Round 2 of Saimoe is done. Who remains?
Ten girls from Saki, two each from Idolmaster, Yuru Yuri, Nisemonogatari, Haganai, and Ro-Kyu-Bu, and twelve from their own individual series. Of the girls I favored, Shana, Nagi, and Cure Peace remain to fight on. Nodoka, who I thought would win, is also staying strong. The caliber of prettiness has been moved up a notch, however, and the matches just get even worse now.
There are four girls left in each of eight groups, the eight group finalists will participate in the quarterfinals. So who do I want to be the group finalists from here?
For Group A, we have three Saki characters and Kobato from Haganai. Obviously I'm going to root for the underdog Kobato. Kobato is the best character in Haganai and the epitome of moe. Besides, the Saki characters she's facing are all from the original Saki, not even Achiga-hen, so they don't even belong in the fight this year.
For Group B we have Mei from Another, Toki from Achiga-hen, Iori from Idolmaster, and my favorite Akari Akaza from Yuru Yuri. Akari is so lovable in everything she says and does, even in how she says every word, that it's hard for anyone to compete.
In Group C we have Astarotte from Astarotte's Toy, who I picked last year as my Saimoe winner hopeful, Cure Peace, who I'm rooting for this year for lack of any other Pretty Cure character left, Hisa from Saki and Cthuga from Nyarlothotep. Astarotte is a good girl but her series was last year, it's time for Cure Peace to walk the stage.
In Group D we have my Saimoe hopeful Nagi alongside Louise, Chihaya from Idolmaster and Hinata from Ro-Kyu-Bu. Nagi is overwhelmingly the best from this group.
In Group E we have Charles from Infinite Stratos, Sanya from Strike Witches, Sakuno from Mashiro-iro, and Yuu from Achiga-hen. These are the banner characters of their respective series, but Saki is just too good to lose to such obscure series so it's time for Yuu of the Scarf to ride forth.
In Group F we have Yuu's little sister Kuro from Achiga-hen, Yui from Yuru Yuri, Ririchiyo from Inu x Boku SS, and Kirame from Achiga-hen. Kuro has the decisive edge here, she's infinitely more attractive than her competition.
In Group G we have Nodoka from the original Saki, Ako from Achiga-hen, and two Nisemonogatari girls Tsukihi and Hitagi. I'm going to continue supporting Nodoka for the crown.
In Group H we have Mio, the last girl from K-On to ever appear in a Saimoe contest, Sena from Haganai, Shana, the last time she'll ever appear in Saimoe, and Airi from Ro-Kyu-Bu. This is a really great group, but I have to support Shana and hope she finally gets her well-deserved crown to the very end.
We'll know who has reached the quarterfinals October 23rd. Until then it's just a bunch of tense waiting. Sort of like the college football season!
Now to review the initial episodes of the fall season anime that have come out so far:
Kamisama: A random ordinary high school girl is thrown into a new life with a bunch of spirits, gods, and demons due to strange hijinks. This story was actually pretty funny, and I like the characters well enough, but I feel like the central premise to the story is very limited and uninteresting. Like Natsuyuki Rendezvous, where do they go from here? If it's round and round in circles then no thanks. I'll watch the next episode but no promises after that.
Chuuninbiyou: A fantastic start to the new Kyoto Animation project. The art and animation is incredible, like always. The characters are likable, though I resent how rude and mean the male lead is, he also has the kindness to help strangers without even being asked, etc. The humor is great, and the idea behind it, that it's okay to make-believe and fantasize, and that life is richer when you stray from the ordinary, is a valuable and good one. I have high hopes for this series.
Hayate no Gotoku: This story was a bit off from normal Hayate no Gotoku. It seemed to be striving really hard to be cool instead of funny. The characterization of Nagi was simply inaccurate. She isn't a loser, she's just so much better than everyone else that she can do things effortlessly, in no time, which ordinarily occupy the entire time of everyone else. She then uses the remaining time to sleep, have fun, and pursue her dreams of becoming a manga-ka. I really resent this new, wrong version of Nagi, who in the real series can make tons of money and ace all her school grades without ever leaving her home, and therefore has no reason to do so, but in this series is seen to just be some sort of loser who can't do anything on her own and has to be rescued from her stupidity. The art style is also all wrong, it's nothing like the beautiful versions from J.C. Staff. Nevertheless, it is Hayate so I have to go on watching it. Maybe it'll get better with time. I watched all of Louise so of course I'll watch this series too.
Btooom!: Welcome to Btooom, where a game of Halo suddenly becomes real and a battle royale is played out between kids on a deserted island for some nefarious guy in a black suit's enjoyment. The art style is creepy and our main character, despite being the tenth best Btooom player in the world, is regarded as a loser both by himself and his family. Even though if he were the tenth best Chess Player he would be revered as a grand master, or the tenth best Go player, or the tenth best Bridge player, suddenly if he plays an equally worldwide popular game like Halo he's a loser. I absolutely reject this thesis. If he were the tenth best at Tennis, Soccer, or Golf no one would be complaining, but if he's the tenth best at halo he's just 'running away' from the real world. What makes one game any better than any other? They both require dedication and skill. They both require intelligence and hard work. They both are competitive sports played against the very best all around the world. What elitists get to decide that some people are stars and others losers, just because they play different games? It's outrageous. And that the main character actually agrees that he's a loser is even more outrageous. I'm slightly interested in the game he's playing and the new world he's in, so I'll watch the next episode, but I really wish this endless criticism of people's personal lives and choices would end already. Sports are not innately better than games just because you move your body around. That's absurd. Chess is not innately better than Halo just because it's older. That's absurd. Someone needs to put a stop to this mindless prejudice and discrimination, and the sooner the better.
Zetsuen no Tempest: This story is about a mage princess and a swordsman on a boat, no wait a girl with a gun and a shining teleporting ghost, no wait three kids in a love triangle heading to school, no wait oh never mind to hell with this series, I couldn't even watch the entire first episode. So unbelievably terrible. God. To think money was wasted on this show.
K: What a pretentious name. I'm so cool I don't even need a title to explain my show! And it follows in exactly that vein -- look how cool we are. We all have badass sunglasses and swords, we're all badass because we beat people up without a qualm in the world, we're all badasses because we keep our hands in our pockets, etc. Look, I'm skateboarding, that's so freaking cool. I'm a cool guy because I ignore the girl in class who likes me and tries to give me free food during lunch. It's all so chuuninbiyou, if you will. This appeals only to aged 13 boys, and to everyone else it's just embarrassing. If you are not a 13 year old boy, go ahead and give it a pass.
To Love Ru Darkness: To Love Ru is such a controversial show. The original run in Shonen Jump had more stringent anti-ecchi standards, so for instance bare breasts were a rarity. To get around that, the series moved to the more adult Jump Square magazine, renamed itself To Love Ru Darkness, and now has ecchi scenes galore. But the story still manages to preserve its innocence, just like Strike Witches did, by not bringing sex into the picture. It's a fine line between fan service and pornography, but To Love Ru Darkness is on the right side. I'll forgive To Love Ru, and Strike Witches, all the blatant fan service for two reasons -- the girls they draw are extremely pretty, unlike low-class stories like High School DxD, to the point that you aren't just looking at nudity, you're looking at art. Second, there really is a genuinely caring heart at the center of the story, just like in Strike Witches. There is a plot, there are genuine characters with genuine well-characterized souls, they do have feelings and their feelings do matter. There are many other things happening in every episode of series like To Love and Strike Witches than just bare breasts, and those things are good too. Queen's Blade used the plot as an excuse to strip girls, this series has a plot in addition to stripped girls -- it's an important difference. I really like this manga and it seems that the anime has every intent of following it carefully (unlike the original To Love Ru anime which was pure filler). So this series should be a great addition to the fall lineup.
More fall season premieres are coming out every day, so stay tuned for more reviews. When we add it all up, we'll see just how many good series there are to watch this quarter of the year. I'm still expecting an enormous number, even with all the bombs I reported on today. Little Busters comes out tomorrow.