SM2010: Semifinals

The quarterfinals are over and four girls remain as we are down to the final week in Saimoe 2010. Four veteran contenders, three of which have been to the finals before, all square off Tuesday and Wednesday for the final match on Friday. Here is a preview of the Semifinal matches

QF1 Winner - Nagi Sanzenin

Nagi Sanzenin – Hayate the Combat Butler
Debut – Saimoe 2007
Previous Best – Runner Up (2007)

Hayate fans haven’t had much luck getting their favorite characters into the finals since the series debut in 2007. Many have come close, Maria, Isumi, and we all know that every year is Hinagiku’s year, but Nagi is also one of those contenders that always makes it up there but succumbs to the popular show of the year. This year she has played hard and for the first time since 2007 she has reached the Semifinals once more, having defeated Seitokai no Ichizon’s Mafuyu Shiina in the first Quarterfinal. She faces Koromo Amae in the Semifinal match, a match that will test her viability in a tournament hungry for new blood.

Estimated Power Level (1-9001):8600

QF2 Winner - Koromo Amae

Koromo Amae – Saki
Debut – Saimoe 2009
Previous Best – Quarterfinals (2009)

Having also reached the quarterfinals last year, this year Koromo Amae succeeds in reaching the semifinal match, against Nagi Sanzenin, after defeating newcomer Ruiko Saten from A Certain Scientific Railgun in a close match. Many favor Koromo to be the most moe character of the Saki contestants, and her innocence, charm, and mahjong mastery have gotten her through two years of this tournament with high marks. Nagi will be a tough customer for her to tackle however, having logged double the number of tournaments and many more wins. Last year she was clipped by 2009 Runner-up Yui in the quarterfinals, but this year she faces the possible threat of Azusa Nakano should the two of them win their semifinal matches and meet in the final battle.

Estimated Power Level (1-9001):8350

QF3 Winner - Nodoka Haramura

Nodoka Haramura – Saki
Debut – Saimoe 2009
Previous Best – Semi Finals (2009)

Living up to her reputation as being the “Rieslayer of Saimoe” Nodoka Haramura handed Shana a bitter defeat in the final hour of the third quarterfinal match in what was Shana’s commanding lead throughout the day. This is her second back-to-back Semifinal appearance and the very first ever in the tournament. She will face K-ON’s Azusa Nakano in what will be a hard fight given the two characters and their power levels this year. Nodoka’s advantage lies in her previous victories, and her giant tits. Saki fans will no doubt look to pair up a Koromo v. Nodoka final match to determine who is the most moe out of the two.

Estimated Power Level (1-9001):8200

QF4 Winner - Azusa Nakano

Azusa Nakano – K-ON!
Debut – Saimoe 2009
Previous Best – Round 3 (2009)

YES WE NYAN isn’t just a phrase at this point, it’s the way of the warrior, Azusa Nakano made quick work of Working’s Aoi Yamada in the final quarterfinal fight to put her at odds with Saki’s Nodoka Haramura in the second semifinal match. Aside from initial popularity of K-ON! and it having finished it’s season airing, a lot of foreign votes are also swinging behind the cute imitating cat-girl as she becomes this year’s Yui, out to contend for the top prize. Threatening her is not only Nodoka but Nagi or Koromo, and if this year repeats like last year, we could see another Rie v. K-ON! battle, except this year, I think Azu-nyan has a lot more weight than Yui did last year.

Estimated Power Level (1-9001): 9003

Semifinal Matches

SF1: Nagi Sanzenin v. Koromo Amae
SF2: Nodoka Haramura v. Azusa Nakano

In 2009, we saw Rie Kugimiya voiced Taiga Aisaka beat K-ON!’s Yui Hirasawa for the crown, and this year, we are dangerously close to setting up Rie Kugimiya voiced Nagi Sanzenin for a fight with K-ON!’s Azusa Nakano. Standing in the way however, much like last year, are two Saki characters, Nodoka Haramura, and Koromo Amae. The parallels are almost uncanny, and voters this year may wish to set up the same match to vindicate last year’s result, especially K-ON! fans, who are looking to make a complete sweep of the Big 3 (K-ON!’s Mio Akiyama swept both the ISML and Moe Best tournaments), and Hayate fans looking to push Nagi towards her first ever win of the tournament. Tensions and butthurt will no doubt be at record highs, except for maybe Nodoka, because no one seems to like her and the fun bags.

Now for the predictions for the finals:

Prediction Chart for Semifinals onward

SF1: Nagi Sanzenin v. Koromo Amae
Koromo has done pretty well this tournament, better than I and many others might’ve expected. She is a top favorite for Saki and a year later she has a surprising amount of relevance left compared to newer characters. She staved off a crucial battle with Saten in the quarterfinals to remain in the game. Nagi is not to be trifled with however, she also has staved off defeat to reach a place she has not seen since 2007, and Hayate fans will not let defeat go without a fight. That said, Hayate fans are going to be hungry for the crown for the first time and possibly last time for the series unless it gets another season, so I am predicting that Nagi may very well take this match, especially for Rie fans looking to also make a back-to-back crown win for their favorite VA.

SF2: Nodoka Haramura v. Azusa Nakano
Another tough battle here will depend on many variables. Azusa’s power throughout this tournament has been nearly maximum, including taking away the almost split vote with Mio in the group finals. Nodoka won’t go down easy, and I don’t want to presume she will, but I presume that Azu-fans and K-ONfags in general will definitely be out push her into the final match by any means necessary. If anything, they are looking to relive the KugiRie v. K-ON! match of 2009 and win it. She also is just that damn cute, the YES WE NYAN movement has been especially strong among foreign votes, which helped her win over Misaka and without effort over Aoi. Nodoka and Saki fans however are looking to not just post back-to-back semifinal appearances, but actually win it all. Last year Nodoka was on the losing end of Taiga Aisaka but this year she is on the other side of the coin and will post a sizable threat.

I do not have a poster design up yet, going to work on that one tonight. I really liked the visual style that frustra (saimoe update blog) used for the quarterfinals, but I don’t like to mimic too much of what other people have done, so my aim is to come up with something that emulates that minimal style while keeping my own style in it, somehow. We’ll see how that goes. I still have my backup style from last year in case I run down to the wire and need to put out something now that I can cleanup later when I build the pages for next year’s site.

Finally, another idea that has been swirling around for next year is to put together some kind of faction stats, or faction gauge, or something. Basically these tournaments have gotten to where the fanbases and factions have been turning the tides for and against characters, making it less of a popularity contest and more tactical warfare. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy this tournament, because it doesn’t just play out as who is the favorite one of all time year after year, but the roster changes every year, and the matchups change every year, so there are new ways to guide your favorites to the end, even for four year old series like Hayate the Combat Butler and 5 year old series like Shakugan no Shana. I’d like to find some way to gauge just how popular a character before and during a match, something that would go in tandem with the predictions info. We’ll see how that pans out.

Edit: Match posters for the Semifinals are done, here is a sneak peak at tomorrow’s:

Semifinal 1: Nagi vs. Koromo

My only gripe is there is some artifact’ing and I am not too hot at getting that out of images, nor could I find any decent high res images to use. I didn’t think I’d have time to do a quick vector either so I forged ahead, damn the torpedoes. Least I have things to improve on for next year.

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