So yea, among other things, Rob helped introduce me to the SaiMoe tournament. It's an anime popularity contest for most moe (mo-eh) girl of the past year. A character being moe has a basic definition of being someone endearing to the audience whom one adores and wants to protect. Of course, at this point, interpretations vary widely and it becomes a large scale popularity voting tournament. What makes it special though is its organization and relatively high voter turnout making it the most credible anime character popularity contest currently in existence.
It's hosted on 2ch and has a few basic rules and guidelines. The bulk of it is explained in English at http://synchroom.wikispaces.com/SaiMoe2007 The basic procedure involves getting a voting code via a generator that produces it in the form of a browser cookie. You can refresh the page after about 2 hours to get it. Then you post your character vote in the proper 2ch thread. Obviously, there's an IP restriction in regards to trying to vote multiple times. The preliminary rounds have the top few qualifiers in large brackets advance to the main round with a few consolation brackets to gather the above average moe character unluckily paired with powerhouses. Once the main tournament begins though, it's single elimination with head to head beginning in Round 3 (under a week from now). It is open to the international community as well and non-Japanese votes have influenced some matches already.
I'm still finding out different things about the tournament and it is rather interesting history. This tournament would make an interesting case study in group behavior and campaigning theories among other topics. Last year's winner was Suiseiseki of Rozen Maiden who triumphed not only through pure DESU moe, but also through calculated bloc voting, vote rushes and unsavory fans spamming fake votes to influence complacency in their opponents and sympathy votes for their favorites. Thus, the Death Doll/Desu/Suiseiseki has garnered some unwanted attention in the form of anti-votes and revenge voting. Needless to say, the various fanbases enjoy a healthy if not heated rivalry between each other. It all adds to the fun and relative excitement of pitting favorite anime characters against each other.
A look at the current bracket is at http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff208/KaneDragon/Round2INDEX.png with the 8 block winners being reshuffled for their quarterfinal rounds.
In particular, yesterday was just maddeningly exciting. Group H1 between Suigintou (Rozen Maiden) and Fate (Nanoha) was the epic match of the round the instant it was drawn up in the brackets. The vote totals, 1790 to 1624 to 543 for Satoko of Higurashi don't do justice to the level of activity going on in the 2ch threads and forums around the world. For example, in the period of 22:55:40 to 23:01:40 JST (a period of 360 seconds), there were 377 posts in the voting thread which is totally insane... Coincidentally, the Eruruu vs Ayu match was ridiculously close and benefitted from being in the same day as Gin-sama vs. Fate-chan making it a worthy match in its own right. And to top it all off, Korean SaiMoe (which follows different procedures and voting mediums and is a respectable tournament as well) had Shana defeat Nanoha by 1 vote, 1010 to 1009. Fucking epic. Yes, I know I'm fanboying quite a bit, but yesterday was a good day to be an anime fan.
My SaiMoe 2007 Block winner predictions:
Block A: Nagi (She should beat Shana, especially since there's some anti-Shana sentiment for her squeaking by Eva and Nanoha. Nagi's voting strength isn't really tested and I think she'll be the dark horse among the 8)
Block B: C.C. (I'm having a hard time trying to figure this block out, but I think Isumi will beat Konata and C.C. will beat Isumi. She is probably the hardest character to classify in terms of categories and overall moe package. She can match up well against a few characters, but will probably not win her top 8 match)
Block C: Nanoha (The Nanoha faction is reeling from Fate's loss yesterday and her own loss in Korea so they'll ride an emotional high to beat Luna in Round 3 and eventually win the block. However, Nanoha isn't nearly as moe as Fate and having shown vulnerability in several matches already, will probably not get past quarterfinals)
Block D: Kagami (Up until yesterday, no one could match Kagami's voting strength. The scary and joyful thing is that she pulls in high numbers whether her competition is tough or not. In other words, her fanbase is strong and fairly solidified. She's a heavy favorite and will handily beat Hayate, the other remaining Nanoha juggernaut. If she doesn't pair with Suigintou early in the reshuffled brackets, Kagami should reach the finals mostly uncontested)
Block E: Ayumu (I was pegging Shinku for the longest time, but after learning about the NOMNOM/Hamster moe that is Ayumu, I think given all favorable conditions as they currently are, Ayumu will pull off the upset.. It might just come down to being fun voting for a minor bit character who is charming in her own way. Either way, neither Shinku or Ayumu will progress much farther)
Block F: San (This goes against my loyalties for Lucky Star and Tsukasa, but I think San will prevail against both her and the reigning champ. Tactically, San probably has a better chance of toppling Desu and the anti-Rozen voters are not going to waste the opportunity to drop her. San being a loyal mermaid yakuza is moe by design and is at least quarterfinal caliber)
Block G: Eruruu (I was a bit shocked when she beat Ayu, but that more or less should wrap up the block for her though Sayuri will also provide a tough fight. The reaction when her tail is stroked is just criminal and she was also in the top 8 last year. However, I don't think she matches up well against the others and will also drop out early)
Block H: Suigintou (Yesterday's match decided Block H despite it being only Round 2. Such is the luck of the draw. She's got the momentum now and so many intangibles going for her that people are already pegging her as the champion. She's also now gained some votes from Fate fans who want to salvage pride by supporting the one that beat their favorite. She's the top dog now and could have potentially good matches against Nagi, Kagami, and San)
So that's my introduction to SaiMoe, I'm sure I'll get more excited as the tournament draws to a close. By both personal preference and as impartial of analysis as I can manage, I say Kagami will win the entire thing. Remember, vote Kagami! Kagamin for the championship!!!