Japanator Awards 2013: The Special Awards


You've seen the best, now here's the "best"

Now, when Karen introduced our Best Anime of 2013, she declared "No more wimpy little categories like Best Use of a Ferret in an Action Sequence or Best Perversely Erotic Scene of Classroom Destruction or what have you". Indeed, declaring the anime of last year is no small matter, when you're as unfailingly correct as we are, so there was no time for frivolity.

But now is not that time. It's time for the Japanator Special Awards, where the wimpy little categories, the dubious honors, the trophies-for-participation, and the what-have-you reign. It's where laughing with takes a back seat to laughing at, and lose by winning.

Now is the time, so let's get Special!

The "Hungry Charlotte" Special Award for Startling Violence

Winner: Team Rabbits vs. Klein (Majestic Prince)
Runners-up: Chamber vs. "Squid Girl" (Gargantia), "Guillotine Gorilla" (Samurai Flamenco)

Now, we don't just award a Hungry Charlotte to any old bloodletting scene. If we did that, we'd call it the Kenshiro award or something. But no, like the scene which it's (sort of) named after, Hungry Charlottes are reserved for the scenes and shows whose turns of brutality are sudden and jarring. Startling, even. 

Whereas we were prepared for the "Butcher twist" in Gargantia and already suspecting a similar turn in Samurai Flamenco, the last place you'd expect to seem some hardcore stuff would be from an otherwise ridiculously wholesome mecha show like Majestic Prince, which up to that point seemed to all the world like a fusion of Gundam's space-war tropes and a children's Super Sentai program.

But I guess that's the trick, isn't it? When you've got bloodless robots doing most of the fighting and a CG style that often moves too quick to notice, the actual violence was largely obscured...until Red Five and Blue One managed to pin the crazy midget and repeatedly stab the crap out of his purple butt, drop a crashing Tamaki on it, then nuke him from orbit. 

Now that's a problem solved, in that most ancient of ways, much to our surprise and satisfaction.


The Porco Rosso Special Award for Best Porcine Supporting Role: 


Winner: Pork-Bowl (Silver Spoon
Runner-Up: Aila Jyrkiäinen's Meat Bun (Gundam Build Fighters)

It's an old saying in live-action acting, to never work with animals, but thanks to the magic of completely fictional characters animated in 2D, it's a comparatively simpler task to coax good performances out of even the least human characters. You just need to draw them that way! Of course, simple isn't always easy, and Silver Spoon managed the tough task of turning little Pork-Bowl, the pig "adopted" by Hachiken just months before the slaughter, into a true character, rather than just a prop on which to place the harsh lessons of farm living. And it worked!

That said, even in death, pigs can change the course of a show, just as the pork-filled contents of Aila Jyrkiäinen's would-be snack indirectly brought about a complete reversal of nearly everyone's impression of her personality. The gif speaks for itself.

The "Those Who Can't Draw, Render" Special Award For Best Use of CG

Winner: Arpeggio of Blue Steel - Ars Nova -
Runners-up: Majestic Prince, Straight Title Robot Anime, Space Battleship Yamato 2199

Japan might be the last bastion of majority-2D animation output, but that doesn't mean it can't taste the future every once in a while - and make a good show of it every so often as well. Indeed, Glorious Nippon's own graphics houses are catching up to the currently dominant west, and making increasingly pretty shows in the easier-to-produce niche of TV, rather than the prohibitively expensive blockbuster marker. 

Indeed, quite a lot of shows used quite a lot of CG, but none managed it as comprehensively as Arpeggio of Blue Steel. Studio Sanzigen proved they had chops when they animated the bitchin' action sequences in Black Rock Shooter, but never before had they done the CG deed for a full-length, full-scale season of TV. The result was success, and Arpeggio remains a surprisingly good romp of sentient battleships.

The "Now Try It...With THIS" Special Award For Tastiest Condiment:

Winner: Mayonnaise, (Vividred Operation and Kamen Rider Wizard)
Runner-up: Tears of anguish (Silver Spoon)

 Brought to you by Kewpie.


The "Accidental Synergy" Special Award For Best Coincidental Trend

Winner: Arpeggio of Blue Steel and Kantai Collection
Runners-up: Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! and Ai Shimizu's pro-wrestling debut, Vampires in Monogatari Series, Valvrave, Kill la Kill, and Diabolik Lovers

Every so often trends no one seemed to be planning just come up in pop culture. From World War II games to zombies to movies about volcanoes, we have the surprising tendency to think of - and make content out of - the same things at the same time. It's the way of things!

Based on that logic, we probably could've given the award to the strange influx of "vampiric" concepts into this year's anime, from vampire lovers in Diabolik Lovers to Illuminati Space Vampire Robots in Valvrave to bloodsucking clothing in Kill la Kill.

And yet it was only Arpeggio of Blue Steel that had the initiative in 2013 to turn a largely coincidental trend - moe moe World War II - into a full-blown collaboration with Kantai Collection, the highly popular tactical battle social game based on - you guessed it - moe moe World War II ships.

The "Lyrical Nanoha" Award for Best Supporting Ferret

Winner: Dr. Isshiki, Vividred Operation

 Indeed, this man/ferret is a singular presence. Let's count up his achievements, shall we?

  • Discovered and harnessed a source of unlimited clean energy for the entire world
  • Performed the first transfer of human consciousness to another body
  • Became the first human consciousness operating the body of a stuffed ferret
  • Gave superpowers to pants-hating little girls
  • Wears the Kamina glasses

Need we say more?

The "Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey" Award For Best Use of Temporal Horsesh*t

Winner: Galilei Donna
Runner-Up: Valvrave the Liberator

This one was almost a toss-up, but ultimately we handed the award to Galilei Donna, which like a proper Time Lord, actually did some time-jumping, whereas Valvrave the Liberator's periodic flashes forward into the future were more to set up an ultimately unproductive narrative boondoggle. 

Plus, those kids met Galileo. That's right up there with "Killing Hitler before World War II" on the list of most-desired time traveler must-dos. 

The Facepalm Award for "Best" Use Of Assault to Alienate Entire Audience

"Winner": Valvrave the Liberator
Runners-Up: Kill La Kill, Samurai Flamenco

And here we end on the only truly dubious "honor" on the list: the Facepalm award.

It's here that Valvrave secures its "win', thanks largely to its audacity, which proved its own undoing in their decision to stick a sexual assault into its 10th episode. While indeed there were "story" justifications for the event, the impact of the scene seemed far too muted in the long term, especially in retrospect.

Unfortunately, while our runners-up kept their unpleasant occurrences largely limited to implication rather than explicit happenings, it was Valvrave that ultimately failed to capitalize on the complexities of its own bad decision. 

Y'see, it's not that they did include what is basically an onscreen rape in the scenes, but that the plot, characters, gained very little for it, be it in character development or even exposure. Ultimately, the move proved to be unnecessary and distracting, and likely drew up the same conclusions.

Bad move, Sunrise.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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