Anime March Madness FAQ

Each year, Beneath the Tangles runs an event called “Anime March Madness,” which pits anime against anime in a playoff-style tournament where voters determine the best 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!

How did Anime March Madness begin?

The brainchild of MDMRN, the tournament started in 2016 here on the site. It has since expanded across out social media platforms as well.

How many anime participate?

At this time, 32 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?

As of 2019, only one. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood won four years in a row. After receiving input from staff and our subscribers, Twwk decided to retire FMAB for the 2020 tournament, though it could return for a future one.

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.

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 Staff Favorites. 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 last year.

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?

Voting happens here on the blog and across many of our platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the Anime Pop Heart Instagram.

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?

I keep telling you to vote for your “favorite.” That’s how most people will vote. Technically, however, we’re looking for the best anime, according to our subscribers. If it comes down to it, between “favorite” and “best,” we hope you’ll side with the latter, however it is you define that term.

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.