Akemi Homura is willing to do anything for her goddess, Madoka, even if it means enduring endless hardships. Fresh from the Walpurgis ordeal, Homura finds herself competing in the Saimoe arena, in yet another fight for survival. Competing against heavyweights such Ika Musume and BiriBiri in the prelims, Homura impressed, disposing of her competition with consummate ease. However, as fate would have it, she finds herself facing the Railgun again! “Did the flow of time get disrupted, or is this yet another chance encounter?” The question is best left to the gothic loli detective, Victorique, who finds herself working on the case. Perhaps it was the work of top scientist Kurisu, who is attempting to reunite with her fellow comrade, Mayuri. However, it will not be an easy task as the latter will have to square up against Tooru and Astarotte, who both have power to pack despite being small-built.
Before I talk about Block A in detail, I’ll briefly address a few observations I’ve made from the preliminary round (a detailed summary has been provided by frustra in the post before mine, so check ’em.)
Lack of faction power this year
Gone are the days of the tasty Hayate-Saki-K-ON-Raildex clashes over the past two years. In fact, the only notable faction in this year’s contest is that of Madoka, who demonstrated their might by completing a clean sweep of top positions in their prelim groups. Raildex and K-ON!! are still present, but both have been victims of time and as such, they won’t reach their peak anymore, and others such as Strike Witches and Denpa Onna are at lower level and thus unable to influence proceedings. Expect a more character-orientated approach in the main round this year.
Shana was the only veteran who’s able to seize top position in the first preliminary round, and comparing the Top 3 across groups, only 14 /48 spots are held by returning competitors, compared to 30/48 in the previous year.
Reviewing initial expectations
The winter series of Korezom and IS performed below expectations, while several girls from Spring 11 shows – HanaIro, Denpa Onna and Steins;Gate and Astarotte have impressed. As mentioned earlier, the returning series have suffered a marked decrease in support; the most drastic is perhaps that of Angel Beats.
Now back to Block A…
Top Favorite: Akemi Homura
Top Contenders: Victorique, Makise Kurisu
Top Challengers: Astarotte, Tooru, Misaka Mikoto
Block A features some of the most intense Saimoe battles that are about to come. Among the Puella Magis, Homura faces the toughest test in her attempt to reach the Final 8 – an early rematch with Raildex’s ace BiriBiri, followed by possible showdowns with prelim victors and runners-up. As such, there’s a high probability of her being ousted at any point as part of strategic voting. However, if Homu survives on the onslaught, it certainly puts her in a very strong position to win the crown. Either way, the job won’t be easy for BiriBiri too if she’s the one who overcomes Homura instead.
Kurisu was impressive in the prelims, finishing just behind Kirino. She faces an easier task than Homura, though she has to be wary of complacency against the Amagami SS duo of Ai and Miya, whom she’s likely to face in succession. Unless Kurisu fans give their full backing to Mayuri, her real test will come against Tooru or Astarotte in Round 3.
Victorique, in my opinion, has a pretty good chance of winning Block A. A showdown beckons for her in Round 3 too, where she’ll most likely be facing either Homura or BiriBiri. I think Victorique can match the latter blow-for-blow, but extra help may be required for her to beat the Puella Magi – this could be provided by fans of other competitors (particularly those on the other side of Group A) as they will have a higher urgency to eliminate Homura.
So on with the preview for tomorrow’s blockbuster. Having talked about the urgency factor, I think it’s still not at red-alert yet, so I believe Homura will triumph over BiriBiri even if there is an assassination attempt. As for the only four-way match-up of the main round, Seitokai Yakuindomo’s Suzu should be winning this one as seiyuu mojo won’t be enough to pull Jun through and the veteran Ai Haibara has already tasted the second round the previous year. The other battle features a low affair K-ON vs Raildex match-up, and you can be sure that BiriBiri will help propel Itsuwa to victory over here.
Picks: Jun, Homura, Itsuwa
Prediction: Suzu, Homura, Itsuwa