*There used to be a website called anime academy. It was awesome!!!! This is not what this post is about!*
Has your favourite anime/movie/song ever won an “of the year” honour? Are you like a lot of people, the type that recognizes highly awarded works to be good and enjoys them but your personal favorite is either some bizzare indie thing no one else has heard of or something most people didn’t consider “fancy” enough for the distinction? I bring this up because I asked around and no one ever admits to having the top rated stuff as their favorite.
Ok so more specifically, I watched and read a whole bunch of best anime of 2018 lists and felt rather under represented. Sure I’m a weirdo with weirdo tastes. I’m very used to my favorite pieces of entertainment not having broad appeal. And with anime, it’s even worse since I watch very little seasonal stuff and most of my favorite anime of 2018 came out in 2014. Still it’s telling that the top spots were well liked by most people I spoke with but not more.
It seems that these types of lists are either the creators personal choice or a normalized average. Meaning they tend to be everyone’s second or third choice giving them a decent overall score rather than exceptional individual scores. They’re the middle ground or the very publicized shows everyone has at least heard about.
It’s sort of pointless to dwell on the specifics when you consider that Best in this case means no one’s worst. Most o.k.! So why do we even bother to put these lists out and why do I always read them? We just love a popularity contest don’t we?
Well to me, they’re a great way to get an overview of the state of anime fandom. After reading tons of these I manage to come up with two conclusions, in 2018, all anime was either action Shonen. Ok I’m exaggerating. But, In every compiled list I saw (by this I mean listings that used votes and not just the author’s personal choice) 80% of the categories were won by either My Hero Academia, Black Clover (inorite!), Boruto (my autocorrect keeps wanting to change that for burrito), Attack on Titan, Devilman crybaby with frequent mentions of A place further from the sun and March comes in like a Lion 2 and occasionally Yuru Camp. Aside from Crunchyroll, I have not seen much about Violet Evergarden which was surprising.
I’m very happy to see the success of March but otherwise there seems to be certain homogeneity in these anime. Even with all the hype violet evergarden and megalobox seem to have largely come and gone. Obviously I’m not talking about us anibloggers here. Our exposure to anime is way beyond the average fan. But those who care enough about anime to vote in these online polls do have some commonality of tastes.
The only downside to that is that it creates a sort of feedback loop. You see, most of the time when you stumble upon a website asking you to vote for anime of the year, first you’ll have a bunch of choices. You won’t necessarily pick the best, you’ll pick the one you’ve seen, *or have heard of…* Most people don’t bother with write in choices. So you just end up with best of lists that might as well be ratings charts.
Then when readers find those lists, those are the shows they now know about and are likely to seek out. This boosts ratings and recognition even more. In response, studios start to produce, finance and advertise more series in that vein, so those are the shows people are most likely to hear about and watch and so on.
I’m not teaching you anything here. Neither am I complaining exactly. I love My Hero Academia, I’m glad it got made and is generously budgeted. But I also like variety and weirdo shows a lot. Anime landscape is one of the most diverse in part because of how notoriously cheap it is to make coupled with an almost complete lack of oversight. It’s a market where normalization isn’t as necessary for survival. Happily this seems to apply to distribution as well and subtitling is hardly a consideration.
But that won’t necessarily hold true forever. Most of the truly innovative premises in 2018 were confined to short programs. There weren’t that many risks taken unless you count Darling in the winter season and there’s no need to open that can of worms again.
All of this is to say that I’m really I’m really glad you guys are there. It’s because of you that all the “smaller” shows still get some recognition. For the seasonal bloggers who take the time to report on series no one seems to be watching. You’ve made me add so much stuff to my list I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all otherwise. And in 5 years or so I will get around to watching it!
And I’m also glad for bloggers like me. Who bother to report on shows that are long past their prime and no one has talked about in forever. I know those posts don’t tend to be that popular. Believe me, I know! But well, I really like them and I’ve discovered so many series that have become favourites this way. Like Time of Eve and Humanity has Declined…
And also to awesome readers who make watching suggestions. So far you guys have not steered me wrong!
I understand that more mainstream sites and media on anime will focus on already popular shows because that’s how you bring in the bigger audience so I think it’s awesome that there’s a place for everything else.
As often happens this post started out as one thing and ended up as something else entirely. So of the yearly lists are fine but they don’t represent me. And thankfully you guys are still here for all the weirdos like me who can’t wait for the next big budget sports mecha anime! It will be the best in so many ways!