Katsura Hinagiku defeated Shana 2117-2106 in the finals to win the 2009 International Saimoe Tournament. This marks Hinagiku’s second (major) moe tournament win, and only the third character to do so to accomplish that feat, and the first one to win in different years.
Admittedly, I only sporadically followed ISML throughout the season, having prioritized on covering JSaimoe along the way. Thus, I don’t have much knowledge of the “metagame” in ISML. I only checked back in the “playoffs” so to speak. Going by my previous ISML experience, I didn’t expect Hina to do well, let alone win it all, against the likes of more popular characters such as defending champion Fate Testarossa Nagato Yuki, Sakagami Tomoyo and Shana. Those four were seeded sixth, seventh, third and first respectively, with Shana suffering only one defeat in the regular season, and the 11th-seeded pink princess managed to overcome them all of them with a respectable margin, with the exception of the (epic) finale.
Epic it was indeed as the two contestants battled back and forth throughout the voting period. But in the end, much thanks to her major screentime in Hayate Season 2, managed to overcome the red-hot (pun intended) Shana, which had the advantage of having a new OVA recently released. That almost made the difference, as it was enough to bring the score closer compared to their recent match which had Hina winning by a 300-vote margin.
So what did this win accomplish? For starters, it was a JC Staff sweep for the anime moe tournaments. It also denied Kugimiya Rie of her own VA sweep. Hina’s win also ended Hayate’s one-year moe tournament win drought. As for the moe tournament scene, I can say that ISML has done a good job of attracting voters, as it had the highest vote outcome for a finals match among the three major tournaments this year. Personally, I’m glad that others have finally got the memo on Hina-chan. Better late than never, yeah. ^^
This pretty much wraps up the moe tournament season, but the campaigning for next year, perhaps, has begun. But who will contend for next year is up for discussion for another day. Until then, be reminded that every season is moe season. 🙂