April 26, 2010
This, however, was no joke. The necklace victory is just a part of her burgeoning trophy case which already includes the 2009 2chan Anime Saimoe and 2009 Korea Best Moe Championships.
"Wow, I thought I had just woke up from a rather salacious dream," Aisaka said during her victory rally outside the Takasu household, which saw Yuki Nagato officially hand the Topaz necklace to the flagship character of Toradora!.
"Guess what everyone? This is no dream at all. This is the real deal everyone!"
The crowd roared its approval, with banners and signs saying, "It's the Year of the Tiger!", "Roar, Taiga, Roar!", "Pre-Parade All Over Again!" and "Can you say...TREBLE?", a blatant suggestion that Aisaka could win the big prize at the end of the season, the ISML Tiara.
"I want to personally thank Ryuuji, Ami, Minorin, and everyone here today for your support and gratitude," Aisaka said. "This will be a good morale boost for all of us heading into the rest of the season. Bring on the Amethyst!"
The crowd could be heard chanting, "TORADORA! TORADORA! TORADORA!" over and over again.
Aisaka's peers weren't so lucky. Ami Kawashima lost to Kotomi Ichinose 2966-2409 while Nagisa Furukawa pounded Minori Kushieda 3189-2280.
It could also be argued that Aisaka had a free pass. After all she didn't have any problems crushing Kyou Fujibayashi 3274-2534, and she used the power of the numbers to outperform Hinagiku Katsura, Shana and Mio Akiyama.
Katsura denied Mikoto Misaka her first necklace with an impressive 3069-2891 victory. Shana blazed past Yuki Nagato 3230-2825 and Akiyama wrapped up her perfect Topaz run with a 33378-2742 win over Saber.
However, Katsura begged to differ.
"Taiga is a different opponent altogether," the former Hakuoh Academy student council president said during a press conferedce that took place. her rally. "Clannad has been on the downswing, and it showed in the string of results against their competition. Mikoto had more to lose from this contest. I will have to say that I am thankful and lucky that I am still perfect through two necklace periods.
"I look forward to the Amethyst with the confidence that I can continue my winning form."
The boos could be heard from the crowd at the Tokiwadai Junior High campus quad as they took stock of the state of events going on. At Hakuoh Academy's auditorium, students, alumni and other fans were jumping, cheering, and crying as well.
As for Misaka herself, she took it all in stride, but she clearly was disappointed by the possiblity that proxy voting had derailed her perfect record.
"That sort of garbage happens," she said next to a disconsolate Kuroko Shirai, who was groaning "Onee-sama" through sobs. "What can you do?
"We believe we gave the defending champion all she could handle. In the end, we came up short. Now, if this was because of the proxy voters, I have to say this: it doesn't pay off in the end. I keep telling everyone. It doesn't pay off.
"At this point, winning a necklace does not mean anything to me. It's qualifying for a chance to win the big prize at the end that counts. I hope to get another shot at Hinagiku Katsura when that time comes."
At the Sakuragaoka High School auditorium, Akiyama and her band Hokago Tea Time performed a number of songs, including "Go! Go! Maniac" and "Listen!!". Afterwards, Akiyama addressed the sold-out crowd.
"Everyone, while we didn't get the Topaz, the important news to take from this is that I am still unbeaten!' The crowd roared her name in response. "I want to thank you for your continuing support in all this. I hope to keep this going into the next phase. You are the best fans in the world and we owe you a great deal. So I am taking a request for a couple of songs. What do you say?"
"How about Heart and Soul by Huey Lewis and the News and Fuwa Fuwa Time?" responded Himeko Tachibana, a third-year student in Sawako Yamanaka's class.
"Good idea. How about it?" THe others agreed. The band rocked into the night, with everyone in attendance jumping in the air to the cover.
The Hirasawa Sisters ended their campaign on the right note. Ui took down Mei Sunohara 2948-2543 while Yui defeated Fate Testarossa in impressive fashion, 3006-2805. Azusa Nakano was unable to secure a K-ON! sweep, losing a 2903-2889 thriller to Tomoyo Sakagami.
In a battle between Lucky Star lovers, Kagami Hiiragi got the best of Konata Izumi, 2969-2243. And Ushio Okazaki got a rare victory, a 3176-1742 walkover over Nadoka Haramura.
"So far, so good," Shana said after wolfing down her 31st melon bread loaf of the tournament at a press conference, with Yuji Sakai looking on sheepishly. "Hinagiku, Mio and Taiga are as tough as they go. I look forward to facing them."
In the special match for topaz 7, it wasn't even close. Alisa Bannings nearly doubled up on Hina-Ichigo, 3037-1558. "I may not have been in this tournament," the brash, spunky Bannings said, "but at least I can win matches like this."
In other ISML action...Maria busted up on Isumi Saginomiya 3214-2033, Ruiko Saten chalked up a 3208-2297 victory over Chiaki Minami, Illyasviel von Einzbern wrapped up her TOpaz campaign with a 3007-2552 win over Minatsu Shiina, Hitagi Senjougahara pinched Kurimu Sakurano 3013-2421, Rin Tosaka prevailed over Mafuyu Shiina 2883-2792 and Mikuru Asahina defeated Chizuru Akaba 2966-2624.
Nagi Sanzen'in silenced Holo 3142-2674, Tsukasa Hiiragi bulldozed Nymph 2929-2382, Louise Francoise De Blanc De La Valliere scored a 2871-2488 decision over Ikaros, Nanoha Takamachi blasted Rika Furude 2993-2146, C.C. ended her Topaz campaign with a 3138-2443 victory over fuuko Ibuki, Ryou Fujibayashi kept Hanyuu Furude winless with a 2868-2218 thumping Konjiki no Yami (Golden Darkness) picked up a 3498-1384 win over Mihoko Fukuji and to wrap up the action from the TOpaz phase, Haruhi Suzumiya defeated Nadeko Sengoku 3118-2750.
The International Saimoe League shifts from the power of the sun...to the mystique of the moon. The Amethyst phase kicks off on May 2, 2010. You can vote and debate on your favorite candidates at InternationalSaimoe.com. And as always, be sure to follow the action on deviantART and the Bedlam on Baltic Avenue for its continuing coverage of the world's premier anime/manga character tournament.
TOP 16 AFTER 2010 ISML TOPAZ PHASE:
1. Hinagiku Katsura (C)
2. Mio Akiyama (AQ)
4. Mikoto Misaka
5. Taiga Aisaka (TOP)
6. Tomoyo Sakagami
8. Yuki Nagato
9. Haruhi Suzumiya
10. Nadeko Sengoku
11. Azusa Nakano
12. Hitagi Senjougahara
13. Fate Testarossa
14. Rin Tosaka
15. Kyou Fujibayashi
16. Nagi Sanzen'in
(C) Defending ISML Champion
(AQ) Aquamarine Necklace Champion
(TOP) Topaz Necklace Champion