Welcome to Through the Painting’s third iteration of the annual Top Anime Awards! This is where I run through what I’ve seen of this year’s anime and award them meaningless titles. If you think I’ve missed something, either I haven’t seen it, or my obviously superior (sarcasm) taste disagrees with yours. Enjoy!
A. Best OP
The same disclaimer applies as in previous years: I skip most OPs/EDs and don’t pay much attention to soundtracks unless they grab me. Oh and I have impeccable taste in music.
Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 OP (“His/Story” by Sawano Hiroyuki and Takanori Nishikawa): I don’t remember actually how the verses go, but once the chorus hits with its “THE LAND IS CLOAKED IN DEEPEST BLUE” I feel an instant adrenaline rush. I love that feeling–you can read about it here.
Golden Kamuy S1 OP (“Winding Road” by MAN WITH A MISSION): I really like how the male voice singing about the “long and winding road”, with the images of the travellers in the wilderness, give off a sense of solemn adventure. It fits with the tone of the show–at least the half of the show that isn’t about cooking or testosterone-filled humor.
Revue Starlight OP (“Hoshi no Dialogue” by Honda Yuki): From a musical standpoint, the melodies and instrumental backing are fairly typical of pop music. That being said, there is a very nice transition from 4/4 time to 3/4 time–almost to build suspense–before going back into 4/4 time Jpop. At least it was catchy, and I guess it hits first place for being the only OP that I never skipped.
B. Best ED
Revue Starlight ED (“Fly Me to the Star” by Tazunoki Hiro and Odaka Kotarou): a wistful, contemplated minor-key piece sung by various members of the cast, with my favourite version being the instrumental version played after the Banana episode.
Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family ED (“Collage” by Sangatsu no Phantasia): a relaxing show deserves a relaxing ED and this ED delivers beautifully.
Violet Evergarden ED (“Michishirube” sung by Chihara Minori): I’m a sucker for sweet, simple melodies, and Chihara Minori’s voice starting a cappella before being joined by the piano–and then finishing a cappella again–touched my heart. I haven’t actually looked at the lyrics, but the last line about a nameless flower and sleeping quietly a) sounds relevant to Violet herself and b) reminds me of the lovely tranquility of the end of Wuthering Heights: it simply stirs up pleasant emotions within me.
C. Best OST tracks
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve listened to enough OST tracks to give a definitive list, but the following stood out from the ones I did listen to.
“Campsite Theme – Motosu Lake” (Yuru Camp): the entire soundtrack is relaxing, but specifically around ~4:00 into the audio, the flute plays a beautiful melody with a series of broken chords almost in a baroque pattern. It gives me the shivers every time.
“The Storm” (Violet Evergarden): I liked the orchestral instrumentation of the entire soundtrack, but this track in particular showed off the interplay between the strings, winds, chorus, and percussion in an epic-sounding piece.
D. Best Male Character
Shoutout to Emiya Shirou (Today’s menu for the Emiya family) who shows himself to be actually a pleasant dude when freed from his stupid survivor’s guilt that drives his misogyny and disregard for danger.
Prince (Run with the Wind): in a show of physically fit people, Prince stands out as the character with whom those with poor stamina can empathize. His comical running posture, his T-shirts of silent protest (“why?”), and his obsession with geeky subculture are all relatable. But I’d think twice about disrespecting him: his sub-30-minute 5k time is quite decent for non-runners, and he has shown a willingness to stand up for himself and his teammates.
Kuroi Souya (Planet With): I loved Souya’s tremendous growth over the course of the series. He starts with a black-and-white outlook on good and evil, a mind hellbent on revenge, and not paying much attention to the others around him. The show soon challenges the idea of clear-cut distinctions between good and evil. Souya grows closer to the people around him: Sensei, Ginko, Nozomi, and learns to love, apologize and forgive. His rooftop scene with Ginko and later the scene with the dragon were the emotional highlights of Planet With.
E. Best Female Character
Shoutout to the Kawamoto sisters Akari and Hina (March Comes in like a Lion) for being the kind-hearted souls who provide nearly unconditional support to Rei as he learns to overcome his isolation. I’ve written about them before and they’ve been as strong as ever. Hina in particular shows off her uncompromising emotional strength and sense of morality in the bullying arc.
Daiba Nana (Revue Starlight): one of the beautiful things about performance is its fleeting nature. Nana, with her misguided yet universe-defying wish to forever preserve the ephemeral time with her friends, immediately becomes a tragic yet sympathetic character.
Asirpa (Golden Kamuy): how can you not love this girl. She is confident, adept in wilderness survival, a badass pacifist, a lover of good food, and can absolutely hold her own in a company of adult soldiers.
All the protagonists from A Place Farther than the Universe. Each is strong and relatable in their own way: Kimari longing to break out of her humdrum teenage life into adventure, Hinata escaping her toxic past, Yuzuki desperate for human connection, and Shirase for her independent spirit, her no-nonsense approach to those who stand in the way of her goals or who cross her friends. However, they shine the brightest together, a testament to friendship.
Shinjo Akane (SSSS.Gridman): first introduced as a cheerful, charismatic villain, playfully bantering with Alexis about killing people with monsters, effortlessly making the protagonists uncomfortable in social situations. As time goes on, however, her true nature is revealed as she is shown to be less a pure villain and more a short-tempered and lonely teen: debasing Anti as if he were an inanimate object, fuming at her failures to defeat Gridman, and desperately trying to connect with the protagonists (by, of course, enticing them into her reality). As argued by the youtuber SubtitledAnime, it is precisely these faults that make her human and sympathetic–indeed, it’s what makes her triumph in the finale all the more powerful.
And that is all for today! Stay tuned tomorrow for the finale of 12 Days of Anime in which I run down the top shows from this year!
You can read my other posts for 12 Days of Anime here.