Let the festivities begin!
Right off the bat we’re introduced to a tricky group. Obviously, we are all eager to find out how the major factions stack up against one another, and the random number generator obliged, in a way.
So wo do we have here? While we would have to wait for YuruYuri and Nyaruko to make their presence felt, the rest are well represented. However, only twelve will make the cut (barring ties, of course).
- Tacos (Saki)
- Shizu (Saki)
- Haruka (im@s)
- Shinobu (NiseMono)
- Hitagi (NiseMono)
- Chitanda (Hyouka)
- Ami (im@s)
- Riko (Hidan no Aria)
- Haruna (KoreZon)
- Izumi (Hayate)
- Inami (Working)
- Miu (PapaKiki)
- Saber (F/Z)
- Suzu (Horizon)
- Iroha (Onii-chan no Koto)
A well-balanced group from the get-go, there are plenty of Saki characters here (unsurprising, considering that they have at least 90 eligible), but Tacos and Shizu are locks, with the former a legitimate threat to win this group. That being said, it would take great amount of block voting for Saki to directly qualify at least four characters in the Main Draw. They are up against a lot of competent characters here.
In fact I think there are a handful of characters here that would have an easier time qualifying if they were in an “average” group. This one might not have the aces, but it is a really well-rounded bunch.
There are a lot of things to look for here obviously. For im@s, is Haruka capable of a top three showing here? I will go with a reluctant yes here, If Haruka finishes lower than Top Five here, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the idols. So yeah, the MC must set the tone although she’s not really their “ace”. Ami is even in a lower tier of the im@s popularity hierarchy so don’t count on her to outplace Shizu, Tacos, Hitagi and Shinobu.
Nisemonogatari is always in consideration. I don’t think they will win the group, but Hitagi and Shinobu will contend hard.
Last time Izumi was a prelim group (2010), she won it. But she won’t be doing that this time with this level of competition. Her performance here will be a good indicator on where Hayate stands in this year’s tournament. The same goes for Working’s Inami, who managed to finish fourth behind Hitagi the last time they were grouped together (HnG’s Nagi won that group… barely).
I think Chitanda‘s gaining a lot of momentum recently, enough to vault her in the discussion for the top five finishers. Too bad she’s in a stacked group though, so she’s probably looking at a sixth place finish here.
Haruna and Riko should make it to the top twelve based on last year’s performance. I’m not so sure about Saber. I believe PapaKiki’s Takanashi Miu will get there past her, or maybe even Horizon’s Suzu (skeptical on this one).
Other considerations were BakaTest’s Hazuki, AKB0048’s Chieri and Sonata, Amagami’s Sae, Another’s Mei, Hidamari’s Yoshinoya, Natsuiro’s Yuka, Shana’s Hirai Yukari, Tiger & Bunny’s Karina Lyle, Ika Musume’s Kiyomi Sakura, Higurashi’s Shion and of course a lot of Saki characters that could just get in by sheer voting force: Akado Harue, Wakanne (Mihirogi Uta), Senou Kaori among others.
Kataoka Yuuki is a favorite to win this hard-fought group, being VA’d by KugiRie and all that, although a strike against her is she barely made an appearance in this side story, so it could be a close. But I suppose for an elite faction like Saki, stuff like that won’t matter. Shizu’s popularity for a Saki MC is underwhelming, but again, when you’re in an elite faction, it just won’t matter (for now).
TL;DR: 1.) Tacos 2.) Haruka 3.) Shinobu 4.) Hitagi 5.) Shizu
This should be a good opener. And the outcome of this one should give us a lot of clues on how the rest of the preliminaries will go.
1.) Tacos 2.) Shinobu 3.) Hitagi 4.) Shizu 5.) Haruka
Allow me to underestimate the idols… for now.