The ceremony was held at the theatre of the Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara. It was no accident that it was scheduled for the week after the Academy Awards. Awards were for performances in 2006.
Paku Romi won the best female lead award, for her portrayal of rocker Nana in the smash hit NANA. Best male lead was Fukuyama Jun, for his role of Lelouch in Code Geass.
Because of the difficulty of deciding, according to promoters of the event, two names were chosen in each category apart from these two top categories.
Best supporting females were Koshimizu Ami, for Karen in Code Geass; and Gotou Yuuko, for Mikuru in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. Best supporting males were Ishida Akira, for Athrun Zala in Gundam Seed Destiny; and Miyata Kouki, for Yoshinaga Kazumi in The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas.
Best new females were Hirano Aya, for Suzumiya Haruhi; and Kano Yui, for Momoko in Sumomo mo Momo mo. Best new males were Kakihara Tetsuya, for Mikoto in Princess Princess; and Morita Masakazu, for Ichigo in Bleach. "New" seiyuu means anyone who debuted within the past five years. Aaya just made it, being 19 and having debuted at the age of 14.
Solid: Ishida, Mizuki, Paku.
Dubious: Morita, Asano, Gotou.
The fix is in: Miyata, Kakihara, Kano.
Too bad: Sugita, Miyano, Sawashiro. (i.e., should have won)
Too old: Horie, Tamura, Matsuoka.
Paku Romi is older than any of those last three, so that's wrong. But I would have given the award to Sugita Tomokazu rather than Fukuyama Jun; I find Lelouch wooden, and the only thing amazing about the performance is that it is such an unusual role for Fukuyama-san.
And Kano Yui seems a strange choice, when she has only really done two shows, and doesn't seem to have that flexible a voice.
I'd have given it to Makino Yui, for Misaki in NHK, although she hasn't done any more shows, really. But Kano's voice is totally unique, for sure, and I can just about see her edging out Saitou Momoko, Kobayashi Yu, et al. A 2channel poster said: "I'm a fan of Yui's, but she didn't deserve to win." I agreed at first, but going over the nominees, I can almost see it.
Paku Romi, Kuwashima Houko, and Tanaka Rie would all have been worthy winners of the lead female award.
I hope it is significant that Paku Romi, who is of Korean ancestry, was selected over other equally worthy competitors. Romi's grandparents and great-grandparents emigrated from Korea. She was born in Tokyo and attended college in Japan, but did language study in Korea and is fluent in Korean.
Here are some reports from the event in Japanese, with more photos: Anime! Anime!, Akiba Kakaku, and AV Watch.
Here is a list of the nominees.
I can't identify everyone in the group shot above. Please e-mail me with corrections or more identifications if you know them. The fact that the new seiyuu are in the front row is interesting. 2channel and I both suspect that their looks had something to do with that. I would add that Hirano Aya's short skirt might have been a further factor.
Group photo: (front row, l-r) Morita Masakazu, Hirano Aya, Fukuyama Jun, official, Paku Romi, Kano Yui,
EDIT: I have no info about who was on the jury, although I do know that they worked from a list of the public's votes. However, here is some info from 2channel about the organizing committee for the whole process: the chairman is from the seiyuus' association but works for the 81 Produce agency, which represents two of the winners. The vice-chair works for the Tokyo Anime Center (on whose radio show Miyata is a personality) and for Shogakkan publishers. Other members are from: Kadokawa (which publishes Suzumiya Haruhi), Bunka Broadcasting (which broadcasts Asano Masumi's show), Tokyo University of Technology (2), Tokyo Anime Center (3), and one more each from Bunka, Kadokawa, and 81 Produce.
The dance of corporate back-patting was probably involved, but I think they balanced it fairly well with straight merit. Many people associated with all those organizations did not win, too. And I don't see a rep of Aoni, the agency that had three winners.
EDIT: Masumin's radio show broadcast from the ceremony and had comments from all the winners, which are printed here. Most of the comments were fairly predictable. Morita did mention that he was older than the other "new seiyuu," but had not actually been in the business that long. Aaya thanked staff and cast for past and future support and said the award marked ten years in the entertainment industry for her. Kano Yui said she would work hard to live up to the award.
Asano Masumi herself, however, among other things lived up to her reputation for saying the unexpected. She said that she had worked hard on the radio show, once even going so far as to announce to the world the shape and color of her nipples. It was very embarrassing, she said, but obviously it had an effect, so she's glad she did it.