It has become a sort of annual tradition among members of the anime community to mock the Crunchyroll Anime Awards when fan voting comes around, for not totally unjustified reasons. When the Anime Awards first were first done back in 2017, the results were almost laughable. The awards themselves were all decided by popular vote, and because of that “Yuri on Ice!” won nearly half of the awards for that year.
While the ridiculousness of this has been toned down a bit, by Crunchyroll’s own admission ” The winner of each category is the one that receives the most votes, with a 70/30 weighted split between judge votes and fan votes. Judges will serve as tiebreakers in the event of any ties.” For awards shows like these, the prospect of fans having a significant impact on the outcome definitely tilts the awards in favor of certain series and films. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it serves as a reminder that the larger anime community still matters.
In an episode of the tv series “Adam Ruins Everything,” host Adam Conover explains why TV series and movies at American award shows often campaign to win awards. He talks about how, despite the fact that campaigning can cost up to 10 million dollars, getting nominated or even winning an award can make a movie or TV series anywhere from 20 to 35 million dollars.
Anime doesn’t have anywhere close to the level of attention needed to bring in that kind of money, and animation studios definitely do not campaign at that level, if at all given that the Crunchyroll Anime Awards are relatively new. Despite this, winning or being nominated for an award at the anime awards often has a similar effect, at least in terms of bringing attention to a series. A good example of this is the 2018 awards, where, although not winning Anime of the Year, My Hero Academia season two won seven of the total seventeen awards available that year. Even though this did not have much impact on the likelihood of a season three, it probably inspired a good amount of confidence from creators at Bones that it was received so well, even among others in the industry.
A newer phenomenon that has also affected the ability of studios to create new shows is crowdfunding, whereby studios will ask for money from fans directly in order to fund a specific series or project. In the early days of crowdfunding, it was unclear as to whether or not it would be successful in allowing anime studios to operate. While it is not a perfect solution to studios’ lack of funds, it has been successful in the past.
Back in December of 2015, Studio Trigger attempted a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise money for a sequel to their hit OVA Little Witch Academia. Despite their initial goal being 150,000 dollars, the studio managed to more than quadruple that amount solely through donations.
The relationship between consumers and businesses, both in anime and other areas of the economy, is not one way. People have power over the things they choose to financially support, and by using that power, they can meaningfully affect what and how something gets made. If an anime fan does not like how a series is going, or how that show is being made, then not supporting the studio is the best course of action.
All of this is to say that, despite the anime awards not being that great most of the time, and largely still being a popularity contest, it can also be a popularity contest for good. If a series someone enjoys is up for a nomination, then that person should vote. Or, if a person wanted a different series to be nominated, then that person should not vote, and maybe buy stuff related to the series in order to help out the creators. This is not to say that this is always an effective method, or that there are no other problems with the anime industry worth considering. Still, for as tired and cliche as “vote with your dollar” sounds, it is worth remembering why it is a saying in the first place.