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‘One Piece’ Won a Different Award at the 2023 Crunchyroll Anime Awards Than I Expected, and I’m Delighted

"New Genesis" was cheated, sure, but ...

Luffy riding Momosuke in the One Piece anime

There were no shortages of surprises from the 2023 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. The outcome of the awards are dependent on both judging and a popular vote from fans, hailing from over 200 countries. It’s a unique opportunity to get a global perception of the state of anime. From that angle, I was expecting One Piece Film Red to sweep up the competition for Best Film and Best Anime Song. I was wrong. But One Piece took home an award that arguably meant more.

On the year of One Piece‘s 25th anniversary, One Piece Film Red took the world by storm. Its lead single, “New Genesis” (“Shin Jidai” in Japanese), kicked Beyoncé off the top spot on the global Apple Music chart. Yet both lost their respective categories at the 2023 Anime Awards. Best Anime Film went to Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which I can understand even in my die-hard One Piece heart. Best Song went to “The Rumbling” by SiM, from Attack on Titan. Which … I mean, if not “Shin Jidai,” at least give it to Gen Hoshino and “Comedy,” one of the cutest songs I’ve ever heard. But okay.

However, the runaway success of Film Red and “Shin Jidai” outside of the awards speak for themselves. One Piece won a different award: Best Continuing Series, for which it beat out major competition from Anime of the Year nominees Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer. I’m so damn proud! And even more than that, I’m overjoyed for the animators of the show. They’re getting the recognition they deserve.

Why One Piece’s win is so triumphant at this moment

Now, perhaps you think that, as a series which has “continued” for over two decades straight, One Piece‘s win for Best Continuing Series is a foregone conclusion. But that’s actually not the case. This is the third time in the Crunchyroll Anime Award’s seven year history that Best Continuing Series has been a category. In 2018, One Piece wasn’t even nominated. In 2019, it lost to Dragon Ball Super.

To many manga-only fans, the One Piece anime has served as a target for mockery until very recently. The animation, in particular, was often poked fun of. But when the Wano arc began in 2019, One Piece‘s animation suddenly and noticeably improved. Drastically. Within the last year or so, during the Raid on Onigashima, One Piece has started regularly doling out some of the most incredible animated sequences in all of anime-dom. The anime has now reached a point where there is a jaw-dropping sequence almost every episode. And new episodes air nearly every week, year-round.

On top of this incredible animation, in April 2022, One Piece delivered what I still would argue is one of the single greatest episodes of anime of all time. One Piece‘s decades-long, single-story, thousand-plus-episode length is simultaneously its strength and its curse. But Episode 1015, which adapts the manga’s 1000th chapter, perfectly encapsulates Luffy’s growth within all that time—and all the emotions fans have invested into that growth. It’s one of the few episodes, if not the only episode, you can acceptably opine is better than the manga. (The sequence above is an anime-only creation from Episode 1015.)

What’s incredible about all these gorgeous animated sequences is that, to their infinite credit, Toei has allowed the directors and animators to have their own style and voice. This sometimes results in a very obvious shift in the look and feel of the animation, mid-episode. No one could care less. It allows these sequences to truly be unique works of art, “signed” by the director. If anything, the shift hypes you up, because you know something incredible is about to happen.

Congrats to the winners

So yes, this is absolutely the year One Piece deserved to be recognized with Best Continuing Anime. Even over Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer. I wrote in my personal Best Anime of 2022 ranking that last year was the best ever of the One Piece anime. I stand by that—at least until we see what 2023 holds.

I also think the Anime Awards spread out the major honors so that every series could take home something. Demon Slayer got Best Director, and Attack on Titan took home Best Drama. After all, the Crunchyroll Anime Awards is all about celebrating how amazing the all the artists working on anime are. Still, I’m overjoyed those working at Toei got this nod for their incredible work.

(Featured image: Toei Animation)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.