The International Saimoe League, abbreviated ISML, is an online anime character popularity tournament which aims to "find the most moe anime girls" . One of several contests spun off of the Anime Saimoe Tournament held on 2channel, ISML was created with the purpose of allowing voters from around the world to participate (compared to Japan-exclusive AST and Korean-exclusive KBM). The contest has many characteristics that differentiate it from other popularity contests; but the most significant traits are its league system that is similar to major United States sports leagues, and gem awards which are given to contestants who perform well during the regular season.
Initially contested by females only, ISML held a separate male exhibition tournament from 2011-2014, and later added a main tournament for them from 2015 onwards.
- 1 General Format
- 2 Unique Characteristics
- 3 History
- 4 Winner's Gallery
- 5 Results Summary
- 6 Trivia
- 7 References
- 8 External links
ISML officially opens through the nomination phase which lasts one week. Some characters are exempted from this stage, and will automatically qualify to the regular season when they fulfill a certain requirement, such as winning a necklace.
Preliminaries > Regular season / Group stage > Playoffs
Some editions implement a preliminary period which consists of several rounds that thins out the number of nominees in order to fit the regular season's league capacity. Seeding rounds, which determine each contestant's regular season schedule, are also held at the same time.
The regular season is a league-style tournament that lasts many months. From 2008 to 2015, the format was a massive single round-robin (every player plays all opponents once), while 2016 and later consisted of multiple group stages that whittled down the number of characters as the season progresses. At the end of the regular season, sixteen top-peforming / surviving contestants will advance to the playoffs.
The final part of ISML is the playoffs (officially called "Elimination Stage"), where 16 contestants will play through one or more elimination brackets to decide the year's champion, called the Heavenly Tiara for females, and Lapis Scepter for males..
2008 to 2010 used a double-elimination bracket, while 2011 onwards used single-elimination, with 2012-2015 divided into two phases: the first being contested within the Stella and Nova divisions, and the second combining both divisions in a single bracket. 2016's format used a 4x4 group stage and 8-man bracket instead.
Consolations & Final Rankings
During the playoffs, consolation matches will be held between those eliminated in the final group stages, and those knocked out early in the bracket. The final rankings are usually determined by CVP (cumulative vote points) and wins. Because of this, some of the contestants' final positions may NOT reflect what stage they were eliminated in.
- A good example is 2018's Emilia and Taki, who placed 8th despite not qualifying in the playoffs. Normally 8th place is usually reserved to quarter-finalists, this is not the case here.
- One extreme instance is Saitama, who placed 4th in ISML 2017 even though he was knocked out in the round of 16.
To be eligible for the main tournament, characters must appear in a Japanese-produced animated medium: TV shows, Films, Made-for-DVD (OVA), Internet (ONA). Foreign source materials are allowed if the adaptations were produced by Japanese studios (e.g. Korean Webtoons like Tower of God)
- Hentai (R-18+ rated works) is NOT ALLOWED.
- Characters must debut / appear in an anime released before December 31 of the previous year.
- Must be a human / humanoid, or possess anthropomorphic qualities.
- Must have a name or other universal means of identification.
- Must regularly appear in the series, or have a significance to the story's plotline.
For non-binary characters (sexless, gender ambiguous / unknown, switches between sexes, hermaphrodite) they will be assigned based on which gender traits are more dominant, or which gender the audience assumes them to be.
- Examples: Houseki no Kuni's sexless gems , Made in Abyss's Nanachi (gender unknown) and Monogatari's Ougi Oshino (apeeared as a boy and a girl) compete in the female division.
- Otokonoko characters, popularly known in the Western anime community as traps, will always compete in the male division.
Compared to its Japanese and Korean counterparts, ISML's voting is simple and relatively easy to understand. No account creation is needed.
- All characters have icons and names, you just have to click on someone.
- At the bottom of the screen, there are icons for sex and age range. These are optional.
- Before submitting your votes, you must enter a CAPTCHA. To prevent bots, you will have to wait a certain amount of time before you can even submit.
- You must vote on at least 8 matches.
- Voting is only limited to ONE (1) vote per IP address.
- Only one vote per 1 vs 1 match-up.
- A voter may not vote on behalf on another person.
- Voting is limited to certain matchdays.
- Once your ballot is submitted, your votes can only be changed by asking the staff for permission.
As one of the oldest and longest-running online character popularity contests, ISML has many characteristics that set it apart from other competitions besides its league format.
Annual Charter & Constitution
ISML publishes a yearly charter which supplements the basic rules. It stipulates details that are not mentioned in the basic rules, including the specific format of a certain year, detailed schedule, additional restrictions, and so on. This allows the organizer to make some changes every year while maintaining the contest's core values. The contest also provides a legalese document called the "Constitution".
From the website:
- The Annual Charter defines the values and limitations of and establishes a schedule for ISML. The Charter purposes to be the flexible aspect of ISML that complements the static Constitution. It aims to provide ISML with the ability to make the innovations necessary to remain entertaining each year.
- The purpose of the Constitution is to provide a permanent set of guidelines that govern and provide the basic framework for the structure and execution of all ISML tournaments. While staff members may come and go throughout the years, the principles of the League should not change. Supporting the Constitution are the Annual Charters mentioned in Article VIII which fill in the blanks and provide specific details for the particular year's tournament.
|ISML annual charter links|
The ISML wordmark consists of the contest's name and year in Segoe Print text with a tiara behind it.
ISML's official emblem is a flower with seven colored petals representing its seven periods / gems. The colors are ordered clockwise.
The regular season is divided into seven periods, in chronological order:
- Aquamarine, topaz, amethyst, sapphire, emerald, ruby, and diamond.
- However, 2012-2015 was split into five periods consisting of Aquamarine, amethyst, ruby, emerald, and topaz. Sapphire was assigned to Nova playoffs, and diamond to Stella playoffs.
Each period lasts several matches, and the best-performing contestants on that period will participate in a special round (format varies) to determine who wins that period's necklace (females) or pendant (males). Each period will produce only one necklace and pendant winner.
In ISML's early years, the necklace was simply awarded to the best peformer in a given period, which allows the possibility of a contestant winning multiple necklaces. Starting from 2011, a contestant cannot win multiple necklaces in a single year.
The Exhibition Matches were first implemented in 2010 with the purpose of raising awareness on anime characters who did not appear in the main competition. Users can also suggest exhibition matches in the official ISML forum.
From 2011 to 2013, the Male Exhibition contest was introduced. Its format consists of a multi-man elimination round and a 32-man single elimination bracket. Despite the "exhibition" label, the male champions are considered of equal status to those who won in the male regular season era (2015 onwards). However, their posters are NOT displayed in the front page.
Meanwhile, 2014's male exhibition is replaced by Trap Exhibition, causing former finalist Hideyoshi to ascend into the hall of fame because (s)he's the most popular trap at the time.
Throughout ISML's history, many sub-contests under the Exhibition label have been organized with a poster being awarded to each winning contestant. In addition, several exhibition contests have become an integral part of several editions:
|Serial exhibition contests|
Tournament of Champions
Divine Circlet & Crown
Couple Tournament (CP)
Other exhibition contests by year:
|Other exhibition contests|
Unlike other competitions, ISML has a dedicated website solely for its contest which supports multiple languages such as English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, German, and (since 2021) Bahasa Indonesia. Since the site is non-profit, it has a donation page to ensure continued operation of the contest. The proportion of Chinese sponsorship is overwhelmingly high.
From 2008-2017, the result pages displayed graphs of each match's hourly vote progress, map of voting percentages from each country/region, and regular season statistics tables. In addition, there were many features outside the competition itself, such as:
- detailed profiles for all main tournament contestants
- Match of the Day (with flavor text)
- Emblems for anime series (Example: the Toaru series' emblem depicts a 5-point star defaced by a lightning bolt, which represents its strongest contestant Mikoto Misaka)
- AMV promotional videos
- During ISML 2019's nomination phase, support for the victims of the Kyoto Animation arson attack was promoted and recommended on the site's front page.
However, due to the manpower and technical problems of the management team, many of these features disappeared from 2018 onwards as the website switched to a different layout. The increasing workload of the staff also led to numerous delays and interruptions of various updates. In particular, there were cases in the 2019 contest where the results were delayed by as many as 63 hours.
In 2020, the ISML staff produced a "Saimoe Podcast" which was published in Youtube. The principal speakers consist of:
- Momento10 - podcast host and mediator, writer of the "Match of the Day"
- maglor - Korean-American, primary tournament organizer. Uses Shirobako girls Erika Yano and Aoi Miyamori as avatars.
- Chibasa - French site administrator and moderator
|"Where do we go from here? There is nothing afterwards."|
This section needs expansion.
In 2006, the popularity of Anime Saimoe Tournament and news of Best Moe Tournament spawned interest in English based Moe Tournament. The format of Elimination period for the Preliminary and Round-robin League Style for the Regular season was first proposed by Psieye on AnimeSuki forums. In 2007 following discussion about Super Moe Tournament results, the talk of English based Moe Tournament was reawakened and minhtam1638 started working on ISML as a reaction to this. After much discussion in the AnimeSuki Forum, the format of having Auto-qualifying entrants based on their records in Anime Saimoe Tournament and Best Moe Tournament was adopted along with free for all nomination phase to fill the number of 64 that was needed for the Tournament league play.
The main reason for the creation of ISML was spawned from the criticisms of two other tournaments, Anime Saimoe Tournament and Best Moe Tournament, for reasons that the single-elimination tournaments held in Japan and Korea were decided at random. To correct this problem, ISML uses a round-robin tournament, which ensure that all participants will face the rest exactly once. After the round-robin phase, the top 16 participants are seeded into double-elimination instead of randomly paired. Because each participant needs to be eliminated twice, this process reduces random spikes in popularity that may cause a consistently strong character to fall.
Another goal for ISML is to have its polls open to voters across the world, where as Anime Saimoe Tournament attempts to block non-Japanese ISPs from voting. ISML is tailored to embrace voters from as many backgrounds as possible. From the first voting in ISML, which was the 2008 nominations, voters were encouraged to submit nomination in any language they were comfortable with. Volunteers promoted ISML in websites based in many different language. By the end of 2008 Regular Season, non-English speaking voters outnumbered English speakers.
As of 2009, ISML is the largest moe tournament in the world. Its layout is user-friendly, requiring no registration and using image-assisted voting for recognition. While international voting is encouraged, ISML has a strict eligibility rule on its contestants. Only characters that are recurring or of significant importance are allowed; simply a cameo appearance does not receive consideration in ISML.
Tiara Winners (show)
Scepter Winners (show)
This section only lists all awardees from each edition. Click the link on each year for more details.
|ISML 2008 award winners|
|Tiara: Fate Testarossa|
|Necklace||Shana • Setsuna S. • Kagami • Kyou • Haruhi|
|ISML 2009 award winners|
|Tiara: Hinagiku Katsura|
|Necklace||Tomoyo • Yuki • Suigintou • Shana • Suiseiseki • Hinagiku • Shinku|
|ISML 2010 award winners|
|Tiara: Mio Akiyama|
|Necklace||Mio • Taiga • Yuki • Shana • Mikoto|
|ISML 2011 award winners|
|Tiara: Mikoto Misaka • Scepter*: Lelouch vi Britannia|
|Necklace||Mikoto • Angel • Yuki • Kuroneko • Taiga • Shana • Eucliwood|
|Jewelries||Bracelet: Miku • Earrings: Cardcaptor • Brooch: Kagura • Amulet: Shiori • Ring: Remilia • Medallion: Illya • Anklet: Madoka|
|Seasonals||Divine Circlet: Sakura Kinomoto|
|ISML 2012 award winners|
|Tiara: Kanade "Angel" Tachibana • Scepter*: Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya|
|Necklace|| Angel • Kuroneko • Mikoto • Eucliwood • Mio|
Division Winners: Nova: Angel • Stella: Mikoto
|Jewelries||Bracelet: Menma • Brooch: Ikaros • Medallion: C.C. • Anklet: Sora K. • Earrings: Inori|
|Seasonals||Winter: Ririchiyo • Spring: Kuroyukihime • Summer: Asuna • Fall: Rikka|
|ISML 2013 award winners|
|Tiara: Ruri "Kuronkeko" Gokou • Scepter*: Houtarou Oreki|
|Necklace|| Angel • Kuroneko • Asuna • Rikka • Mashiro|
Division Winners: Nova: Mashiro • Stella: Angel
|Jewelries||Bracelet: Ayase • Brooch: Aria • Medallion: Momo • Anklet: Last Order • Earrings: Kurisu|
|Seasonals||Winter: Black Rabbit • Spring: Kurumi • Summer: Kirigiri • Fall: Mirai|
|Other Exhibitions||Touhou I: Reimu Hakurei|
|ISML 2014 award winners|
|Tiara: Kotori Itsuka • Scepter*: Hideyoshi Kinoshita|
|Necklace|| Mikoto • Angel • Kuroyukihime • Asuna • Mashiro|
Division Winners: Nova: Asuna • Stella: Angel
|Jewelries||Bracelet: Yukina • Brooch: Vic • Medallion: Misaki • Anklet: Yui • Earrings: Saber|
|Seasonals||Winter: Chitoge • Spring: Shiro • Summer: Chiyo • Fall: Isuzu|
|Other Exhibitions||Reverse Trap: Seishirou Tsugumi • Visual Novel: Mare S. Ephemeral|
|ISML 2015 award winners|
|Tiara: Eru Chitanda • Scepter: Accelerator|
|Necklace|| Yukino • Kosaki • Chiyo • Chitoge • Mashiro|
Division Winners: Nova: Yukino • Stella: Ayase
|Pendant|| 8man • Otonashi • Archer • Koyomi • Sora|
1st seed: Accel • Special Round: Lelouch
|Seasonals||Winter: Megumi Katou • Spring: Isla • Summer: Nao • Fall: Mitsuki|
|ISML ToC||Female: Kanade Tachibana|
|Other Exhibitions||Divine Circlet: Yui|
|ISML 2016 award winners|
|Tiara: Shana • Scepter: Sora|
|Necklace||Mashiro • Nao • Shana • Yukino • Rin • Saber • Kurisu|
|Pendant||Koro • 8man • Koyomi • Sora • Otonashi • Archer • Kiritsugu|
|Seasonals||Winter: Rem • Spring: Megumin • Summer: Aoba • Fall: Chitose|
|Other Exhibitions||Divine Circlet: Mikan Yuuki|
|ISML 2017 award winners|
|Tiara: Megumi Katou • Scepter: Koro-sensei|
|Necklace||Rem • Asuna • Emilia • Rin • Megumi K. • Saber • Mashiro|
|Pendant||Koro • 8man • Nagisa S. • Archer • Levi • Soma • Touma|
|Seasonals||Winter: Kanna • Spring: Chtholly • Summer: Suzune • Fall: Nayuta|
|ISML ToC||Female: Mikoto Misaka • Male: Lelouch|
|Other Exhibitions||Divine Circlet: Ruiko Saten • Divine Crown: Inuyasha • Touhou II: Marisa Kirisame|
|ISML 2018 award winners|
|Tiara: Rem • Scepter: Hachiman Hikigaya|
|Necklace||Rem • Mashiro • Chtholly • Asuna • Azusa • Rin • Kanna|
|Pendant||Levi • 8man • Okabe • Taki • Nagisa S. • Archer • Willem|
|Seasonals||Winter: Violet • Spring: Uraraka • Summer: Platelet • Fall: Mai|
|ISML ToC||Female: Mikoto Misaka • Male: Sora|
|Other Exhibitions||Divine Circlet: Hitagi Senjougahara • Divine Crown: Alphonse Elric • Video Games 2B • Pets: Pikachu|
|ISML 2019 award winners|
|Tiara: Violet Evergarden • Scepter: Rimuru Tempest|
|Necklace||Violet • Rin • Yukino • Sagiri • Kurumi • Mai • Kurisu|
|Pendant||Slime • Riku • Sakuta • Kiyotaka • Tomoya • Touma • Yuuta|
|Seasonals||Winter: Kaguya • Spring: Fumino • Summer: Gray • Fall: Ishtar|
|ISML ToC||Female: Rem • Male: Hachiman Hikigaya|
|Other Exhibitions||Divine Circlet: Reina Kousaka • Divine Crown: Mikaela Hyakuya • Couple / Ship: Miyuki x Kaguya|
|ISML 2020 award winners|
|Tiara: Yukino Yukinoshita • Scepter: Miyuki Shirogane|
|Necklace||Asuna • Kurumi • Kaguya • Yukino • Mikoto • Mashiro • Rikka|
|Pendant||Riku • Miyuki • Ishigami • Gil • Touma • Sakuta • Okabe|
|Bracelet||Kuroko • Shouko N. • Yui Y. • Chino • Index • Schwi • Ruiko|
|Ring||Conan • Sorata • Saika • Shirou • Lancer • Subaru • Kazuma|
|Seasonals||Winter: Kotoko • Spring: Kei Shirogane • Summer: Chizuru • Fall: Elaina|
|ISML ToC||Female: Eru Chitanda • Male: Houtarou Oreki|
|Other Exhibitions||Divine Circlet: Ginko Sora • Divine Crown: Mochizou Ooji • Touhou III: Cirno • Idols / Musicians: Tsumugi Kotobuki • Couple / Ship: Nasa x Tsukasa|
For ISML records, click here.
- Although Type-Moon's Fate franchise holds an ubiquitous presence in the contest (and to the anime community as a whole), none of its characters have won the championship. The series has produced three runner-ups: Illyasviel von Einzbern (2016), Archer (2018), and Rin Tohsaka (2019).
- To date, no anime series has ever won Tiara or Scepter twice, nor does any contestant have won the aformentioned awards two times. Kanade Tachibana and Mikoto Misaka have come the closest to winning the Tiara twice, having reached the final in 2013 and 2020 respectively.
- As of 2020, three (3) anime franchises have successfully produced a Tiara and Scepter winner:
- Among all of the champions, Light Novel adaptations reign supreme. The only champions who aren't originally from light novels include:
- Gem winners who did NOT reach to corresponding Year's playoff:
- Tiara / Scepter bearers who have RS 1st corresponding year(include 2016 edition)
- Winners who did NOT become champions within 3rd year participation(include male exhibition):
- All multi-aquamarine bearers( ) have Tiara / Scepter. Except Koro-sensei, Rest of the characters are RS double-winners.
- Gemless Tiara bearers: Fate Testarossa, Kotori Itsuka and Eru Chitanda.
- "Anime Saimoe Tournament" J-Zine FTV Magazine (February 2009), pp. 31-32.
|International Saimoe League|
|Main Pages||2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022|
|Seasonals||2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022|
|Exhibitions||2010 • 2011 Male • 2012 Male • 2013 Male • 2014 Trap • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022|
|Awards||Necklace • Pendant • Seasonal Diadem • Divine Circlet / Crown • Tournament of Champions|
|Tiara Winners||Fate • Hina • Mio • Misaka • Tenshi • Kuroneko • Kotori • Eru • Shana • Katou • Rem • Violet • Yukino • 2021 • 2022|
|Scepter Winners||Lelouch† • Kirito† • Oreki† • Hideyoshi† • Accel • Sora • Koro • 8man • Slime • Shirogane • 2021 • 2022|
|† - Male exhibition victory|