Winter 2008 Mid-Season Recap – March Madness Edition

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Kyou’s stroking it like it’s hot… err… I mean stroking three pointers and not that kind of stroking… you sick freaks…

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With March already here, sports fans in the United States are preparing for one of the special multi-week events in sports: The 2008 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament. 65 college mens basketball teams will face each other in one of the largest single-elimination tournaments in all of sports for the NCAA Division I College Mens Basketball Title. The large event structure draws millions of viewers and office bets each year.

There are two ways a team makes it into the tournament field of 65 teams. The first is the automatic bid where each conference selects one team usually determined by winner of the conference tournament (the Ivy League has no conference tournament so the automatic bid goes to the winner of the regular season). The second method into the tourney is through an at-large bid. The NCAA Selection Committee looks at the remaining spots and selects teams from the remaining field by looking at a team’s key selection items such as record, strength of schedule, quality wins, bad losses and the slightly controversial figure of the RPI. Once the field is filled, the committee seeds them and selects the first round match ups in each region on the Sunday of the end of the conference tournaments (Selection Sunday). The first round games of the tourney usually begin on the Thursday after.

Up until Selection Sunday, a number of sports analysts make projections as to which teams would make the tournament. Since about more than half the field is filled by at-large teams selected by the NCAA Selection Committee, pre-Selection Sunday analysis often becomes an interesting topic on ESPN or for water cooler talk. There are a number of sports analysts who write and discuss solely on the pre-Selection Sunday analysis such as Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology which attempts to predict the entire tournament field, seeds and match ups. Most analysts compile a team’s key tournament selection information into what is usually called a tournament resume and they predict the possible seeding or non-entry for that team.

Below are both mine and bro’s attempts at taking the pre-Selection Sunday analysis idea and combining it with this season’s shows. Now after rethinking a few things (the comments after bro’s Clannad X’s and O’s post, the international nature of anime blogging and the [lack of] athletic ability among anime blog readership), I tried to lay out as much information on this topic as I possibly can. To be honest, analysis about this tournament can be a bit tough for the casual onlooker. Below are some definitions for the terms we plan to use and how we intend to relate them to anime. For more information check out the wikipedia articles on the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship and the NCAA basketball tournament selection process.

Some Definitions

Conference: In university sports in the United States, the major governing body, the NCAA, divides university teams into groups known as conferences usually according to the geographic proximity of the teams. This is somewhat important to note since tougher conferences like the ACC may get more than more teams into the tourney than weaker conferences like the MAAC which may only get the one automatic bid. Teams do play teams from other conferences but those games are few (usually a third of the season games) than conference games and performance against teams in your conference is a key indicator for the Selection Committee.

The conference concept applies to this post in terms of anime genre. In my opinion (koneko-chan), some of genres are doing particularly well than others in the fall 2007 and winter 2008 seasons. As an example, Myself; Yourself which may have more good episodes to bad episodes but may not make the “tournament” if associated with the drama genre against shows like ef, Clannad and True Tears. Whereas, Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun may have a worse good-to-bad episode ratio and may make the “tournament” if associated as a pure harem show against H20 and Rosario + Vampire, is better than the other pure harem shows and enters as harem’s automatic bid and only representative. Note: There have been a few teams with a losing record that made it into the NCAA tournament as automatic bids by winning out their conference tournaments.

Record: This is pretty obvious in the real world. This is the ratio of wins to losses. In this post, this is the ratio of good to bad episodes.

Good Win/Bad Losses: For the Selection Committee, good wins are defined as wins over higher ranked opponents whereas bad losses are losses to teams that you should beat. For this post, good wins and bad losses are any specific notable episodes that fall under those respective categories.

Projected Seed: This is the the expected tournament ranking and main conclusion when doing this kind of analysis. It’s the same idea for this post. The seed ranking is taking into consideration a possible tournament field created by fall 2007 and winter 2008 series.

NCAA Equivalent: Just for fun, this is the relation of the show to 2008 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Team.

Now enough of this explanation babbling. Time to see who’s in, who’s out and who’s on the bubble…

Tournament Resumes

CLANNAD

koneko-chan’s resume

Conference: Comedy-Drama

Record: 18 – 1

Good Wins: Episodes 9 and 16-18 (and the unofficial win of seeing Kyou’s hawt deredere-ness)

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #1

NCAA Equivalent: University of North Carolina Tar Heels – Clannad is reminiscent the complete team UNC is (when UNC is completely healthy). Clannad can either run-and-gun fast break with its comedy or methodically work the half-court offense for an open shot with its drama. Clannad shines with its athleticism (production values). However, at times, Clannad my over rely on its athleticism and may leave openings in the loose man-to-man defensive style (Key’s loose plot threads). Combined with the Kyoto Animation pedigree (like UNC’s basketball tradition) and a faithful fanbase (UNC students and alumni), Clannad is as close to a major college basketball powerhouse as an anime can get.

Comments: For me, Clannad has met or exceeded my expectations so far. I think the only thing that concerns me about Clannad is the possible shafting of characters’ time (as a faithful believer in Kyouism) which is starting to polarize the fanbase. However, I have a hard time seeing this show not be one of the best shows coming out of the fall 2007/winter 2008 season set.

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Comedy-Drama

Record: 18 – 1

Good Wins: Episodes 9, 14, 16

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #1

NCAA Equivalent: Tennessee Volunteers – The almost unrivaled best anime of the season. It just executes its gameplan to near perfection and, more importantly, knows how to make a statement to the rest of the anime field with the powerful episodes 9 14, 16. They’re not afraid of anybody, as they shouldn’t, because it’s clear that Clannad and the KyoAni Team knows how to handle the pressure.

Comments: Sometimes you wonder if KyoAni can do no wrong, but I’ve seen some things from them that have not been very enjoyable, like the eternity that was Makoto’s death in Kanon 2006. If they really do close Kyou and Tomoyo’s arc like that in one episode, I will not be very happy about it. Nevertheless, there’s just too many good things about this anime.

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“V” for Villanova, “V” for Victory
“B” for Blue and “W” for White
For the Blue and the White we will fight!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Fight for Villanova, Fight for Victory…

…What? It’s my alma mater… – koneko-chan

True Tears

koneko-chan’s resume

Conference: Drama

Record: 8 – 0

Good Wins: Episodes 3 and 5-7

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #1

NCAA Equivalent: Georgetown University Hoyas – True Tears’ drama is in many way similar to a good Princeton offense like Georgetown’s. Georgetown’s Princeton offense uses almost all of the shot clock with precise cutting and passing until someone has a high-percentage shot (either through a backdoor cut or fade out for a 3pt shot). True Tears is just as detailed in their use of an episode time and the show usually ends with a well-timed drama hammer (backdoor cut to a two-handed dunk). Combined with solid athleticism (production values), True Tears looks to be another Final Four contender (like Georgetown minus the recent slump).

Comments: True Tears looks to be a solid contender to Clannad’s drama. True Tears seems to up the ante with each episode. With Clannad coming down the home stretch and True Tears hitting some good episodes, drama seems to be the shows to watch towards the end of this season.

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Drama

Record: 9 – 0

Good Wins: Episodes 3, 6, 7

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #1

NCAA Equivalent: UCLA Bruins – A major contender with a great sense of balance. Much like UCLA, True Tears gets the job done because there are so many contributors to the end result. Even if one character has an off-episode, everyone else steps up give a solid effort to compensate. With the skill with which they’ve juggled the main three girls’ involvement with Shin’Ichiro, no reason to see they can’t go toe-to-toe with Clannad the entire way.

Comments: The build-up so far has been really well done. There’s so much going on, and watching it all unfold will essentially be whether or not True Tears is one for perpetuity (even with Bandai Visual’s painful business plan for this and Shigofumi), or a massive disappointment. I’m not worried though, and if you haven’t given this a look yet, you should.

Shakugan no Shana II

koneko-chan’s resume

Conference: Action/Drama

Record: 13 – 4 (seen up to 17)

Good Wins: Episodes 12-13 and 15

Bad Losses: Episode 5

Projected Seed: #3

NCAA Equivalent: University of Louisville Cardinals – Many analysts had Louisville as the second best team out of the Big East Conference (second to Georgetown) and a top 10 team nationally at the start of the season. Then when some of their major players got hurt and they dropped a few games, the team looked really mediocre. Now that the team is completely healthy, Louisville is among one of the hottest teams in the nation. Shana II in many ways is similar. Shana II was well hyped and when it started to air, the show started off slow. Now the show is one of the better shows coming down the stretch.

Comments: If Shana II is to continue to do well, it needs to stick to its primary game: its up-tempo action and its fan-beloved characters. The romance drama-ish direction in the start of the series was decent but by far isn’t Shana II’s strengths and going back to it will get the show slaughtered against the better shows in drama (ef, True Tears and Clannad).

Gundam 00

koneko-chan’s resume

Conference: Action/Mecha

Record: 9 – 6 (seen up to 15)

Good Wins: Episodes 10 and 13

Bad Losses: Episode 7

Projected Seed: #6

NCAA Equivalent: University of Kentucky Wildcats – Gundam 00 is exactly what I expected it to be: another mecha show attempting to capitalize of the Gundam name. Gundam 00 is another iteration of trying to bring back the good ol’ days of Gundam with a different story and newer production technology. Kentucky is similar as many of the alumni are wanting the return to national powerhouse status. The current Kentucky team is solid and has athleticism, but is not a major contender than it used to be and there serious doubts that they can even make the tournament. Although, Kentucky too is starting to pick it up recently.

Comments: Gundam 00 just doesn’t live up to its name for various reasons. Although, the show has gotten quite good recently and looks to make a decent tournament seed coming from the so-so mecha genre (I haven’t really seen Dragonaut and Blue Drop doesn’t interest me). The show is solid, but it ain’t bringing back the glory days.

Dragonaut

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Action

Record: 15 – 6

Good Wins: Episodes 14-17, 21

Bad Losses: Episodes 7, 12

Projected Seed: #4

NCAA Equivalent: Connecticut Huskies. Arguably the hottest anime over the last 4 weeks. Episodes 14-17 almost completely make up for the lackluster first half of the series. I had this anime written off at episode 13, but was I every wrong. Not only has it finally played its way into the dance, it is a serious threat if it can continue to ride this momentum.

Comments: This anime was in serious trouble as of 7 weeks ago. It was 8-5, and it lacked serious direction and it definitely felt like there wasn’t cohesion. It didn’t know what it was trying to be: action, drama, fanservice. etc. But it finally figured itself out, and it hasn’t looked back since: —SPOILER ALERT— It’ll be interesting to see how well they hold up without Akira and Machina for the rest of the season. They weren’t superstars, but we’ve seen anime fall apart without solid role-players to back them up.

Spice and Wolf

koneko-chan’s resume

Conference: Drama

Record: 4 -3

Good Wins: Episodes 4 and 6

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #7

NCAA Equivalent: Washington State University Cougars (so that bro doesn’t get on me about my east coast bias) – Washington State is solid team with a few signature wins and expected losses to close or better teams. The Cougars have a solid record in a tough conference of PAC-10 and they look to upset a few people in the tournament

Comments: Spice and Wolf looks to be in that similar boat. It needs a few more breakout episodes to compete with Clannad and True Tears. And while economic theory is interesting to me, it needs to pick up the pace with episodes like 4 and 6 to catch up to the top-tier drama shows.

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Drama

Record: 6 – 2

Good Wins: Episodes 2, 4, 6

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #3

NCAA Equivalent: Stanford Cardinal. It quietly takes care of it’s on business in a conference that has seen it’s share of solid to strong anime this season (MS:YS, ef,..). If the rest of the series is as compelling as the huge win with episode 6, no reason to rule it out of tops for Winter 2008 just yet.

Comments: I thought it was a little slow at the start. But it’s been building up strong for a while, and now that the conflict has finally been realized, we got to see some really compelling stuff, and a further blossoming relationship between Lawrence and Horo. It’s hitting its stride at the right time.

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Despite how bitchy she can be, Hiromi has one really mean crossover dribble…

H2O ~ Footprints in the Sand ~

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Harem/Drama

Record: 5 – 4

Good Wins: Episode 5 (Your first win is always a good one), Episode 8 (Wow. Really Big Win.)

Bad Losses: Episodes 2, 3, 4 (Wait.. Hamaji’s a what? Oh boy..).

Projected Seed: #13?/Doesn’t make the tourney. Good thing, they control their own destiny.

NCAA Equivalent: The Davidson Wildcats. They didn’t solidify themselves in the beginning of the year, and are hoping that how they finish will be enough to get them in. The problem is that their resume outside of the beginning of the year is fairly weak. They can silence all of the questions by winning their tourney. However, if they don’t win out, will poor start come back to haunt them?

Comments: The beginning to H2O was absolutely atrocious. It was soo bad. The presentation made me want to rip my hair out. But I stuck with it. It is a lot better now than it was 6 weeks ago. But just being better may not be enough now. It needs to finish it’s own business, and finish it well, because I don’t think the anime community can look highly on H2O now if it doesn’t close it out.

Hatenkou Yuugi

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Supernatural

Record: 4 – 2

Good Wins: Episode 6

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #11

NCAA Equivalent: Massachusetts Minutemen – A team that has quietly taken care of it’s own business. HY is a solid anime, but it’s not the best in the conference (Shigofumi). There’s nothing particular spectacular so far with HY. As a result, the resume is a little suspect, but it’s currently good enough to warrant them a spot in the show. They have to be careful coming down the stretch though, because they can’t afford many more, if any, losing episodes without a statement win.

Comments: Hatenkou Yugi is a little worrysome. It’s been solid so far, but there’s been very little main plot progression. None of the stories really connect with each other, so there’s still very little knowledge of where this might head. The longer this happens, the weaker HY looks as an anime. They need to finally push forward and show me something before it’s too late.

Shigofumi

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Supernatural

Record: 7 – 1

Good Wins: Episodes 2, 3, 7

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #2

NCAA Equivalent: Xavier Musketeers – A team that reminds you how good this conference can be. It’s not every season that you get one like Shigofumi, but when you do, it’s truly something. Quality that has serious potential to surprise everyone come tournament time.

Comments: Shigofumi is a real surprise for me this season. I’m not usually into this genre, and I missed the boat on Ghost Hound, which I swear I will get to eventually (probably when it’s all said and done.), but I’m very happy with Shigofumi has to offer. Each episode is gripping, and always leaves viewers in a state of shock and awe at the end of them. Not all of them are winners, but that’s the risk you run when the anime’s focus is to provide prospective and quiet commentary on the darkness of human culture.

Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Comedy

Record: 2 – 2

Good Wins: None

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #13/Doesn’t make the dance.

NCAA Equivalent: Syracuse Orange. An anime that is worrysome because it’s very hit or miss, much like it’s first run in Summer 2007. It can be outstanding at times, and other times it can be downright bewildering. There are enough pieces. I think it’s quality enough for the committee to let it slip by, but I just don’t understand why it isn’t more consistent.

Comments: I just never really got Zoku, or it’s first amalgamation. Line it up against Minami-ke, and it doesn’t look as good. But, they can make some wonderful reference jokes. I guess if I caught more of the references, this would fare better.

Minami-ke: Okawari

chigaimasu’s resume

Conference: Comedy

Record: 6 – 2

Good Wins: Episodes 5

Bad Losses: None

Projected Seed: #7

NCAA Equivalent: Arizona Wildcats – This team underwent some serious change in the off-season. Looking at a new animation studio, which is like the equivalent is playing with a new coach, the anime had some growing and re-tooling to do. With the pedigree with the first season, though, the expectations were high. As a result, they underperformed for the first couple of episodes. But it’s not the same style of play this season compared to the hit you in the mouth with laughter pace in the first one. The more cautious, story-telling pace works though. It won’t win as many episodes, but it gets the job done.

Comments: This is not your same Minami-ke from Fall ’07. Don’t expect it to be, and you’ll be alright. While the humor level is not the same, there’s a little bit more fanservice and connected story-telling. As a result, you’re learning a lot more about the characters this time around. But only if it stays fresh, which is a concern this season.

Like always, these kinds of posts are for fun especially since anime and American college basketball are two different creatures altogether. But at least it’s something different than the traditional mid-season reviews. – koneko-chan

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9 Responses to Winter 2008 Mid-Season Recap – March Madness Edition

  1. pagan poor says:

    Right now, true tears is my fave of the season. Also interesting that it’s compared to UCLA, who I do follow. Enough so that I already have first/second round tickets to the Anaheim pod. And true tears is a true team effort, pretty much like UCLA has been the past runs to the Final Four.

    Clannad kinda blew it for me with the combined end of the Kyou, and Tomoyo arcs. Definitely a “bad loss” but won’t exactly keep them out of the dance. Just knock them down a seed possibly.

    Spice & Wolf and Shigofumi are to me, 2/3 seeds. Horo is my favorite character of the season (kinda like a Michael Beasley.. but on a better squad), while Shigofumi’s backstory on Fumika and over all shenanigans on the show kinda make me feel like it’s a Tennessee or Texas, which are decent overall teams, but I can’t see them winning it all.

    Gah, I dropped Dragonaut and H2O a while ago, so they’re probably not even that third tourney (after the NIT) bound.

    Anyway, I’m sure to have further confused the readers but, what did you expect with such a weird intersection of interests.

  2. IcyStorm says:

    Damn, this makes me wish I follow NCAA basketball, but I don’t even follow the NBA.

  3. koneko-chan says:

    I’m happy that there is at least one other person who follows NCAA college basketball and watches recent anime. I am a bit surprised that we received a comment from a PAC-10 fan. I thought we would’ve scared away you guys with our east coast bias being Big East fans (bro goes UPenn but is a closet Big East fan at heart).

    I think Clannad doesn’t deserve a bad loss for episode 18 mainly because that episode was still very well done. I think KyotoAni is tip-toeing along that line between the hardcore fandom which wants every girl to have equal screen time and regular watchers who want a coherent central plot. It’s something to keep note as Clannad finishes up.

    Yeah. I think we scared away everyone else. I went on a pretty long rant about how the NCAA tournament works. Adding post-NCAA NIT predictions will just be too much.

  4. pagan poor says:

    Yeah, I’ve encountered the “east coast bias” thing. I’m not too bothered by it because you still have to play the games. Obviously, I’d match up UCLA against anyone in the college ranks right now. Then again it’s not much of a stretch to see them winning it all.

    I’ll take back the H2O and Dragonaut picks and kinda slot them in the 8-9, 7-10 seed games.

    On Clannad? I think I’ve separated execution from results. And in any game, it’s all about the scoreboard. And scoreboard here says Nagisa 1, Kyou and Tomoyo 0. 🙂

  5. […] be fair it doesn’t have the mass-voting aspect or the actual sports-related references of the other March Madness anime posts, but, hey, 16 anime, that’s a […]

  6. Lycanine says:

    NBA >< I guess living in South Africa I never even watched it o.o;;

    But so far this blog is really interesting. Was just looking in general and found this. Great work!

    ————————————————————————————–
    “The human whose name is written in this Death Note shall die.”
    What is the top rated anime of all time? Will Death Note
    continue to spread through this world? © Anime-Underground
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  7. I was studying something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your perspective on it is novel. – Any given program, when running, is obsolete. Attributed to Laws of Computer Programming

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