But what’s in a title? In as much as people subconsciously resign that popularity tests, as these are, means just that and probably only that, we all want our favorites to win.
Or do we? In some ways I like Suiseiseki a lot, but she’s just another girl on the list of characters that are moe, that are widely-recognized, that drives memes, that needs a good PVC figure, that adores doujinshi that we see as dime-a-dozen. Like roses.
Yet somehow, way before her steamroller victory, I found that she’s the girl I’d rally behind, out of all the others. Of course, Saimoe operates with a set of artificial rules (as all good elections do), such as it has to be a new anime aired between certain time periods, it has to be well-nominated, votes have to fit strict formats, what have you. Three observations:
1. Purpose. What makes Saimoe different than a poll that you see in Newtype or something is not in what it sets out to do. Simply put, a big reason why I’m thinking about “vote for your favorite” contests is that watching Saimoe makes me want to participate in one too, one that is more accessible. Don’t you? It’s kind of fun: fun to talk about it, to think about it, to administer it, to argue it in the various discussions that spring up, and to see how the population come to terms in a democratic fashion. That’s why Newtype and others have it–it’s something to read, to pay attention to, to get the publication’s name out there, to get the readers involved. In the same way Saimoe unites the anime community somewhat, at least those communities feeds (in varying degrees–first hand, second hand, etc) from the happenings in the 2ch boards. It is, arguably, the heart of anime fandom on the internet after all. I’m not sure, so don’t cite this, but something like 25% of the votes in the final match were from outside of Japan. It’s a good reminder for everyone that anime is a global thing!
2. Purpose. Again. The difference, as to Saimoe versus other polls, is to cater to 2ch-ers. These people are obviously too hardcore for Newtype polls, which caters to a huge, mostly detached, domestic audience. They watch the latest shows, and would rather talk about them more because they’ve talked the old shows to death. And of course if Saimoe is to be a reoccurring event, we just can’t have the same bunch of characters running every year (even if it may not make any difference towards the outcome in an isolated, closed set of voters). And of course, they want to give people the freedom to let any character to have a chance, and these people know every character. Like Ms. Invisible from Magipoka. Or Nanoha’s stick.
3. What makes these polls fun is the participation. The voting alone is pretty boring. But the meta-talk. The fanart and other fanwork. The campaigning. It’s fun. It goes to point number two, too, in that it’s more fun to be able to talk about characters you care about, so having a huge base to pick from makes it much more fun to talk about, at least early on. Once the winners win and most others become losers in the later rounds, at least you’ve gathered enough history and the “politics” of voting can continue on revenge motifs, and consolidate your voter bloc to leverage. People can still have fun.
And that’s what’s it’s all about. I don’t see why people complain about people getting too serious about Saimoe. It’s part of the fun to be serious about it.