Mamoru Hosoda’s (@hosodamamoru) picture of Summer Wars‘ Japan Academy Prize
The idea for this post came about in 2009 when Ponyo was not among the five nominees for Best Animated Feature – the first time a Studio Ghilbi had not been nominated for Best Animated Feature, when possible, since the category was created for the 2001 film year. (Spirited Away won for 2002 and Howl’s Moving Castle nominated in 2006; The Cat Returns was theatrically screened in 2003 but not nominated.) The film had won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year for 2008, though.
That parallel category in the Japan Academy Prize began with the 2007 ceremony celebrating 2006’s films so it’s a young category. That it’s only been around for about six years – Summer Wars won at the 2010 ceremony (via @BlogLinkJapan), and Arriety in 2011 – made me think about what would have been the ex post facto winners of the category before its institution.
The ex post facto inspiration came from ESPN’s Baseball Encyclopedia, where the editors chose the players they think would have won if they had been given out then – for example, the staff pegged Ted Williams as the ex post facto 1939 AL Rookie of the Year when the ROY was not given out until 1947 and not to one from each league until 1949.
Animated films had been recognized by the Japanese Academy before: Princess Mononoke & Spirited Away (2001) won the Best Picture in their respective years. There were also other animation awards before the Academy Prize was awarded: Animation Kobe (1996) and Mainichi Film Awards (1989).
It’s interesting to think about the matchups there would have been in previous years like Nausicaa against Macross: Do You Remember Love (1984) and Akira vs. My Neighbor Totoro (1989). Of course, there would also have been franchise films in the mix like the Urusei Yatsura, Yamato, and Doraemon ones like how the latest Detective Conan movie gets nominated every year.
I attempted to forge nominee lists for all the years from 1977 to 2005 but it was getting to be too much research so I decided to forget it for now. I would like to know your suggestions for ex post facto Best Animated Feature candidates so feel free to do so in the comments.