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Crunchyroll Anime Awards 2024 Proves Anime is Here to Stay

Global stars turn up for the annual Crunchyroll Anime Awards in Tokyo as Jujutsu Kaisen wins big. The event attested to the global love for the medium.



Crunchyroll Anime Awards Opening Ceremony (Courtesy of Crunchyroll Anime)

On March 2, the 2024 Crunchyroll Anime Awards took place in Tokyo's bustling Shinagawa ward. Now in its eighth year, the international awards ceremony brings together fans and celebrities to honor and celebrate animation. 

This year, the Grand Prince Hotel once more hosted a star-studded red carpet, the diversity of which was stunning. Athletes weaved past entertainers, while Oscar-winning directors rubbed shoulders with acclaimed rap artists. Such guests included rap sensation Megan Thee Stallion, legendary South Korean film director Bong Joon-hoo, and Japanese pop superstars YOASOBI.

Jujutsu Kaisen was this year's big winner. The anime's second season took home an incredible 11 awards, including Anime of the Year. Demon Slayer also notched up three impressive wins. Its Swordsmith Village Arc won Best Animation, Best Art Direction, and Best Fantasy. Other notable winners were Suzume for Best Film, Chainsaw Man for Best New Series, and One Piece for Best Continuing Series.

Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service, has come a long way. From its humble beginnings on a California university campus in 2006, it now boasts 100 million users across the globe.

However, its popularity is a result of a general and worldwide shift in the world of anime. Indeed, the event showcased the astounding heights to which its global appeal has soared. It is no longer just a niche market. As winners and guests shared their thoughts and thanks, it was evident that anime has officially become an international phenomenon.

[Anime of the Year] Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2_ Keisuke Seshita (Courtesy of Crunchyroll Anime Awards)

Youth Revolution

Walking through the shimmering and cavernous venue, I was struck by the sheer scale of the event. Was this really for anime or the Academy Awards? Eighteen years ago, anime consumers were a relatively limited demographic, and anime was not always readily available outside Japan. 

My friend and I would pore through obscure websites (mainly in Japanese, which we did not understand) to download episodes of Berserk. I spent a fortune on expensive DVD imports of Ghost in the Shell and Perfect Blue. The local comic book store's manga section was a single shelf. 

Things have changed. As was clear from the guest list, younger generations of anime fans have helped anime reach a broader audience. Popular content creators, DJs, and professional gamers who grew up on anime now proudly broadcast their love for the medium. 


Korean-American DJ Yaeji (Kathy Yaeji Lee) is one such high-profile fan. Her music videos and imagery have often drawn inspiration from anime. The 30-year-old artist spoke about how anime impacted her as a child. "I grew up in a neighborhood where nobody really looked like me," she says. "Anime was my day-to-day, my reality, my representation. It was more real than reality for me." 

Lena Lemon (28), a social media anime cosplayer and game content creator, attended as a host for the pre-ceremony live stream. Lemon has some 455,000 followers on Instagram. "I just can't believe we live in a time where we are celebrating anime to this level," she exclaimed. 

ROLAND at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards. (© JAPAN Forward by Daniel Manning)

Breaking Taboos and Finding Inspiration

At one time, not everybody was so willing to admit they enjoyed anime, especially men. However, that, too, has changed. 

Japanese TV personality and former track and field athlete So Takei spoke with JAPAN Forward about his passion for anime. "Ever since I was a child, anime has motivated me to persevere through difficult times and training," he says. Takei explained that he "looked to the heroes in anime and sought to achieve similar strength and intelligence. When I was training for track and field, I really saw myself as an anime character."

Renowned Japanese entertainer and entrepreneur ROLAND also revealed that anime had helped him through challenging experiences in his formative years. When he started working in the entertainment industry, ROLAND's more experienced colleagues often bullied him. "It was actually a manga series that inspired me to enter the business," he laughs. "Like me, the hero in this manga was also bullied. I made him my role model. If it wasn't for manga, I wouldn't be standing here today."

Anime has influenced not only Japanese celebrities but international athletes, too. National Football League (NFL) player DeMarcus Lawrence reflected on anime's role in shaping his career. "Anime gave me the opportunity to create my alter ego," he relates to JAPAN Forward. He smiles as he says, "I was able to embrace that superhero aspect of myself and take it to the football field." 

[Best Slice of Life Award] Bocchi the Rock! _Kerorilla-san (Courtesy of Crunchyroll Anime Awards)

A Global Force

There were also multiple language categories for Best Voice Actor Performance. Languages included German, Castilian, French, English, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Latin Spanish, and Arabic. Despite the language barrier, I thought Arabic winner Taleb Alrefai played a convincing Senku Ishigami, the Dr Stone protagonist. 

The number of these categories shows that anime fandom has grown beyond Japan, the United States, and France. Anime now has audiences in virtually every corner of the world.

Staff and creators acknowledged and expressed gratitude to their legions of fans across the globe. 

Accepting Jujutsu Kaisen's award for best character design was series animator Tadashi Hiramatsu. After hinting at new projects in the works, Hiramatsu delivered a message to his foreign fans. "Over the last ten years, American, European, and Southeast Asian fans' passion has been incredible," he says. "I hope to continue making anime that people everywhere can enjoy."


Rira Kero, in charge of character design, accepted BOCCHI THE ROCK!'s Best Slice of Life Anime award. Regarding the series' international popularity, Kero admitted "Living in Japan, it's been hard to gauge how popular it is overseas. Winning this award brings home that people in other countries really are watching and enjoying it." 

Following Jujutsu Kaisen's Anime of the Year win, animation producer Keisuke Seshimo discussed the series' foreign fanbase. As the evening's final address, Seshimo's words were a fitting summation of the event's significance. Choking back tears, he said, "The response from fans around the world has been incredible. Seeing how much they enjoy it has made the dreams of myself and the production staff come true." 


Author: Daniel Manning, JAPAN Forward staff reporter

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