Tanuki Bridge is a site that covers Japanese entertainment culture in a wide sense. This includes anime and manga, with reviews and other coverage over the year. The anime/manga awards, which go alongside our game awards, aim to reward the best examples of this culture and point the way to any you may have missed. Let’s see what the best of 2017 was!
Local Anime Release of the Year:
A Silent Voice
The winner of last year’s Storytelling Award, 2017 finally saw the wide release of Naoko Yamada’s emotional masterpiece A Silent Voice, courtesy of Anime Limited. The breathtaking story about disability, bullying and redemption courted praise from top UK critics and was equally loved by fans alike. The incredible trailer cut by Anime Limited also deserves a special mention, because it’s enough to make you cry just by itself.
A few months later, in an unprecedented move, A Silent Voice was made available to purchase digitally on a variety of platforms like iTunes and Google Play to coincide with the Japanese home video release (still waiting on that promised PSN release though).
With the year reaching its twilight, Anime Limited were finally able to bring Shoya and Shoko’s story to home video – and it was definitely worth the wait. Those on a budget can enjoy a high quality Standard Edition release for less than £15, while those willing to splash out £40 for a single film can experience a Collector’s Edition that is a stunning testament of the film’s beauty.
Presented with a transparent slipcover, sliding it off removes characters from the cover until only the two leads remain is a simple yet powerful reminder of the film’s central themes. Inside, we’re presented with a beautiful digi-pack of emotionally charged artwork and a booklet with insightful articles from both Jonathan Clements and Andrew Osmond. If you don’t want to just take our word for it, check detailed images for yourself on Anime Limited’s blog, From start to finish, Anime Limited’s handling of A Silent Voice has captured the same profound delicacy of the film itself.
– Josh A. Stevens
Manga/Light Novel of the Year:
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness
You might find it strange that our award for Best Manga/Light Novel has gone to a single volume of manga with such a unique title, but don’t scroll past just yet. You see, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness has captured the hearts of many since its release in June thanks to its relatable content. The book is a true story written by Kabi Nagata and deals with topics like sexuality, depression and other mental health issues that neither she or her parents really understood growing up (and parents who still don’t). Everything in this book is dealt with sensitively, but also in a realistic manner and perhaps the biggest selling point is that Nagata isn’t afraid of talking about some really dark thoughts in this book. She’s not trying to shy away from anything and that really comes through to the reader.
I think that in manga especially, it’s often difficult to find stories that handle difficult topics with a real approach; they cover it in fantasy or comedy elements, but My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness doesn’t even try to do that and it works all the better for it. If there is one manga everyone should own this year, then this is definitely it.
– Demelza Ward
Anime Distributor of the Year:
While Anime Limited dominated this year’s unprecedented slate of theatrical anime, a feat worthy of celebration itself, one of the country’s other beloved distributors has been playing the race more slow and steadily, setting their pieces up for what could be an interesting next few years to come: Manga Entertainment.
This year, not only did Manga UK work to share the powerful World War II drama In This Corner of the World to audiences in the United Kingdom, but in an incredible move originally announced last year , their Animatsu label served as global rights gatekeeper – opening the door for the film to be experienced in more than just one corner of the world.
Manga Entertainment’s expansion hasn’t stopped there though. Not content with just licensing anime, the company revealed a co-production partnership with media giant Netflix to bring the oft-talked about Cannon Busters to their service. However, they don’t plan on just stopping there – with Image Comics’ fantastic Wayward optioned for an animated or live-action TV series.
In the present, Manga Entertainment achieved the once thought impossible in finally securing a non-VHS home video release for the beloved media juggernaut Pokémon, adding to their strong roster of ’90s nostalgia. They’ve also wasted no time in identifying China’s growing global market presence, showcasing Big Fish & Begonia at BFI London Film Festival, with plans for a theatrical release next year.
While we may not see the results right away, Manga Entertainment are definitely shaping up to be one to watch in the coming years.
– Josh A. Stevens
Best Artistic Direction:
Night is Short, Walk on Girl
Masaaki Yuasa has always garnered praise for the fluid and surreal visuals adorning a number of his works from MIND GAME to even an episode of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time! If any year was the perfect time to experience what has made Yuasa such a beloved auteur though, it’s this one – with the release of two theatrical films: Night is Short, Walk on Girl and Lu over the Wall.
The best way to describe this spiritual successor to The Tatami Galaxy, is “a crazy night out”. With its vibrant colour palette, strikingly memorable designs and an abstract visual flow that shows a delightful disregard for common sense, Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a wonderfully eccentric fever dream on the big screen. Just, like most nights out, leave your brain at the door and just enjoy the ride.
– Josh A. Stevens
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Stories of people playing MMO or VRMMO games are not new. It’s a genre that has truly been done to the death and yet when Recovery of an MMO Junkie was announced for the Autumn season, I was inspired to check it out. What starts out looking like a fairly generic story of a women playing an MMO game quickly transforms into a heartwarming and charming tale about life, second chances and how important the friends you make online can be. Recovery of an MMO Junkie truly surpassed expectations and managed to completely steal my and many others’ hearts as it shows main character Moriko Morioka overcome many everyday trials thanks to the friends she makes through MMO, Fruits de Mer. The fact that the series focuses on an adult character rather than high school students (as is the trend with these series), also won it points in my favour because it makes the story more mature and relatable for those of who are well out of their school years.
Despite only being 10 episodes (with an OVA), the show also managed to wrap up its story well and with a fitting conclusion that you wouldn’t normally expect of a show so short. For all of these reasons and more we’re proud to award it the award for Best Storytelling.
– Demelza Ward
Best Audio Direction:
Made in Abyss
If you were to ask me what my favourite anime of the year was, Made in Abyss admittedly doesn’t even creep into the top five. It’s hard to argue though, that the series made the best use of its soundtrack out of anything else in 2017. Many say Made in Abyss should have been a JRPG for its story and ideas, but this is also true of the soundtrack. Composed by Kevin Penkin, the soundtrack is home to an impressive 52 tracks and each one really brings you into the world and story being told here. In fact the majority of the music already rivals some of the blockbuster JRPG soundtracks. It’s for this use of music, as well as the amount of it, that Made in Abyss wins this award.
This kind of ambition when it comes to music is rarely seen in a series like Made in Abyss and I for one am looking forward to how the show handles music in the future.
– Demelza Ward
Anime of the Year:
The Ancient Magus’ Bride
You might find it bizarre that the winner of our Anime of the Year award is a series which hasn’t even yet finished its first cour, but based on the series’ tremendous run so far we decided that nothing else even comes close to the charm, wonder and intrigue that The Ancient Magus’ Bride has to offer. I’m personally a fan of the manga and based on reading all the volumes currently out in English I’m convinced that the anime is only going to continue to get better.
On the surface, The Ancient Magus’ Bride may seem like a somewhat generic fantasy story but underneath it all is a heartwarming tale of a young girl whose just waiting for someone to accept her, to need her in their life. These tales of magic and creatures steeped in English folklore are brought to life by Wit Studio in a style that is truly awe inspiring every single week. The whole production is extremely well put together and nothing else this year comes close to being such a perfect anime overall.
– Demelza Ward
Best Character of the Year:
Ochaco Urakara (My Hero Academia)
WARNING: Contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Season Two.
When the first season of My Hero Academia first broadcast back in 2016, I couldn’t help but feel the series had received nowhere the attention it deserved. Fortunately, I was proven right with the explosion of popularity that came with the second season this year. There are many reasons why I feel the Weekly Shonen Jump series deserves to reach the heights of Naruto or Bleach, but today we’ll just focus on one pretty big reason.
While “Super Hero” has become a sustainable, respectable job in the world of My Hero Academia, an expectation still lingers that people enter the profession for the noble reasons traditionally seen in the genre – to protect the people, thwart an evil and otherwise uphold an ideal of justice. Ochaco however? She just wants money. Many would wrap this motivation in a selfish wrapper, yet Ochaco isn’t a bad person and in fact, may be one of the more selfless members of the cast. Ochaco doesn’t aim to be a celebrity, celebrated as a hero of justice – she just wants to earn enough for her parents to have a comfortable retirement.
However, that doesn’t mean she lacks resolve. One of the most powerful moments of this year’s season, saw her facing the explosively violent Bakugo in the Sports Festival. Even in-universe, characters called the match-up cruel and expected a merciless, one-sided massacre. Yet in an inspiring display of her spirit and resolve, Ochaco didn’t waver and she faced the overwhelming odds head on. She still lost and we saw her brave face crumble in a painfully emotional moment of solitude, but you know what she did afterwards? She chose an internship with a combat based hero; acknowledging her weakness and taking the first step towards overcoming it.
Frankly, Ochaco should be an inspiration to us all – be true to yourself, don’t back down in the face of adversity and always be willing to learn from your mistakes.
– Josh A. Stevens
Best Anime Nobody Watched:
With the end of any year comes a ripe opportunity for reflection; to take stock of the last twelve months of experiences and refine them into a lesson learned as you prepare for the next. With 2017 nearing its close, my lesson would be “Never take anything for granted”. Personal relationships, job security and even anime streaming – none of it.
With Crunchyroll already streaming the first three seasons of Satelight’s Symphogear action-packed, musical magical girl franchise, the announcement of a fourth seemed like a certain addition to their catalogue… until it wasn’t. As of writing, Symphogear AXZ is currently unavailable to stream in the western world and fans are now unable to watch a truly fun series.
Symphogear AXZ was never destined for critical acclaim, yet I still champion it as “The Fast and the Furious of Anime“. The series is pure dumb fun and Symphogear AXZ not only knows it, but wears it as a badge of honour. I mean, it’s a show about girls powered by J-Pop punching a nudist Shin-ichiro Miki, what’s not to love?
– Josh A. Stevens
Those were our picks for the best anime and manga of 2017; do you agree with us? You can comment below or go onto our social media pages to give us your own opinions on the best of 2017! Here’s to a great 2018, as well!
Also, don’t forget to check out our 2017 Game Awards!