Were you honestly surprised it went down like this?
I’ve been saying this for a long time, but all of the Academy Award hype for Your Name. ended up being the hopes and dreams of countless anime fans just waiting to be crushed. Before everyone grabs their pitchforks, there are some realities that need to be faced here: it was an uphill battle for the film. On paper, the Funimation led rally fans gave it for a national release, that doesn’t trump star power in any film type. I might really love Keanu Reeves (and so does the Internet), but he isn’t crossing the podium to get that award for John Wick: Part 2. It’s just how it is. The Breadwinner was backed by Angelina Jolie, The Boss Baby starred that funny man that everyone likes to laugh at impersonating President Trump EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. on Saturday Night Live, and Coco is a Pixar film and therefore will always get a nod from studio name alone.
Another film that got snubbed as people will certainly focus on the big hit last year? A Silent Voice. Now I know that didn’t have as big of a push as the other film, but it qualified for the Academy Awards technically. Albeit brief, this is a perfect example of the quietly well backed anime film that finds a limited release and doesn’t get anything outside of a dedicated fanbase. These are your No Game No Life, Sword Art Online, and Fate/stay night kind of releases- chances are unless you live in a major U.S. city, you’re gonna have to drive hours to go see the one or two showings it has. There probably doesn’t need to be an argument made for why those weren’t there, right?
Here’s something important to remember though (I’m seriously saying it, you’re going to see this argument made on an avalanche on Twitter for months to come): THE ACADEMY DOES NOT HATE ANIME.
Anytime you see this argument made, remember one simple fact: anime films were nominated every year for the past four years. In a stretch from 2013 to 2016, Studio Ghibli had (in order) The Wind Rises, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There, and The Red Turtle all nominated. The only studio to be nominated for more films? Disney and Pixar. Want to know how? Disney bought distribution rights for Studio Ghibli back in 1996. Spirited Away winning was no fluke- it was a calculated move made by the guys sitting at the other end of the table, waiting to hear something they had a hand in getting awarded. Think about this, Disney was the reason the U.S. got the distribution of all of those and Pixar’s films. That’s right, Disney has had almost every seat in the best animated picture award since the jump. There never was a real shot for these two films we loved last year. As always in business, it is about who you know and your reputation above all else.
Even so, who cares?! We know what we like, we write about it, we share it, and we embrace it. There wouldn’t be U.S. releases in the first place if there weren’t fans to cherish them, no matter how small. Think about all of the movies that have come out in the past twenty years that you love that didn’t get awards. Were they bad? No, of course not! Sure, it is easy to play the hipster card and say that only mainstream things win awards and that is a corporate mess, but why don’t we just use our energy on rallying behind what we love instead? When I look back on a lifetime, I’m going to be so joyous that I was allowed the opportunity to see a fantastic anime film on the big screen after traveling seven hours to see some of the very best friends I have ever made through the love of anime. That’s what it’s about. All an Academy Award ends up being is a sticker on the commercial copy, so let’s leave it at that. Let’s not get so caught up in the politics of this stuff and just remember why we love anime. Make 2018 the year that you have dozens of series you love. Get out there and discuss it with like-minded people, and don’t look back and stress over something so petty as the Oscars.