Sun 12 Sep 2010
Profiles in Moe: Takamachi Nanoha
Profiles in Moe is part of an ongoing series about the characters, personalities, and events behind some of the most colorful and prolific Saimoe contestants ever. Join me tonight as we relive the career of the greatest Saimoe competitor of all time. The lovable heroine who holds friends closer in her heart than anything else, Takamachi Nanoha.
Part One: Starlight Breaker
The date was October 14th, 2008. It was the day of the round 3 matches in the loaded Group E. Group E has experienced fierce matches and intense rivalries flaring in the earlier rounds. As the draw would have it, however, today would be the day of the biggest, most anticipated match of the tournament thus far. Shana. Nanoha. Two names that are synonymous with Saimoe success. The tale of the tape told the story of titanic caliber characters clashing so early in the tournament. Takamachi Nanoha’s, 16-2 career record was the best record of all time. After drawing Yuasa Hiromi in the first round, she overcame vote split and pulled off a close 20 vote win. In the second round, she dominated sleeper pick Ranka Lee 945-683. Shana (9-3) has a much easier time getting here. An amicable draw with characters without much Saimoe pedigree saw Shana win her matches without any other character within 400 votes. The moementum was on Shana’s side, but her curse was not.
Shana was a character of destiny. Saimoe contests were basically hers to lose. Polished to a mirror shine, her fiercely supporting fanbase, great looks, and badass, sword wielding character was something quite out of this world. The year Shakugan no Shana aired in 2006, she shot up to the semifinals grinding close wins off once after another. But to this day she has never won Saimoe. Something always seems to get in the way. This year, we thought, that thing was Nanoha.
-Eater, Saimoe Illustrated
Shana broke early out of the gate, and by 6 am Japan time she was slowly expanding her lead. Nanoha lost no composure, slowing creeping back into the race. By mid-afternoon, the race was tied again. She started to break away with the lead as night set in over Japan. One of the best closers in history, it looked as if Nanoha was going to add the 17th win to her resume now. But at the beginning of the final hour, Nanoha slipped, and Shana bolted into the lead. Though Nanoha chased Shana all the way into the finish, the mistake was too critical. Nanoha fell 987-969, the earliest exit of her career. As StrikerS has finished airing, it looked to be the last match of her Saimoe career…
Part Two: Rising Heart
Takamachi Nanoha is the titular character of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, which aired in late 2004. A normal little girl with a heart of gold, she lives with her family and loves her friends. But while her parents, siblings, and best friends have each other to rely on, Nanoha is alone because she lacks a significant partner or dearest friend. She doesn’t know what she wants to do in her future, and seeks a sense of purpose and belonging in her life.
The saimoe world fell in love with the prodigious, sweet, left-handed magical girl as she found a best friend in Fate, and a sense of belonging in the world of magical sorcery. Smart, confident, likable, reliable, and a little dense, Nanoha’s balance of sweetness and bad-assery would become the stuff of legend.
Nanoha entered the 2005 Anime Saimoe Tournament six days after her co-star Fate Testarossa was bounced out by Shinku (Rozen Maiden) in the first round. Nanoha’s draw, meanwhile, was much more favorable as she easily defeated Eureka (from Eureka Seven) and the dark Magician Girl from Yu-Gi-Oh! for her first career win. It was a fine trip down glory road for Nanoha, beating Tsukuyomi ~Moon Phase~‘s Hazuki to win Group C 477-269. Air‘s Kanna also proved no real challenge as Nanoha moved into the semifinals showdown with Shinku, the one who knocked out her friend Fate.
“Magical girls, we have this quality. We all fight for one purpose: for our friends. And when we see what we need to do, when we have our goal in sight, that’s when we’re unstoppable. It’s the pure determination that drives our magic, the fire in our eyes. And I’ve never seen it like I’ve seen in in Nanoha.”
Though Shinku pulled the match close with a few hours to go, Nanoha turned on the heat during the last hour of competition, getting more than 60% of the votes from 11pm to midnight and burying her opposition 962-845. Souseiseki would be her opponent for the finals, the Rozen Maiden character that now has the same agenda that Nanoha had against Shinku.
It really wasn’t that close at all. Nanoha took the outright lead around 15 minutes into the voting day and never looked back. At midnight November 14th, 2005 Nanoha has won the Anime Saimoe Tournament 1087-952, the first character to make 1000 votes in a match. In her first year in Saimoe, the little girl who lives with her loving family flew straight to the top, immortalized forever in the august pantheon on Saimoe champions.
“In many ways, Saimoe 2005 was the first ‘modern’ Saimoe, the fans honored their favorite character in fierce competition. Votes were up more than threefold, while interest and participation were at an all time high. Most Saimoe fans would be damned to tell you who won in 2003 and 2004, but you can bet they know who’ve won since then. Nanoha’s performance wasn’t just an amazing feat to win Saimoe, she changed Saimoe into a celebration of characters”
-Seishi, Lunatic Antics
Part Three: The String of Fate
“Group B of the 2006 Anime Saimoe Tournament was absolutely ridiculous. When you say “group of death” I think of group C of the 2006 World Cup and Group B of that year’s Saimoe. The final four of that groups spoke for itself: Nanoha, Aika, Rena, Fate. All of those girls could have been champions.”
-Tommy Smyth, ESPN
Though all four girls left in group B reached 1000 votes, Fate and Nanoha were the two left to fight for a spot in the top 8.
“It wasn’t the easiest match, no not at all. It was Nanoha, my friend and of course Nanoha the defending champion. Both the factors made this match so difficult. But I knew this might happen, and I was ready. I left nothing off the table, but you know the best part? I know Nanoha didn’t either”
On that day, Nanoha lost by almost 300 votes, the worst defeat of her career. While Fate went on to finish runner-up in the tournament, the scar from 2006 still lingered. She would enter the tournament again in 2007, surviving a first round scare and beating Lucky Star‘s Kobayakawa Yutaka by a mere 8 votes. Though she defeated Vita impressively to win her group, she could not advance to another top 4, losing to Ryuuguu Rena in the quarterfinals.
Part Four: The White Devil
After the Shana match, it seemed that an era of Saimoe was over. Nanoha’s career record of 16 wins and 3 losses is considered a lifetime achievement, unlikely to be matched anytime soon. The changing of the guard was completed in 2009, when shows like K-ON! and Saki made their debuts while the girls of Mid-Childa were naught to be seen.
She went on to have a successful career in the inaugural season of International Saimoe League, finishing 14th in 2008 (and again in 2009). A key to her Saimoe success is how she is seemingly immune to vote split. Not counting her loss to Fate, Nanoha has outvoted characters from her own show 3490-1031 in head-to-head competition. Nanoha has outpolled all her career opponents 17076-15561 (+10%), a spectacular figure compared to Shana’s figure of 13934-13466 (+3.5%). A perfect 9-0 in matches against more than one opponent, Nanoha advances deep into tournaments and is able to navigate though multiple opponents. She seems to be on another level of Saimoe sometimes, forging a legendary career unparalleled by anyone.
When the Nanoha movie was announced, fans of old rejoiced as this implied Nanoha will rejoin us for the 2010 tournament. It seems like a stretch to think she could replicate the glory from half a decade ago. Saimoe now being so different with more characters, factions, and the breakneck pace of voting. But Nanoha won her prelim group and then picked up her 17th win against seasoned veteran Tohsaka Rin on August 7th. It seems that the White Devil is still in good form. Can she keep a clean record with round two coming up Tuesday? Bakemonogatari‘s Hachikuji Mayoi and Saki‘s Ikeda Kana stand in her way. It’s a tough group for Nanoha this year, and a long, long way to walk down glory road. But whom else to call than the greatest Saimoe contestant of all time? She began her journey looking for someone to befriend and looking for a purpose to her life. Now she has achieved that and more.
Get more info and updates about Saimoe 2010 here.
|Takamachi Nanoha (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha)|
|Saimoe Japan 2005 (Group C)||7W 0L||4578||3644|
|Round 1||W||422||Eureka (Eureka Seven)||131|
|Round 2||W||505||Sayo Aisaka (Mahou Sensei Negima)||285|
|Kutsugi Kotoha (Gokujou Seitokai)||254|
|Round 3||W||509||Rein (Fushigiboshi no Futagohime)||413|
|Group Finals||W||477||Hazuki (Tsukuyomi -Moon Phase-)||269|
|Quarterfinal 3||W||619||Kannabi no Mikoto (Air)||451|
|Semifinal 2||W||959||Shinku (Rozen Maiden)||843|
|Saimoe Japan Championship Match||W||1087||Souseiseki (Rozen Maiden)||952|
|Saimoe Japan 2006 (Group B2)||3W 1L||3502||3279|
|Round 1||W||963||Shiho Huit (Mai Otome)||311|
|Round 2||W||768||Tokiha Mai (Mai Otome)||529|
|Round 3||W||1154||Aika Granzchesta (Aria)||1035|
|Group B Finals||L||617||Fate Testarossa (Nanoha A’s)||904|
|Saimoe Japan 2007 (Group C1)||4W 1L||5781||5742|
|Saimoe 2007 Group C1||W||960||Kobayakawa Yutaka (Lucky Star)||952|
|Kamikawa Mayuko (sola)||170|
|Saimoe 2007 Group C1 Round 2||W||842||Chika Itou (Ichigo Mashimaro)||574|
|Vivio (Nanoha StrikerS)||197|
|Round 3||W||1746||Edomae Runa (Seto no Hanayome)||1702|
|Saimoe 2007 Group C Finals||W||797||Vita (Nanoha StrikerS)||673|
|Saimoe 2007 Round of 8||L||1436||Ryuuguu Rena (Higurashi no Naku…)||1474|
|Saimoe Japan 2008 (Group E1)||2W 1L||2820||2551|
|Round 1||W||906||Yuasa Hiromi (true tears)||886|
|Signum (Nanoha StrikerS)||78|
|Round 2||W||945||Ranka Lee (Macross Frontier)||517|
|Caro Ru Lushe (Nanoha StrikerS)||83|
|Round 3||L||969||Shana (Shakugan no Shana)||987|
|Saimoe Japan 2010 (Group B)||1W 0L|
|Round 1||W||395||Tohsaka Rin (Fate/Stay Night)||193|
|Toudou Lilicia (Seitokai no Ichizon)||79|
|Suzuki (Mayoi Neko Overrun)||73|