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Old 2017-12-31, 02:18   Link #1
Marcus H.
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The Better Second Girl and the Predictability of Romance [Spoilers Abound!]

Just Because has just ended this week, and we welcome Ena Komiya into the Better Second Girl Club, a group consisting of girls penned by authors with the intention of bringing better interactions with the male lead of a romantic comedy show only to make them lose to the female lead who "wins by default". Context below.

Spoiler for Just Because:


Thing is, Komiya's not the first who had roughly the same kind of development in anime.

We have Ayase Aragaki of Oreimo, who willingly helped Kyousuke Kousaka in his solitary studies in preparation for college despite having a crush on Kyousuke himself, and was handsomely rewarded by a decisive rejection, being one of the first people to find out that Kirino likes her brother Kyousuke.

We have Utaha Kasumigaoka, who demonstrated in Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata one of the most graceful defeats in recent memory by continuing her career despite the rejection by male lead Tomoya Aki and making sure that another girl-in-defeat, Eriri Spencer Sawamura, would move on better from a similar rejection in favor of the bland female "lead" Megumi Katou.

And we have Rika Shiguma, who was one of the first-hand witnesses to male lead Kodaka Hasegawa's denseness.
["What did you say again?" echoes in the background]

-----

There seems to be a pattern—unless if it's Nisiosin who can make a two-page narration of Tsubasa Hanekawa's pantsu, chances are that female leads win regardless of how good their relationship development with the male lead was written, and authors seem to write better secondary heroines than main heroines. It's like in their confidence in writing the story, they have forgotten or disregarded how to make compelling heroines that win over the readers instead of flaunting the readers the main character bias and expecting them to comply.

Why is this a thing, and what does this say about the bigger picture?

Oh, and this thread will be teeming with spoilers. Proceed with caution!
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Old 2017-12-31, 06:59   Link #2
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It's all about story writing.

1. If the second girl is worst than the first girl and seemingly has no chance to win, why would anyone care about the second girl in the first place.

2. Better second girl will give the first girl a challenge in the love war. She will force the first girl out from her comfort zone and force the first girl to take action in order to win the guy heart. Without the better second girl as competitor, the story will be quite boring and will end really fast. (not always the case)

3. It's create good Waifu war between each girl fan club . This will make the series become more well known to public. For example, even if you don't watch Re:zero you probably heard many people talk about about 'Emilia vs Rem' on internet. It will make you curious and do some research to see which show they come from.
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Old 2017-12-31, 07:37   Link #3
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I got this from a friend of mine whose source was tvtropes, so take this with a grain of salt as I'm unable to find the original source, but from my personal experience, there's definitely some element of truth in this:

"Many romance anime have a female romantic foil. She's always a close friend, often a Childhood Friend, to the male lead – unlike the female lead, who enters his life out of nowhere and has a clashing personality – and is either a tomboy or just less feminine than her rival. This type of character almost never gets the guy in anime, so they're apparently not popular in Japan. But Americans adore them, and often resent the female lead for getting in her way, or for being too feminine and/or tsundere compared to their preferred character."

As for not True Tears Just Because, the shipping war for this series was absolute vitirol. Not even Re:Zero was this bad, and I have to go back to probably Macross Frontier days to see something this explosive. Butthurt shippers started rating the series 1/10 because their "favourite" girl lost.

I really liked this show, as I liked it even more than revered Tsuki ga Kirei earlier this year and the best school based romance/drama since White Album 2 imo. But god do I roll my eyes at the shipping fandom sometimes
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Old 2017-12-31, 07:40   Link #4
Marcus H.
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Quote:
f the second girl is worst than the first girl and seemingly has no chance to win, why would anyone care about the second girl in the first place.
It's not really about better or worse, it's about making the competition interesting. If the main girl can't lose, the story becomes bland. If the secondary girl is obviously better but is relegated to second by virtue of main character status, the story becomes an unfair competition.

Quote:
Better second girl will give the first girl a challenge in the love war. She will force the first girl out from her comfort zone and force the first girl to take action in order to win the guy heart. Without the better second girl as competitor, the story will be quite boring and will end really fast. (not always the case)
That didn't happen in Oreimo. Kirino was leagues beyond any other girl, and even the girls like Kirino in one way or the other. The moment Kirino made her move, the rest, except for Manami, stepped aside.

Quote:
It's create good Waifu war between each girl fan club . This will make the series become more well known to public. For example, even if you don't watch Re:zero you probably heard many people talk about about 'Emilia vs Rem' on internet. It will make you curious and do some research to see which show they come from.
I don't care much about waifu wars.
I want a fair and clean fight, not waifu fans flinging shit at each other.
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Old 2017-12-31, 07:50   Link #5
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Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
It's not really about better or worse, it's about making the competition interesting. If the main girl can't lose, the story becomes bland. If the secondary girl is obviously better but is relegated to second by virtue of main character status, the story becomes an unfair competition.
This is subjective though. Unfortunately for a lot of shipper's, their thought process is"girl they aren't rooting for losing" = "not interesting show" = "bad show".

Quote:
That didn't happen in Oreimo. Kirino was leagues beyond any other girl, and even the girls like Kirino in one way or the other. The moment Kirino made her move, the rest, except for Manami, stepped aside.
Oreimo was never a serious show so I don't think it's even worth dumb shipping wars over, but hey what do I know.

Quote:
I don't care much about waifu wars.
I want a fair and clean fight, not waifu fans flinging shit at each other.
Unfortunately, regardless of what you want, this is actually what happens in reality. Just Because was the latest casualty of this "shit flinging" but AS forums have been pretty dead over the past few years it didn't migrate here. That is NOT the case on other major anime discussion communities.
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Old 2017-12-31, 09:20   Link #6
Marcus H.
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This is subjective though. Unfortunately for a lot of shipper's, their thought process is"girl they aren't rooting for losing" = "not interesting show" = "bad show".
Or sometimes, it's cases like in Just Because where the main pair (which isn't Morikawa-Souma) didn't have the same kind of development as Eita-Natsume. Eita didn't say much and Natsume is all "entrance exams", while we got a nice built-up story between Morikawa and Souma.

Quote:
Oreimo was never a serious show so I don't think it's even worth dumb shipping wars over, but hey what do I know.
It's a romance story. Serious or not, it's a romance story.

Quote:
Unfortunately, regardless of what you want, this is actually what happens in reality. Just Because was the latest casualty of this "shit flinging" but AS forums have been pretty dead over the past few years it didn't migrate here. That is NOT the case on other major anime discussion communities.
Actually, I miss the shitflinging. The total absence of it meant that the Animesuki forums is really just a pile of bones.
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Old 2017-12-31, 10:43   Link #7
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I don't think AS forum is that dead though. the mods here just have a very big policy against shipping war, which I agree.

Personally, the issues of 2nd best girl I found, is when the author is writing, they want to give the heroine a rival that can actually threaten her position. But in the hindsight, said 2nd girl is present in a different light compare to the heroine. The problem is how the supposed main heroine is written, in books where main heroine is destined to win, the author is likely to have the main heroine image in his head already before the 2nd girl even got created. So the author actually need to put more thought in the 2nd girl in order to made contrast to the heroine. The heroine in this case, is generally too premade in my opinion, which led them have trouble to develop them later down in the books
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Old 2017-12-31, 12:37   Link #8
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Why?

Spoiler for re:zero:


Besides the subjectivity of whoever's best, I don't think it's very accurate to use gutter drain waste like Haganai and Oreimo to really define anything. When one show's agenda is breastbreastbreast and the other is lolyoulosers, I'm not sure if compelling romance was ever supposed to be a thing. And this is even if we disagree on quality.

Personally thouh, there's also a ton of cases where both choices are terrible, or sometimes the center of this triangle (or polygon) is actually the problem. It's a common thing in anime for 2 girls to be in love with a loser, and in reality, everyone loses. (see: Shinchiro, Subaru, Kyousuke). So in the end, who the fuck really cares?
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Old 2018-01-01, 02:35   Link #9
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I think the reason it happens at times is that the author tends to know more about the characters than the viewer/reader. Because the author has thought a lot about the character outside of the text/media, they are compelled by this extra information to make a different decision than we would. This is in addition to all of the points everyone else has made, but I think that it's hard to write/make a story and then change your mind halfway through because you want to stay true to your original idea.

I feel bad for authors who struggle with planning well enough to be able to avoid that sort of problem. But maybe a lack of planning is what causes this phenomenon?

On the other hand, I think it's because Japan likes flawed characters more than well-rounded or "perfect" picks. I think it best suits the author because there's an extra sense of protectiveness to the worth of someone who isn't as good or as perfect but is still worth being with anyway. I think it's something like that, anyway.
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Old 2018-01-01, 05:33   Link #10
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Old 2018-01-08, 00:01   Link #11
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It's because 1) the second girl isn't actually better (I mean seriously, Ayase and Rika???), and even if she were 2) love doesn't always make the "best choice."

But yes, as everyone said, it's to generate debate/discussion in the fanbase and to keep them on their toes. This aspect of these shows is geared in part to people who like these sorts of "contests," and so there has to be "close competition." But it's pretty easy to spot stories that really about building the foundation for the main relationship from the start, and the other heroines are really there to help sharpen the stone.


And well... if AnimeSuki ends up being a quiet place where people can actually discuss stuff without all the shitflinging, so be it. Or rather, if the cost of increased popularity is allowing/encouraging more shitflinging, good riddance. But I don't think that's the main issue, really. AnimeSuki grew in the first place because of the torrent site. Now that that's dead, there's nothing else to draw people here besides the discussions, and there's plenty of other places to do that (not least of which is AniTwitter, which is where a lot of old forum veterans now spend all their time). As people move on from anime or grow out of the desire to discuss it, there's not necessarily a giant influx of new people to replace them (which the torrent site regularly brought). And a lot of the new people we do get are much more focused on LNs than anime (where, it's worth pointing out, a lot of shitflinging still occurs).
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Old 2018-01-08, 02:30   Link #12
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It's because 1) the second girl isn't actually better (I mean seriously, Ayase and Rika???), and even if she were 2) love doesn't always make the "best choice."
First point: agree to disagree. I'm a bit biased against Kirino whose existence is completely controlled by the author, and Rika would be fared better as a partner than Yozora who has too much emotional baggage and Sena who still has a loose grip on her feelings for Kodaka. If anything, Kodaka losing some time for Neighbor's Club as he started helping the Student Council helped Yozora get some character development with her sister.

Second point: sometimes you just want to see a girl get her happy end regardless of genre. It's not really about the fickleness of love, it's about not wanting to see a character "turn to waste" in favor of the story in focus.
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Old 2018-01-08, 06:29   Link #13
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TL;DR: Romantic winners are only as good as their runner-ups.

If the second girl is bad, odds are the main girl will either suck hard or overwhelm the second girl so much it really isn't a battle; the winner has already been decided even before the story began.

On the other hand, if the second girl is good, she can give a good enough challenge for the main girl, but runs the risk of getting shafted unfairly if she turned out to be better than the main girl, and as mentioned above, "Love doesn't always make the good choices."
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Old 2018-01-08, 19:45   Link #14
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That's a good point. That said, I think the bar (the level of competition between girls for a male lead) hasn't raised yet, although Classroom of the Elite might have some promise.
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Old 2018-01-09, 01:13   Link #15
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I keep having to ask myself, What is the purpose of these love triangles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina2 View Post
3. It's create good Waifu war between each girl fan club . This will make the series become more well known to public. For example, even if you don't watch Re:zero you probably heard many people talk about about 'Emilia vs Rem' on internet. It will make you curious and do some research to see which show they come from.
Well, that's one answer, but it is a very external and postmodern motivation. I've seen Re:Zero and throughout the show always felt that 1) Emilia was out of Subaru's league and 2) a less interesting character overall (because the author never really did anything with her during the first season). When Subaru "confessed" to Rem, she turned him down because she knew it wasn't genuine, that he was looking for a way out. However, I have no idea what real narrative, thematic, or dramatic purpose these love triangles serve within the fiction itself.

The thing is, I can't help but compare these modern to love triangles from "back in the day." One of the best examples I can think of is the original SDF: Macross, in part, because the Second Girl actually WINS. Hikaru starts out in love with Minmei but she's a young, self-absorbed, immature teenager who gets caught up in her singing and acting career. Meanwhile, Misa starts off as a bit arrogant and standoffish, but as the show progresses, we see Hikaru learn more about her and discover why she is that way. In the end, she represents maturity and adulthood whereas Minmei has a more tragic ending--the songbird who held the universe in her hand but sacrificed her best chance at love because she had "friend zoned" Hikaru and was now out of everybody's league. (It is worth pointing out, though, that by the very end, Minmei has grown up and come to terms with the cost of the choices she's made in her life).

In Macross, the love triangle actually reflected elements and themes of the overall narrative. It was interwoven with the drama and each potential love interest represented different things--Minmei the immature dreams and tragic idealism of youth, and Misa the responsibility, maturity, and duty of adulthood. Hikaru's journey is one in which he begins as a late teenager and ends as a full-fledged adult and war hero--his romantic involvements reflect his journey.

In shows like Re:Zero, what does Subaru's involvement with Emilia represent? What does his relationship to Rem symbolize? I don't really see much there. To me, it seems to be a relationship just to create tension in the narrative and little else. It doesn't really seem to advance anything anywhere.

Another thing to note about these more recent shows is the absolute dearth of major supporting male characters. A lot of these shows mentioned here are essentially harem shows. Re:Zero didn't have any significant male characters that weren't somehow background and either rivals or distant support. Subaru never really got close or spent nearly as much time with any male characters as he did with Emilia or Rem. This sweeping away of other male figures maintains a strong central role on Subaru and renders all relationships in the show as potentially romantic. If there were other males involved, we could accept Rem and Subaru having a platonic relationship more easily because at some point fans could pair her with another character. But the way the show is structured, there's Subaru and no one else.

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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
And well... if AnimeSuki ends up being a quiet place where people can actually discuss stuff without all the shitflinging, so be it. Or rather, if the cost of increased popularity is allowing/encouraging more shitflinging, good riddance. ...
I find myself seconding this sentiment. Even though there isn't a whole lot of discussion here, I do find this forum to be more civil and the discussion much more intelligent than elsewhere.

I mean, there's actual discussion. People here actually read and consider what others post instead of being wholly absorbed in their own opinions. I do wish the place was a bit more active but if the price for a more active site is civility and actual discussion, then I'd vote for this place staying the way it is.
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Old 2018-01-09, 05:17   Link #16
Marcus H.
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Another thing to note about these more recent shows is the absolute dearth of major supporting male characters. A lot of these shows mentioned here are essentially harem shows. Re:Zero didn't have any significant male characters that weren't somehow background and either rivals or distant support.
Another reason why I think that Classroom of the Elite would handle LN romance better than others is the sheer amount of male characters who interact and have their own lives away from the male lead's influence. There's also Special A, although that's more shoujo and there's no harem to begin with.

The idea of a "theme behind the romance" is also something interesting to explore. Haganai, at the very least, tried to tackle about social relationships and generally "where do weirdos truly belong". Oreimo was an attempt to demonstrate the extents of sibling love. Saekano was what was written on the tin: the development of a "normal" girl in the aspect of romance.

Aside from Saekano (which was all about Megumi anyway), both Haganai and Oreimo could have worked without the aspect of romance (i.e., hooking up the male lead to a girl), thus the question of why the romance was added if it didn't really contribute to the overall theme of the story. We could just chalk it up to LN editors wanting waifu wars to happen, and that's a problem that tarnishes the reputation of light novels when it comes to quality of writing.
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Old 2018-01-09, 05:38   Link #17
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Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
The idea of a "theme behind the romance" is also something interesting to explore. Haganai, at the very least, tried to tackle about social relationships and generally "where do weirdos truly belong". Oreimo was an attempt to demonstrate the extents of sibling love. Saekano was what was written on the tin: the development of a "normal" girl in the aspect of romance.
To clarify what I mean by "theme behind the romance," the romantic relationships build on and enhance the themes of the show as a whole. SDF: Macross is about a lot of stuff--love vs. war and misunderstanding being one of the key ideas. Hikaru's relationships play into that.

Saekano was, indeed, what was written on the tin. I only saw the first season and although it wasn't tremendously ambitious, I gotta give it credit for not being pretentious about what its goals were. I don't mind it being straightforward. It's not very complex or thought-provoking. The support characters are all rather one-note. The main girl, for all the talk about her being "boring," was actually the most interesting character out of all of them, if you ask me, because she wasn't a cardboard cut-out like the rest of the female characters.

Anyway, the relationship in Saekano is entirely the point of the show. There's no other real themes for the romance to build upon. It's completely straight-forward.

Quote:
Aside from Saekano (which was all about Megumi anyway), both Haganai and Oreimo could have worked without the aspect of romance (i.e., hooking up the male lead to a girl), thus the question of why the romance was added if it didn't really contribute to the overall theme of the story.
I thought Oreimo was all about an incestuous romance. I haven't watched the show. The entire concept turns me off. I have a younger sister--who is married with kids, by-the-way, we're old--and yuck, man, just yuck. The whole incest thing, from what I've heard and seen, is played totally straight as a romance. Normally in Japanese literature, the whole thing should end in terrible tragedy and tears as nature and society punish the sibling lovers for going against the natural and societal order.

Some people have basically explained this as being the author's fap-fantasy.

Quote:
We could just chalk it up to LN editors wanting waifu wars to happen, and that's a problem that tarnishes the reputation of light novels when it comes to quality of writing.
That's what I mean by this entire development within the Japanese pop culture sphere as being very postmodern. It's self-referential and very much self-aware that it is fiction within a fan-centric consumerist milieu. In other words, it isn't being designed for itself but to be a product. I'm reminded of an interview I saw recently with Billy Corgan where he talked about meeting with record label execs who didn't refer to "music" but instead to "product."

If these things are being deliberately written to be "product," well, then, I'm not surprised if the "second girl" is deliberately designed to spur shipping wars. It's good for sales. Cynical but effective.
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Old 2018-01-12, 21:43   Link #18
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Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Aside from Saekano (which was all about Megumi anyway), both Haganai and Oreimo could have worked without the aspect of romance (i.e., hooking up the male lead to a girl), thus the question of why the romance was added if it didn't really contribute to the overall theme of the story. We could just chalk it up to LN editors wanting waifu wars to happen, and that's a problem that tarnishes the reputation of light novels when it comes to quality of writing.
Both Haganai and Oreimo are based very heavily (and obviously) in galge/eroge, so this motif is a central aspect of their story structure. And in following the galge/eroge model, the things you thought of as the "overall theme of the story" are actually just the setting/backdrop for the story. They're vehicles to develop the relationship between the protagonist and the love interest(s). If you look at the sort of games that both Sena and Kirino (in the respective stories) were fond of, they're all like this: the setting/backdrop can be different, but at the core they're all about forming romantic relationships with the various characters. To make sense for the linear medium, they adopted a "shounen romance manga" style narrative that gives different potential romantic interests a chance in the spotlight and pits them at odds with each other for drama. But of course they were also marketing galge based on each of the franchises (to explore the other routes the linear medium couldn't), and these were fairly popular all things considered.

So basically, I think it's a problem of expectation more than strictly the "quality" of the writing. If you approach both works from the perspective of a galge/eroge, everything makes sense from the get-go.

Spoiler for Oreimo:

So basically I guess I would say you could write stories based on the same premise without exploring romance at all, but the premise doesn't define the narrative's overall theme. The thing you're alluding to about light novels (as one of the reasons for their poor reputation) is that some people feel betrayed by an interesting premise into making assumptions about the plot, but often times the premise is just the framework for a much simpler (and more patterned) narrative. (See also, Sword Art Online, for instance...)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fvlminatvs View Post
I thought Oreimo was all about an incestuous romance. I haven't watched the show. The entire concept turns me off. I have a younger sister--who is married with kids, by-the-way, we're old--and yuck, man, just yuck. The whole incest thing, from what I've heard and seen, is played totally straight as a romance. Normally in Japanese literature, the whole thing should end in terrible tragedy and tears as nature and society punish the sibling lovers for going against the natural and societal order.

Some people have basically explained this as being the author's fap-fantasy.
Not that I really want to get too much further into this tangent, but a lot of what you heard isn't correct. I still doubt that you'd like it... but it's not played straight, it does deal with societal consequence (within its scope), and there's more going on than that. A lot of people don't like it for the way the plot developed (and the anime was very poorly condensed), but some of the hate it gets to this day is, in fact, from spurned shippers (true to the theme of this thread).
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Last edited by relentlessflame; 2018-01-12 at 21:56.
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Old 2018-01-17, 20:48   Link #19
serenade_beta
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There aren't even that many anime (if any) these days that are worth doing shipping wars for. Man, the True Tears days. Those were some fun, fun times.

Anyways, as for 2nd-girl, I still think Mashiro-iro Symphony was awesome for pretty much just pushing the "main heroine" aside to let Senpai win. Best girl won.
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Old 2018-01-17, 20:57   Link #20
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And there are also some shows where ALL the girls are deserving and ALL the girls won.
Off the top of my head are Rokujouma no Shinryakusha and Koreha Zombie Desuka.
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