Wrap it up, 20th century manga heroes. There’s a new game in town, and it’s called moé.
The 35th Japan Academy Awards nominated Ghibli’s flop “Kokuriko-zaka kara”, an adaption of Tezuka’s epic “Buddha”, a youkai story called “Toufu Kozou” based on a bestselling adult novel, and a movie from the Detective Conan series, which has the wonderful distinction of having been nominated for a Japan Academy Award every year since the “best animation” category was introduced in 2006. Oh yes, and K-On! The Movie.
Web tabloid Searchina notes that of these five, K-On! is the most unlikely nomination recipient, saying that the Kyoani production could “hardly be said to be a household name in Japan”. This is untrue in my personal experience. I mean, there’s a 12-year-old at one of my schools who has this attached to her pencil case:
In case you are puzzled by that image, that’s the girls’ character Capybara-san sitting on the head of a K-On! character (whoever she is, I don’t watch these moéblob shows goddamn you) who is sitting in her Houkago Tea Time mug.
There’s also a 10-year-old at that school who hassled me for K-On! merchandise every day until I found some to give to her.
So, K-On! is no longer otaku stuffs, it now belongs to everyone in Japan who likes cute things and is staying on top of… uh… whatever kind of cultural currents transmit the latest cute things to children. This certainly represents a new wave in mainstream anime, but it could hardly have been a controversial choice for the academy. I mean, “Toufu Kozou” was popular, but I imagine there are plenty of people who never heard of it.
So, congratulations to Kyoto Animation for their first Japan Academy Award nominee. I don’t think K-On! will win that Academy Award though. It’s an anime about girls who eat cake.