It’s the eve of the main event – 289 characters from 74 series vying for the ultimate moe. Here’s a look at how they fared in the preliminary round, and a prognosis on how it looks for them going forward.
First off, the grading scale:
S – Championship-caliber material – the favorite to win it all (Madoka 2011, Lucky Star 2008)
A – Equipped with the tools to take down the obvious favorite thanks to one legit superstar or two (Toradora 2009, Hayate 2007)
B – Major players in the tournament – but a championship by them could be considered an upset (Bamboo Blade 2008, Higurashi 2007)
C – A Top Eight berth should be considered a Cinderella story (Strike Witches 2011, Strawberry Panic 2006)
D – Block Finals is the ceiling, but even that is asking for too much (Sacred Blacksmith 2010, ToHeart in every year ever)
E – Good for one or two Saimoe wins (Sumomo Mo Momo Mo 2007, SZS in every year ever)
F – There because we need more jobbers (Needless 2010, Gundam every year ever).
A Channel surely would have merited a higher grade had I tried this approach last year (Yuuko beating Shana, etc). But times do change fast in the Saimoe landscape. The best I could give right now is D-, considering that its mainstays, including the Shana-killer Kansaimoe, had to settle for a second try just to get in.
It seems like Accel World is one of those series whose Saimoe campaign will be carried by a single character – that being the Black Lotus herself. Credit has to be given, however, to her for ranking highly in one of the most stacked groups in the prelimaries – Group Three which ended up one of the groups that qualified the most number of characters in the Main Draw.
The tournament proper is a brave new world though. A matchup with Shana looms and that’s when we’ll see if Hime is really the blade.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Here, there and nowhere.
Oh, and the series’ lone qualifier – Tsumiki, is up against Toki. Definitely the one girl you want opening your Main Draw campaign.
Definitely not an SS-tier series Saimoe-wise, and not even an A. Try “D”. They couldn’t get their core six in (Miya subs in for the unfortunate Kaoru). it doesn’t get better in the Main Draw, with rough matchups all around. Nanasaki Ai, who lost a tough one to Kurisu in Round One in 2011, is actually their best hope in progressing to the second round this time around.
It would’ve been a Summer Slam, but it’s more like a Survivor Series for this group – Kanna did well in the preliminary round but she ended up being rewarded with a match against one of the Fire sisters – definitely not ideal.
Mio’s match is a lost cause – Haramura Nodoka. Remon and Ichika might have a shot, however.
I obviously overlooked this show, but P.A. Works does have its Saimoe magic touch. Too bad for Akazawa Izumi to be opening against Shana, but I fancy Mei’s chances to go forward until she gets blocked by Akaza- Akaza Akarin.
E for Evol. Not much love for Zessica and Mikono, ironically.
Astarotte no Omocha
Last year’s surprise Saimoe hit didn’t fare too well this time, getting only their main two. Those two, Lotte and Asuha can still bring in some mischief, however. A Round Two affair between the two is actually a possible scenario thanks to the draw.
Ah, we’ll remember Mon Ami for knocking out finalist Yui in the infamous double K-On coup (comboing with Haqua’s Azunyan ouster). This year, Shouko and Minami did receive winnable matchups, but Himeji did not. However, a subpar performance makes me hard to give them a pass.
The Ice Queen handily fought her way to the main event but she drew Nise’s Suruga and K-On’s Yui – two prominent factions. The Beauty by the Lake didn’t get any favors either. Back to fighting for discounted lunchboxes, I guess.
Kaboom. Fear might be seen retreating to the box against a hungry Karuta in Round One. Oh well, it’s not like this show’s Saimoe strength was to be afraid for to begin with. At least she qualified directly.
Grade: C-Nope. D it is.
Sadly, it’s back to playing Karuta, Chihaya.
Daily Lives of High School Boys
For a show about mostly not about cute girls doing cute things, this show actually overachieved. Ringo and Literature Girl got in without much trouble and Habara followed the duo soon thereafter. Only Ringo got “lucky”, avoiding matchups against high-profile players in her opening (Habara drew Yamada, while Yassan got Taiga, ouch).
Dantalian no Shoka
No, Dalian, make way for the Curious train rampaging through.
Shows usually dip in strength after a year in Saimoe (there are obviously exceptions to this), but man, this show really sunk hard. Meme, Maekawa and Yashiro are notably absent this year after garnering main draw berths last year. However, Erio did get a much-easier opener this year so she has shot for redemption this time around.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
I forgot if I made this joke before, but the series’ chance of advancing beyond Round One was, uh, a ghost of a chance.
Saber could have done better in her prelims but she was grouped into a deathmatch that was Prelim Group One. Rin did show what the series was capable of. They likely won’t get zero wins unlike in 2010 so I guess that’s an improvement. Lest we not forget Rin was a 2006 (!) quartefinalist. Also, no Sakura.
Grade: F (lolno) – actual Grade is C-.
What the hell happened here? I know there’s not much to expect, but how likely was it that Hare got in (it only took one try, even!) while Inori, Ayase and Tsugumi didn’t even qualify?
I can’t remember the last time a character from Gundam actually won a round but I’m pretty sure it’s been a while. On the bright side, I’d say it’s an achievement in itself that Yurin qualified without much hassle.
Haganai, who did a decent, but not really inspiring showing, other than Sena who tried her best to keep up against the highly-vaunted Nodoka in their group matchup. Yeah, Meat is where it’s at, and I can actually see her going all the way to the block finals, with a this decent albeit tricky draw.
If Nyaruko wants to win this Saimoe she’s gonna have to earn it really hard. She did survive on top of a difficult prelim group 9, but it gets even more insane in the knockout stages – opening with Nadeko, if she gets past that, Kuro (!), then Ririchiyo/Chitanda, then finally SUBARA. A gauntlet indeed, but for an elder god, this might be just what she ordered – total chaos up to the very end.
Mixed results for HanaIro – Ohana and Nako qualified easily, while Minchi struggled – and no cameo appearances for Tomoe, Ohana’s grandma and Yuina this time around. Obviously the series is not the high-tier caliber it was unlike last year (well, at least they were in mid-tier) but looks like their main two can rack up a win or two.
Hayate no Gotoku
Mixed results for Hayate (wins for Nagi and Hina, but huge dropoff from old reliable Isumi, Izumi, Maria and Ayumu).
The general feeling for me is that they’re still in the decline. But as the random number god would have it – Nagi still finds a way to rack up the wins. As long as she avoids choking (it’s not the finals yet so she’ll be fine, I think), she’s on pace to eclipse Nanoha’s all time win record. Amazing accomplishment however you look at it, silver medals and all.
As for Hinagiku – it’s never easy. She did win her group, but we know where that took her in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Isumi, like Nagi is unbeaten in Round One matches, Which is also an amazing stat.
But I’m waiting it out. I know like Saki, Hayate still has a lot to prove being one of the most successful factions never to win the gold. But the difference is, Saki is riding on a lot of momentum, Hayate, probably isn’t.
Only Erika this time around, Smile is the new hotness.
Hidamari’s in for the sixth straight year (and more as Honeycomb is slated for Fall ’12) – the decline is slow and noticeable but that still hasn’t stopped the show from getting at least one win. Maybe Miyako can keep the good times going with a tricky matchup against the Hara Yumi duo (Takane and Yuuko, for those who don’t know). Also Yuno has a HoF matchup against Azusa with lot in the line.
There are also notable absences here – no Ume, not Natsume, no Chika. More signs of sinking, but it cannot be helped. Instead, I prefer to look it at the other way – amazing how it took this long for them to finally falter.
Hidan no Aria
While Hidamari’s descent has been slow and steady – the complete opposite goes to Hidan no Aria. I can be proven wrong easily in the main draw, but Aria at 9th, last year’s block finalist Shirayuki settling in for second prelims (!) along with Riko, and Reki nowhere to be found.
High School D x D
I can’t even give a D here, but at least they got it together in the final day of qualification.
Higurashi returns (again) after a one-year hiatus, but yeah, like Hidamari Sketch they go a long way back in 2006. Only Rika, Rena and Hanyuu are present for this year’s event – but they are quite the accomplished ones and at this point Rika and Rena are just trying to get past the ten-win plateau. Rena is a longshot to get to 11 wins, but Rika? Maybe. Just maybe.
2ch popularity does not always equate to Saimoe success and Horizon is a classic success. Plenty of entrants and only two to show for it. A title so fitting – in the middle of nowhere.
Certainly a curious case – Chitanda’s trying to get KyoAni back on track after last year’s forgettable campaign with K-On and Nichijou. A collision course against Ririchiyo in Round Two would be a complicated affair, but still, hats off to Chitanda for winning a loaded Group One. Low votes for that group, yes, but considering it’s the opening day, it’s expected (see: Azusa Prelim opener in 2010).
You’d like to think one more year of Saimoe experience for Ika Musume she’d have her invasion plans all sorted out, but alas, somehow she looks weaker this year. She can still tangle with best of them, but as someone who went head-to-head with Mami last year in the quartefinals, one would expect more.
I thought she’ll get lost in the prelim land, but Yune actually held her own – no Alice to accompany her, as cheesy as it sounds. One has to wonder though, if all is lost when you get paired with Sonya and 2011 semifinalist Erica.
There were infinite expectations for IS when it debuted in 2011, but Madoka happened. Well, Char, Houki and Cecilia/Rin might notch at least a win, but there’s really not much potential after that.
Inu x Boku SS
No secret that this show was popular – Ririchiyo winning her group is just icing in the cake, but can she stand up to the aces that loom in Block F? Remains to to be seen, but the inevitable Chitanda-Ririchiyo matchup is a fantastic non-Saki matchup that a lot of us are looking forward to.
Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel
Kugimiya-mojo powered series, that is all.
Again, no Haqua thanks to the OVAs limitations, but LC, Ayumi and Kanon are back. I thought they overachieved last year, but it all comes averaging out this year – tough matches for Ayumi and LC this time, while Kanon gets Hisa and Maria in Round Two. Well then.
They could have prayed for a more favorable draw. But, no.
Kamisama no Memochou
Ditto. Not NEET. At all.
Kill Me Baby
Admittedly underestimated by me, there’s no babying around this wildcard entries anymore. Saimoe is a deadly battlefield in any case, and it would take a lot for Yasuna and Sonya to survive Round Two should they get there.
Much has been said about K-On’s 0-fer last year after coming off a championship-caliber performance for two straight years before that – but looks like they have bounced back well- capped by Azusa sharing the victory with rival faction Saki (Ryuuka). The latter gets an opening round rematch with Mugi, which should be interesting. Mugi’s penchant for getting these early high profile matches don’t help at all, but that’s just another facet of how screwed up Saimoe can be.
Azusa’s campaign might be short lived though as Akarin looms in her bracket – a passing of the torch if there’s such athing.
Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka
The second season definitely helped them stay relevant even just for a little bit longer, but there’s not much beyond that.
Granted, there was not much of a struggle for them to get their spots in the draw, but the trouble came after that – matchups against aces like Toki and Haganai’s Sena means instant death to your Saimoe campaign.
Better plot a good survival strategy – the ones in the prelims worked out, but how long will that last? Round Two, I say.
Usami might have the best chance of escaping Round One, but it certainly isn’t easy. Subaru, who did the best of them (as expected), unfortunately got Kuro in her opener. Best of luck with that one.
Haibara Ai, F for forever in Saimoe.
Another show that sunk hard – lots of MIAs – no Nero, Hirano, Tsugiko. Kokoro winning her prelim group last year is so, so long ago. It doesn’t help that their two aces – Sherlock and Kokoro are tangled up in not easy matchups.
For Yuno, the future looks bright – at least for one round.
Morita-san wa Mukuchi
I try to resist myself from insisting that she’s just a fringe entry because she did better than most 2nd prelim q’ers (she almost got in one try, for what it’s worth). But being caught between the Nyaruko-Nadeko crossfire? Welp.
Mouretsu Space Pirates
The captain herself did what she’s supposed to do – lead her series. It’s a decent haul for Marika, but most of the crew didn’t get in – only Chiaki and Gruier joined her in the big show.
Marika’s draw is rough – 2009 Block Finalist Minorin followed by Sena.
Can’t really say they it’s a miracle that the core four all got in, but Saimoe is a strange thing. Yuka is the only one not caught between rock and a hard place after the pairings were released.
Nazo no Kanojo X
Urabe got in by her lonesome, nothing mysterious about that. What she’s capable of against Araragi Karen and Tanigawa Kanna would take some level of mystique to get through.
Sadly, Nichijou wasn’t KyoAni’s darling show this year for Saimoe (and never was, pessimistically), but hey, Nano has a fighting chance to bring at least one more win before hitting the exits.
More mixed results, but as a product of quite a crappy draw this time around. The aforementioned Nadeko match is one, but the matches of the Fire Sisters and Mayoi are far from easy as well.
Prelims-wise, a lot of third place finishes – they are definitely not a third-rate faction though, we know this, but the same thing in 2010 plagues them – the lack of a legitimate Saimoe “superstar” will ultimately mean we won’t see a quarterfinal representative from them (again).
Onii-chan no Koto
Nao lost a heartbeaker last year in Round Two, and she might even not get there this year. And with no Mayuka and Iroha to help her to join her, it will be an uphill battle.
I have to say that Hina and Sora are locked in intriguing, definitely winnable matchups. As for the other two, Raika and Miu, it doesn’t really look good.
Nothing personal, but we know they’re going nowhere.
Recorder to Randsell
You have to think that getting in this stage is an accomplishment enough for Atsumi. Anything beyond that is a hard sell.
Rinne no Lagrange
Only Madoka and Lan went through, but they did it without breaking much sweat. They would have do a lot better to advance further because Teru and Hoshizora Miyuki/Takanashi Hina are definitely no free passes to Round Two.
RKB has done pretty much met my expectations. I knew they will be relevant but ultimately falter in the end. There were sparkling prelims performances from Maho and Mokkan. Looking forward to how far their growing determination will take them against the likes of Koromo and Saki, but yeah, it’s a long shot that they get there. I’m saying good job, good effort in advance.
SaiMoe? More like SakiMoe airite?
We saw this coming, but it has really been rare for a series that debuted three years ago to have a stranglehold in the tournament so far. They’ve broken records [9 in 16, etc] before, and it is still impressive that they’re still looking to crack some milestones. Impressive because Saimoe is generally a tournament where new characters thrive, but it can be assumed that the introduction on a whole lot of characters has made the series feel fresh again.
True enough, Saki’s pursuit for Saimoe redemption after past failures is at full throttle this year – breaking records while at it. As if eight prelim wins is not staggering enough, they far exceeded Negima’s 2005 record as to the number of qualifiers for the main draw. Even more scarier – cameos and characters with relatively way less screentime doing better than mains from other series.
But with this great voting power, Saki also has to overcome a lot of expectations. I do wonder how we’ll end up seeing this series after the tournament is done if they cough up a golden opportunity to win it all – for the third time in as many tries.
This may be the second consecutive year that we’ll see a series just thump through the opposition without much resistance. Of course this is too early to tell, and there will likely be a focus on tactical voting once the other series’ supporters realize that Saki is too hard to stop, but it is also likely that it won’t be enough, like Madoka last year.
Saimoe is not a stranger to inexplicable twists, but it’s looking linear so far – Saki’s passing with flying colors and the “flow” just won’t stop anytime soon.
Marginal performance in the prelims, and a nightmare draw. To the grave we go.
Props to Suzu and Shino for trying, but as much as they didn’t do much last year, it’s worse this time as they didn’t even get Aria, Mutsumi and Kotomi via the second preliminaries.
Shakugan no Shana
No Wilhelmina, no Yoshida, but Hecate and Hirai Yukari are here to support Shana. Will that be enough? Shana as usual, does her best in the preliminaries – unbeaten to date, but as we’ve witnessed last year it doesn’t (always) translate to Main Draw success. A trap matchup against Himeji and Akazawa awaits, but she’ll likely get through that one in what could be her [final] shot at saimoe glory.
There are plenty of reasons to smile, as Precure might be at its strongest since 2004. They are definitely one of the feel-good stories at the preliminaries, but can they carry that momentum all the way to the more difficult stretches of their brackets? A Round three berth may count as a storybook ending at this point.
The gates are closing fast, it might take more than a D-Mail to save Mayuri (Asuha/Sherlock). And Suzuha (Hitagi). And even Kurisu (Mihoko). Gulp.
After last year’s breakthrough, it would be a foolish thought to count them out in the matches they are in. The fact that only one of main cast (Mio) had to settle for a second try is a good sign that they still have “it” and can be dangerous matchups (I’m looking at you Sanya v Hinagiku and Yoshika v Ririchiyo)
Shirabe Ako is not the hottest Ako around this Saimoe season, but that’s just my musing. Still did a better than Erika though, as she didn’t had to go through the second prelims grinders.
The duo don’t exactly have unwinnable matchups, but they are not favorable either. Time for a requiem, right?
What were the chances of the Tamayura main four being in the same Block C? And that three of them are in the match day? And that they get killer matchups and handicaps? For all the strides this series has made after debuting in 2010 (thanks to last year’s TV series), Saimoe reality has set in, and it is quite a harsh one. So long, Whistle-tan ;_;
As much as hyped as I admittably have been going into Saimoe season, it’s hard to shake off the disappointment over the realization that the idols doesn’t have what it takes to be the top Saimoe. Sure, they got in their main fourteen, good enough for the second most this year, but for a series with much lore and fanfare surrounding it you have to be expecting more.
Chihaya and Iori (and maybe Yayoi) are poised to deliver the wins that have been wanting since xenoglossia was introduced years ago, and that’s it.
The big winner of 2009 Saimoe is back, but not better than ever. Minorin floundered to second prelim status, but Taiga and Ami are still very capable. Looking forward to the rematch between Taiga-Yui against Yuu – it’s gonna be a beauty.
Well, whatever the series is doing it’s working so far. After again, a one-year wait, Poplar will be looking to rebound after bowing out to eventual champ Azusa , while Yamada aims for another impressive outing. Inami tries not to lose in the first round (again). But yeah, Poplar might be the one who takes over from here with a decent draw in her favor.
A for Akarin. And a lot of help from Toshinou Kyouko too, who has proven that she’s one of the few that can keep pace with Saki’s main guns. From the looks of it they might be the best foil against Saki’s 2012 takeover, they just have to carry over what they’ve done in the prelims. Not that it’s easier said than done. But for all the “bullying” Akarin has to endure in her series, taking the Saimoe crown in the end might just be worth it.
Zero no Tsukaima
Just like Taiga, Louise is back after a two-year absence. She tags Siesta, Henrietta and Tiffania along, but we know that this is about Louise trying to troll tournament aspirants all over again. A Kugimiya classic of a different kind is imminent in Round Three, provided Nagi and Louise do what’s expected of them.
And with that, time to move on to the Main Draw.
Finally, here’s an overview of the the qualified characters – sorted by series this time.