It’s hard to imagine that in a span of only two weeks, a whopping sixty games of college basketball were played between sixty-four teams, and with just 3 games to go, the national title will be won by one of four storied schools, each featuring a plethora of NBA-level talent as well as coaching staff of the highest caliber at the collegiate level.
Other than Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, I have very little knowledge of the big names in this sport. However, associating teams with more recognizable anime characters pit against each other in a Saimoe popularity context has surprisingly made this year’s tournament remarkably fun to follow. At the end the week, we will see four lovely lasses hypothetically compete for the affection of their hypothetical fans. Let’s take a look at each of the girls as they hypothetically vie for hypothetical immortality.
(Yes, I am aware that I used the word hypothetical four times in two sentences. I want to strangle myself right now.)
Tachibana Kanade, Aquamarine Division
Previous Opponents: Yamada Aoi (Working!), Konoe Subaru (Mayo Chiki!), Akemi Homura (Madoka Magica), Kuroi Mato (Black Rock Shooter)
The enigmatic Tenshi of Angel Beats fame expectedly thrashed her way through a number of tough opponents to emerge as the first representative of the final four, and is the first of three finalists voiced by Hanazawa Kana. Her appeal lies in her shroud of mystery that unravels itself as she gets closer to Angel Beats’ protagonist, Otonashi. Whether she’s ripping students to shreds with her Hand Sonic, or enjoying a nice plate of mappo tofu, Kanade shows a wider range of character than what she let on in the first leg of the show’s run. Nothing stands in her way to the national title, not even death itself.
Why she’ll win: Angel Beats is one of the most popular franchises in SaiMoe, and Tenshi is easily the most popular character in it.
Charlotte Dunois, Amethyst Division
Previous Opponents: Sena Airi (Mashiro-Iro Symphony), Tomoe Mami (Madoka Magica), Kaname Madoka (Madoka Magica), Goko Ruri (Oreno Imouto)
Overcoming adversity in the form of parental abandonment and social expectations as a supposed male student at the IS academy, France-tan’s reveal as a bombshell blonde made waves in the show’s fandom, resulting in a massive bump of popularity and support for the ensemble dark horse in the show. It certainly helps that she’s voiced by HanaKana, but don’t underestimate her abilities piloting the seemingly outdated IS unit, Rafale Revive Custom II, which is as powerful as she is cute. Her victories speak for themselves, having triumphed over two Madoka heroines, including the titular character herself.
Why she’ll win: She’s a nice girl on the outside with an edgy streak underneath. Her bishounen side makes her a fan favourite among both genders.
Hasegawa Kobato, Topaz Division
Previous Opponents: Shinomiya Ayase (Guilty Crown), Honma Meiko (Ano Hana), Yui (Angel Beats), Shionji Alice (Kamisama Memochou)
Ku ku ku! Hasegawa Kobato, though she insists to be addressed as Reisys V. Felicity Sumeragi, isn’t your typical thousand-year-old half-Japanese vampire gothic Lolita character. She’s the younger sister of the series’ main male protagonist, and as such, is not subject to the likes of harem antics in Haganai, compared to the likes of Yozora and Sena, who both failed to make it as far into the bracket. Instead, Kobato rides on the appeal of her cosplay persona antics, flat-chested angst, and friendly rivalry with the other loli character, Takayama Maria. Whether it’s her polychromatic gaze or mischievous HanaKana voicing, there’s plenty of HNNGG to go around, especially on pixiv and zerochan.
Why she’ll win: She’ll ride the recent wave of popularity of Haganai’s recent success compared to the other girls’ relatively less novel series.
Victorique du Blois, Sapphire Division
Previous Opponents: Hakamada Hinata (Ro-Kyu-Bu!), Shiomiya Shiori (The World God Only Knows), Taneshima Poplar (Working!), Eucliwood Hellscythe (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?)
The moment you think you have a grasp of who Victorique du Blois as a character, she does something completely out of the blue and catches you off-guard with her adorable appeal. The main character of the hit anime and light novel series Gosick, Victorique is an unpinnable character with a wide variety of moods and tastes, wrapped in a gothic blonde package. She is more mysterious than the mysteries that she solves, but her relationship with her co-star, Kujo Kazuya has pretty great chemistry. Having beaten a number of lower-seeded upset characters in Poplar and Shiori, it was hard to peg where Victorique stands in popularity compared to the other final four entrants, but her victory over the monster powerhouse in Eucliwood proves just what she can do with her old-school appeal.
Why she’ll win: She’s a ditzy genius with a ridiculously awesome laugh. Voiced by Aoi Yuuki, she’s a breath of fresh air in a crowd of HanaKana characters.
Cutie Clash of the Titans
These four fantastic females hacked and clawed their way to their respective spots in the tournament (in Kanade’s case, quite literally so with Hand Sonic), and each of them deserve to win it all, and have what it takes to win it all. They’re not there by accident, nor are these girls generic in their appeal. It takes a special kind of artistic eye to craft such attractive character designs, and it takes mindful writing and voice acting to bring these images to life with personality. Regardless of which girl wins this week, the real winners are the fans and supporters of these characters, and as a whole, fans of anime as well.
Oh, and basketball.