Saimoe 2009 continues and no doubt the biggest story so far is Hirasawa Yui ending yet another title quest for Katsura Hinagiku, in an epic match that lived up to its billing. But it’s not time for the Saimoe Round 3 Report yet. This post is dedicated to the characters in the past years who should have, would have, could have won the title of Saimoe in their own right, but in this not-so-perfect world, perhaps they never will. Yes, Hina-chan is in the list, with four others.
While it is true that the Rozen Maiden contingent has won the title once, care of Suiseiseki, I am under the belief that Shinku is up there as one of the more deserving characters not to win a Saimoe.
In three attempts, her Saimoe record is outstanding: 13 wins, which lead to two semifinals berth, falling only short to eventual Saimoe champions Takamachi Nanoha (2006) and Furude Rika (2008) and the lowest finish being a Sweet 16, after being upset by Minamoto Chikaru (2007). Although she has not fared as well in the other moe tournaments, only a few can rival the Saimoe consistency of the 5th Rozen Maiden. Shinku has to be one of the best performers out there without a Saimoe crown.
The manga is still ongoing though, so all hope is not yet lost, providing that we will see an anime adaptation at least on 2011, and that the Rozen Maiden popularity has not yet waned by that time.
Shana (Shakugan no Shana)
Certainly, the Flame Haze has one been of the hottest characters ever to grace the Saimoe competition. If there would be an all-around Saimoe Hall of Fame, she’d be one of the first inductees. Her resume is impressive:
- 2006 Best Moe Semifinalist (lost to Suiseiseki)
- 2007 Best Moe Finalist (lost to Hinagiku)
- 2008 Best Moe Semifinalist (lost to Horo)
- 2008 International Saimoe League top seed…
…and of course, 2006 Saimoe semifinalist, only bowing out to eventual champion Suiseiseki. She then followed it up with a 2007 Saimoe Sweet 16 berth, only losing to then finalist Sanzenin Nagi. In 2008, she had another Block Finals birth, where she fell short to the upstart Red Braver, Tamaki Kawazoe.
The only thing missing in the trophy case? That’s right, a Saimoe crown. Will she ever get one? Like Shinku, she has another crack at the championship: there’s an upcoming Shakugan no Shana OVA, and that should make her eligible for the 2010 festivities. But the lingerining question is: Will her flame burn as brightly as it did back then?
Fate Testarossa (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha)
One of the most dominant franchises in Saimoe is Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. I’d go as far as saying that this is one of the series that put Saimoe in the anime map. And one of the chief reasons for that is this blonde beauty “Feito.” As part of the celebrated franchise, every year in and year out, Fate has always been a tagged as a favorite to win it all in Saimoe. But somehow, it just didn’t pan out as well for her as expected: losing to Shinku early in 2005, falling short to Suiseiseki in 2006 Finals, losing again to a doll (Suigintou) in 2007 Round 2, and in 2008, even in the absence of RM, she fell again Round 2 to Clannad’s Ibuki Fuuko. Like Hinagiku, this girl has no Saimoe luck. Then why is she in this list?
I’m quite positive that Fate would have done well, if she did not face any dolls. She has won the first ISML Tiara and the one-shot MyAnimelist Moe Tournament. It can’t be denied that she has real strength in Saimoe, as evidenced by the most decisive victory in Saimoe ever back in 2007, garnering a whopping vote percentage of73.10%. And in the biggest Saimoe match of all time, the 2006 Finals, she had 2200+ votes.
The return of loli Fate thanks to the upcoming Nanoha movie should spark hopes to her legion of fans to go for the Saimoe championship once more. But, then again, will she ever reach the glory days once more?
Katsura Hinagiku (Hayate no Gotoku!)
Like Fate before her, Hayate no Gotoku’s Alice is always up there in pre-tournament list of Saimoe favorites for three years. The product of those hopes?
- second round exit upset in 2007, losing by a mere 29 votes to Edomae Luna;
- a semifinals shortcoming in 2008, falling to a dominant Hiiragi Tsukasa by 40, both characters reaching 1000 votes apiece;
- and most recently, third round fallout in 2009 in an epic match with K-On’s Hirasawa Yui: 19 votes short, 953-935.
The argument against Hinagiku is that she never defeated anyone strong in any of her stints in Saimoe. But if you look at the other side: she won Best Moe in 2007, beating Kagami and Shana along the way. She followed this up with 2008 return to the semifinals, as of this writing a return once again, to the quarterfinals in 2009. Let’s just say she’s like a player who won the MVP, but never got the ring.
The conclusion I can come up is this. She deserves to be in this list. Her resume is not as impressive as the others so far, but if 81 more votes combined came to Hina’s side in these past three years, her Saimoe story should have been different. She will return to Saimoe in 2010 , but will she ever blossom like she could have this year?
Ryuugu Rena (Higurashi)
Belonging to a series that has won a Saimoe crown before, I am of the opinion that Rena is one of the best performing characters that never won the whole thing. And to date, I still believe that she is the strongest of the Higurashi contingent. Her Saimoe record doesn’t compare to the Shinkus and Sanzenin Nagis of Saimoe in terms of consistency: 2006 Top 32, 2007 Semifinals, 2008 Top 32, and a 2009 2nd Round Exit. The common theme of those losses? Blondes. If dolls are the bane of Fate, then the weakness of Rena is blonde-charas. Her 4 losses were to the following. 2006 to Fate, 2007 to Nagi, 2008 to Hidamari’s Miyako and to Nagi again in 2009. All these characters have all done well in Saimoe, so that reinforces the argument that Rena is really up there in the list.
But that 2007 performance deserves a highlight. Rena pulled off one of the most famous victories in Saimoe by beating the much heralded Kagami Hiiragi, who went on to win the whole thing in 2008. Also, she defeated 2006 champion Nanoha in the quarterfinals of 2007 – a no small feat. Certainly, Rena has the penchant for beating Saimoe champions. For all it’s worth, it’s safe to say that Rena has a place in this list.
Next year will probably the last time for Rena to swing the cleaver. Although Higurashi has reached its peak with a surprise win in 2007, i’m tipping my hat to Rena for one of the amazing Saimoe performances ever.
In the end, Shinku, Shana, Fate, Hinagiku and Rena might never win the Saimoe tournament after all their spirited attempts. This is not to say that Nanoha, Suiseiseki and the others never deserved their crown. I believe these other five are in equal terms with these champions. I want to honor their feats, amidst their Saimoe defeats. All in all,though Saimoe brings despair, I say: champion your moe, enjoy it, cherish it.