Ah, it's that time of the year again. The time of the year that everyone votes for their favorite anime characters of the past year. This is a otaku's equvialant to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
This year, i'll be doing a block by block breakdown of each group for each round. (Or at least, attempt to.) As usual, there are so many anime characters in the tournament, that it's actually hard to figure out at times who may win in a particular group. For instance, not seeing Bamboo Blade, Nanatsuiro Drops, Kodomo no Jikan, or Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a huge detriment to me in terms of characters from those series, while I haven't seen enough of True Tears, h2o, To Love Ru, Seto no Hanayome, and Kanokon.
Last year I ended up watching Hayate no Gotoku because of how well it's characters (led by the Kugimiya-voiced Nagi Senzenin) did in last year's tournament.
This year's tournament has MANY dark horses and new rising powerhouses. From Amu Hinamori of Shugo Chara, to Sheryl Nome of Macross Frontier, to Yuki Cross of Vampire Knight. This has led to many interesting first round bouts, some of which where the three-way may split down evenly and may end up in close voting battles. There are some one-year characters (series that have come out, and may not have additional seasons to get them qualified for next year) that may surprise many mainstay powerhouses this year.
Of course, the powerhouses this year include Magical Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Lucky Star, Code Geass, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni and Hayate no Gotoku. The new powerhouses of this year is Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (i'll be getting around to downloading this series soon) and Clannad. Of course, being in a powerhouse or a main character does not mean that a character will do well. Code Geass has been very underwhelming in the tournament last year, and I don't expect that to change this year. KyoAni characters (Lucky Star, Clannad, Haruhi) tend to do well until they reach the 1v1 part of the tournament, of which most tend to be sunk at that point. (2006 was KyoAni's best shot, but Yuki Nagato, KyoAni's juggernaut character, fell to eventual winner Suiseisuki). We have also not seen any repeat winners, so the road for Nanoha Takamachi (2005) and Rika Furode (2007) will be a hard fought one. Also, thank god Rozen Maiden is finally out of the tourney - I thought those characters were overachieving quite abit.
Just to point out for this year, there are some very interesting loopholed characters in this year's tournament. Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame managed to loophole her way in (im assuming some new NGE material came out), while Haruhi Suzumiya loopholed in from Lucky Star and Hatsune Miku loopholed in from a guest appearance in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. These three aren't exactly characters to sneeze at - especially Rei Ayanami (who has multiple homages throughout Akihabara).
It's hard to make a prediction on who will win this year's tournament because there are so many characters who can win and not be surprising. It's not like previous years where you can just shoe-horn in Shana, Fate, Nanoha, and Suiseisuki as the top favorites. This year will be intersting, as I see this year potentially being a breakout year for certain characters to be new perennial favorites for the next few tournaments (with Nanoha going out next year especially).
Alright, be right back with Block A of the tournament.
Oh, and the full bracket image is here.