It’s that TIME of the Year Again!

The festivities may have started way later as compared to last year, but THAT time of the year has finally come upon us.

This year’s Saimoe promises to be a power struggle between warring factions to determine this year’s ultimate moe.

Though Hall of Fame Saimoe factions Hayate no Gotoku and Saki will take a one-year hiatus, this year won’t be lacking in star power as defending champion Nakano Azusa and the K-On platoon are set to return, together with perennial Saimoe power To Aru Majutsu no Index. Of course, it won’t be an interesting tournament without the infusion of new talent, and that’s where rookie franchises OreImo, Infinite Stratos and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, among others come in.

Anyway before I delve even further, for the benefit of those who stumbled here by accident,  I’m gonna tackle some Saimoe basics.

=[start] aside=

What is Saimoe anyway?

I’m gonna be copypasting several sources for this one

From the words of this year’s organizers

Saimoe is not only a popularity poll. Supporting activity is the most essential thing in saimoe. Voting is like a bonus in saimoe. We strongly hope that foreign participants know it, and you let your acquaintance know it. We hope you also enjoy supporting activity, browse supporting things, and mention them on voting. Saimoe is a festival. Let’s enjoy it leisurely!

From the Saimoe Wikia:

The Anime Saimoe Tournament (アニメ最萌トーナメント Saimoe for short) is an online popularity contest. Held annually on the Japanese Internet discussion board 2channel since 2002, fans vote for the most moe anime character of the year. In recent years, the tournament has garnered growing attention from international fans, and inspired a number of similar
contests.

My own take from the old version of this blog’s About page

Personally, Saimoe is a medium to express feelings of moe to a certain character. does one feel moe enough for one character to take time (to wait for a code)  and go through the (not so)  rigorous process of casting one’s vote? as for me, i vote (when i can), because i feel that way. Others can consider Saimoe as a popularity contest. Frankly, it is. But it’s not as simple as that. As aforementioned, the tournament is not a simple just-push-play process unlike other polls, the process is a bit complicated enough to discourage those accustomed to the usual popularity polls. Last but not the least, I remember reading about Saimoe as a medium to promote the characters’ shows. I can attest to the veracity of this, because I, too, got introduced to lots of shows because of Saimoe. Rozen Maiden, Aria, Seto no Hanayome, Nanoha, and the list goes on.

How do I vote?
Voting is (presumably) intentionally made more complicated process to filter out the “casuals” (again, this is srs bsns) and to reduce the likelihood of multi-voting. This is an excellent guide on how to vote.

How is this different from ISML?

First, in ISML, there is no interim count, while Saimoe, since the voting is done in a BBS, there are trackers floating around so voters are aware of the “current” count, whether it is accurate or not, they decide.

Both have different eligibility requirements, and I’ll just link you to their respective rules page since it’s pretty tl;dr.

Voting is unarguably easier in ISML, but as aforementioned, the complicated process is by deliberate design.

ISML currently features a round-robin format of 49 rounds to determine who will advance to the top eight, while Saimoe is straight up single elimination after two preliminary rounds.

There are still myriads of distinctions, but I think I’ve taken care of the basics for now.

What is this blog and who are you?
This used to be a mostly all Saimoe blog since 2009, but I’ve also covered Manga Saimoe (and plan to do so this year) and
ISML is mostly taken care of by KS. Please see the About page for more details.

Y U DO DIS?
Because moe is serious business. Because Saimoe is a sport, and I love following sports. I also happen like cute and beautiful things. Combine both and you’ve got the winning formula for my source of addiction.

=[end] aside=

Prevailing Storylines

K-ON will be the only major series that is active in the top 10 all-time series wins list. Yes, Negima is still in there, but they are no longer that they used to be way back in… 2005.

Shana and Azusa will be the only characters that have 9 all-time Saimoe wins or more. In fact, Shana can take sole possession of first place if she manages to make it to the quarterfinals this year. It’s a monumental task, and one of the things to look out for this year.

Since 2005, only twice has a newcomer won the whole thing twice (Nanoha, 2005 and Taiga, 2009). Taiga and Nanoha are special cases in more ways than one, (I’ll probably go to into detail when the moment comes I end up writing a Saimoe “Hall of Fame” piece). I think the odds are really good for a rookie to pick up their first Saimoe championship as only K-On and Raildex, as aforementioned are the big guns that are returning from 2010. Speaking of which…

No series has won Saimoe after their third year of eligibility, which puts Raildex under the gun. I’ll get more onto this in the specific series previews, which is coming shortly.

Lastly Since 2006, the eventual Saimoe champion was a winner in her preliminary group (again, except Taiga). Who says Prelims are not important?

And here we are.

So how will this year’s tournament be any different? For starters, given the unusually late start for Saimoe 2011, the tournament will run until November, which hasn’t happened since 2008. Coincidentally, we are going back to that same format as that of 2008, which will be a minimum of 288 characters in the main draw, which will last seven rounds to determine the ultimate moe. This is a change from the previous year’s experimental format which only lasted six rounds featuring a three-way block final. We shall be returning to the classic one-on-one battles for the block semifinals until the Saimoe championship, provided there will be no ties.

With that out of the way, time to take a closer look at the competitors for this year’s tourney. Here’s how I see them going down:

The Favorites

This is self-explanatory, I see these three series that have the biggest chance of winning the whole thing.

Ore no Imouto

Oreimo possesses the blueprint for Saimoe success. It may not be perfectly positioned for a stretch run, but I still see the duo of Kirino and Kuroneko making it deep in Saimoe. The show itself has a bunch of characters that fit a successful archetype in Saimoe -> the “otaku female archetype.” This might finally be the year that a character in the Nagi/Mafuyu/Konata mold finally wins it all, and I think Kirino and Kuroneko are definitely more than capable to the task. As for the rest of the cast, Oreimo has enough mojo to help Ayase win a round or two or three, same with Saori and Manami. Aiding matters is the fact that the show sold well, and the show was very popular in 2ch.

K-ON!

One can’t simply count out the defending champ, though Saimoe dynamics has me thinking that the burden of defending the crown is incredibly heavy, as proven by 2008 and 2009 performances by Furude Rika and Hiiragi Kagami respectively.

Nevertheless, the pursuit to be the greatest Saimoe faction of all-time for K-On will be on the hands of Hirasawa Yui, Nakano Azusa and Akiyama Mio. Definitely not an easy task. However, this year’s crop is not as star-studded as the year before it, and this series can take advantage of that. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that they won’t win it all again. But at the very least they have been blessed with the opportunity to do so. K-On will definitely be GOAT if they by some miracle manage to pull it off.

So my projections: Hirasawa Yui: quarterfinals, Nakano Azusa: block finals Akiyama Mio: 3rd Round, Tainaka Ritsu: 2nd Round, Kotobuki Tsumugi: 2nd Round.

Raildex

Rest assured there will be more Raildex in the future, but in terms of Saimoe, the time is now. Mikoto got derailed last year, but my confidence of a bounceback season from her remains high. I see Index finally breaking her curse and nabbing a couple of wins. Saten will have to do some serious leveling to duplicate her surprise run last year, but she will definitely have some support. The huge supporting cast will surely add up to the overall win total, but their Big Three will have to deliver to elevate this faction to elite status. The performance of the series in general will be fascinating to follow, given that one of ther biggest rivals, Saki being absent this year. (Mikoto got booted out in the second round by Mihoko in 2009, Saten stopped by Koromo, and Uiharu by Hisa last year).

The Upstarts

These are the series that I see that also have a legitimate chance of contending for the Saimoe crown. They are not in the same level as the highest tier, but I won’t be surprised if an “ace” from these respective series come away with it all.

Infinite Stratos

Again, this is another show potentially equipped with the stuff of champions. Although, I am hestitant to put these girls on par with the heavy hitters, but they’re still up there. I can see at least one of them making Top 8, with the more favored ones being Char, Houki and Cecilia. I would be seriously surprised if they go crashing down like Strike Witches circa 2009.  The rest of the cast will probably scatter wins but I only see the aforementioned three making serious impact.

Madoka Magica

Undoubtedly the most popular show of 2011. Homura and the gang might as well cruise into the finals if we only take popularity in consideration, but Saimoe is a different beast. A Puella Magi will make it to top eight, but ultimately fall short. However the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning toward a magical year for Madoka and company. Maybe this is Nanoha all over again. But then after all that I remembered what happened to Bakemonogatari last year. In any case, Homura and Madoka will be carrying the flag for this new breed of magical girls. As for the rest, they are dangerous enough to knock off the aces of mid-tiers given  normal circumstances.

Ika-Musume

I’ll put Ika-Musume in very high tier if her show aired in the perfect moment (winter or spring 2011). Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Still I like her chances to do well. She’s certainly not championship material at this point, but I don’t think she gets any heat whatsoever so she’ll sneak through and probably make it to top eight at best.

The Has-Beens

These series have had their chances in the past, and the inability to convert such opportunities has them ending in this tier. I would be genuinely surprised if the eventual winner belongs to this echelon.

Shakugan no Shana

The definitive army of one since 2006. Shana is in the twilight of her career but it still remains amazing that her worst finish in Saimoe is a Block Finals berth in 2007 (eventual finalist and fellow eventual “hall of famer” Sanzenin Nagi puting an end to her run). Most participants can only dream of reaching Block Finals.

But I feel that it’s the end of the line for her, and I’m convinced enough that I put cardboard on the line that she won’t make it to the Block Finals this year. I’ll say again that it has been a spectacular run, but sometimes that Saimoe crown just doesn’t fit.

Angel Beats

They had a good chance last year when they were at their hottest last year, but Tenshi and SSS has been derailed by unfortunate pairings and upsets. I don’t think they’ll do any better this year, unless 2ch goes full ISML (which won’t happen) and let Kanade sweep her way to the quartersfinals.

Strike Witches

We already know the show that will be hitting the homeruns, and this show is not that. In 2009, they struck out, and the odds are they will again. It would be amusing if they end up being paired against the Puella Magi, though.. Witches vs. Mahou Shoujos, it all makes sense now.

To-Love-Ru

TLR peaked in 2008, and there has not been much love since. So what are the odds that Mikan and Yami end up in the same match again?

Sora no Otoshimono

Ikaros and Nymph caused quite a buzz when they reached Round 2 despite being in highly competitive matches. But then reality settled in when they were caught in the crossfire (see Nymph against Nadeko and Yui) While I put them in has-been this time, I have hunch that they are probably more fitting of a dark horse status. The format is probably friendlier this time around (as aforementioned, no Hayate, Saki, Nanoha, among others) which will more likely help than hurt.

Hidamari Sketch

Hidamari makes an appearance because tof a special that aired during October. Of course, I say it every year that Hidamari are past their prime, only to proven wrong when Yuno clinched a Block Final berth while Miyako came within two votes short of toppling Raildex ace Mikoto. I’ll say it again though: they will do considerably worse than last year. Hidamari’s finest moments came when Miyako stunned Rena in 2008 and Yuno downed Hayate  in 2007. Five years straight now and an impending fourth season in the books (thanks Hidamari King). This isn’t the last hurrah for Hidamari but in Saimoe it’s as close to that as ever.

BakaTest

It’s better positioned this year than it was a year ago, but it doesn’t really change things much. Still one-round wonders like last year. They really need some help from Hideyoshi to increase their chances of winning.

The Sleepers

Your yearly potential bracket busters. These are the series that will make or break your Saimoe draft, and are very dangerous matchups for anyone in the early rounds.

Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka

Zombie reminds me of Seitokai no Ichizon the most, and not only for the sole reason that Studio DEEN produced both shows. Haruna and Eu both can bust a bracket or two just like Mafuyu owned Block E last year. Of course the odds of them doing a BakaTest (i.e. Second Round fodder) cannot be discounted, but I’m leaning more toward to KoreZon doing well, most especially Eu, Haruna and Tomonori respectively.

Yumekui Merry

Unless paired against aces, I’m most certain that at least Merry will advance to the second round or maybe third round, but other than that it’s all a pipe dream. Merry is most certainly fits the Shana-esque one-man army, with the rest faltering in the first round (except maybe Isana, if she has enough luck.

Milky Holmes

Coming from the same season and also from JC Staff, this is my sleeper of choice. I find it really hard to put into words, but I think Milky Holmes, particularly Sherlock Shellingford and Akechi Kokoro will have an impact in the Saimoe landscape. I won’t be surprised if Sherlock makes it past the third round, an average draw permitting and the summer special conveniently timed to air this August will also help matters.

Hidan no Aria

The third JC staff show in this tier, this recently concluded anime stars a Kugimiya Rie-VA’d loli tsundere, which at the very least guarantees it mild success for starters. Coming from that pedigree makes Aria a dangerous character to be paired against considering that Taiga, Nagi, Shana and Louise all sport a minimum of a Saimoe quarterfinals appearance. The burden is heavy for Aria to replicate such success, but that in itself makes her performance something to look out for. Let’s not also discount Shirayuki who placed first in her nomination group, albeit the nominations is a VERY misleading indicator of what’s to come in the preliminaries and beyond.

The One-Round Wonders

It is what it is. Of course all of them will not be stuck in round two or worse, but most of them will be. Saimoe is really tough like that and one has to be really lucky to sneak through the dangerous foes that lie beyond the first round.

Amagami

Amagami hopes to avoid the same fate that has befallen Kimikiss Pure Rouge, the series that reminds me of the Amagami the most. Of course there are big differences, but I can’t help but put them in Mid Tier unless proven wrong later (which I will rectify in the Power Rankings in that case). For now let’s say that the best chance for them to break through the brackets lies in the hands of Morishima Haruka, Nanasaki Ai and Ayatsuji Tsukasa (and maybe Tachibana Miya). Perhaps the novelty of its omnibus approach might help it perform better, but for now, I have my doubts.

Dog Days

More like Underdog Days, amirite? True enough Dog Days’ characters will enter the Main Draw as underdogs but the trio of Eclair, Millhiore and Leonmitchelli can put up enough decent numbers. Maybe Nanoha loyalists can pour in their support as this is a Seven Arcs production, but i’m not counting that 2ch is that simple minded. Not that the show caused a huge buzz in 2ch to begin with. That being said, I’m grouping the show in mid-tier for now as I’m not convinced they have what it takes to compete with the more powerful factions.

KamiNomi

God only knows if they will make it beyond second round (or third round and that’s being generous). I’m skeptical and for a good reason (mild popularity in 2ch and underwhelming sales). I’ve been proven wrong so many times before, but I’m confident in this claim: Elsie the last girl standing for this core group, and eliminated after the third round.

Yosuga no Sora

The other omnibus format show. Maybe Kasugano Sora is a sleeper, but I’m not that confident enough. A high tier character would not really want to face her in the first round though, I think.

HanaIro

There are two shows that tread the fine line between Mid Tier and Low Tier for me- HanaIro and AnoHana. I’ll take this one first. Realistically I can only see Ohana advancing beyond the first round. However there are several indicators that has me believing they will do well – great sales, one of the more popular shows in 2ch (the most popular one during Spring until AnoHana took over) and the simple belief that Ohana is one of those characters that you can’t help but root for. Naive, yes, but that will do for now.

AnoHana

The most popular show in 2ch for Spring 2011. In fact this is one of the first shows in the noitaminA block to enjoy great popularity and sales. It obviously remains to be seen if this will be the first show to enjoy Saimoe success in that programming bloc. To assume that Menma and the rest will flop is not misguided but there is always a time for firsts especially in Saimoe. Menma and Anaru can a round or two, but beyond that, it’s just defying Saimoe conventions.

Steins; Gate

Great sales, ample amount of 2ch discussion and the show is currently airing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this is the type of show that is not really tailor-made for a tournament like this.

The First Round Fodder

This is we’re I start joking around. Nothing personal against the series folks, just keeping it real, when it comes to their Saimoe chances.

Nichijou

The show is a hit or miss, but sales-wise, this show was an enormous disappointment for KyoAni. So where does this lead in terms of Saimoe? It’s tough but I’m presuming low tier at this juncture. Hakase and Nano are their best bets but otherwise, slim pickings. In fact I can only see KyoAni mojo carrying them to a win or two, but even that is just stretching it.

Denpa Onna

I’m firm on my stance that it is not crazy to put Denpa Onna in the lower tier of the Saimoe spectrum. Other than Erio, who can win a round or two,  I can’t see the rest making waves in the main bracket.

HoshiKaka

I wanted to put them in a higher tier but I’m not convinced enough to promote them, and I kinda wanted to do a bridge joke. Then I realized I’m gonna use it in another series…

GOSICK

Not gonna lie, it would be pretty sick if Victorique can make it to third round and beyond. But my wellspring of (saimoe) wisdom has me thinking otherwise.

Ookami-san – Terribly positioned because lolsummer, but maybe Ookami and Ringo can win a round or two. Just maybe.

Highschool of the DEAD – Very popular during the time of it’s air-BRAINZZZZZZZZZZ

Heartcatch Precure – Don’t get caught up in the moment and think that Erika and friends will make it to the second round again.

Suite Precure – Precure girls are just not suited for Saimoe, sadly.

Anyamal Tantei Kiruminzoo – Move over, Animal detectives, Sherlock and Sherlock is in the house.

Freezing – Not too hot, not too cold. I really ahve my doubts on this one although it had relatively good sales.

Seitokai no Yakuindomo – Sadly, the joke’s on them.

Negima – Sad to say, but another streak will end: Eva’s consecutive 2nd round streak.

Arakawa Under the Bridge – They’re definitely going under the (Saimoe) bridge

SoreMachi – Saimoe moves on without a SoreMachi representative in round 2 😦

Black Rock Shooter – Shooting blanks, out of range.

A-Channel – C is the most i can give them.

Houkago no Pleiades – In Saimoe, shooting for the stars doesn’t mean you’ll end up in the moon

Dragon Crisis – Crisis is what the show’s supporters will feel on the realization of its chances in Saimoe

Zettai Karen Children – Absolutely won’t make it beyond Round 1

Fortune Arterial – They are fortunate enough to be here. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to it.

Da Capo – I would love to see a TH2 vs. Da Capo character one on one just for the heck of it. Anyway, nothing to see, first round, moving along.

Fractale – LOL, Fractold.

Kimi no Todoke – Shoujo shows just ain’t reaching it in Saimoe

Kara no Kyoukai – Out after first round is a Saimoe truth that even Shiki can’t cut.

Katanagatari – No Bakemonogatari in terms of Saimoe success

Kiss x Sis – Kiss ’em goodbye in the first

Kodomo no Jikan – It’s never their time

Jewelpet Tinkle – While Sakura Akari gave Saki’s Nodoka a scare last year, but repeating that is like finding jewels in the rough.

Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream – I’m pretty sure they’re out after the first round.

Macross Frontier – To the back, you go.

Kampfer – One year later, they still can’t

Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls – There are far stronger samurai girls in the upper tier of Saimoe

Koihime Musou – Their two-year absence may be too much that’s why they got demoted them from being one-round wonders.

Shukufuku no Campanella – Equating the show with Saimoe success doesn’t really ring a bell

Ochinko – We already have Oreimo covering that sister show that will dominate Saimoe

Oretachi ni tsubasa wa Nai – Sora no Otoshimono already has us covered in the wings department.

Mirai Nikki – According to my diary their future refused to change… oh wait.

Moshidora – Minami can’t Drucker her way into this one

Mitsudomoe – Hitoha, Futaba and Mitsuba’s chance of winning is equivalent to the chance of Yotsuba& getting an anime this year.

Kurenai – Murasaki won a round years ago. Years ago.

Maria Holic – MariaHolic didn’t win a single round years ago.

Kuragehime – The other girls sure ain’t  jelly.

Occult Academy – There is no spoon.

PSG – PSG means Pretty Sure Gone.

Queen’s Blade – Definitely not the blade.

Rio -Rainbow Gate- – Any Saimoe gambler knows that they won’t bet on this one.

Sekirei – I’m running out of puns but I don’t think I’ll run out of reasons to explain why they won’t make it far in Saimoe. For starters, Saimoe 2009.

SoftTennis – Don’t (double) fault me on the hard truth that they’re gonna get smashed in the main draw.

Zakuro – According to my moon signal, they are in for a rude awakening.

Sengoku Otome – Tokunyan’s gonna need more than her trolling skills to help Sengoku Otome nab a couple of wins.

Seikon no Qwaser – They’re gonna get Qwashed

ToHeart2 – Ah yes, the annual Tamaki/Sasara/Konomi cameo. Not quite Haibara Ai/Angol Mois levels, but they sure are getting there!

Asobi ni Ikuyo! – Playtime’s over, girls.

Astarotte no Omocha – I probably should give them more credit, but I wanted to play around a little.

Tamayura – It would be asking too much to expect an Aria-like perfomance from them.

Bungaku Shoujo – I’ll eat a book if Touko makes it past first round.

Denyuuden – LOL

Star Driver – They won’t be dazzling in this stage.

Kaichou wa Maid-sama! – Nope.

And with that I’m done with the series previews.

Last bit: projected character power rankings. Yes this will get more accurate as we get more Saimoe data, but we figured it will be more fun to test our wizardry skills and look back later if we actually nailed it.

Lastly, quick Prelim 1 Group 1 Preview:

I think Merry will top this group, but it’s gonna be quite a toss-up. Anaru (AnoHana), Yui (AB), Kuroko (Raildex), Ikaros (SnO) and  Millhiore (Dog Days) will contend, and out of the twelve that will make it, I’m pretty sure they are locks. I think Tachibana Miya (Amagami) and Hercule Barton (Milky Holmes) are locks too. So that’s 8. The remaining four slots will probably be filled in by Hiro (Hidamari), Aoi (Asobi), Hinata (HoshiKaka) and Perrine (Strike Witches). Quite a competitive group though there’s no superstar names involved. Sae, Lala and Togame will fall short of making it to the main draw (for now).

And 4000+ words later I am done. Tune in tomorrow for the recap and group two preview.

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2 thoughts on “It’s that TIME of the Year Again!

  1. allison July 24, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    4000 words, thanks for your effort!
    ah, saimoe is so fun~
    srs bsns indeed

  2. math4origami August 5, 2011 / 6:26 am

    I think you seriously underrated all the top shows of 2011, HanaIro, AnoHana, Denpa, and obv Madoka. It feels like your ranking would fit if Saimoe occured winter-spring 2011, not late summer 2011.

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