INTERVIEW: Meet Anime Awards Judge Dewang Ruke
Voting for the Anime Awards opened today, and to mark the occasion, we're publishing the first in a series of interviews with some of the event's judges! Today, we'll be talking to Dewang Ruke, one of the founders of the anime news site Animehunch about his taste in anime, what it was like to be a judge, and what he looked for when selecting nominees for the Anime Awards.
Before reading the interview below, make sure to cast your vote for your favorite anime series from the last year by heading over to the Anime Awards site!
Crunchyroll: Hello! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Dewang Ruke: Hello, I am Dewang Ruke, a millennial who grew up with Pikachu's Thunderbolt, Goku's Kamehameha, Dranzer's Flame Saber, Yusuke's Spirit Gun, Naruto's Sexy Jutsu and many more. They shaped my childhood and drew me into the world of anime. Furthermore, they inspired me to find like-minded people and co-found Animehunch Private Limited, a company that brings all the latest anime updates across all your screen sizes which ultimately led me here to this interview with Crunchyroll for which I am eternally grateful.
How did you first become involved with the Anime Awards as a judge? Were you excited to join the panel?
Ruke: Well, we at Animehunch were already in touch with Crunchyroll regarding interviews and other industry related matters but this is the first time we are directly involved in Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards. When we received mail from Jenny and other significant members of Crunchyroll, asking us to be part of the judging process, our entire staff was thrilled. I remember us giving high-five’s to each other in our office when we read that mail. It felt amazing.
Can you tell us about your relationship with anime? What makes you interested in the medium and what about it do you love?
Ruke: As a kid, I grew up watching anime on Cartoon Network’s Toonami slot and Animax channel during the late 90’s and early 2000’s and since childhood I was drawn towards the unique art style and storytelling of anime. Also, the emotional quotient in anime back then as well as even now is much higher than any other animated medium which made me connect with the characters deeply. I remember crying my eyes out when Pikachu was crying and trying to revive a seemingly dead Ash after getting hit by Mewtwo and Mew’s attacks in the first movie and also during Naruto’s speech to Zabuza. And the excitement and awe that I felt during the legendary scene of Lee dropping his weights during the chunin arc and Goku’s first Super Saiyan transformation. I remember me and my friends screaming our lungs out trying to achieve that transformation. There is no other animated medium which makes one feel so deeply for characters. That’s what I love about anime and keeps me hooked to it even now.
How do you feel your career in media and journalism gives you a unique perspective as a judge?
Ruke: Being in this career made me realize how much effort, patience and talent goes into making a single episode of an anime. Not to forget hundreds & thousands of dollars as well. Plus, getting to know the behind the scenes of the working of the industry makes me appreciate the people working in the industry even more. And not just the technical and acting staff, the marketing, distribution and other departments also give their all to make an anime successful. So while being a judge in Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards, it makes me realize the responsibility I have on my shoulders. So I make sure I give my all as well into understanding the working of each anime and think on it from various perspectives before casting my vote.
What is the most challenging aspect of judging an awards show like this? What parts of it are the most fun?
Ruke: Well the most challenging part I feel is being unbiased towards your favourite creators and studios while judging such an event. Knowing how our vote as judges creates opinion amongst fans as well, I make sure that I keep my fan persona behind. The fun part of being a judge is that I get to revisit anime I have watched earlier in the year and enjoy it one more time.
What makes awards shows like these important for the industry?
Ruke: Events like this help create an awareness for lesser known anime which are good but didn’t get enough traction amongst fans for whatever reason. It also helps us create awareness for new animators and studios or artists who have done an incredible job and honor their talent and hard work. In addition we also get the opportunity to celebrate and honor the veterans of the industry who are consistently giving out amazing content. Furthermore, the newbies who are just getting into anime can also get ideas about the latest releases and choose an anime to start their journey.
Have you had any similar experiences as a professional judge? If so, how have they compared? If not, how has this experience been?
Ruke: This is the first time I have been a Judge for an anime award event and it has been an amazing experience. The execution of Crunchyroll while conducting this event has been really smooth.
When selecting nominees, what do you focus on? What aspects of an anime do you hone in on to make your selections?
Ruke: We have seen lots of formulaic anime over the past few years. So while selecting from the nominees I tend to look for some uniqueness in the content. Be it the storytelling, the animation, the emotional quotient, and any other aspect which has a hint of uniqueness to it. Also, how well the anime has been adapted from the source material and the passion of the staff behind it. Sometimes, the staff goes an extra mile to add some extra details in the series that in my vision grants the anime an extra point.
Do you have anything you would like to say to fans of you or Animehunch around the world?
Ruke: Well I doubt if I personally have any fans but Animehunch is creating a strong foothold across the globe, so to them I would like to say thank you for all your support until now and we request your continuous support in coming years as well.
Lastly, is there anything you want to say to anime fans leading up to the Anime Awards?
Ruke: Stay tuned for the Anime Awards and do not forget to cast your vote for your favourite anime! Also, eat like Luffy and workout like Goku!
Dewang helped start Animehunch in 2020 with three friends in India who were equally as passionate about anime and manga. This website seeks to bring the latest news and updates from anime and manga, as well as opinions and theories on the hottest topics in the fandom.