Anime Saimoe Tournament

February 8, 2009 | Comments Off on Anime Saimoe Tournament

Kit_avaThe following is a reproduction of an original article from Issue 2 of Fansub.TV’s J-Zine, please see issue 2 for the full article.

The Anime Saimoe Tournament is an annual online moe contest between anime characters that have made an appearance in series, movies, and OVAs.  Fans vote in numerous rounds for their favorite moe character of the year.  Usually, the contestants are all females but, recently, one of the tournaments opened up for male contestants.
There are four different Anime Saimoe Tournaments to date: Japan, Korea, China, and International.  Each contest has its own set of eligibility rules as well as a unique tournament format.

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This article will cover the famous Japan Saimoe Tournament (J-Saimoe), which began the tradition in 2002, as well as the most recent addition to the tournaments, the International Saimoe League (ISML). The Japan Saimoe Tournament began in June 2002.  It was the first Saimoe Tournament in history and was hosted by the popular Japanese discussion board, 2channel (also known as 2chan or 2ch).  In J-Saimoe, characters that are eligible for the contest are all female and must have appeared between July 1 of the previous year and June 30 of the current year.
Even characters who have only appeared on screen for as little as a second are eligible and they don’t even need to have an official name!  As long as they have a human-like form, they qualify. The tournament usually runs each year from mid-June to early November.  Nominations are held from June through to early July.
The main tournament format is a single elimination style whereas the preliminary tournament for nominations is double elimination.
In the preliminary rounds, all eligible contestants for the year are separated into many different groups and the top nine in each group immediately advance to the main tournament. Tenth through thirtieth place in each group are then re-randomized into new groups and go against each other for a spot in the main tournament.
The top nine advance to the main tournament while the contestants that do not advance are obviously sent home.  Those who do advance are randomly placed into one of eight different blocks with sub-blocks.  Candidates then try to make their way to the top in a single elimination tournament.
Unfortunately, only people residing in Japan were allowed to vote when the contest first started.  Only recently has the tournament opened up to the outside world.  Many 2chan members are not fond of this decision due to outside votes influencing the final outcome of the tournament, particularly with the 2007 and 2008 results.  saimo3
The winners from this tournament are as follows: Sakura Kinomoto (Card Captor Sakura 2002), Riku Harada (D.N. Angel 2003), Rosemary Applefield (Ashita no Nadja 2004), Nanoha Takamachi (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha 2005), Suiseiseki (Rozen Maiden Traumend 2006), Rika Furude (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai 2007), and the most recent addition: Kagami Hiiragi (Lucky Star).
It should also be noted that series repeat characters, as well as repeat winners, have traditionally been a taboo in Saimoe.

Very few characters from the same series, let alone past winners, have made it very far after a previous victory in the Saimoe contest, but it may be possible one day.
In early 2008, the International Saimoe League was established for characters who were deemed the best in anime history.
In the first year, this tournament granted spots to those who had finished in the top 16 of Korean Best Moe, Korean Super Best Moe, or Japan Saimoe since Saimoe began. The remaining spots became open nomination slots for fans to nominate any other anime character who had not been granted free admission.
Unfortunately, unlike J-Saimoe, the restriction in this competition is that the candidates must be major or decent supporting characters. This means that the character cannot have just a cameo appearance or ten seconds of screen time in the whole series.

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The other restriction, like J-Saimoe, is all candidates must be female. The contestants go through a round robin style tournament with a round consisting of nine matches.  The top candidate of each round is awarded a necklace which allows them to return the following year if they win over 32 matches in the round robin period. The top 16 remaining at the end of the round robin then enter a double elimination tournament to fight for the tiara.  On November 4, 2008, Fate Testarossa Harlaown was declared the first annual ISML winner.

The second ISML tournament is set to begin with nominations in early 2009 and will run for most of the year with various breaks in between. A completely new set of rules has been devised for this tournament to allow more characters, new and old, to have the opportunity to enter the tournament.
The Anime Saimoe Tournaments are usually only well known, and highly regarded by hardcore otakus.  Those new to anime, or simply watching anime for leisure or enjoyment, are often put off by this competition since otakus try to transform the characters from mere two dimensional images to a three dimensional reality.

 

Nevertheless, those who have experienced the anxiety, the despair, and the joy of these tournaments understand the true feelings at the heart of this competition.  Long time anime fans are encouraged to begin to participate now that many of these tournaments have opened the polls to the entire world.
Although most of the tournaments are over for this year, I hope this article has given you a better understanding of what Saimoe Tournaments are and I hope that this will encourage you experience another part of the anime culture.

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