Earlier this year, I posted a series of posts relating International Saimoe to March Madness, a national college basketball tournament. I replaced teams in the bracket with moe characters and predicted the outcome of the tournament by comparing the relative level of moe of each girl representing the teams in the tournament. It was pretty well-received by the intersecting sports/anime fandom, to the point where I wanted to revisit this style of character analysis.
Alas, Japan’s own Saimoe is in the midst of its own March Madness-style single elimination tournament of moe characters, and has wrapped up its first round of eliminations. A whopping 97 characters still remain in the tournament and there’s still plenty of time to make predictions as to which character will win their group and make it to the quarterfinals. There are so many girls in this competition that picking a winner out of the entire field is pretty difficult, probably moreso than picking a basketball team from a field of only 64.
On Monday, April 4, the winner of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball championship was decided, and it was a victory by the number 1 seed Kentucky Wildcats over the number 2 seed Kansas Jayhawks. It was a wonderful game to watch, filled with as much as excitement as one could have, considering the eventual champion’s sizeable lead throughout the game.
But, for the sake of this series of posts, the real winner here is Tachibana Kanade from Angel Beats. The show itself is a monster powerhouse in International Saimoe, with a very rabid fanbase ready to vote for any and all of its female entrants in the tourney. It makes sense, then, that Tenshi won it all, despite some ferocious competition from her finals opponent, Victorique du Blois from Gosick. Some remarkable come-from-behind victories over Charlotte Dunois (Infinite Stratos), Eucliwood Hellscythe (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?), and even one of my Cinderella picks, Shinomiya Shiori (The World God Only Knows) had Victorique come from nowhere to challenge the titan Tachibana, but in the end, it was the overwhelming favourite who won the entire thing.
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 funto 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.)
After a hectic week of cute collegiate competition, the tournament picture has become much clearer than it was in the beginning. Upsets were had, and countless NCAA bracket predictions were left in shambles, including mine (which shouldn’t be surprising, considering the method I used to pick my teams). While I have been a bit too busy to keep up with watching the games on television, I always had one eye on my smartphone’s sports ticker app to see who went through and who went home. Let’s take a look at each of the divisions with moe goggles once again!
While I’m a pretty big fan of professional basketball at the NBA level, I pretty much have zero knowledge about basketball at the collegiate level. And even though I know enough about the players in the NBA to make informed decisions regarding the outcome of games and playoff standings (i.e., sports betting, though I don’t do that sort of stuff anyway), I know next to nothing regarding teams in the NCAA. Thus, when March Madness finally made its rounds at my office, I had absolutely no idea how to adequately pick my bracket for the company pool.
Had I the knowledge of college players in the same capacity as I do with anime characters, I probably would be an expert at picking teams. Hence, March Moe Madness was born. By replacing teams with popular moe anime characters, I would predict the outcome of the tournament by comparing the level of moe between cartoon girls that represent each team, and how they would fare against each other in a SaiMoe-esque Internet poll. Thus, I went to the International Saimoe website and assigned all of the top nominated girls from the Nova (newer entrants) division of this year’s event to each of the sixty-four schools participating in the do-or-die tournament.
I took the 12 auto-qualified girls in the Nova division and randomly arranged them into seeds 1-3 in each of four the NCAA divisions, then filled the rest of the seeds based on the number of ballots received for nomination into ISML2012. Afterwards, I predicted the winner of each of the matches in the tournament, all the way to the grand finals. The resulting bracket appeared as follows:
Of the four divisions in the tournament (Aquamarine, Topaz, Sapphire, Amethyst), Aquamarine looks to be the toughest one to survive, as there are a good number of girls that all have good reason to represent in the final four. However, top-seeded Tachibana Kanade (Angel Beats) is most likely to be the one to emerge from the chaos. She’ll have a tough time in each of her rounds, with Aoi Yamada (Working!) in the round of 64, and possibly Elsie (The World God Only Knows), Homura (Madoka Magica), and fellow castmember Yuri Nakamura (Angel Beats) to fend off in later rounds. The most intriguing match would be in the round of 32, with Aria (Hidan no Aria) facing off Homura.
The Amethyst Division might as well be called the Meguca division, since a whopping three characters from wildly popular Puella Magi Madoka Magica are seeded there. We’ll see some intense magical girl-on-girl action right from the start of the tournament, pitting best friends Madoka and Sayaka against each other in the first round. However, I expect Charlotte Dunois (Infinite Stratos), aka France-tan, to end their sufferings throughout her run to the elite eight, beating Mami and Sayaka along the way, but lose to the top seed and fellow Hanakana-voiced character, Goko Ruri (Ore no Imouto). My upset special for this bracket is Sayaka beating Madoka in the first round.
With the relatively less popular Angel Beats character, Yui taking the top seed in this division, Topaz is probably the weakest overall division in the entire tournament. Don’t tell that to Kosaka Kirino (Ore no Imouto), who is looking to make some noise and hopefully face off against her rival and best friend in the grand finals, Kuroneko. However, weak brackets usually mean Cinderella stories, and my pick for Cinderella of the tournament is none other than sixth-seeded Sakura Kyoko (Madoka Magica). Despite being my least favourite character of the show, she doesn’t have to compete with the other girls in the same division, and she’s not against tournament favourites like Tachibana Kanade or Eucliwood Hellscythe (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?). Honma Meiko is the sole representative of the Noitamina drama Ano Hana, and while she has the series support to upset the HanaKana polychrome from Haganai, Hasegawa Kobato, she doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance against fellow afterlifer Yui (Angel Beats) when they meet deeper in the tournament.
The most surprising thing about this year’s International Saimoe was that The iDOLM@STER had very minimal representation in the nomination ballots. Only Hoshii Miki placed high enough to make it to the big dance, with Kisaragi Chihaya barely losing out to Yamada and Horzion for the Aquamarine “play-in” round. That said, I don’t expect Miki to do too well in the tournament, as she will tutu-looooooooose against Mayuri of Steins;Gate fame (she’s been training hard for this event, as I’ve heard). Either way, this division is Eucliwood Hellscythe’s to lose, as she’s been performing remarkably well as of late, especially throughout Saimoe 2011. Notable upsets in this round will all come at the hands of the book girl, Shiomiya Shiori (The World God Only Knows). She’ll barely squeak out an AHO and BAKA against the automatically-seeded, but now pedestrian Victorique (Gosick) and Haruna (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?), but this Cinderella run will turn back into a pumpkin in the hands of Eu.
Sapphire representative: Eucliwood Hellscythe (1)
The Final Four
Tachibana Kanade (1) vs Sakura Kyoko (6)
Goko Ruri (1) vs Eucliwood Hellscythe (1)
This is a very interesting final four, because I had three #1 seeds making it out of their divisions, with only Yui failing to do so, meaning that last year’s auto-qualifiers will have made a return to the finals. That said, I would have greatly enjoyed seeing a HanaKana finals with Tenshi and Kuroneko duking it out, but I have a good feeling that this year is definitely Eu’s year, especially with the second season of Kore Zombie coming out. Translating back to NCAA teams, this would be the equivalent of Kentucky meeting University of North Carolina in the NCAA finals, which is what a lot of sports pundits seem to be riding on. I’ll go with Kentucky/Tachibana to win it all.
Let the Madness Begin
Tomorrow, the round of 64 will begin, and I will be cheering for my selected teams, even though deep down, I’m actually cheering for the anime girl representing that team. Not only do I have a bracket filled out at work, but also in a fun little challenge between members of SCCSAV online on ESPN.com.
March Madness is a North-American sports frenzy and an annually running analog to Eurocup on the other side of the pond. Finally, I’m able to join in on the frenzy by secretly associating people’s picks with anime characters. US president Barack Obama revealed his bracket this morning, and he has Tachibana Kanade, Charlotte Dunois, Kosaka Kirino, and Eucliwood Hellscythe in his final four. The man has fine taste in moe.
I’ll be covering the tournament round by round, speaking strictly in terms of anime characters of course. I certainly can’t wait for the whole thing to begin. It’s electrifying, isn’t it?