Top Feature Film Anime as recognized by the Official Awards

I got talking to one of my friends who mentioned that he only wants to follow an anime/films if they actually are listed with an some recognizable awards. This got me thinking of wanting to find out more about what official awards are out there and what anime films/series actually have the most award and therefore should be commended. I have done rankings based on what us bloggers think so now it will be interesting to see which one the industry rank as the best in anime.

Having scoured the net for a while, I have found 8 distinct awards (see list at the end of the post) out there that fit my criteria (being the award must be for animation or feature film and it can be both in Japan or international). This is not as few as I have feared and it should give somewhat a good feel of the award-ability of the titles.  Based on the names listed in all these awards, I assign 2 points if the anime won a ‘best’ category and 1 point if it is either in contention or mentioned in a list.Since most awards tend to revolve around feature films, I have restricted this post to including only that and no anime series. That may be for another post if there are enough titles to make it worthwhile.

Here are animes with the highest point total. If you trust awards more than internet hear-says, I hope you will find this list useful to narrow down what anime film to consider watching (links in the title take you to wikipedia if you are so inclined to find out more about the title):

1). Spirited Away (2002) – 14 points

  • 2002 Best Animation Feature – Academy Awards [2]
  • 2002 Best Animation Feature Winner – Annie Award [2]
  • 2002 Academy Prize Picture of the Year Winner – Japan Academy Prize [2]
  • 2002 Animation of the Year Winner – Tokyo Anime Award [2]
  • 2001 Animation Grand Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2001 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]
  • 2001 Feature Film Award – Animation Kobe Award [2]

It cleaned the awards that existed during its time of release that I have on record during 2001-2 (Asia Pacific Screen Award first gave its prize in 2007). Not only did it do well financially (most gross film in Japan at that time; the first film that has made $200MM before it was released in the US), but fans and critics also unanimously sang its praises. You may like other Ghibli’s films more but you cannot deny the accessibility and attention this piece of animation managed to bring to anime.


2). The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) – 10 points

  • 2007 Animation of the Year Winner- Japan Academy Prize [2]
  • 2007 Animation of the Year Winner – Tokyo Anime Award [2]
  • 2006 Animation Grand Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2006 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]
  • 2006 Feature Film Award – Animation Kobe Award [2]

Another critics darling that swept all the major award in that year. Amazing how such a simple, over-used idea can turn into something so beloved.

3=). Summer Wars (2009) – 9 points

  • 2010 Animation of the Year Winner – Japan Academy Prize [2]
  • 2010 Animation of the Year winner – Tokyo Anime Award [2]
  • 2009 Animation Grand Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2009 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]
  • 2009 Best Animation Nominee – Asia Pacific Screen Award [1]

Hosoda really seems to ‘get’ the art of making entertaining and critically acclaimed film, with 2 of the top 3 films ranked by critical awards. This one rules all award ceremonies in 2009 and took the plaudits over Evagelion 2.0, the other big title releasing the same year

3=). Millennium Actress (2001) – 9 points

  • 2003 Best Animation Feature Winner – Annie Award [2]
  • 2003 Animation of the Year Feature Film Best Entry – Tokyo Anime Award [2]
  • 2003 Feature Film Award – Animation Kobe Award [2]
  • 2002 Oofuji Noburou Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2001 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]

Kon’s most critically acclaimed feature. This one may not be as flashy as Paprika or as gruesome as Perfect Blue or as action-packed as Tokyo Gofathers but it certainly was very satisfying by the end of it. Interestingly, this is the only film in the list which manages to win an award in three different calendar years.

5). Princess Mononoke (1997) – 8 points

  • 1998 Picture of the Year – Japan Academy Prize [2]
  • 1998 Animation Grand Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 1997 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]
  • 1997 Feature Film Award – Animation Kobe Award [2]

This is the first Ghibli film I have ever seena and also the anime film I have ever seen at the theatre. It is also the first anime feature that was awarded… Although it is no in the 2000s, I still want to include it since it was the first animated film that actually won the Japan Academy Prize and should be recognized as such.

6). Summer Days with Coo (2007) – 7 points

  • 2008 Animation of the Year Feature Film nominee – Tokyo Anime Award [1]
  • 2008 Animation of the Year Runner Up – Japan Academy Prize [1]
  • 2007 Animation Grand Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2007 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]
  • 2007 Best Animation Nominee – Asia Pacific Screen Award [1]

Related links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_Days_with_Coo

This is a story about a kappa and its impact on an ordinary family in the countryside. This title definitely took me by surprise the most. I don’t remember any blog really mention this film in great length and here it is being recognized pretty highly in the year that it came out. The only thing I know about this movie before hand is that favourite Japanese singer, Ohyama Yurika has clips of this anime included in one of her singles, Natsu no Shizuku (what a great song!).  No idea how good this thing is so I cannot comment so much. Do let me know if you have seen it.

7). Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008) – 6 points

  • 2009 Animation of the Year Winner – Tokyo Anime Award [2]
  • 2009 Animation of the Year Winner – Japan Academy Prize [2]
  • 2008 Oofuji Noburou Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]

I still have not seen this so cannot comment whether Miyazaki has regressed or not. I cannot get that theme song out of my head for a while though!

8=). Crayon Shin-chan: The Battle of the Warring States (2002) – 5 points

  • 2003 Animation of the Year Feature Film category nominee – Tokyo Anime Award [1]
  • 2002 Animation Grand Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2002 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]

This one must be good. The only time I have heard of this was when Matt Alt and the Anime World Order crew were lauding it in their 2003 year end review. The premise of this sounds really cool and it definitely will have to go into one of my must check list. Pretty amazing for a franchise-based movie!

8=). Blood: The last Vampire (2000) – 5 points

  • 2000 Oofuji Noburou Award – Mainichi Film Award [2]
  • 2000 Grand Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [2]
  • 2000 Best Animation Feature Nominee – Annie Award [1]

Another surprise in the list for me. I have not seen it so I cannot say but all the reviews I have read did not exactly rate this as one of the anime must-see. Is this that good?

8=). Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007) – 5 points

  • 2008 Animation of the Year Winner – Tokyo Anime Award [2]
  • 2008 Animation of the Year Runner Up – Japan Academy Prize [1]
  • 2008 Feature Film Award – Animation Kobe Award [2]

8=). Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – 5 points

  • 2005 Animation Feature Nominee – Academy Awards [1]
  • 2005 Excellence Prize (Animation) – Japan Media Art Festival Award [1]
  • 2005 Best Animation Feature Nominee – Annie Award [1]
  • 2004 Animation of the Year Winner – Tokyo Anime Award [2]

Additional 8 features have 4 points:

  • The Cat Returns (2002 – Animation Kobe; Japan Media Art; Tokyo Anime)
  • Winter Days (2003 – Japan Media Art; Mainichi)
  • Tokyo Godfathers (2003 – Japan Media Art; Mainichi Award; Tokyo Anime)
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2003 – Annie Award; Animation Kobe; Tokyo Anime)
  • Mind Game (2004 – Japan Media Art; Mainichi)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: The Conqueror of Shambala (2005 – Mainichi; Japan Media Art)
  • Tekkonkinkreet (2006 – Mainichi; Japan Academy Prize)
  • The Sky Crawlers (2008 – Japan Academy Prize; Mainichi; Asia Pacific Screen)

All in all, the results are not too surprising. Barring a couple (Shin-chan, Summer Days with Coo and Blood), the rest of this top 11 are well-known and deserving of the awards given to them. Having done all this, it makes me wonder what anime came top from each year. Below is the list of anime that has the most points in each year (the number in bracket at the end denotes the next highest point total in that year):

  • 2000 – Blood: The Last Vampire – 5 points [2]
  • 2001 – Spirited Away 14 points [2]
  • 2002 – Millennium Actress / Crayon-Shin-chan: The Battle of the Warring States – 5 points [4]
  • 2003 – Winter Days / Tokyo Godfathers – 4 points [2]
  • 2004 – Howl’s Moving Castle – 5 points [4]
  • 2005 – Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: The Conqueror of Shambala – 4 points [2]
  • 2006 – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – 10 points [2]
  • 2007 – Summer Days with Coo – 7 points [5]
  • 2008 – Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea – 6 points [3]
  • 2009 – Summer Wars – 9 points [2]

A few comments on this:

– Spirited Away, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars really crushed their competitions in their respective years.

– Unsurprisingly, Miyazaki had 3 films, Hosoda 2 and Kon 2 in this list. There were only two times films made by a two of these three directors went head to head. The first was in 2001 between Spirited Away and Millennium Actress. They ended up sharing the Grand Prize for Japan Media Art Festival Award. Because of its release schedules though, the other awards Millennium Actress won were one year later so the clash was limited. The other was when Paprika got soundly out-awarded by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I long to see the day when Miyazaki and Hosoda release films in the same year!

– I am however a little surprised about the lack of recognition award-wise for Shinkai’s films. 5 Centimeters and The Place Promised only got one award each. And I thought his film would be a little bit more popular among the critics

– Apart from Blood, 2000 contains Cardcaptor Sakura 2 and Doraemon Movie as its award contenders. Have seen none of them but that seem like the weakest year of anime movies in the last decade.

– Evangelion 1.0 won its fair share of awards in 2007 but really was bested by Summer Days with Coo. Evangelion 3.0 got outgunned heavily by Summer Wars. I wonder how well the next two will do in this! Being sequels probably does not bode well though considering barely any of the titles listed (FMA and GITS excluded) are strictly sequel

– Studio-wise, off the top 11 listed, 4 are from Ghiblis (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s, Ponyo), 3 from Madhouse (Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Millennium Actress). Surprisingly though, Shinei Animation is third in the list, appropriately responsible for the two dark horses in this list, Shin-chan and Summer Days With Coo (this studio seems to live off Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan works)

Awards included:

a). Japanese Academy Awards

One of the annual award given to Japanese Animation by the Japanese Academy Prize Association. The ‘Animation of the Year’ award was first given in 2007. However, prior to this first award, two animation films, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, have actually managed to receive the “Japan Academy Prize Picture of the Year’

b). Japanese Media Art Awards

The awards are given during The Japan Media Arts Festival which is held annually since 1997. There are four categories including Art, Entertertainment, Animation and manga. One ‘Grand Prize’ and 4 ‘Excellence Prizes’ are given for each category and since 2002, one ‘Encouragement Prize’ is awarded.

c). Tokyo Anime Awards

  • Award given: Animation of the Year; excellent works of the year (by category_
  • First Award: 2002
  • Present by: The TAF organizing Committee
  • Coverage: Japan

Started in 2002, the ceremony is held at the Tokyo International Anime Fair. The award did not get its name until 2005 (having previously been know as the ‘competition’ before that

d). Academy Awards

This is most likely the most recognizable award to the majority of people. Despite being around 1929, the award for best animated feature only came to be since 2001 as a way to increase the exposure and recognition to the animation industry.

Films have to be at least 70 minutes long and it has to have theatrical release in Los Angeles to qualify for the awards. If there are 16 or more films submitted to the category, then five films will be shortlisted (only in 2002 and 2009). Otherwise, there will only be three. The winner is picked from the shortlist.

e). Mainichi Film Awards

There are two awards given to amination films. The Noburou Oofuji award (named after of the pioneering animator who died in 1961) is presented to films which originate from the independent directors and are much shorter in length, whereas the Animation Grand Award (established much later in 1989) focuses on rewarding large scale cinematic animation.

f). Asia Pacific Screen Award

g). Animation Kobe Award

h). Annie Award

Looking down the list of these awards, it is easy to criticize using them to rank the films because they have heavy biases towards newer films, since 2 were only in existence since 2007 and two more are barely a decade old. To that line of thought, this is still an interesting list that does highlight award darlings that should at least be worthy to check out.

I also thought about including the ‘Japanese Otaku Award’ but decided against it in the end because of its wider focus other than anime.

Hosoda really seems to ‘get’

7 Comments on “Top Feature Film Anime as recognized by the Official Awards”

  1. I’m just surprised how Summer Wars easily ended up being my favorite among all of these!

    • Is it also your favourite non-eva anime movie of the last decade? It would probably get into the top 5 of mine…

      • I don’t favor the Eva movies, because I tend to look at Eva as a franchise — especially with its sequential nature.

        I also distinguish between what I like most, and what I consider to be the best. I still think Millenium Actress to be the best, followed by (I can’t pick between) Mononoke Hime, or Spirited Away.

        I suppose that after Summer Wars, I like Mononoke Hime the most, followed by Spirited Away, then Ponyo LOL.

  2. Canne says:

    Since the number of feature length anime per year is not high, we often see a total sweep by single title each year. It’s not exciting (unlike the awards for live action film). That is why these awards are not really popular, I suppose. Some of them I never heard of before.

    Another thing, I don’t understand how Blood got so many awards. I think all it deserves is a technical award, not best anime.

    • Well, you do see some surprises in a few years as well. I think those are probably more interesting to see than the big titans. There also really are not that many of these awards. A majority of these awards also seem to be a tie-in with their respective film festivals (Kobe, Tokyo Anime, Japan Media Arts).

      That might just say what a sub-par year 2000 was if Blood managed to win all those awards!

  3. Blood isn’t bad or anything. It was, I believe, the first anime film to integrate cg and animation, and the production values are truly insane. The movie still easily holds up to todays standards without looking dated at all. While the plot is nothing to talk about, the film is tightly directed to produce a fulfilling action romp with some really memorable moments. It may not be a masterpiece of any sort, but it definitely deserves praise and a place in the DVD collections of anime fans.

    • That does make sense. I have been semi-avoiding it for other ‘better’ anime but I definitely should pick it up in my next anime bulk purchase:) Now that I know not to expect much in term of plot, watching it should be fun!


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