The first annual Crunchyroll Awards caused a great deal of stir within the community. Seeing Yuri!!! On Ice sweep the categories it was nominated for resulted in many fans calling the legitimacy of the Awards into question. Conversely, many fans accused those scrutinizing the Awards of having something against fans of Yuri!!! On Ice. What I feel hasn’t seen enough focus, however, is the effect of recency bias on the results of the Awards.
Recency bias, in this context, refers to the tendency to focus on more recent media as opposed to past media. This has been a problem in the anime community for a while. Parts of the fandom will clamour for a certain type of anime, but won’t give the kinds of shows they ask for ongoing support. Instead, perfectly good shows are all but abandoned each season in favor of the newest, hottest stuff.
Where this becomes a problem with regard to the Crunchyroll Awards is when Fall 2016’s Yuri!!! On Ice is pitted against shows like Winter 2016’s ERASED. Most of the shows Yuri!!! On Ice was up against ended three, six, or nine months before the Awards began. For the anime community, that’s plenty of time to completely forget about some exceptional shows, it seems.
This is a problem from more than a few angles. On the surface, it creates a paradigm where the current season is all that matters, which devalues older anime. Long-term, the fandom will have trouble determining classics. Longer-term, it’ll be difficult to track the direction of the medium. Fewer people will watch the greats of months and years past.
Blame a short attention span. Blame an abundance of new media. Blame pure laziness. The fact, however, remains: Anime fans have a responsibility to carry on discussion of shows they think are exceptional. Spread good anime. If, nine months later, nobody is talking about the best show of the Winter season, either the show wasn’t that good, or the fandom failed in their duty.
Other factors are certainly at play with regard to the Crunchyroll Awards. There are questions about the influence of Cruncyroll’s marketing and the selection of the nominees. Continuing the discussion alone might not have helped a show like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress beat out Yuri!!! On Ice.
The issue remains, though, that the fandom’s attention span is an ongoing problem that needs to be solved.