Each year, Beneath the Tangles runs an event called AniMarch Madness, which pits anime against anime in a playoff-style tournament where voters determine the top anime. It runs through March and into April each year, roughly coinciding with its namesake, the NCAA basketball tournament. It’s an exciting time for you to participate, shouting for joy (or groaning in pain) as anime rise and fall until only one remains!
You mean Anime March Madness, right?
We have rebranded it as AniMarch Madness.
How did Anime March Madness begin?
The brainchild of MDMRN , the tournament started in 2016 here on the site. It has since expanded across our social media platforms as well.
How many anime participate?
At this time, 34 anime series (no movies or manga) are part of the tournament proper, though we do have play-in matches as well that include more series (more on that later).
Which anime have won the tournament?
Only two. Between 2016 and 2019. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood won every year (four in a row). After receiving input from staff and our subscribers, Twwk decided to retire FMAB for the 2020 tournament, allowing for a different winner (My Hero Academia took the crown last year). FMAB returns in 2021 to see if it can continue to be undefeated.
Who selects the entrants?
Selections are based on a number of factors. Most important are previous year’s results—those anime that finished well make it into the tournament the next year. Those that don’t finish well aren’t guaranteed a spot, providing an opportunity to keep the tournament fresh as different series are included. Other factors that determine the entrants include their applicability to each region (more on regions later); staff recommendations, input, and discussion; and the play-in matches. Final decisions are determined by the results of the play-in matches and by Twwk.
What are play-in matches?
We realized that 32 anime is not a whole lot, especially when a quarter of them are “new series” from the previous year, leaving only 24 slots for decades of anime. So beginning in 2019, we started play-in matches, a series of votes during February to determine some of the anime that would get a chance to participate in the actual tournament. In 2020, this meant that 48 anime were voted on instead of just 32. This year, we actually feature 34 anime in round one, with an extra, pre-round of sorts pitching second change anime against one another and similar to the “first round” of the NCAA tournament.
Why do some anime that are wildly different from one another match up?
After round one, that’s something that’s bound to happen, but it also often happens even in the first round. Think of it as if you’re watching a sporting event: Sometimes players or teams that have varying styles match up against one another in the playoffs. It’s part of the fun. Even so, we do try to keep series in relatively topical brackets through our region system.
What are regions? How many are there?
In the NCAA basketball tournament, there are four regions arranged geographically. For our regions, we do it topically. Currently, as this may vary in the future, the regions are as follows: Shounen / Popular, Critical Darlings, [Previous Year] Anime, and Romance / Comedy Anime. As with the NCAA tournament, you still get strange match-ups sometimes, but this is more organized than a free-for-all. It also gives more critically-enjoyed series a better chance at advancing, putting many of the popular series all in one bracket (As much as we like My Hero Academia and Naruto, it would stink to have four shounen series in the final four every year). A good example was that Violet Evergarden made the finals a couple years back.
Why do some of my favorites have to match up against very popular series early on, though?
Despite our region slotting, difficult matchups happen from the very beginning. Some of that is according to our seeding system. Anime are seeded based on previous performances, from one through eight in each region. In round one, the #1 seed faces #8, #2 plays #7, #3 meets #6, and #4 matches up against #5 in each bracket. If your favorite loses early on, I am sorry—I know it hurts. We encourage you to support your favorites by reblogging, retweeting, and sharing. Upsets happen frequently.
How do I vote?
So I can vote up on multiple platforms?
You can. We encourage you to support your favorite series by going to each platform and voting there. This isn’t a presidential election—multiple votes per individual are fine by us.
Am I voting for my favorite or the best?
This is up to you. We’re looking for the nebulous “top” anime. I hope that takes a little shine off of everyone voting for their favorite / the most popular, while also denying the gatekeeping of so-and-so is the truly best anime (even if no one has seen it).
What happens if there’s a tie?
Ties are rare but do happen. In rounds one through three, Twwk has the tie-breaking vote. For the final two rounds, a re-vote within a shortened time-frame will occur.
Where I do I send my suggestions?
We encourage you to email any suggestions you have that could help us improve the tournament. Changes occur each year as we refine it, and also as we handle increasing interest.