As a fan of the New England Patriots, I am well aware of the debate that has been going on regarding Tom Brady’s legacy. With another Super Bowl ring, Brady has, in the eyes of many, cemented himself as the greatest quarterback of all-time. Outside of Joe Montana, there really won’t be a debate over that status until another quarterback comes along and wins multiple Super Bowls as part of a football dynasty.

In the NBA, it’s rather easy to predict who will be the top five or so candidates for the MVP race for the next five seasons. We all know LeBron, Steph and Russell are most likely going to be the Top 3 of MVP consideration next season (barring a long-term injury) with either Kawhi, Harden or Durant potentially sneaking in at the 3rd spot. With how the voting is set up and how the perception of the ideal MVP is seemingly locked in place, there is little wiggle room for players who don’t fit the mold to earn consideration.

In college football, well over half the team is automatically disqualified from Heisman consideration just because they play on defense or the line. If you aren’t a quarterback or running back, don’t even bother thinking you could play your way into Heisman consideration. 

To be perfectly frank, debates over MVP and G.O.A.T. are boring and formulaic. This is especially apparent when compared to debates with the anime community over best girl.

For those who have no foothold in the anime community, the best girl is the equivalent to a MVP or G.O.A.T. As the name suggests, a best girl is the female character within a certain subsection of anime that is determined to be the best. You can dwindle this down to a specific show or widen the scope to the entire anime medium. 

Defining a best girl, unlike MVP or G.O.A.T., has many more layers with the variables shifting from one anime fan to another. Football fans know what a great quarterback looks like. While opinion may vary on such things as how mobile the quarterback should be and how many interceptions they’re allowed to throw for every touchdown they score, the variables are straight-forward. Even if you hate the Patriots, you have to acknowledge Brady is a great quarterback based on the stats he has put up over his career and the games he has won. 

This isn’t the case with best girls. There is no mold for best girl. Certain characteristics are certainly appealing over others but the amount of wiggle room given allows for such a wider net to be cast when searching for a best girl. This allows for a wider variety of characters to be considered best girl given the subjective nature with which selection is held to. 

Consider the Cy Young award. The award, given to the best MLB pitcher in each league at the end of each season, ways different aspects of pitching in order to determine what the ideal winner should look like. There’s a rough amount of wins they should have. There is a rough amount of strikeouts. Their ERA shouldn’t exceed a certain number. They should have a certain number of innings pitched. All of these factors are taken under consideration and lacking in just one stat could be all a pitcher needs to have themselves removed from the running. 

Now, imagine if a pitcher had the league average in all of these stats listed above but also happened to have given up the least amount of walks in the past decade. Even with such an impressive stat, that pitcher will almost certainly be removed from Cy Young consideration. Under the rules of determining best girl however, that pitcher has a strong dark horse chance of winning the Cy Young. 

While figuring out who best girl is is often a matter one personally embarks on if they feel like it, there is at least one large-scale effort to properly determine who the best girl, across the entire anime industry, should be. 

Reddit’s r/anime subreddit, which boasts over a half a million subscribers, started their fourth annual best girl contest today. The contest, to summarize it, is March Madness meets female anime characters…on steroids. 

The contest starts with a period where fans may submit their personal best girls. How many girls ended up making the first cut last year you might ask? Two thousand four hundred and thirty six. After five days worth of elimination rounds, the list was narrowed down to the top five hundred and twelve vote getters. From there on out, round by round, one-on-one matchups dwindled the field until one true best girl was crowned a month later. 

There is a method to the madness. Characters were seeded based on elimination round votes in proper tournament fashion (I’m looking at you, tennis and soccer). Past winners are also disqualified from being entered again. There is also a cap set on the amount of characters from a specific anime that can be entered into the final five hundred and twelve selections. There’s also strategy, given the longevity of the contest, to continue to campaign for your favorite character through various means. Also, Megumin is going to win so why bother participating in this year’s contest anyways. 

I could go into a whole ‘nother discussion over what makes a “best girl” but I’ll save that for another time I want to slip anime topics into a light-hearted sports news site. Suffice it to say, the first few rounds, if you elect to embark on that deep dive, are going to be far more interesting than the first few rounds of this year’s March Madness tournament.

Are there upset? Last year, the 53rd and 42nd ranked characters made it to the final matchup; defeating the top two seeds respectively along the way. On the flip side, if you’re a fan of legacies, a small handful of characters have made it to the elite eight in every contest to date. 

In summary, MVP races and G.O.A.T. debates are often more boring and formulaic then we realize and best girl aren’t either of those things. Our perceptions of what a “MVP” looks like should have layers to and we shouldn’t unequivocally fall back on what past MVPs have looked like in order to determine the future ones. Also, if Aoi Miyamori could make it to the round of 32 this year, that’d be swell. Screw you Jibril. 

P.S. There are best boy debates and contest but, given the success of Yuri on Ice, those contests have been all but determined for the next three years or so.