The Academy Awards has a blind eye for animated visuals in diverse languages

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DaHee Kim

An artist portrays some of the works eligible for an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. The Academy Awards, however, snubbed Japanese works, “A Whisker Away” (left) and “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train,” (right) but gave a nod to “Shaun the Sheep the Movie: Farmageddon.”

Sydnee Tallant

I’ve been an anime fan since the summer of 2011. 

“Sailor Moon” first intrigued me with its aesthetically pleasing introduction and entertaining episodes. The main character, Usagi Tsukino, and her bubbly personality captivated my elementary-age mindset. The whole concept of middle school female space sailors also fascinated me and kept me interested in the series. 

By the time I reached middle school, my friends also became anime fans and influenced me to watch “Attack on Titan” directed by Hajime Isayama and released on April 7, 2013, and “Tokyo Ghoul” directed by Sui Ishida released on July 4, 2014.  I became interested in these types of films that involved fighting scenes and dramatic storylines. 

The summer before I entered high school, I spent a majority of my time binging different anime series, and “Demon Slayer” caught my attention easily. I immediately felt mesmerized by the characters and the plot. Although the series includes a lot of gore and violence, the whole idea of evil beings kept me intrigued in every episode. When I heard a new “Demon Slayer” movie would be created off the manga, I felt ecstatic. 

The new film, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train,” first released in Japan on Oct, 16, 2020, but didn’t come out in the United States until Friday, April 23, this year. And despite the recent release at American theaters, the flick has already gained popularity because of the manga, original anime series and the early release in Japan.

Not only is this film financially successful in Japan, it has also gained international attention from foreign fans who would access this film on global anime websites. 

Many passionate anime fans expected the Academy voters would nominate “Demon Slayer” for Best Animated Feature Film along with other notable anime works like “A Whisker Away” directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama — released on Oct 31, 2020 — and “Ride Your Wave” directed by Masaaki Yusasa, released on Feb 21, 2020. 

Unfortunately none received a nomination. Even though I have yet to see the new “Demon Slayer” movie, I am disappointed with the Academy for not recognizing it. 

ORIGIN STORY

According to various online sources, the Academy Awards featured its first Best Animated Feature Film category back in 2002 for films created in 2001. Those nominated in this category must have a running time that’s more than 40 minutes, and the characters must be created using a frame-to-frame technique. 

However, the only Japanese anime that has received an award from this category was in 2003 for the previous year’s release of “Spirited Away” directed by Hayao Miyazaki. 

Since the Academy Awards ceremony in 2003, no other Japanese anime has since been able to win another Oscar trophy. Other Miyazaki works like “Howl’s Moving Castle” in 2005 earned nominations but nothing else.

Despite last year’s global success with the new “Demon Slayer” movie, nominations for this category will not include any work from Japan for the Oscars on Sunday, April 25. 

SOCIAL MEDIA BACKLASH

This has led to social media chatter over how the Academy voters allegedly ignore animated films from Japan unless they have the name “Studio Ghibli” attached to their credits. One supposed member of the Academy has even allegedly responded to fans in a racist and immature manner back in 2015 about why such films from that country are snubbed, according to Comicbook.com

Although people made this statement years ago, the Academy should conduct an investigation and not include members who have a mindset like this. Such a narrow-minded perspective also makes the Academy Awards seem discriminatory because anime is not nominated each year. It shows the way some of the members may think, which already exposes their mindset about anime. The Academy should include more diversity and multilingual speakers who help with the process of choosing nominations. 

These mesmerizing animated films from Asia deserve a nomination. I hope the Academy Awards realizes how popular and successful anime is globally and reconsiders the nomination process. Animated films have just as much meaning and potential as works in English from the United States or England (think “Boss Baby” or “Shaun the Sheep”). 

If more Asian-themed works are gaining traction for a bigger category like Best Picture (think “Paraside” and “Minari”), then I’m pretty sure this wave of change will eventually reach the Best Animated Feature category. Perhaps at least the “Demon Slayer” sequel will win an Oscar.