Animation Awards

To wrap up the animation marathon (which should have taken six weeks, but took around four months instead), the Filmspotting podcast gave out some awards. I'll do the same, and I'll make some other closing comments.
  • Best Character: This one has to go to the Iron Giant. He's this wonderful childlike character who has a great arc in the film. You would expect the movie to be more about how the Giant changed everyone else's lives (which it does, and I don't mean to diminish that), but it's really about the robot itself, and how it grows and overcomes it's original programming. The way we learn about the Giant and how the arc is handled by the filmmakers just makes this the most compelling character in the marathon.
  • Best Villain: This is a tough one, as there are more good choices here. All the films have a compelling villain, but I'm going to go with Akira. Even though we don't see Akira until the end of the film, his presense looms over everything that preceeds it, and I kinda get the feeling that Akira is behind it all. Akira, to me, seems to be more than the physical manifestation of a young boy, but rather the catastrophic force that is unleashed as a result of human meddling (so, in a sense, Tetsuo is kinda part of this villain).
  • Best Scene: This is another hard one, but I'm going to have to agree with Adam from filmspotting in picking the brutal "Setsuko death montage" towards the end of Grave of the Fireflies. It's quite possibly the most depressing scene I've ever seen, and while I don't ever want to watch it again, I have to admit that it is the most powerful thing I watched in the marathon.
  • Most Visually Stunning: I think it's pretty obvious that this is between Spirited Away & Akira, both of which are truly impressive works of animation. Part of me wants to give it to Spirited Away because of the incredible imagination that went into every visual element of the film, but while Akira's story does not require as much in the way of imagination, it's visual elements truly are spectacular (all the moreso because of the technology available at the time). We'll call this a tie.
  • Best Film: This one is difficult. For me, it comes down to Spirited Away, The Iron Giant, and Grave of the Fireflies. While Fireflies is easily the most emotionally draining of the six films and quite well done in every respect, I can't bring myself to say it's the best film. It's just too heartbreaking. I'll give this award to Spirited Away. It's just so good that I have a hard time talking about it (and not just because I'm afraid of ruining it for others, as I implied in my review). Sometimes this sort of thing can be inexplicably subjective, and Spirited Away is one of those cases.
None of this is to say that Watership Down or Ghost in the Shell were bad films, they just didn't neatly fit into the categories (if there was a "most thought provoking" award, it'd certainly go to Ghost in the Shell). All the films in the marathon were well done and certainly worth a watch, especially if you're not familiar with the genre (or if you're only familiar with the Disney style of the genre).

The one thing that bothers me about the list of films in the marathon was that the Anime portion was almost criminally short. While I think the Anime films in the marathon are all sorta landmark achievements, they are really only touching the surface of the genre, and a few of them are, well, difficult films (especially Fireflies). If I were to introduce someone to the genre, I'd probably start with Spirited Away. In any case, this will not be the last you hear about Anime on the blog, though I'm not sure where I'm headed next. I think at some point, I'll have to list out all the Anime that I've seen and solicit some suggestions... but for now, I've got several live-action films in my Netflix queue that I've been neglecting.