So the 2016 Crunchyroll Anime Awards have come and gone – leaving waves of salty, ice cold comments regarding the results reverberating throughout the anime community. Yet, all I can think is, “What did everyone expect?” I hate the nature of the negative backlash to the Anime Awards and especially the recent hit Yuri on Ice, simply because this saltiness seems to be coming from a place of egregious misconceptions. It has been over 2 months since the awards and I still haven’t seen a detailed explanation as to why the anime awards turned out they way they did, so I am making this post to explain it and hopefully calm a tiny bit of the waters.
1. Popular Personalities and Marketing
Let’s begin with the “judges” of the Anime Awards. These judges really were just there to select nominees for each category of award, they didn’t actually decide the winners. And they were mainly popular personalities, including people such as: LeSean Thomas, who is an American director and television writer for animated series like the boondocks; Xavier Woods, a professional wrestler actor in the WWE; and Arkada from the anime YouTube channel Glass Reflection. These people do no have time to watch every anime that comes out in a year with their busy lives, but I guarantee they have seen the most popular shows in the genres they most enjoy. Popular, universally liked personalities have mostly popular, uncontroversial tastes in shows. This isn’t true in all cases, but it’s a good rule of thumb – especially since I can’t see someone like the infamous, yet fairly popular Digibro of YouTube with his highly contentious opinions being selected as a judge for a publicity campaign like the Crunchyroll Anime Awards. Yes, let’s get this out of the way – the Anime Awards are a publicity campaign, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Crunchyroll is in essence, a business entity. It’s a website owned by Otter Media which is then owned in 50% chunks by two other companies. Crunchyroll’s main goal is to make a profit. The Anime Awards are a great way to get people who may have only heard about anime in passing to check out Crunchyroll’s streaming service to see what all the hype is about. Using popular, well liked personalities like LeSean Thomas to drive interested traffic to your website is a great idea from their perspective.
Now that we’ve established the background framework of why the Anime Awards came into existence, let’s talk about the structure that further suggested the outcome of these awards.
2. The Concentration of Popular Vote To Limited Choices Within Limited Categories
Crunchyroll and the judges agreed upon making 14 categories of awards and having 4 named choices in each of these categories, in addition to a write-in choice in each category. The only exception being the Anime of the Year Award. According to Crunchyroll’s Sr. Social Manager on a podcast he did with Arkada, he had to convince Crunchyroll to expand the ballot to 8 nominations plus the write-in choice for the Anime of the Year Award. I counted the number of standard length TV anime series that began airing in 2016. My criteria were for the shows to have at least 10 episodes of 22-26 minutes each. I came up with 162 series. I didn’t include the innumerable movies, OVAs, shorts, and continually-running anime from 2016 in this number. My point is that even if only these standard anime shows were eligible in the voting (which as far as I can tell is not true), only 5% could be named as nominees for the Anime of the Year Award, or 2.5% for any other category. It’s a pretty widely accepted fact that when people are faced with named choices and a write in, they are much more likely to vote for a recognizable choice than to consider any outside possibilities, so I think it’s fair to say that the options were pretty limited. In addition, all of the award categories were pretty basic and vague. For example, “Best Girl.” Two unspecific words that mean different things to different people. Best Girl? In what way? The most attractive? The smartest? The coolest? The cutest? The most effective in the story? The most morally righteous? All the categories are like this.
3. Recency Bias and The Ephemeral Nature of Hype
It’s important to remember that the more recently you have seen something or thought about it, the more likely you are to feel strongly about it or generally remember it. This a cognitive bias that some people refer to as “recency bias”. Those who participate in the online anime community heavily are by and large people watching currently airing anime and participating in discussions about it. With that it mind, it makes sense that more popular shows as well as more recent shows will get nominated and win, because they are on everyone’s minds already.
Hype is ephemeral. When people watch a trailer for a marvel movie, for example, their hype lasts as long as they remember seeing the money shots of Iron Man punching Captain America or feeling the Inception BWWAAAMMMs and wooooos reverberate in their skull. The nature of Hype is that it’s a state of being that lasts a fairly short amount of time.
4. POPULAR VOTE, YA STUPID IDIOTS.
This is really the most simple aspect of this. The voting was open to anyone on the internet, and the more popular shows have more people who have watched them overall, so regardless of whether those people liked them or not, the more popular shows have a larger batch of potential people who could remember liking them. The most popular shows become favorites of more people because those people have seen less shows in total. i.e. If you’ve only ever heard news about 2 political candidates, you’re going to vote for one of them, not the other 35 people running for the same office you don’t know about.
A Slightly Oversimplified Summary Of What Led To The Awards Results:
Crunchyroll undoubtedly ran the Anime Awards as a way to bring positive publicity to themselves. There were limited choices for the Awards. Recency bias, hype, and an open popular vote further led to Yuri on Ice sweeping many categories and generally more popular shows/characters/scenes winning many of the awards.
So the anime awards was a popularity contest, and this was clear to me from the SECOND I HEARD ABOUT THEM. So, how did you all not see this coming?? Unless you have a fundamental lack of understanding about what popularity is, which is fine, but now you are no longer uninformed on this matter. I haven’t even seen more than a few sparse scenes from Yuri on Ice, but I can definitely say that it doesn’t deserve to be crucified for winning every award category it was in. The people spoke, and the polls listened. And if you think popular vote award shows will ever reflect your own exact opinions back at you in the way you want them to, then you are devaluing your own opinion. Your opinions are shaped by your experiences in life and who you are as a unique individual. That’s what makes you, you. Looking for affirmation in a popular vote is entirely missing the point. Be unique. Express yourself. And don’t worry so much about making sure you’re popular. When it comes down to it, what’s best is entirely decided by personal opinion. What’s way more interesting than these awards is what you loved from 2016 anime and why.
Let me know your thoughts on all of this in the comments.
I am VasA. I hate literally everyone. I hope I die soon. Rem is a best. Here’s best grill 2017 Aqua with a bottle of liquid happiness. Goodnight.
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/IamVasA