Crunchyroll and the Anime Awards!(Interview)

As you can probably guess, a majority of the staff for The Geek Lyfe are huge fans of Anime! We constantly fight about which anime series is the best or worst and if anyone dare tries to bring up the classic argument of Subbed vs Dubbed then just forget about being productive for the rest of the day. One of the major issues stateside for anime is that there are so many series that folks just have a difficult time telling which shows are golden without sifting through subreddits or checking out websites for recommendations. While film and music have their own awards that hold up the artwork of others to give them their well deserved praise, there just isn’t a mainstream awards event for anime.

That was until the incredible folks at Crunchyroll decided enough was enough and they were going to take a stand! They set up their own awards event and allowed the public to come and vote on what they loved! At the time of writing this, a majority of the winners had been announced, which you can check out here! They are holding onto their Anime of the Year award for their big event taking place in San Francisco on January 28th at the Folsom Street Foundry, where “The Anime of The Year” Award will be announced and streamed live for fans not in attendance. Fans attending the Crunchyroll Anime Awards Party can expect a live DJ, anime screenings, video game lounges, custom T-shirt printing and more! However, the space they are hosting the event in has limited capacity. Entry is not guaranteed, so be sure to get there early and because of some of the activities, it is a 21+ age limit! 

I was able to interview Dallas Middaugh, who is the head of brand and community at Crunchyroll, and Eric Taylor, who is the lifecycle marketing manager at Ellation, on the awards!

If you’d like to see some of the results, check them out here: http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-feature/2017/01/10-1/feature-crunchyroll-anime-awards-the-results-are-in-see-who-won !

Enjoy:

The Geek Lyfe: Although many Anime fans know and love Crunchyroll, myself included, would you be able to explain what Crunchyroll is and what the Anime Awards are?

Dallas: So, Crunchyroll has been around for about ten years and we are the premiere legal source for streaming anime on the internet. “We have, at this point, around 800+ series and 25,000 hours of programming, and in any given season from 60 to 70 new or on going series every week. Our tagline has been ‘Everything Anime’, that is because we are very focused on not just anime but also the people who watch it. We have a strong sense of community through our social media channels and our forums and we are also heavily involved in products like toys, merch, and manga. That should be us in a nutshell!

Eric: The Anime Awards is essentially a project we put together that gives our audience the opportunity to come together, collaborate and view all of the best shows, characters, and scenes from the prior year and then, vote on them!

Yuri on Ice! One of the series in the running for the Anime Awards!

TGL: I saw that there were a lot of great categories to vote on from Best Girl to Best Scene etc. Are there any categories that you loved and wanted to include but didn’t make the list?

Eric: Yeah actually, we had a few debriefs with the ‘Experts’, as I would call them, at Crunchyroll, specifically our community managers.

Dallas: I can only speak for the ones that I was pushing for. I wanted a best Manga category and because I love film scores from Anime and everything else, I was pushing for a Best Composer! But unfortunately if we all had gotten our way, there would have been probably around 50 awards for people to vote on!

TGL: With 1.8 Million votes, you have an immense fan base who cares about the awards which will no doubt grow with each year! Would you ever consider having the Anime Awards take place in a physical location with a production and crew?

Eric: Pie in the sky, we would absolutely love to do that! Obviously there are a lot of things involved with doing something like that. Being this is our first year doing anything like this, we would like to keep it online for a number of reasons, logistically speaking. We have seen such great participation and passion by so many fans, like you said there were 1.8 million votes which is tremendous and was beyond anyone’s expectations. Here at Crunchyroll this was an amazing success. Given that we know that our audience wants more of this stuff, we want to give it to them but we have to figure out what the best way to do that is by keeping the Anime Awards online or doing an event in a physical location. We’ll have to see but anything is possible in the future and we are open to doing anything logistically and what is best for our audience ultimately.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable

TGL: The results for the awards have been released and it seems Yuri on Ice swept the awards in almost every category. Understandably so! It was a fantastic anime, but did the results of the awards surprise you in any way?

Eric: Certainly I think individuals within Crunchyroll have their opinions, right? Obviously that is our audience. There are always going to be people who don’t agree with the results, especially when it is from a collective audience rather then select individuals. Yuri on Ice is a phenomenal show but also extremely popular, so the Anime Awards is a way for the fans to express which series they liked the most.

Given that Yuri was such a popular show on Crunchyroll and in the world in general I think that helped a lot of categories. Some voters may have thought it should not have won, but I think it speaks to the passion of the fans who liked that show, how willing they were to come back, vote, and then share the landing page to their friends to encourage them to participate as well!

TGL: That actually leads me to my next question! It is always awesome to have an award like the People’s Champ where the community can vote. However having the people vote on their favorite categories can be difficult because if certain shows do incredible in Spring yet voting happens at the end of the year, the minds of voters might still be wrapped up in the shows that were released closer to when the voting took place. Would you ever consider having an ‘Editor’s Pick’ that way Crunchyroll could give their unbias opinion?

Eric: Once again this was the first year we have done the Anime Awards and we are really happy with the results. However, there is a lot of room for improvement so we can make this better in the future. Everything is a learning experience and we have listened intently to the fan’s feedback, both positive and negative. I think the negative feedback is the more helpful feedback so we can use that to help improve the projects for the coming years. We have heard that there were certain series that were not included that some fans thought they should have been.

We are heavily considering everything and looking back on stuff that we did to help polish the Anime Awards for next year. At the end of the day we did have a panel of judges who certainly knew a lot about anime and they watched a lot of content over the last year. We felt very comfortable with the selections that they made for the community to vote on. You are always going to have people who aren’t happy with the results. Video Games is a great genre to compare it to, right? That audience is also very passionate and at the Video Game Awards people are always going to be upset no matter the line up. So we need to take everything into account but we also know that we can not make everyone happy, it’s just not possible but we are always working towards ways to improve the awards moving forward.

Mob Psycho 100!

TGL: I thought you guys did a wonderful job! The finalists were such great shows, some I knew and loved while others were ones that I had never heard of but then watched them and could understand why they were included. Great job! 

I always enjoy knowing that the people running the awards are fans of the genre as well! What are your origin stories in Anime?

Dallas: Well, I am going to tell my story but this will portray how old I am. When I was growing up I got into Anime through Star Lasers and Robotech. In college I saw my first Miyazaki film, Castle in the Sky, and it just got me really interested in anime. I have spent a majority of my career in manga rather than anime and to be honest I would watch it occasionally until I came over to Crunchyroll. There has just been such amazing stuff that has come out of Japan over the past couple of years, but in 2016 my personal favorite, hands down, was Erased. It was such a compelling thriller and the characters were so so interesting and the story was amazing. I was basically going to everyone saying “When is it here? When is it here! Have we got it? Is it done? Can I watch it before we put it on the site?” even if it was only thirty minutes before we would put it on the site. That is my background, I am not as deep into anime as some staff is but I love it!

Eric: My origin into anime is very similar to any kid in the 90s like Dragon Ball on Toonami. After coming home from school each day around 4 or 5 o clock, my brother and I would watch it religiously. So that was my origin into anime, from there I got into some more older/mature themes. More so movies than series like Ninja Scroll and that really cemented my interest into anime. I’ll echo Dallas’ comment about not being as familiar with anime as some of the staff but it is definitely a passion of mine.

TGL: What is one Anime you highly recommend that you feel not many folks know about?

Dallas: I always fumble with questions like this, you’ll have to give me a minute. I have to sort through the titles in my head.

Eric: One of my favorite series that I often suggest to people who have never watched anime, as sort of a gateway title, to introduce them to anime so it doesn’t freak them out because it can be a bit obscure would be Death Note. It is one of my favorite shows that I binge watched that show when I first started watching it. I think it has enough of a western feel to it and there are not as many anime tropes into it that normally turn off newcomers. I think Death Note is always a good one to start off with!

Dallas: That was a good answer, can I copy it? (Everyone laughs) I think I would have to go back to my answer of Erased. It is a compelling thriller that is self contained, single episode and done, so they do not have to commit to multiple seasons or hundreds of hours to follow it. I just think that the quality of the story and the animation and characters is so high that more people should watch it. Granted, I can’t argue that I wish it would get more attention because when it was released it was one of the top shows for the season for Crunchyroll. At the same time, it is one that is getting lost because of how fast new series take hold of the community. I try and find ways to plug Erased to fans so they don’t forget or overlook such a great series!

My Hero Academia!

TGL: At what point did you guys want to do the Anime Awards and how long did it take for it to go from the conception phase to the point where the event went live and when folks could vote?

Eric: Prior to working at Crunchyroll, I worked in the video game industry and Game of the Year awards is something that  the gaming industry does well and have done for a long time. Their audience is very passionate and absolutely loves it and gets involved very deeply. IGN, GameFAQs, GameSpot does their own awards and see tremendous numbers of fans participate. So when I started working at Crunchyroll, which was about September of 2016, I was wondering why there wasn’t an official anime awards in the industry or at least a reoccurring one. There have been events in the past but they haven’t really stuck.

It felt like the Anime Awards hosted by Crunchyroll was a natural place for it to occur and for anime fans to participate in. I brought the idea up in a meeting and was given the go ahead to see if it was plausible. This speaks volumes about Crunchyroll as an organization because they are really flexible and great on any ideas if you are willing to make it happen and if it will resonate well with our audience. I think everyone in the company from development to design really jumped on board with the idea and made it possible. From that origin in September to two and a half months later, we tackled issues like the design to how the awards would work until folks were able to actually participate..

Re: Zero

TGL: As Dallas mentioned earlier he wanted a Manga category, although Manga and Anime are very similar, a lot of series tend to have differences that could be major or minor just like films and novels.  Would you consider doing a Manga award?

Dallas: As Eric mentioned before, we are so happy with the results of this year’s Anime Awards and it was the first time we have done anything like this. We are so excited, we got almost 2 million votes which is amazing! But we always intended that if it was successful that we would go back, look at it, pick it apart, and figure out how to make it better for next year!

TGL: So I know that a majority of the results have been announced but the Anime of the Year, is there any special reason for this?

Eric: Yes! On January 28th in San Francisco we are having a celebration, not just of the Anime Awards, but also anime in general for 2016. It is an opportunity for anime fans to come together in one place. There is going to be a lot going on from T shirt printing, green screen photo booth, there will be a DJ, themed anime drinks. It is a great chance for fans to come together to celebrate a mutual love for anime.

The biggest thing is that we’ll be announcing the Anime of the Year award and it will be streamed for those who can not appear in person!

It was so great getting to talk with Eric and Dallas from Crunchyroll on their awesome awards! We absolutely love the Anime Awards and can not wait to see the results from the Anime of the Year! Make sure to check out more information on http://www.crunchyroll.com/! Also be sure to keep in mind their live Anime Awards celebration is taking place in San Francisco on January 28th at the Folsom Street Foundry, where “The Anime of The Year” Award will be announced and streamed live for fans not in attendance. Fans attending the Crunchyroll Anime Awards Party can expect a live DJ, anime screenings, video game lounges, custom T-shirt printing and more! However, the space they are hosting the event in has limited capacity. Entry is not guaranteed, so be sure to get there early and because of some of the events, it is a 21+ age limit!

Event Details
When: Saturday January 28, 8pm-12am PST
Where: Folsom Street Foundry, San Francisco, California
Age: 21+ only

Cost: Crunchyroll premium members get in free while free members, or non-subscribers, will be charged a $5 cover fee

What did you think of the Anime Awards? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Chicano | Fighting/Writing for Diversity | DM since 08 | Anime Lover | Site: http://thegeeklyfe.com | info@thegeeklyfe.com | http://twitch.tv/the_geek_lyfe

Chicano | Fighting/Writing for Diversity | DM since 08 | Anime Lover | Site: http://thegeeklyfe.com | info@thegeeklyfe.com | http://twitch.tv/the_geek_lyfe

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