It’s that time of year again and Crunchyroll is set to present its third annual Anime Awards. Earlier today, the nominees were announced for each and every category an award will be presented in. Of course, we all remember last year’s sweep by My Hero Academia (except for Anime of the Year which was won by the much-deserved Made in Abyss!) and wondered if this year would be different. Well, My Hero Academia is absent from an abundance of the categories so no sweep is guaranteed this time around! 

I will now break down each category, give my pick as to which one I want to win, I’ll pick the one I think the majority of the votes will crown a winner and, if applicable, I’ll write in an anime/character/etc, for I who I think should have been in there and should have won. 

Let’s kick things off!

Best Protagonist

Nominees: Retsuko (Aggrestuko), Yumeko Jabami (Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler), Joe (Megalobox), Violet Evergarden (Violet Evergarden), Rimuru Tempest (That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime), Sakuta Azusagawa (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai)

Who I Voted For: Violet Evergarden – I just loved Violet as a character. You really felt a connection to her as someone who was used and abused as nothing but a war tool. She then had to learn about human emotions and the human world through the pain and suffering of other humans. All the while, she couldn’t quite escape her past. She puts herself through all of this just so she can learn the meaning of a single word: love. It’s an anime that hits you right in the feels but Violet, as a character, is the one orchestrating all of it. 

Who I Think Will Win: Violet Evergarden

Who I Think Should Have Won: N/A

Best Antagonist

Nominees: Ryo Asuka (Devilman Crybaby), Akane Shinjo (SSSS.Gridman), All for One (My Hero Academia), Yuri (Megalobox), Tokushiro Tsurumi (Golden Kamuy), Momonga (Overlord)

Who I Voted For: Momonga – Oh Ainz-sama, your mighty conquering ways are to die for! *ahem* In a world where isekai shows are oversaturating the anime market, Overlord stood out by having the anti-Kirito in Momonga. Kirito was overpowered and wanted to save everyone from dying. Momonga is overpowered and wants to take over the entire game world he’s trapped in. I like the reverse concept here and Momonga is not only trying to be the world’s ruler, but he’s trying to set the example and lead by that example for all who follow him. He’s a really refreshing character and I think he stands out above all others.

Who I Think Will Win: All for One – Come on… it’s My Hero Academia. Do you really think they’re going to pass up this opportunity to hand this series another award? I mean, Stain won the award last time and he was around in the series for the length of a cup of coffee. 

Who I Think Should Have Won: Dino Golzine (Banana Fish) – I really loved Golzine as a villain. He was everything a mob boss should have been: vindictive, unforgiving, manipulative, and (to a fault) set in his ways. The way he pursued Ash just to make him his personal toy once again shows just how far he would go for a singular reason. By the end of the series, I was just waiting for the moment where Golzine would get his for everything he put Ash through.

Best Boy

Nominees: Kotaro Tatsumi (Zombieland Saga), Honda-san (Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san), Izuku Midoriya (My Hero Academia), Sakuta Azusagawa (Rascal Dows Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai), Haida (Aggretsuko), Joe (Megalobox)

Who I Voted For: Deku – I may have gave Crunchyroll some shade for having an all My Hero Academia award sweep last year but the show is good and, it’s the only nominee I’m familiar with so… Deku wins by default for me.

Who I Think Will Win: Deku – Because Deku no Fureckuru (Deku’s Freckles)

Who I Think Should Have Won: N/A – Out of all the shows I watched that weren’t nominated, I still think Deku would have won regardless.

Best Girl

Nominees: Anzu (Hinamatsuri), Hinata Miyake (A Place Further Than the Universe), Lily Hoshigawa (Zombieland Saga), Asirpa (Golden Kamuy), Nadeshiko Kagamihara (Laid-Back Camp), Mai Sakurajima (Rascal Does No Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai)

Who I Voted For: Anzu – I only voted for her because I read volume one of Hinamatsuri from One Peace Books when they sent it to me to review. I’m not even familiar with any of the other characters. Hey, at least I’m honest, right?

Who I Think Will Win: Mai Sakurajima – Popular anime usually get the nod here and I think Bunny-senpai was popular enough to get the rub here via the popular vote 

Who I Think Should Have Won: Koharu Hidaka (Hi Score Girl) – Here’s that girl who you first think would be that stuck up tsundere only to find out she has an actual interest in Haruo. She even starts playing video games because of him and you can just feel her heart break after she put in so much effort to get his attention only to have a blind eye (or more like a naive eye) turned to it. You really felt for her by the end of the series and when she blurted out her confession to end the season, you just felt that moment of tension build and build. I don’t think many girls would go as far as Koharu did, even if they knew the end result was hopeless.

Best Opening Sequence

Nominees: WotaKoi, DARLING in the FRANXX, Kakegurui, Pop Team Epic, Aggretsuko, JoJo’s: Golden Wind

Who I Voted For: WotaKoi: Love is Hard for Otaku – Not only did I love the show, I thought the opening was rather fun. The music wasn’t something I would listen to over and over but the animation sequence is something I would always go back and watch. 

Who I Think Will Win: DARLING in the FRANXX – JoJo’s may take this one but I think FRANXX stood out in terms of popularity therefore, I think it’s going to get the most votes. Honestly, the other nominees’ openings weren’t even that good. They all felt really generic which makes me wonder just how they got nominated in the first place. When I look for an opening, I look for creativity, a song you want to listen to over and over, and smooth animation and the one that’s not included in here has all of that yet it’s nowhere on this list. 

Who I Think Should Have Won: Sword Art Online: Alicization – Okay, so the third season of SAO isn’t living up to expectations for a lot of people but you cannot deny the work A1 and LiSA put into that opening. ADAMAS is a tremendous song that gets you pumped up, the animation is timed perfectly with the lyrics, the animation itself is very fluid and presents the show in an amazing way. I have zero clue how this opening didn’t make the list but if it did, it would be a hands-down winner IMO. (Honorable mention goes to Attack on Titan III… sure Red Swan didn’t fit the series, but as a standalone song it’s still amazing and Wit Studio always knocks it out of the park. Again, why wasn’t that nominated!?)

Best Ending Sequence

Nominees: Megalobox, Attack on Titan III, After the Rain, FLCL Alternative, Revue Starlight, FLCL Progressive

Who I Voted For: Attack on Titan III – It is, admittedly, the only ending I’ve seen out of all of these and it’s REVO… he always brings his talent to the table. 

Who I Think Will Win: I honestly have no idea who will win this one because I think all of the endings are pretty terrible. This is supposed to be the best ending sequence… meaning art, animation, matching the song, etc..  Megalobox is just scrolling credits, After the Rain is just stills… so is Revue Starlight, and I can’t even find FLCL’s to watch them. I don’t understand how any of these endings stand out. 

Who I Think Should Have Won: Steins;Gate 0 – Of course, I’m talking about The Last Game. That had a nice dark vibe to it, but most importantly, it had actual animation to drive home that dark vibe. Just the fact that it was an ending music video rather than a slideshow put to a song already puts it head and shoulders above the rest.

Best VA Performance (JP) / (EN)

Honestly, I’m skipping these two categories because I didn’t vote in them for one simple reason: I didn’t watch any of the nominees for Japanese and I am a Subs over Dubs guy so there is zero chance I watched any of the nominees in English. Although I would expect Mamoru Miyano to win because he is literally anime himself. Hell, I’d expect him to win the English award as well just for saying “I am mad scientist, it’s so cool” all those years ago. 

aka Miyano is God. <3 Miyano, #mancrush, #notscaredtoadmitit

Best Director

Nominees: Makasaki Yuasa (Devilman Crybaby), Atsuko Ishizuka (A Place Further Than the Universe), You Moriyama (Megalobox), Yohei Suzuki (Planet With), Taichi Ishidate (Violet Evergarden), Hiroko Utsumi (Banana Fish)

Who I Voted For: Ishidate – Okay.. Violet Evergarden and Banana Fish battled it out for my personal best anime of the year and I gave it to Violet Evergarden (spoilers for one of the upcoming categories) because I felt that it more of an emotional connection with me than Banana Fish. If Violet Evergarden didn’t exist, Banana Fish would take it hands down but there was just too much in terms of emotional connections to be had to ignore. Ishidate did a hell of a job as a director to invoke those emotions out of the viewer so I think he deserves to take this one home.

Who I Think Will Win: Ishidate 

Who I Think Should Have Won: N/A

Best Animation

Nominees: Violet Evergarden, Devilman Crybaby, Megalobox, A Place Further Than the Universe, Bloom Into You, My Hero Academia

Who I Voted For: Violet Evergarden – Honestly, this one was really tough. Violet was beautiful… absolutely breathtaking.. but so was A Place Further Than the Universe. Both Megalobox and Devilman Crybaby had their own unique art styles that brought set them apart from everybody else. Bloom Into You doesn’t seem to fit and My Hero seems to be here just for the sake of taking home another award (Okay it did have some nice animation but come on, you’re going to stack a shonen tv budget up against Kyoto Animation?) It was a tough pick but Violet Evergarden stuck out in my mind more than the others.

Who I Think Will Win: Devilman Crybaby – I really think Devilman will dethrone the king of award thieves in My Hero Academia. The art style is just way too unique and while I didn’t watch the show, I have seen clips of it and since we’re just talking about animation, I was highly impressed with what it brought to the table. Plus, it’s one of the rare times where I bought the anime’s OST without even watching the show. It was that good!

Who I Think Should Have Won: N/A

Best Film

Nominees; The Night is Short-Walk On Girl, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, Mirai of the Future, Liz and the Blue Bird, Mazinger Z: Infinity, Fireworks

Who I Voted For: Liz and the Blue Bird – I’ve seen three of the five movies with the other two being Fireworks and My Hero. First off, how in the hell did a movie as poor as Fireworks make it here over something like Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern? That just blows my mind. Anyway, Liz and the Blue Bird may be a side story to Sound Euphorium, but it brought such emotion and passion with it. Interwining the folktale into their music and into their lives was just so beautifully done.  I heard Mirai was really good but sadly, I haven’t watched it. Liz and the Blue Bird was simply the best of the three nominees that I’ve seen.

Who I Think Will Win: My Hero Academia: Two Heroes – Come on, we’re you expecting anything else? Deku’s Freckles strikes again.

Who I Think Should Have Won: Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern – Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern blends a charming art style with relatable and engaging characters with a compelling story to create a very pleasant experience. You really get a deep connection with Benio as you experience her struggles with being forced into marriage and then how she comes to accept everything only to have tragedy strike. It’s a very well put-together film that should have EASILY taken Fireworks place, which is not a well put-together film… like at all.

Best Character Design

Nominees: Violet Evergarden, Devilman Crybaby, Zombieland Saga, Megalobox, Aggretsuko, JoJo’s

Who I Voted For: Megalobox – Come on… whoever could take Ashita no Joe and turns it into something like that deserves an award. The uniqueness and creativity displayed here with the character designs is top notch. I never watched this show but, again, you don’t need to watch a show to look at the designs of its characters. Out of all of the shows nominated, I felt it had the most unique designs of them all.

Who I Think Will Win: Violet Evergarden – Because Fullmetal Saber?

Who I Think Should Have Won: Banana Fish – Ash Lynx, Sing, Shorter, Eiji, Golzine, Cain, the list goes on and on and on. I could name any character in that show and it would instantly be recognized to those who watched it. There is such a diverse melting pot of cultures and character design in this show that every single one of them stands out and they’re done so because all of them are important to the story. No character feels like a background character in both story and design. Plus, it’s able to do what Megalobox did and take a classic manga and bring it into the modern times. 

Anime of the Year

Nominees: A Place Further Than the Universe, Devilman Crybaby, Megalobox, Violet Evergarden, Hinamatsuri, Zombieland Saga

Who I Voted For: Violet Evergarden– I warned you about spoilers. You shouldn’t be surprised here.

Who I Think Will Win: Violet Evergarden 

Who I Think Should Have Won: Who I think should have won is who I voted for but I’m shocked to not see Banana Fish, Steins;Gate 0, Hi Score Girl, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online or Tokyo Ghou— okay, I couldn’t add that last one with a straight face. God, Tokyo Ghoul was just plain awful— make it onto this list. How does Hinamatsuri and Zombieland Saga get in over any of the aforementioned shows (sans Tokyo Ghoul for obvious reasons)? I mean, we all know Violet Evergarden is going to win but come on… at least pretend like it has competition! Hello, SAOA:GGO should be an auto include for single-handedly saving the entire franchise from imminent ruin! I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

Capcom Presents: Best Fight Scene

Nominees: Hina va Anzu (Hinamatsuri), All for One vs All Might (My Hero Academia), Naruto/Sasuke vs Momoshiki (Boruto), Jiren vs Goku (Dragon Ball Super), Yami vs Licht (Black Clover), Satan vs Devilman (Devilman Crybaby)

Who I Voted For: All for One vs All Might – I’ve only seen two fights (three if you count reading the Black Clover manga) and since Boruto cheaped out and spliced in footage from the Boruto movie to further prove just how cheap and lazy Studio Pierrot is (Also see Tokyo Ghoul Root A and Re to back up this claim), I’ll give the award to the only other fight I witnessed.

Who I Think Will Win: All for One vs All Might – Deku’s Freckles wins, yet again.

Who I Think Should Have Won: Deku vs Kacchan – Seriously, that fight was way better than All Might vs All for One… that and I can’t think of any major fights in any shows I’ve watched that would top this. Although, even though I crapped all over Tokyo Ghoul, the Kaneki vs Furuta fight was well-done… even if Pierrot showed that they cared when everyone else stopped caring. Also… WTH, Capcom? You didn’t nominate Guile vs Zangief from Hi Score Girl? That anime is nothing but one giant Capcom advertisement! HOW COULD YOU NOT CAPITALIZE!?

Biggest Anime Betrayal of 2018

Winner: Capcom not nominating its own show

VRV Presents: Best Continuing Series

Nominees: The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Dragon Ball Super, Black Clover, March Comes in Like a Lion, One Piece, Boruto

Who I Voted For: Boruto – I was skeptical about this doing its own story but it has turned out a lot better than I imagined. All of the characters are interesting, the stories are compelling and it’s reminding me of why I liked Naruto so much. This show continues to surprise me to this day and we’re about 12 episodes (1 cours) away from hitting the 100 mark. 

Who I Think Will Win: Black Clover – It’s the My Hero Academia that isn’t My Hero Academia

Who I Think Should Have Won: N/A

That does it. 90 minutes later I’m finally done with this column! Hope you had fun reading it and I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. Drop them in the comments section below. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @TheAnimePulse. Hopefully, one day Final Hope and/or A.R. Dragonfly will be up here for the awards. One can dream, right?