Culture Feature

"Demon Slayer" Slayed at Crunchyroll's Anime Awards

Demon Slayer's big win was the right choice.

Shueisha

In the world of anime, 2019 will forever be known as the year of Demon Slayer.

Crunchyroll announced the winners of their fourth annual Anime Awards this weekend in a live event hosted by WWE Superstar Xavier Woods (AKA Austin Creed), and in a victory that likely came as a surprise to absolutely no one, Demon Slayer took home Anime of the Year. Demon Slayer's kind-hearted protagonist, Tanjiro, also won the coveted Best Boy Award, and Tanjiro & Nezuko vs. Rui won Best Fight Scene. Considering all of its major category wins with over 11 million global votes cast this year, it's clear that Demon Slayer has taken the anime community by storm.

Tanjiro Shueisha

But while some anime fans might balk at the idea of a battle shonen winning the ultimate accolades, it's worth considering the fact that Demon Slayer stands as a testament to the power of anime–specifically, as a medium. After all, Demon Slayer's success story is somewhat atypical.

Normally, shonen anime series that achieve massive popularity are backed by extreme levels of manga-reader hype. This is because shonen anime series are almost always based on already popular manga, meaning that their core fanbases are essentially built in from the get-go. As an example, manga volumes of My Hero Academia had been selling out in Japan before the anime ever aired.

Demon Slayer, however, didn't enter the anime scene with those same levels of fan excitement. In fact, the Demon Slayer manga––which began publication in 2016––was considered by many to be just okay, and a lot of readers of Shonen Jump (the Japanese manga magazine where Demon Slayer is published) expected the series to be canceled early into its run. So when the Demon Slayer anime started airing in April, 2019, most people didn't have high expectations.

Studio Ufotable didn't let that stop them. They went all out on Demon Slayer, crafting brilliant fight animations that gave the impression of woodblock prints come to life. Every battle in the show, from the smaller Zenitsu scenes to the Best Fight-winning Rui brawl, played out in spectacular fashion. The anime performed so fantastically that fans began clamoring for the manga, with new volume sales in Japan even giving One Piece a run for its money.

Tanjiro vs Rui Shueisha

So yes, while someone might personally think that Attack on Titan Season 3 deserved every single award ever (Tetsuro Araki and Masashi Koizuka did rightfully win Best Director), Demon Slayer's big win was the right choice within the larger context of the medium.

The full list of Crunchyroll 2020 Anime Awards winners can be found below:

  • Anime of the Year: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Best Animation: Mob Psycho 100 II
  • Best Opening Sequence: Mob Psycho 100 II, ♪ 99.9 - MOB CHOIR feat. sajou no hana
  • Best Ending Sequence: KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR, ♪ Chikatto Chika Chikaa♡ - Konomi Kohara
  • Best Boy: Tanjiro Kamado, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Best Girl: Raphtalia, The Rising of the Shield Hero
  • Best Score: Mocky, Carole & Tuesday
  • Best VA Performance (JP): Yuichi Nakamura voices Bruno Bucciarati in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
  • Best VA Performance (EN): Billy Kametz voices Naofumi in The Rising of the Shield Hero
  • Best Director: Tetsuro Araki, Chief Director and Masashi Koizuka, Director – Attack on Titan Season 3
  • Best Character Design: Satoshi Iwataki, Original Character Design by Hiroyuki Asada, Dororo
  • Best Protagonist: Senku, Dr. STONE
  • Best Antagonist: Isabella, The Promised Neverland
  • Best Fight Scene: Tanjiro & Nezuko vs. Rui, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Best Couple: Kaguya Shinomiya & Miyuki Shirogane, KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR
  • Best Drama: Vinland Saga, WIT STUDIO
  • Best Fantasy: The Promised Neverland, CloverWorks
  • Best Comedy: KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR, A-1 Pictures
  • Industry Icon: George Wada, WIT STUDIO

TV

A Definitive Guide to the Crunchyroll 2020 Anime Awards

The top picks for "Anime of the Year," and more importantly, "Best Boy."

Shogakukan

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

Demon Slayer Shueisha

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.

Best Protagonist

Tanjiro Shueisha

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.

Best Antagonist

Garou Shueisha

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.

Best Boy

Mob Psycho 100 Shogakukan

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.

Best Girl

Nezuko Shueisha

Nezuko. No question. Come on.

Best Director

Attack on Titan Levi Kodansha

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.

Best Animation

Armored Titan Kodansha

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

Dr. Stone Shueisha

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.

Best Score

attack on titan fallen angel Kodansha

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

Levi vs Beast Titan Kodansha

Oh man. Levi vs. Beast Titan. Did you really think I'd pick anything else?

Best Couple

Ymir and Historia Kodansha

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)

Bucciarati Shueisha

Yuichi Nakamuro killed it as Bucciarati. No contest.

Best VA Performance (EN)

LOL Dubs. Nah, I'm good. I abstain from voting.

Best Comedy

kaguya sama love is war shueisha

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.

Best Fantasy

Attack on Titan Season 3 Kodansha

Attack on Titan Season 3. Shut up.

Best Drama

Promised Neverland Shueisha

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

Mob Psycho 99 Shogakukan

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

Vinland Saga Torches Kodansha

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.

CULTURE

34 Pop Culture Things We're Most Thankful For This Thanksgiving 2019

We're all counting our blessings at Popdust.

square enix

It's almost Thanksgiving, so here at Popdust we're trying our best to stop dwelling on the fact that our entire world is going to sh*t, and instead, be appreciative of all the pop culture stuff we're thankful for in 2019.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. The Lumineers New Album

The Lumineers

Instant Classic.

2. The constant whining of the Pokemon fanbase on Reddit and Twitter

Pokemon Sword and Shield The Pokemon Company

A week after the launch of Sword and Shield, the angry man-babies are still crying hard.

3. Baby Yoda

baby yoda disney

Even cuter than a whole flock of Porgs.

4. Keanu Reeves still not getting #MeToo'd

Keanu Reeves AFP/Robyn Beck

Keanu Reeves has continued to be infallible.

5. Veterans Day trending spelled wrong

veterans day

A boomer misspelled it "VeTRANS Day." Hilarious.

6. White Men arguing for more representation for White Men

angry white man

If there's one thing all white men have in common, it's constant oppression.

7. Our new writer Keith and also our other new writer Abby

Combos Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Keith brings me Combos to snack on. Abby is also nice.

8. That video of Amanda Bynes confirming that she was sincere about wanting Drake to murder her pussy

Amanda Bynes ABC

This was important to clarify.

9. That none of us got famous for our famous moms paying for us to get into college

Olivia Loughlin CREDIT: ROB LATOUR/SHUTTERSTOCK

We're all failures, but at least we're not Olivia Jade Loughlin.

10. Attack on Titan Season 3

attack on titan kodansha

Attack on Titan still has my vote for absolute best TV season of 2019.

11. The optimistic hope that the FFVII Remake will actually be amazing

final fantasy 7 remake Square Enix

I'M GOING TO RELIVE MY CHILDHOOD.

12. A New Half-Life game

half life alyx Valve

It might be a dumb VR game, but it gives us hope that Half-Life 3 is on the horizon.

13. Fleabag Season 2

Fleabag Season 2 BBC

The second season was somehow even better than the first.

14. Another year without a Toby Keith hit

No matter how bad the rest of the year was, we can all take solace in the fact that Toby Keith doesn't have any hot new songs.

15. Harry Styles

Harry Styles THEO WARGO GETTY IMAGES

Our boy killed it on SNL.

16. A conclusive ending for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

marvel endgame Disney

Mainly though, we're just done with Marvel.

17. That I can bring "OK Boomer" with me to Thanksgiving dinner

OK Boomer Shutterstock

Seriously though, shut your awful, racist boomer family down.

18. Dolly Parton's resurgence

dolly parton

Dolly Parton will always be a national treasure.

19. The Angry Woman Vs Cat meme (the cat's name is Smudge, fun fact)

woman vs cat meme

Meme of the year.

20. The Cats trailer horror

Cats Trailer Universal Pictures

Scarier than any horror movie of the past twenty years.

21. Finding out 21 Savage is British

21 Savage ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES

Seriously?

22. That they still play 21 Jump Street and Superbad on TV

Superbad Sony Pictures

Some things never change.

23. Tekashi 69 snitching on everybody

tekashi 69 GETTY IMAGES

Place your bets.

24. FKA TWIGs

FKA Twigs 22nd Annual Webby Awards WireImage

Robert Pattinson done goofed.

25. That Taylor Swift wrote the song Lover all by herself, and then didn't get nominated for a Grammy

Taylor Swift CREDIT: EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

She has enough Grammys as is.

26. Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself

jeffrey epstein

Really though. It was an inside job.

27. Ronan Farrow proposing to his husband on a page of his own book

Ronan Farrow NPR

Talk about balls.

28. Amanda Palmer's Antics

James Duncan Davidson

Love her or hate her, at least she's interesting.

29. Dan's brief stint as a beloved ARMY spokesperson

BTS Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

That time when I called out The Hollywood Reporter.

30. The Edne and Mack Feud of 2019

CBD hemp leaves on wooden background, seeds, cannabis oil extracts in jars Getty Images/iStockphoto

CBD is bullsh*t.

31. Victoria's Secret fashion show canceled officially forever

victorias secret

It's about time.

32. A$AP Rocky a point of discussion in impeachment hearings

ASAP rocky trump

We truly live in the stupidest timeline.

33. Vastly improved Sonic trailer

Sonic Trailer Paramount Pictures

Conspiracy theory: They had the original design ready to go all along.

34. The incredible art in Demon Slayer

Demon Slayer Shueisha

Most gorgeous anime of 2019.

TV

Why "Attack on Titan" Is the Best TV Show of 2019

Attack on Titan is more than just the best anime of the year; it's the best TV show of the year, period.

giphy

Attack on Titan is more than just the best anime of the year; it's the best TV show of the year, period.

Looking at IMDB's top-rated TV episodes of all time (with at least 1,000 ratings), it might be surprising to find the number one spot is held by an anime series. After all, while anime has certainly become much more mainstream over the past few years, few franchises outside of Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z appreciate similar name recognition as Game of Thrones, let alone anywhere near the same level of critical analysis. But sure enough, Attack on Titan Season 3, Episode 17: "Hero" is currently sitting at #1 with a 9.9 rating, right above Game of Thrones' Season 6 finale. Moreover, Attack on Titan has another episode in the top ten and three more in the top 50, which is interspersed with acclaimed shows like Breaking Bad and The West Wing.

None of this is to say that IMDB's TV show rankings are some sort of universal truth–for instance, the algorithm doesn't seem to weigh differences in the actual number of votes (GOT's #2 spot has 123,000 votes while "Hero" only has 13,000). Even so, any show that can inspire viewers to turn out in such numbers is at least worthy of a closer look, and in this particular case the fans are absolutely right. Attack on Titan is a masterpiece, and if you enjoy dark fantasy or even just great fiction, you owe it to yourself to watch.

attack on titan manga volume 1 cover Attack on Titan Manga Volume 1©Hajime Isayama/KODANSHA LTD


Currently in its third season, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin in Japanese) premiered in 2014, taking the anime community by storm before going on a three year hiatus until 2017. Adapted from Hajime Isayama's manga of the same name, the series takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the only surviving humans live within the confines of a walled city. Outside the walls, horrific creatures called Titans–giant humanoid monsters that consume humans without reason–roam free. The story follows three friends–Eren, Mikasa, and Armin–whose town and families get destroyed by two seemingly intelligent Titans, the "Colossal Titan" and the "Armored Titan," who breach the walls. This tragedy leads them to join the Scout Regiment, an army of elite human soldiers dead set on taking the world back from the Titans.

Narratively, Attack on Titan differs from many other shonen series (anime/manga aimed at a young male audience) in that it doesn't revolve around characters getting stronger or achieving a lofty dream through battle and friendship. Rather, Attack on Titan revolves around the brutal realities of war, rife with themes of death, loss, duty, and perseverance. The show's first season establishes the dystopian world and the core mysteries surrounding the origin of the Titans. The second season expands upon these mysteries as humanity mounts their first major foray into Titan-controlled territory.

But while the first two seasons of Attack on Titan are incredibly compelling, Season 3 transcends all expectations, taking the show in unexpected new directions without ever losing sight of its thematic core: humanity's capacity to push onwards, even against unbeatable odds.

***SPOILERS THROUGH AOT SEASON 3, EPISODE 17: "HERO" AND GAME OF THRONES AHEAD***

armin arlert Armin Arlert©Hajime Isayama/KODANSHA LTD


One of the most impressive elements of Attack on Titan is how it doesn't shy away from the nearly insurmountable odds set up against its protagonists. Unlike similarly "dangerous" fantasy series–say, Game of Thrones, which conceived a brutal world at the onset (famously executing Ned Stark at the end of Season 1) but then decked out all its main characters in loads of plot armor–AOT's heroes perform every action in a constant state of risk. Main characters can and do die, sometimes unceremoniously.

The latter half of Season 3 revolves around humanity's greatest all-out advancement against the Titans. By this point in the show, we've discovered that the mystery surrounding Titans is much deeper than we possibly could have imagined. Certain people have the capacity to turn into special, intelligent Titans, amongst them Eren and three of the Scout's former allies who turned out to be spies.

The Scouts' mission revolves around leading their army to Shiganshina District–Eren, Mikasa, and Armin's home town which was destroyed and overrun by Titans during their childhood–in order to reach Eren's basement, which potentially houses the secret behind Titans. Upon arrival, they find the town void of Titans and realize they've been set up for an ambush by their former allies. Nearly the entirety of their forces is destroyed, and the survivors stand against truly insane odds in a seemingly inescapable death trap.

Inside the town, Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and their tiny squad stand as the only survivors against the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan. Even with his Titan powers, Eren is barely a match for the Armored Titan, let alone the Colossal Titan. Outside the wall, the Scouts' top brass–Commander Erwin and Captain Levi–are the only experienced soldiers left, trapped behind a row of buildings with a terrified platoon of new recruits as the last line of protection for all the horses necessary to their escape. Meanwhile, the Beast Titan–an intelligent Titan with the ability to control other Titans–is systematically leveling their cover. Both groups seem to have two options: wait and die, or try to do something and die.

beast titan Beast Titan©Hajime Isayama/KODANSHA LTD


It's the kind of overly bleak scenario that seems ripe for a deus ex machina. Game of Thrones did exactly that with the Battle of Winterfell, a scenario that seemed similar on the surface with the heroes fighting against the seemingly invincible, undead forces of the Night King. It's incredibly hard to come up with a believable way for heroes to win against impossible odds, especially without killing any main characters, so Game of Thrones took the easy way out and had a character essentially teleport. It made no sense, and it essentially ruined what could have been the greatest victory of the series, but good battle tactics are very difficult to write.

This is where Attack on Titan outshines every other show ever, in all of television history. Captain Erwin and Armin, both tacticians in their own rights, realize the gravitas of their situations. They devise plans that are believable because they account for great casualties, including their own. They understand their actions very likely mean death, and they grapple with the fact that their deaths mean that their goals and desires can never be fulfilled. And then they carry out their plans based on information that was there all along. There is no deus ex machina, no ass-pull victory. Their plans succeed with massive casualties, and main characters whom we care deeply about lose their lives. As in war, victory comes at immeasurable cost.

Attack on Titan manages to blend intense action and suspenseful mystery with believable character growth. It tells a deeply thematic story with some of the most emotional gut punches ever seen on screen. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, cheering one moment and sobbing the next. Attack on Titan proves that anime can not only be just as good as any other form of media; it can be much, much better. So even if you don't watch anime, give Attack on Titan a shot. It's more than just the best show of 2019, more than just better than Game of Thrones. Attack on Titan is a masterpiece, and if you enjoy great fiction you owe it to yourself to watch.