Welcome to the tenth (yes, really) consecutive year of the AAA – the one-woman anime award ceremony where the tickets are free, the dress code is loungewear (duh), the booze policy is BYO, and the results are guaranteed to be 100% subjective.
For those who may not be familiar with my annual series, contrary to the title of this blog post, these awards aren’t for anime titles released solely in 2022, but instead for shows released any time from the start of the spring 2022 season until the end of the winter 2023 season (mostly because I get tired of scrolling through all the usual best-of lists in late December/early January, but also because there are typically fewer ongoing anime titles between the winter and spring seasons). As always, only full series that I watched all the way through are eligible for these awards – meaning, films, specials, and anything I dropped partway through (or happen to be still ongoing) are automatically out of the running.
And now, with the pleasantries out of the way, feel free to kick off your shoes and grab a seat on the couch for the show!
The Congrats-For-Not-Being-Shit Trophy (Biggest Surprise Title)
Winner: Isekai Ojisan/Uncle From Another World
Don’t get me wrong, Isekai Ojisan is far from what I’d call a good title. That said, it’s a perfectly tolerable one, and that’s saying quite a bit, both for pure isekai and isekai parody titles (and for what it’s worth, I’d call this a bit of both). Clearly, I was entertained enough to stick it out for 13 episodes either way, so something must have gone right, even with some of the fairly egregious fanservice in later episodes. If you have nothing else to do and want something to watch that you can chortle about without having to pay too much attention, Isekai Ojisan might just be for you.
The Shiny Entrance Medal (Best Debut Episode)
Winner: Bocchi the Rock
Having a great debut episode is incredibly important, and even if there were some other great first episodes out there over the past year, I remember Bocchi as being the one that really made a major impression in the span of just a few key moments. The entire series is pretty great, but episode 1 is what immediately cemented it as something of a cult classic for me and probably many other fans, largely thanks to the stellar character work and understated but hilarious family dynamics, while somehow still coming across as relatively realistic and down-to-earth. That’s a tricky balance to pull off, but Bocchi’s first episode demonstrated that it had the direction and wonderful sense of comedic timing to do just that.
The Blue Ribbon of Fabulosity (Best Character)
Winner: Anya (Spy x Family)
I mean… come on.
The Holy Eyedrops Award (Best Visuals)
Runner-up: Bocchi the Rock
Bocchi the Rock may not have necessarily been groundbreaking in terms of its core aesthetic or animation quality. Its animation is perfectly serviceable, its base character designs do fine, the color palette is pleasing – all fairly standard stuff for a decent visual production. But where Bocchi really stands out is in its wonderful mix of art styles for different scenes to convey the various reactions and emotional responses of its characters. I don’t really want to go digging for 10 or so screencaps to show you what I mean by that, but if you’ve watched Bocchi, you’ll likely know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that its mixed-media approach to visual storytelling is a) a beautifully creative choice and b) fits the series’ satirical comedic vibe to perfection.
Winner: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Trigger has always had a highly distinctive visual style, and the studio knows precisely how to make that work with its frenetic, energetic style of storytelling. Those visuals might not be to everyone’s taste, but like them or not, there’s no doubting their sheer impact – and in a big-budget ONA like Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, they were bound to make a splash, complete with all the high-octane action scenes you’d expect and some truly memorable character designs that are both informed by and likely will go on to inform other cyberpunk-genre productions for years to come.
The First Miniature Crown of Swank (Best OP)
Runner-up: Paripi Koumei/Ya Boy Kongming
There are always a few musical numbers that stick in your head whether you like it or not, and luckily for me, I found “Chiki Chiki Ban Ban” to be ridiculously catchy while staying just on the right side of the annoyance scale. It’s too bad the actual series didn’t do the same, but on its own, the OP is well worth a shout-out.
Winner: Chainsaw Man
I’m not as big a fan of Chainsaw Man as the hype seems to suggest nearly everyone else is, but the series is solid in at least a few respects, and that includes its banger of an OP. Even if you don’t catch all the movie and pop culture references – heck, even if you pretended they weren’t references at all but just a fun little random montage of charmingly dumb slice-of-life moments – there’s some genuinely good storytelling going on here, backed up by one of my favorite tracks of the year. I’ve been a big fan of Yonezu Kenshi since about 2017, and “Kick Back” is a great addition to his playlist that will no doubt make it onto his best-of album when that’s inevitably released in a few years.
The Second Miniature Crown of Swank (Best ED)
Winner: Spy x Family ED 2
I mean… come on.
The Golden Ears Award (Best Overall Soundtrack)
Winner: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
It’s become increasingly rare that I even include this category anymore in these annual award posts, mostly because even though there are always at least a couple of anime OPs/EDs that stand out, that rarely extends to an entire soundtrack. However, with such an eclectic yet entirely fitting mix of genres and artists, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners stands out for fairly obvious reasons in the musical department. Anime simply isn’t usually this diverse music-wise, at least not in any single production, but that too is incredibly fitting given this Polish-Japanese collaboration, so even if plenty of other anime had some good insert songs, I feel like as far as overall OSTs go, anything else over the past year would pale in comparison to the kind of sheer creativity that Edgerunners brings to the table.
The Wooden Spoon of Shame (Worst Overall Title)
Runner-up: Buddy Daddies
As always, I’d like to remind my readers that I’m only basing these awards on anime I’ve watched the entire way through – and given that anything truly terrible is usually dropped after about 5 minutes (if that), you can assume that anything I watched a minimum of 12-13 episodes of had to achieve some kind of baseline level of competence. That being said, Buddy Daddies has largely been a disappointment to me because after episode 1, it just sort of dropped the ball. I wanted Usagi Drop with assassins, but what I got was quite a bit of relatively shallow moralizing (god I hated episode 3) and way too much “dark” foreshadowing that felt predictable from start to finish. There were some good moments throughout, to be sure, especially when the series took its dumb but adorable slice-of-life concept and ran with it (episode 6 being the absolute pinnacle of this), but taken as an overall production, Buddy Daddies just didn’t hit the mark.
Winner: Ya Boy Kongming
Like Buddy Daddies, Kongming had some good moments, but it started off only okay despite its fantastic premise and just… sputtered out even more over the course of its runtime. This is one of those shows that never quite managed to live up to its own story, so by the time I finally got to the end, it was with the total realization that even at its highest points, Kongming never had what it took to properly execute it. As for the final episode and ending scenes, I hated basically every second, and by that point, my main emotion was relief that I was done with the show and wouldn’t have to make myself watch any more of it.
The Diamond-Studded Tiara (Best Overall Title)
Runner-up: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Edgerunners’ uniqueness and quality speak for themselves. I imagine not everyone enjoyed this show, and I’m sure it passed a lot of people by simply because it was a Netflix ONA rather than a televised series airing weekly on Crunchyroll or wherever. Nonetheless, I think everyone who did watch it can attest to its creative force and purposefully in-your-face impact. While I’m certainly not blaming anyone who doesn’t happen to be a fan of consistently R+ levels of violence, both physical and psychological, I think Edgerunners did exactly what it set out to do and then some: set a new benchmark for the cyberpunk genre while taking the audience on a wild, no-holds-barred ride, all while maintaining genuine stylistic excellence.
Winner: Spy x Family
I mean… COME ON.
And as always, just to wrap things up, here are those series that aired over the past anime year that I also completed watching but ended up not getting nominated for any of the above awards. I enjoyed the majority of them to at least some degree, so for the most part, they can be considered more honorable mentions than snubs: Tekken: Bloodline, Kakegurui Twin, Dance Dance Danseur, Do It Yourself!!, The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague, Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill, and Trigun Stampede.
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5 thoughts on “AAA2022: The Artemis Anime Awards”
Wait, Tekken Bloodline was good? Guess I can check it out. I hope the president of Poland is in it.
Surprisingly, yeah, it was pretty decent – probably not a must-watch, but certainly far better than anyone would probably expect from a video game adaptation.
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Isekai Uncle… I dropped before the hiatus. If I hadn’t dropped it before the hiatus, it wouldn’t have had me come back. It wasn’t terrible, and it had some good moments, but mostly I was just bored. It’s probably more fair to say I let it slip and didn’t bother to pick it back up than that I deliberately dropped it. But there you go. Given that the video game references were both about my main time playing and the systems I was interested in (Sega), there should have been nostalgia appeal somewhere in there… it didn’t work.
The other show on this list I dropped was Buddy Daddies. I dropped it after the TRAGIC BACKSTORY. I was too surprised to laugh, and when the moment was gone, I was just dumbfounded. Pity, I actually liked the Daddies to some degree. Millie, though… There are anime kids I can’t stand, and she’s pretty central to that set. Not my show.
I did enjoy Kongming to the end, but I expected the girl who’s name I’ve forgotten by now to be more of a factor. Could have been great, but was still decently fun. (The opening really is one of the best, though).
Bocchi the Rock did have great visuals, and the style-mix was almost always on point. Also, they treated the performances with respect. As freeform and stylised the rest of the show was, the performances felt real down to minute body language elements. A worthy winner. (I myself would probably have picked Do It Yourself! I just loved the style in general. Deaimon might also have been a good contender, though, for bringing across that small town flair.)
Also, I didn’t watch Cyberpunk Edgerunners. Those one-drop shows are always at a disadvantage; if I don’t watch them immediately, they go onto the backlog – and that’s where anime go to die. I have bought DVDs that I haven’t watched yet (Planetes comes to mind…). I did watch two one-drops, though: Romantic Killer (more fun than I thought, but wouldn’t have won any prizes), and Koutaro Lives Alone (definitely deserves a price or two, though not for visuals).
I didn’t even know Tekken Bloodlines existed. I’ve played two Tekken games (3 in the Arcades, and 4 on the PS2); but I don’t know anything about the story.
I didn’t know you watched Campfire Cooking. As far as isekai go, it did nothing particularly wrong, neither did it do anything particularly right. Fun enough, I suppose. (The standout isekai to me would have been Benriya Saitou-san, which is a show which has an isekai graveyard in a dungeon – a ship, a locomotive, a streetsign… they found it by following a roomba.)
Oh, and I did really like Chainsaw Man. More than I expected. Might even make a top 10 of the year, though the competition’s stiff, so it’s not a shoo-in. It wasn’t a bad year, especially spring.
I’d say the year overall for anime was about so-so for me. Some overlooked gems, some disappointments, but it all basically evened out to “it was fine” as far as my personal tastes are concerned.
I started watching both Kotaro Lives Alone and Romantic Killer but never got further than the first episode with either. Not because I disliked them – I just got distracted and for whatever reason never felt the motivation to go back and pick them back up. Maybe later on this year if I ever find myself wondering what to watch next.