For the past 45 years, the International Animated Film Society has hosted the Annie Awards. Similar to how the Grammys honor excellence in music, this event honors excellence in the field of animation. The University of California-Los Angeles hosted the 45th Annie Awards on February 3rd, 2018. It featured the biggest names in animation, such as Cartoon Network, Pixar, and Disney. There was a total of 35 categories, including: “Best Animated Feature,” “Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production,” and “Best Animated Feature-Independent.”

The Annie Awards nominate several anime each year. Studio Ghibli’s THE RED TURTLE won “Best Animated Feature-Independent” at last year’s event. It is the first anime to do so since the category began in 2016. THE RED TURTLE is about a man who longs to escape a deserted island. However, a red turtle frequently thwarts his escape plans. One night, while the man is asleep, the red turtle’s shell splits in half. A woman emerges and the two fall in love. They have a son and continue to live their lives together on the island before the husband’s sudden death.

The red turtle of THE RED TURTLE
THE RED TURTLE, winner of “Best Animated Feature-Independent” in 2016 | Image: OtakuMagazine.com

The Results

No anime won this year, though several were nominated. Suano Katabuci’s IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD, a story about life before and after the atomic bombs of World War II, was nominated for “Best Animated Feature-Independent.” Kenji Kariyama’s THE NAPPING PRINCESS was also considered. The category was won by THE BREADWINNER, a story about a cross-dressing girl living under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Nora Twomey (THE SECRET OF KELLS) directed the film.

Studio Ponoc’s MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER received two nominations; one for “Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production;” the other for “Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production.” It tells the story of Mary, a girl who finds a mysterious flower that can turn her into a witch for a single night. Pixar’s COCO, a story about a boy who becomes a musician against his family’s wishes, won the category instead.

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PIG: THE DAM KEEPER POEMS, produced by Hulu Japan, was nominated for “Best Animated Special Production.” It tells the story of Pig, a lonely boy with great responsibilities. He protects the town by turning a windmill everyday, which blows away a deadly fog. REVOLTING RHYMES ultimately won. Magic Light Pictures produced this 28-minute film, which adapted 5 poems from the book written by Roald Dahl.

The legendary WIZARD OF OZ inspired the runner-up for “Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Children.” Amazon produced “LOST IN OZ” to put a fresh spin on the classic. Polygon Pictures, one of Japan’s biggest animation companies, helped animate the series. The episode “The Pearl of Pingaree” lost to WE BARE BEARS.

Anime Lost, but it’s Okay

It would have been great to see anime succeed in the 45th Annie Awards. There were many entertaining and original titles nominated this year. For example, THE NAPPING PRINCESS is a title that immediately comes to mind. It has a great plot, animation, a terrific cast of characters, and a truly satisfying ending. THE NAPPING PRINCESS lost the “Best Animated Feature-Independent” category, but that does not make it a bad film.

Kokone Morikawa from THE NAPPING PRINCESS, nominated at the Annie Awards for "Best Animated Feature-Independent"
Kokone Morikawa from THE NAPPING PRINCESS | Image: animeushi.com

THE NAPPING PRINCESS had a huge reception overseas. Once Japan released it, the film made $1.4 million opening weekend. MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER also failed to win a category. However, when the United States and Canada released it, the film grossed $1.5 million in each area. It grossed $30.8 million in other territories (including $27.6 million in Japan), for a worldwide total of $32.3 million.

Although no American anime won at the 45th Annie Awards, it does not mean they were bad films. The films nominated by the Annie Awards were all excellent, and deserve the praise they received. The directors all worked incredibly hard on their product. This especially showed overseas, where most films were more successful than in the United States. Anime gets better every year, and 2018 will be no exception. The future is incredibly promising for Japanese anime.

Featured image courtesy of GKIDS.

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