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The International Saimoe League 2012 prelims were all about perseverance, a fitting theme for this marathon-like event showcasing numerous strong-willed characters. Personal preliminary highlights include:

The World God Only Knows / Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu make a statement

Both series had to retreat, unrepresented, in their first attempt at the ISML Tiara, but now return with new vigor and three representatives in the main league each. Expanding the viewer base with a second season is often not an easy task, but here we have proof it is indeed possible. I haven’t seen enough of KamiNomi to comment on the second season, but in the case of BakaTest, switching the focus away from battles and to good old character drama and love comedy certainly did the series a favor. Both series still have ongoing source material, so we might be seeing them around for awhile.

Hecate slips in

With her series coming to a close, Shakugan no Shana managed to slip in one more character than usual into the league. Luck played a role here, but admittedly, this was probably Hecate’s most moe season (I should watch season one of Shana one of these days, watching things out of order is a bad habit to have). Who’s willing to bet Shana keeps up her tradition and gets second place again this year?

Irisviel shows off mother powers

On a playing field fool of high school students, it is still possible for slightly younger characters to get in, but much more difficult for more mature women to make a stand. Thankfully, Irisviel breaks away from the norm (though ‘mature’ might not be the best word to describe her). She is the second ISML mother, and just like Clannad’s Nagisa did before, she gets to participate alongside her daughter.

Kuroi Mato gets her timing right

This little trickster here got qualified into the preliminaries based on an OVA, but then got voted into the league mostly thanks to an on-air anime. Perfect timing pays off.

Some less fortunate contestants deserving a mention:

Fate and Nanoha say goodbye

Saying goodbye to the first ISML Tiara Holder, Fate, as well as to the Nanoha characters in general, at least for this year, certainly represents changing times. It is a well-established saimoe law that previous winners have it tough, but Fate put up a good fight throughout the existence of ISML.

Fire Sisters burn out 

The opposite of Kuroi Mato, the Araragi sisters failed to enter the preliminaries by just a few votes. Had they succeeded at that, their increased screen time in Nisemonogatari would have certainly let them join their Bakemonogatari comrades in the fray… but it was not meant to be.

No world conquest for Ika-Musume

Unlike KamiNomi’s Elsiee, Ika-Musume didn’t gather any momentum during the time she had to think over what went wrong in her first ISML campaign, where she dominated the nominations only to fall in the preliminaries. Ika-Musume might be walking (swimming?) proof that cute doesn’t necessarily mean moe, at least not to the voting majority.

What were some of your highlights? Feel free to share and let’s enjoy an exciting saimoe year.

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