Every year the people over at 2ch, a Japanese discussion board, hold a contest called the Anime Saimoe Tournament. The purpose of this tournament is to choose the most moe (pronounced mo-eh) female anime character of the past year. What is “moe” you ask? The term is commonly used in describing cute young girls, sort of like a replacement for “kawaii”, but it could be used to refer to any character that anyone has an interest in. So simply put, Saimoe is a contest to find the most popular anime girl in Japan.
Saimoe works by first allowing people to nominate characters, and a few hundred are chosen to participate in the tournament based on the number of votes they obtain in preliminary rounds. The characters that make it to the tournament are placed in groups of three or four, and one is chosen to advance to the next round, again based on votes. This year’s tournament began at the end of July and they’re finally getting to the semi-finals this week. Currently, Nagi Sanzenin of Hayate the Combat Butler, Koromo Amae of Saki, and Nodoka Haramura of Saki have made it to the semi-finals with Aoi Yamada of Working and Azusa Nakano of K-ON battling it out for the last spot.
Some people may think that having two characters from an average show like Saki appear in the semi-finals is weird, but you have to take into consideration the people who are allowed to vote in Saimoe. Originally, the tournament was open to anyone on the internet to vote for their favourite characters, but in recent years there has been an effort to restrict votes coming from outside of Japan skewing the results. As much as anime fans and otaku in the west might not like to think so, the anime they like isn’t necessarily the same as the anime that the Japanese like.
The differences between western and Japanese preferences can be seen by comparing the Anime Saimoe Tournament results with that of the International Saimoe League, an English language knock-off. Of the top 8 characters of 2010, only two of them (Shana from Shakugan no Shana, and Azusa Nakano from K-ON) are found in both contests.
While Mio Akiyama from K-ON won the ISL, she was knocked out of the AST. Of the remaining contestants, I’d like to see Koromo take the top spot, but it could be anyone’s game. The semi-final rounds will take place on October 13 and 14, with the final round of the tournament taking place on the 16th. The winner will join the ranks of characters such as Taiga Aisaka, Kagami Hiiragi, and Rika Furude as the most moe anime girl in Japan.
Image via saimoe.wordpress.com