Yuri!!! On Ice wins all the Crunchyroll Anime Awards it was nominated for (so far…)

In Crunchyroll’s first ever Anime Awards, figure skating series Yuri!!! On Ice is on course to make a clean sweep and win all seven of the categories it was nominated in, winning six with one yet to be revealed.

So far, the series has won “Best Opening”, “Best Ending”, “Best Animation”, “Best Boy” (for central character, Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki), “Best Couple” (for Yuri K. and his Russian coach Victor Nikiforov), and “Most Heartwarming Scene”.

The series is also up for “Anime of the Year”, but this is not yet been announced. The winner will be revealed live at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards party on 28th January. However, Yuri!!! On Ice is almost certainly favourite to win if the other results are anything to go by, with the show winning all but one of its prizes with over 50% of the vote. The one that didn’t, “Best Animation”, won with 49% of the vote.

Elsewhere, the only other series to win more than one prize are time-travel murder mystery ERASED for “Best Drama” and “Villain of the Year” (not mentioned here to avoid spoilers, scroll down to results to see name) and supernatural comedy Mob Psycho 100 for “Best Action” and “Best Fight Scene”.

Meanwhile My Hero Academia won “Hero of the Year” (for Izuku “Deku” Midoriya), RE:Zero took “Best Girl” (for Rem), and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto! picked up “Best Comedy”.

The nominations for the final award, “Anime of the Year” are (in alphabetical order) ERASED, Joker Game, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Mob Psycho 100, My Hero Academia, RE:Zero, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and Yuri!!! On Ice.

Full Results (contains spoilers)

Hero of the Year

  1. Izuku “Deku” Midoriya (My Hero Academia): 32% (38,325 votes)
  2. Satoru Fujinuma (ERASED): 28% (32,869)
  3. Mob (Psycho Mob 100): 24% (29,159)
  4. Mumei (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress): 7% (8,346)

Other: 9% (10,281)

The number of votes cast: 118,980

Villain of the Year

  1. Gaku Yashiro (ERASED): 33% (35,805)
  2. Yoshikage Kira (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure): 33% (35,390)
  3. Tomura Shigaraki (My Hero Academia): 18% (19,129)
  4. Biba (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress): 9% (9,775)

Other: 7% (7,794)

The number of votes cast: 107,893

Best Boy

  1. Yuri Katsuki (Yuri!!! On Ice): 58% (83,485)
  2. Arataka Reigen (Mob Psycho 100): 17% (25,043)
  3. Izuku “Deku” Midoriya (My Hero Academia): 16% (22,563)
  4. Yakumo (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju): 3% (4,217)

Other: 8,890

The number of votes cast: 123,891

Best Girl

  1. Rem (RE:Zero): 60% (66,441)
  2. Ochako Uraraka (My Hero Academia): 15% (16,282)
  3. Nico Niiyama (Kiznaiver): 10% (11,625)
  4. Mumei (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress): 8% (8,376)

Other: 8% (8,648)

The number of votes cast: 111,372

Best Fight Scene

  1. Shigeo vs. Koyama from Ep. 8 (Mob Psycho 100): 40% (38,255)
  2. Deku vs. Kacchan from Ep. 7 (My Hero Academia): 25% (23,630)
  3. Mumei vs. Kabane from Ep. 2 (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress): 18% (16,910)
  4. Altland vs. Moss from Ep. 32 (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans): 8% (7,475)

Other: 9% (8,844)

The number of votes cast: 95,114

Best Animation

  1. Yuri!!! On Ice: 49% (68,535)
  2. Mob Psycho 100: 28% (39,766)
  3. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: 12% (16,764)
  4. Flip Flappers: 6% (8,525)

Other: 4% (6,122)

The number of votes cast: 139,712

Most Heartwarming Scene

  1. The kiss from Ep. 7 (Yuri!!! On Ice): 55% (74,617)
  2. Kayo’s first homecooked meal from Ep. 9 (ERASED): 31% (42,092)
  3. Kakeru and Suwa learn to understand each other from Ep. 4 (Orange): 7% (8,987)
  4. Makoto flies over her new home from Ep. 12 (Flying Witch): 4% (5,319)

Other: 3% (4,750)

The number of votes cast: 135,765

Drama of the Year

  1. ERASED: 51% (46,528)
  2. Kiznaiver: 22% (19,597)
  3. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: 17% (15,698)
  4. Joker Game: 5% (4,413)

Other: 5% (4,637)

The number of votes cast: 90,873

Best Couple

  1. Yuri and Victor (Yuri!!! On Ice): 69% (99,194)
  2. Saturo and Kayo (ERASED): 14% (19,377)
  3. Katsuhira and Sonozaki (Kiznaiver): 8% (11,133)
  4. Luluco and Nova (Space Patrol Luluco): 5% (7,347)

Other: 4% (6,082)

The number of votes cast: 143,133

Best Comedy

  1. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto!: 36% (33,102)
  2. KONOSUBA-God’s blessing on this beautiful world!: 33% (30,174)
  3. Keijo!!!!!!!!: 16% (14,692)
  4. Space Patrol Luluco: 9% (8,567)

Other: 6% (5,472)

The number of votes cast: 63,850

Best Action

  1. Mob Psycho 100: 36% (33,460)
  2. My Hero Academia: 25% (23,402)
  3. Drifters: 21% (19,362)
  4. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: 13% (11,848)

Other: 6% (5,769)

The number of votes cast: 93,841

Best Opening

  1. Yuri!!! On Ice: 57% (80,882)
  2. Mob Psycho 100: 23% (32,225)
  3. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: 7% (9,863)
  4. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: 3% (3,663)

Other: 10% (14,115)

The number of votes cast: 140,748

Best Closing

  1. Yuri!!! On Ice: 56% (71,144)
  2. Mob Psycho 100: 19% (24,754)
  3. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: 9% (11,208)
  4. Space Patrol Luluco: 6% (8,048)

Other: 10% (12,221)

The number of votes cast: 127,375

Grand total of votes cast: 1,492,547

Re:Zero Anime Review

rezero-poster

This year has undoubtedly been a strong one for new anime but the summer 2016 season has seen perhaps some of the biggest shows. One of those shows is Re:Zero, which I’m here to review. You may remember that I also reviewed the first volume of the Re:Zero light novel series, which the anime is based on, so if you’re interested you can find that here.

Re:Zero tells the story of Subaru Natsuki, an ordinary teenager who is suddenly summoned to a fantasy world. Once Subaru recovers from the surprise of being in a new world he is saved from some muggers by a pretty young women named Emilia (who originally introduces herself as Satella), but little does Subaru know that his destiny will be tied to hers.

When Subaru first meets Emilia, she informs our hero that she’s looking for something that’s been stolen from her, and in order to repay his debt to her, Subaru agrees to help in the search. Eventually the two discover where the thief is trying to sell off Emilia’s item, but when they get there, they discover two dead bodies. It’s not long before the killer, who was hiding in wait, also attacks and murders Subaru and Emilia.

re-zero-5Usually when a main character dies that signifies the end of an arc or perhaps even the end of a series, but in Re:Zero’s case Subaru awakens perfectly fine – just right back at the moment where he was first transported to this world. As our story progresses Subaru discovers that he has a special ability, which he calls ‘Return by Death’, that allows him to rewind time by dying. It appears that Subaru’s return point changes for every arc and almost always after he’s ensured the safety of Emilia.

This life-and-death circle is an interesting one because, although it means we sometimes relive the same story loop numerous times, more often than not the scenario plays out differently. What’s more, with each do-over Subaru experiences, he gains new insights of what needs to be done. Sometimes things will get worse, sometimes things will be better, but each time the mystery of why Emilia (or other members of the cast) are being killed off slowly unfolds until Subaru finally manages to break the cycle. It’s a really interesting gimmick to watch and even after 25 episodes the series has managed to find ways to keep things fresh.

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It’s very difficult to talk about Re:Zero without spoiling the plot because this is a series that I feel really doesn’t hold up if you know what’s going to happen. Much of its charm is in wondering how Subaru is going to prevent the current problem and being on the edge of your seat from week to week as we’re delivered the latest cliffhanger. I’m not entirely sure that the show would be as enjoyable on a second watch either, as knowing what’s coming will leave you focusing on the numerous problems that Re:Zero is home to.

A problem many light novel adaptations suffer from is when an animation studio adds their own content in among what they’re adapting. I think studio White Fox have done an excellent job with Re:Zero (more on this later), but they’ve also created some inconsistencies by either taking out pieces of the novels or bridging together certain points with their own content. My best example comes thanks to Puck, Emilia’s spirit familiar who directly introduces himself to Subaru in the initial loops and vice versa for the first arc but not during the final loop. In this section there is a scene where Puck says Subaru’s name, almost as though he’s fully aware of who Subaru is, but as the two of them never introduced themselves in this loop it’s not possible for Puck to know Subaru’s name. It’s not really a big problem, but if you were watching the series for a second time and not as focused on the unfolding drama I think these inconsistencies would stand out more prominently.

re-zero-6If you’ve been keeping up with the anime on social media, or even discussions on this very site, you’ll probably have noticed that people usually aren’t fans of Subaru. Generally speaking, Subaru is just not a character who was made to be likable. He’s not your run-of-the-mill shonen protagonist, he’s hopeless, and frequently runs his mouth, but in a way that actually makes him more likable to me. It’s difficult to like Subaru when he simply appears to be protecting Emilia because he fancies her, and his tendency to say every little thing that crosses his mind leaves him sounding obnoxious. However, as much as we viewers are learning about this world and the cast, so too is Subaru. When he finally begins to put the effort into finding his place in the world, he comes off a lot better for it. It might have taken me the best part of half the series but eventually Subaru did become likable, and by the end I found myself rooting for him to save the day.

Where other characters are concerned, things were pretty good overall. Emilia, who is quiet and very reserved, finds it difficult to interact with people, due to being shunned for resembling the white witch (an unspoken evil in this world). As she slowly opens up to Subaru, and as we see more of her and Puck, it’s clear that they’re both strong characters who always shine when they’re on-screen. There is also the case of Rem and Ram, two maids who work for man named Roswaal (the owner of the mansion that Emilia calls home) and are definitely fan favorites. The two may not seem like the most interesting of characters to begin with, but we come to see their true depth once we’ve had the chance to spend more time exploring their story. All round, it’s a pretty good cast and there weren’t any characters that I outright hated. I’ve only focused on a brief portion of them, simply because to talk about the others would result in spoilers.

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Animation studio White Fox (they also worked on Akame ga Kill! and Steins;Gate) have done a marvelous job where Re:Zero’s animation is concerned. For a fantasy setting such as this, White Fox have provided some very colourful settings and characters but they’ve also mastered the darker and more soul-crushing scenes as well. To their credit they’ve also managed to make a decent use of CGI for some of the busy town scenes where other studios may have used it more clumsily.

Music for the series has been provided by Kenichiro Suehiro, who is a bit of a newcomer when it comes to handling anime soundtracks. His most notable work besides Re:Zero is Space Patrol Luluco, but considering how light-hearted that series is (and the fact it’s made up of 7-8 minute shorts) it’s safe to say that Re:Zero is more his breakout work. The soundtrack provided for the series is quite good and home to both electric produced tracks and more basic piano scores. It’s a mishmash of a few different genres of music but that works surprisingly well for a series like Re:Zero as it keeps the content fresh and with an edge of surprise. The opening themes (“Redo” by Konomi Suzuki and “Paradisus-Paradoxum” by MYTH&ROID) and endings (“STYX HElIX” by MYTH&ROID and “Stay Alive” by Rie Takahashi) are all very solid pop tunes and work exceptionally well for the series. That said, it’s not actually that often we get to watch the openings and endings because White Fox tends to leave them out in favour of adding more time to each episode!

re-zero-1Like the music and animation, the voice actors on offer have also done a wonderful job, especially Yusuke Kobayashi (Daisuke Hiraoka in Shirobako, Zenji Marui in Food Wars) who plays Subaru. Subaru goes through a lot of emotional whiplash throughout the series and his moods and tone of character change drastically over the course of the story, but Kobayashi manages to capture these transitions perfectly. This performance leaves me eager to see how he’ll play future roles. Rie Takahashi (Miki Naoki in School-Live!, Megumin in KonoSuba) provides a good performance for Emilia, capturing her quiet nature and shy profile rather well – although it’s not quite as good as Kobayashi’s. I will also take a moment to point out that Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito in Sword Art Online, Soma in Food Wars), a personal favourite of mine, also voices a character in the series but not until later on. It’s a delightful performance and quite different from his norm, which makes for an interesting performance. 


Overall, I recommend
Re:Zero to everyone as it breaks the trope of the ‘being transported to another world’ genre and offers something new. If you can look past Subaru’s annoying personality for a few episodes then you’ll be fine, and even if you can’t, you’ll probably be too busy being amazed by the latest cliffhanger to really care. There are little things to look past, but provided you can this is a solid series. Perhaps it’s not the best anime of 2016 and maybe we won’t even remember it in a year’s time, but for now, it’s one of my favourites of the year for sure.

The Re:Zero anime can be streamed over at Crunchyroll and Anime Limited have licensed the series for a future home video release.

Title: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-
Publisher: Crunchyroll (streaming)
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Thriller
Studio: White Fox
Type: TV Series
Original vintage: 2016
Format: Legal stream
Language options: Japanese audio with English subtitles
Running time: 625 minutes

Score: 8/10

Re:Zero #1Review

Re-Zero Light novel 1If you asked me which anime was being talked about the most from the Spring/Summer 2016 season then I’d answer without a doubt with Re:Zero. For better or worse the series has captured viewers and held them on the edge of their seats. Today I’m here to review the first volume in the original light novel series and find out if it holds my attention the same way as the anime does.

Re:Zero tells the story of a fairly average teenager, Subaru Natsuki. One day Subaru is magically transported from his local convenience store to a fantasy world. There’s no one in sight to inform him why he’s been brought there.  Surrounded by unfamiliar sights and sounds, just what has Subaru gotten himself into? Filled with determination to work out why he’s been summoned to this place (and to live his life like you would in a video game), Subaru sets out to explore this brave new world.

Okay, I know this all sounds very generic but stick with me. I promise by the end of this review it won’t feel quite as familiar as those fantasy stories you’re used to.

It’s not long before Subaru gets himself into a spot of bother with three thugs. Just when things begin to look their worst, he’s saved by a silver-haired girl, who introduces herself as Satella. Satella uses ice magic and has a spirit familiar named Puck, who introduces himself as Satella’s father and is quick to mention that he works from 9 am till 5 pm. It turns out that Satella has had something very important stolen from her and was in the process of searching for it when she encountered Subaru. As thanks for saving his life, Subaru agrees to help her find the thief and reclaim the item.

It’s not long before Subaru and Satella work out where the thief intends to sell off the stolen item, but when the two arrive at the tavern/storehouse they find that everyone inside has been murdered. Stumbling upon this gruesome scene ultimately leads to the deaths of Subaru and Stella as well by the hand of the killer (who was still lurking in the darkened tavern). In his dying moments Subaru wishes that he could have protected Satella and spent just a little longer in this world.

Unsurprisingly the story doesn’t end with the deaths of our protagonists. It turns out that Subaru has some kind of special ability that allows him to return from death, which he’s dubbed “Return by Death” as upon dying it sends him back to a designated point in time. Perhaps with this ability he can prevent the deaths of himself and Satella, while also helping her retrieve her stolen item.

Return by Death is an interesting ability and author Tappei Nagatsuki handles it rather well. You would think that reliving the same day multiple times over would become boring, especially in book form where there isn’t much to distract you from the fact you’re rereading the same situations over and over, but that’s simply not true here. The first time Subaru experiences the day over again, some things are very similar but they’re also different just enough to keep it interesting. However, as the plot progresses we get the chance to see a new plot line where instead of travelling with Satella, Subaru ends up becoming close to Felt (the thief) and comes face-to-face with the one who killed everyone at the end of his first ‘life’.

Nagatsuki has written Re:Zero from a third person perspective, which works very well for the drama and character interactions. I’d say it’s a shame that we’re not inside Subaru’s head but as he has a tendency to voice all of his thoughts aloud there wouldn’t be a notable benefit to writing the story from his perspective. I found this to be an interesting style of writing because it’s not one that I’ve personally stumbled across in my light novel collection (although when a good portion of my collection has been written by Reki Kawahara perhaps that explains some of it).

Re:Zero started life like a lot of popular light novels, in that it was originally a web novel that was later edited and published as a series. Some of the exchanges between characters go on too long and there is a bit of awkward wording here and there, which has no doubt resulted from the original web novel being rough around the edges compared to a professionally published book. That said, I think Nagatsuki has a good handle on how to write this story and future volumes will likely solve all of the problems in Volume 1.

Illustrations for the series have been provided by Shinichirou Otsuka, who currently doesn’t appear to have worked on anything beyond Re:Zero (at the very least I couldn’t find mention of anything online). Either this is the first (now major) work Otsuka’s produced art for, or the internet just cannot provide me with answers! Regardless, what we have on show for the first volume of Re:Zero looks very nice and character designs are suitably detailed. Volume 1 opens with various colour pages that showcase the characters which, I have to say, look a lot better than the fan-service- laden images we’d usually have for other series. It’s sad that none of the action scenes have been drawn in favour of a picture of each of the main characters, but hopefully future volumes can deliver. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Otsuka’s work.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the writing and the story, so let’s talk about the characters now. It’s worth saying that Subaru is not going to win any awards for being a likable member of the cast. He’s annoying, doesn’t know when to stop talking, and more often than not I wanted to punch him. Having said that, Subaru has a good heart and his determination to do his best (despite really not having any redeeming qualities) is perhaps what keeps him from being a total waste of space. In a way it’s actually refreshing that Subaru wasn’t made to be a likable character. There are far too many series that try their hardest to make a lead that you’ll be rooting for from the start and I appreciate the fact Re:Zero hasn’t fallen into that cliché.

Satella, Puck, and Felt are all interesting characters whom I grew immensely fond of. Satella has a cold manner but inside she has a good heart. There is obviously more to her than what we see in this volume, and having watched the anime I know just where her story is going. Puck and Felt don’t get quite as much time in the spotlight as Satella but when they are present they, too, shine and leave me wanting to know more about them. It’s a good cast which is only going to grow to become even better as the story progresses.

For those of you who are watching the anime (as I am) it’s worth noting that the light novel handles itself better than the anime adaptation does in certain ways. To begin with, the light novel doesn’t spend as much time on how Subaru was in Japan one minute and then the fantasy world the next. Rather than dealing with his shock and surprise we’re dumped into the scene about 20 minutes after, where things have calmed down and Subaru calmly explains what happened to him. I found this a much better way of starting the story because it’s refreshing to not have the protagonist overreacting to every little thing in a fantasy world. Overall the light novel also has a much better handle on the flow of the plot due to the anime studio creating certain inconsistencies in the story. For example, in one anime scene Puck knows Subaru’s name despite not yet having met him in that life. Subaru is also a lot more tolerable in the light novel than I found him in the anime, which has got to count for something.

Overall Re:Zero Volume 1 makes for a good read and handles the ‘transported to a fantasy world’ idea in an interesting way that, hopefully, won’t become stale anytime soon. Subaru might not be the most likable character but his future in this world seems like it’ll make for an interesting story. I’m a huge fan of the anime and reliving the story through the light novels is something I’m very much enjoying.

Score: 7/10

Light Novel Quick Information
Title: Re:Zero
Original vintage: 2014
Author: Tappei Nagatsuki
Illustrator: Shinichirou Otsuka
Published by: Yen On
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Age rating: 13 +
Material length: 231 Pages