The Crunchyroll Anime Awards are a Popularity Contest – is that Such a Bad Thing?

Another year, another anime awards, another round of verbal discontent. I mean, you can’t really please everyone, and that’s fine. Voicing your discontent about the winners is fine as well – hey, everyone has an opinion. The issue comes with people discrediting the whole thing, or calling for it to be scrapped. “It’s just a popularity contest, why even bother?”, or so they say. Yeah, it is a popularity contest – but is that really such a bad thing?

I would argue that the awards serve as a judgement of a certain anime’s impact, rather than its objective quality.

the big 3

We just need to learn to enjoy it for what it is – a recognition of the series that got people talking. When people generally think about anime, a few names come to mind: Naruto, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball etc. Are these the greatest anime to exist? Nope. But they are icons – series that made a big impact, that people generally enjoyed and discussed.

The anime awards simply serve to point out these anime that are having their time in the limelight. People get angry at the idea of a Demon Slayer or My Hero Academia sweep, but like, have you been to any anime convention (or the internet)? It’s obvious that people love these characters and series, so why the fuss when they win?

Anime has always been something we enjoy as a community. If the winners are the result of “normies”, so be it, because that’s a reflection of our community.

Idk why I have to say this, but normies are in fact, regular anime fans. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that people who watch just one or two anime on Netflix are not going to bother to vote for the anime awards. Also, news flash – normies do not take away your vote, nor do they affect your ability to influence others to vote for the series you love.

I love Mob Psycho 100 and Attack on Titan, so I voted for them where possible. I assume this is a common process among everyone who voted. Round up the votes and the normies win – yeah, no shit. That’s the general consensus of our community, a community that is an integral part of the anime experience. The current popularity of anime was built upon online forums, conventions, fan subs etc which allowed fans to congregate and enjoy these shows, after all.

Most people who vote for the awards have not watched every single show nominated, but I don’t think this makes one’s vote less valid.

O Maidens what

Ok, be honest – have you really watched every single show that was nominated? I know I haven’t, and yeah, I still voted because I wanted the shows I love to win. This “issue” is one that prevails in any award show, because most of us have other things to do. So the shows that more people get excited around and actually watch get voted for at higher frequencies, boo hoo.

Mum always said maths would come of use one day

Speaking of frequencies, ever heard of the normal distribution curve? If you plot out the number of shows watched by every single voter, you’d probably get one of these. The truth is, if you’re a voter that has watched every single show in the nominations, YOU are outside of the norm.

Some think having a critic’s awards section is a quick fix to the “problem”.

Surely, proper anime critics will be able to give these awards out objectively to the most deserving anime, right? Well, I don’t quite agree. The big question here is, who do we appoint as critics? Crunchyroll’s staff? Anitubers? Anime bloggers? Anyone who has watched every single nominee (yeah, good luck with that)?

not my list I just needed an image

The last option, while being the best one, is also the least practical. I mean, how do you vet that? Crunchyroll’s staff is incentivised to pick anime on their own platform, so that option is completely out. Anime bloggers & youtubers are highly diverse and just like the general public, you get those who see anime critically and those who enjoy anime for fun. Of those who discuss anime critically, there are plenty that profess their biases towards certain genres, and perhaps even more that admit to not keeping up with seasonal anime. So what makes their opinions any better than that of the general public, especially if it’s really only the opinions of say, 3 people?

I do have to say, the malicious comments about scrapping the awards have definitely decreased, especially since this year’s edition was much more diverse in terms of the winners. I also want to say that there’s nothing wrong with criticism – that’s how Crunchyroll can improve and make the awards even better for us. But at the end of the day, can’t we all just gather and have a bit of fun?

All images are used for commentary purpose.


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