd pick anything else?
Yes, I picked Ymir and Historia.
"Attack on Titan again? Really?" you're thinking.
Yes. Really. I'll admit, there are strong arguments to be made for other entries here. Baki Hanma & Kozue Matsumoto was a strong contender. But the beauty of Ymir and Historia's relationship was its subtlety––an unrequited LGBTQ+ romance that took a backseat to everything else happening in the story (as one would expect of any romantic relationship in a world as brutal as Attack on Titan), while ultimately influencing and changing both participants' actions and character development in major ways. It's not just a great romance. It's an amazingly written one.
Best VA Performance (JP)
Yuichi Nakamuro killed it as Bucciarati. No contest.
Best VA Performance (EN)
LOL Dubs. Nah, I'm good. I abstain from voting.
KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR had an especially clever take on the romantic comedy genre, so it's hard to pick anything else as the standout comedy of the past year.
Attack on Titan Season 3. Shut up.
I have to give it to The Promised Neverland. While Vinland Saga will, no doubt, reign supreme in later seasons, the first season of The Promised Neverland was simply more consistent.
Best Opening Sequence
Since, again, Attack on Titan isn't listed, Mob Psycho 100 II is the clear winner. "99.9" is super fun, catchy, and high-energy. I didn't even skip it once––what better compliment can one give an opening sequence?
Best Ending Sequence
Sorry to end on a bit of a fizzle, but none of the listed ending sequences were absolute knock-outs. I did enjoy "Torches" from Vinland Saga, but it's not a passionate choice like a lot of my other votes.
Ultimately, when it comes to the Anime Awards, it's best to vote with your heart. But if your heart says anything other than Attack on Titan, I'm here to inform you that you're wrong.