a promotional image for the Crunchyroll Award ceremony displaying the title "Crunchryoll Anime Awards"

The Erosion of an Industry: The Crunchyroll Anime Awards



I waffled over the creation of this post all day after soaking up the information and reception of this year’s Crunchyroll Anime Awards, but it just feels impossible to ignore or not further bemoan- especially alongside the slaughter that is other media award ceremonies. The Crunchyroll Anime Awards, plus countless others across all sorts of media, have become a bastardization of what they purportedly serve. And I don’t mean that in the sense of, “my series didn’t win so it sucks!”, or even the fact that so many of these works have been reduced to a popularity contest that is the equivalent of jingling a set of keys in front of voters. I mean that companies that are attempting to fight unions, are laying off staff or paying them pennies on the dollar, are actively erasing the creative work of thousands, are complicit in the perpetuation of issues within their industries, are turning around and doing this. They’re paying comical amounts of money to take the spotlight away from creators, from translators, from staff at every level, and pass it to the giants of stardom in the world.

Now, stars interacting with anime are far from an inherently evil thing. I think it’s great to include them and provide people from outside the industry so that they can display and share their passion (and encourage more interest from outside the community). I just believe that there should a mountain of other things prioritized above what’s happening currently, which isn’t an awards ceremony. It’s a game of numbers and an advertiser’s wet dream. It’s a painful parallel to the sentiment expressed by this article about Geoff Keighley’s Game Fest only three days prior.

Though in the end, it’s a different world, and it’s faced with different struggles and cycles. For example, rather than laying off a record number of employees in the industry, Crunchyroll’s president has gone on record via The Verge to state that they’re exploring the use of AI translation for subtitles– while also subtly making the statement that dubs will not be safe either. It’s an incredibly comical brand of corporate hubris to display, where you simultaneously disparage an entire facet of your industry with the idea of “creativity”, only to turn around and vaguely proclaim that dubs aren’t safe either, all the while including voice actors from said dubs in your awards ceremony.

And it’s really only a pebble that is part of the mountain of issues faced with Crunchyroll. It feels incredibly defeating to even bother chatting about, but it remains important in painting a picture as to how the act and effort of creation is being eroded through events and interactions such as the Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

Because of that, let’s talk about Funimation for a little bit. Yes, there’s all the other questions and challenges of corporate greed and empty promises and whatnot, but more of the purpose of this flashback is the transferring of Funimation’s catalogue to Crunchyroll. A claim made via The Verge states that “80%” of Funimation’s catalogue would make it to Crunchyroll“. Now, I can’t exactly vouch for that information or the truth within it. What I can say however, is that in all my searching, I’ve been unable to find a place where you can legally stream The Tatami Galaxy (A Funimation licensed work) in North America. It’s not suddenly “lost media” or anything of the sort, but it’s just a perfect example of the sort of care and interest that Crunchyroll addresses the industry with. The act of creation, and the effort of localization and translation for something as monumental as The Tatami Galaxy has no legal means of purchase at retail, nor any legal means of streaming, within North America.

I could probably do some digging and come up with countless other examples, but the point stands. Crunchyroll’s advocacy for creatives, and their work remains at an all time low. Throw out all notion of the farce that’s the popularity contest of the Crunchyroll Anime Awards, for that matter. Crunchyroll as a company is predatory and damaging to the anime industry at large in North America, and actively serves to harm and take away the effort of staff involved in various works- just in North America alone. And this awards ceremony really only serves to highlight that.

There’s so many challenges, so many difficulties that have been swept under the rug through this merger with Funimation to that end. Does anyone remember the whole deal with Shigeo Kageyama’s voice actor with Mob Psycho 100 III? Or what about that time that Crunchyroll got caught in a massive breach of privacy when they were selling user data? I wouldn’t even say that this year’s Crunchyroll Anime Awards was the nail in the coffin for the company, but just that it’s given me the opportunity to properly complain and challenge them as the monopoly and industry leader that they find themselves existing as.

So really, at the end of the day, all I have to offer is that a company will never be the friend of its customers or its creatives (as hurtful as it is to say to some smaller businesses). Their sole purpose in this world is turning a profit, and to that end there is plenty that they’re willing to do. Be it like Crunchyroll letting licenses die so that you can’t legally watch a series, or like Crunchryoll selling user data for a profit, or like Crunchyroll recasting certain dub voice actors, or like Crunchyroll…. huh. There’s certainly a lot of Crunchyroll, isn’t there?

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