September I feel was kind of an exciting month, and I think I’ve put out some of my best articles in a while. Chief among them are my review of Love Live! The School Idol Movie and a monthly sponsored Patreon post, “The Rise and Fall of Saimoe.” In fact, even though it’s against the rules of my Patreon, I want to extend my gratitutde to Johnny Trovato, who while no longer a patron was the first to take me up on my offer to write posts based on topics chosen by my patrons. Thanks, Johnny.
Over the past month I’ve introduced a new type of pledge, where you can pledge a certain amount based on your favorite Genshiken character. In all honesty it’s just an excuse for me to make bad puns, so that’s why the amounts are all over the place. Of course, this also means that there are now different categories for sponsor shout-outs.
I haven’t gotten to all of the Genshiken characters yet, but if there’s one that you really want to see (Kaminaga? The younger Yoshitake? Ohno?), then speak up! It’ll be interesting to see which characters are still the fan favorites after all this time.
As for what’s on the horizon, New York Comic Con is this week, and I’ll be attending all 4 days! Of course I’ll have a con report for everyone to read, and you’ll be able to (most likely) catch me at a number of panels. Of course, given the hectic nature of NYCC, there’s no telling for sure!
This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to be a patron of Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.
Who is the greatest moe anime character?
That’s the question that the Saimoe (literally “Most Moe”) Tournament set out to answer, and its long history of competitions, dating back to 2002, are a reflection of not so much the state of anime fandom over the past 13 years, but rather how internet anime fandom has grown, changed, and even arguably moved on past the concept of moe in both the US and Japan.
If there’s one fact I always find interesting about Saimoe, it’s that its original winner was Kinomoto Sakura of Cardcaptor Sakura. There’s something just so appropriate about her being the first champion, given how beloved she is among anime fans of all stripes. However, Saimoe is also often a snapshot, a look into the zeitgeist of at least a corner of anime fandom, and in that same tournament it might come as no surprise that its silver medalist was Osaka from Azumanga Daioh. These days Azumanga Daioh is viewed as a relic of the Early 2000s, an excellent show for sure, but not as timeless as its fervent fans (of which I am included) would have hoped for.
Other than Sakura, who has stood the test of time as Saimoe champions? It’s okay if you don’t remember who has won Saimoe before, as anime fandom as a whole has a tendency to burn briefly yet passionately for its favorite characters, where in the moment it seems as if her fame will last forever, the sheer memetic popularity of a Suiseiseki (Rozen Maiden) or a Takamachi Nanoha (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) blinding fans from seeing the long-term. That’s not to say that characters such as Aisaka Taiga (Toradora!) and Rosemary Applefield (Ashita no Nadja) are forgettable or bad, but that the otaku mind can be a fickle thing.
Among these titles, it seems as if Madoka Magica‘s popularity still endures, giving a kind of strength to previous winners Madoka and Mami, but one factor that also has to be considered is that the numbers for Saimoe participation rose rapidly in the mid-2000s, and then declined sharply afterwards. To give an idea, for final-round votes, Sakura won in 2002 with 580, Suiseiseki won in 2006 with 2306, and most recently Saki and Nodoka from Saki tied each other at 187. This can be explained by the fact that the mid-2000s were when Saimoe truly opened up to international participation, but also that the idea of “moe” no longer carries as much subcultural weight.
This is perhaps best exemplified by that Suiseiseki victory. It was during that time that fervent fans on 4chan and other communities figured out how to vote for their favorite characters, and whether they were genuinely voting for who they believed was “most moe,” were backing their favorite characters, were trying to push a running gag forward, or they wanted to rally behind their chosen girl, Suiseiseki embodied all three. She was the center of the DESU DESU DESU meme, Rozen Maiden was generally popular among hardcore fans, and her character does have distinguishable moe qualities overall. The heyday of Saimoe was indeed also the heyday of 4chan, and while it’s questionable as to whether Saimoe had ever been more than a popularity contest, when looking at the “rise and fall” of Saimoe, so to speak, what comes out of the other side isn’t so much as a return to the idea of “moe” from the earlier days when Cardcaptor Sakura won it all, but something new and different that I can’t quite fully describe.
Let’s compare the winners of Saimoe 2012 and 2014, all of whom come from the anime series Saki. 2012’s champion was Onjouji Toki, a character who is strictly moe by all conceptions of the often-nebulous term. Toki is a sickly girl whose ability to peer into the future to win at mahjong set her up as a tragic figure that overshadowed even the protagonists of her story (the ending theme to Saki: Episode of Side A, “Futuristic Player,” is actually a reference to Toki). It’s hard to describe her as anything but “moe.” In contrast, while there are cutely tragic elements to Saki and Nodoka, their dual-victory in Saimoe carries a very different set of meanings. First, it can’t be ignored that Saki dominated the overall bracket, to the extent that it could be argued that the fans who care most these days about “moe” overlap significantly with Saki fans. Second, and I think this is more important, Saki has a major yuri component, and I believe that is the true meaning behind the tie. In fact, Toki, Mami, and Madoka also all attract yuri fanbases.
Yuri to some extent has been a factor in people’s views of characters as moe (see Nanoha and Fate’s popularity), but the role that the cute girl plays in the aspirations and fantasies of anime fandom seem to have changed. Moe as an idea was arguably overwhelming and overpowering at its height, but now it seemingly has begun to secede, and in its place is a network of interests of which yuri is a part. I put it that way because I don’t think “yuri” supplanted “moe” as if that would even be possible. After all, yuri as a vocabulary word predates the solidification of moe by at least a couple of decades, so if anything moe was the young upstart terminology. Rather, moe may have gradually melded itself back into the fabric of anime’s iconic characters, to the extent that trying to ask who is the “moest” has become a more difficult and less directly appealing proposition overall.
Hiiragi Kagami, alias HIIRAGIIIII, has emerged as the winner of 2008’s Anime Saimoe tournament. All the more impressive was that her victory was over her own sister Tsukasa, in what is sure to remembered as a fierce battle where blood was not thicker than moe.
Kagami’s status as the Moest means a few things. Remember that neither Kagami nor anyone else from Lucky Star took the title last year. Generally after the first year if your show is truly just a flash in the pan you don’t get much further, but here we see the Lucky Star cast drive down harder than ever. So Lucky Star may not be the most enduring show ever, but it’s not as ethereal as some might hope.
Also of note are the high placements of Kawazoe Tamaki (Bamboo Blade), who made Top 8, and Hinamori Amu (Shugo Chara!) who was a force so powerful she had to be stopped by the tournament winner Kagami.
I know a lot of people who might have liked to vote couldn’t due to some of the intentional barriers put in place, but I hear there’s an (arguably!) more important vote coming up in the near future…
Sadly, our great goddess who blesses us with an imagination most vivid is unable to enter the main tournament of Saimoe 2008. She fell on August 1st, though not without a fight, achieving 11th place for the day, 2 spots short of the crucial 9th place slot that would have gotten her in. With no new Genshiken anime on the horizon, it looks like Ogiue’s path to being called the Moest has been halted.
Oddly enough, while she has not performed well in any Anime Saimoe so far, she did remarkably well in a Manga Saimoe years ago, reaching as far as quarter-finals before falling to Kawazoe Tamaki of Bamboo Blade.
It’s possibly that while many people find Ogiue to be a good character, they do not find her to be moe.
Ogiue is among the many characters in the first round of second preliminaries for Anime Saimoe 2008. She has some stiff competition ahead of her, so if you truly believe Ogiue to be the Moest then you should take some time out of your day to vote for her on AUGUST 1st, 2008 which to many of you will be JULY 31st, 2008 because Japan is in its own timezone.
The official voting area is located on 2channel on its Voting Board, usually labeled something like アニメ最萌トーナメント2008 投票スレRound＃＃.
The threads close automatically at 1000 posts or if they exceeed I believe 512kb so watch out.
To learn how to participate, please consult this earlier post detailing the steps needed in order to cast your vote in Saimoe.
Oh, and for those of you who are waiting for the main tournament, all I will say is that if you do not vote for Ogiue here, then she will have no chance of getting into the main tournament.
Oh, and Hyuuga Hinata’s up too, though shounen jump characters never really stand a chance, which is a shame.
While Ogiue garnered a decent number of votes (212), she failed to make it into the top 9 for her preliminary day. Ogiue placed 12th overall for her initial group, which means she qualifies for the second preliminaries.
I was hoping Ogiue would get in on the first try, but I also have to keep in mind that 12th place is significantly better than her placing last year, which was 20th place.
Ogiue failed to make it to the main tournament last year, so I am hoping at the very least for her to get that far. From the looks of things she already stands a much better chance, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
First, the vote is over at the official Anime Saimoe 2008 website. Go get a voting code here. Voting ends at midnight the next day in Japan. You can keep track of the time in Japan using this site.
It takes some time to get the voting code so don’t get your code at the last minute. Once you do obtain it, the code will look something like this: [AS00-animemoe-XX]
When you get to the voting thread, make a new post with your code at the top of the post and the characters you want to vote for underneath. You must enter the characters the correct way. In the case of Ogiue it is <<荻上千佳＠げんしけん2>>
They’d also like you to include a reason for your voting. English is fine, as the whole point is to show your support your characters.
The final result will look something like this:
I love Ogiue. Her character moved me in ways I thought not possible.
You’re allowed up to 5 characters but we all know that isn’t necessary right!
Here is the voting thread as of now (updated 7/22/08 12:30AM EST). This is subject to change at any moment as it is very possible for this thread to become locked and voting to be continued in a following thread in the voting board on 2ch.
Oh, and proxies aren’t allowed.
So let’s get Ogiue into this tournament proper. Together. For Modern Society and the study thereof.
Once again we in the anime fan community are faced with the ultimate contest of the gods, the Anime Saimoe Tournament. Run by a mighty engine that can be a god or a devil, Saimoe pits the anime girls against each other to see who the otaku of the internet deem to be the most moe character of that year.
In recent years, foreigners have been encouraged to vote, and as such an English translation of the rules have been posted, as well as a Chinese one. Just as a warning, the instructions are kind of cryptic (“Voting will occur in the voting location”) so it can be pretty confusing. 2channel uses a rather unusual thread system where posts are locked and archived after 1000 replies, so keep in mind that there is no SINGLE Saimoe thread.
It’s not really feasible for me to keep updating the voting threads constantly, so I’ll leave that to the popular anime forums, unless it really matters to me.
Currently, the tournament is undergoing preliminaries, where voters can choose who among the ENTIRE pool of female characters of 2008 are worthy enough to get into the tournament proper. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that Ogiue’s preliminary round is on July 22nd, 2008.
When it gets near Ogiue’s voting date(s) I’ll further clarify what needs to be done, but keep her in your mind and in your heart.