ITALY – Sara Cavagnari. She could be regarded as attractive and could be considered a contender if it weren’t for the fact that perhaps she’s projecting a bit too sexily upfront especially with her swimsuit-based national costume.
JAPAN – Yukiko Takahashi. If her sash didn’t say “Japan” she would not be considered in contention. But because it is so, she is guaranteed to make the Top 15.
KOREA – Ji-Eun Han. This girl doesn’t need “goodwill” to make the final cut–she has the prettiness and charisma to make it on her own merits. I think we can also factor in a thaw in relations between her country and Japan that besides her merits she would be a shoo-in for the Top 15 (they seem to be banding together and are treating China as a common enemy lately).
KYRGYZSTAN – Meerim Erkinbaeva. In Miss Universe or Miss World, her brand of features may make more serious inroads. Sometimes it might also work in this pageant, but there is no guarantee unless her sash probably says “China”, “Japan”, “Korea”, or “Mongolia”.
LEBANON – Layla Yarak. She is actually attractive, but there are some angles that were unflattering. At least she’s not as raw as some of her predecessors (though not the stellar likes of Miss International 2002 Christina Sawaya or Miss International 2008 semifinalist Jessica Kahawaty–who later became 2nd runner-up representing Australia in Miss World 2012).
LITHUANIA – Elma Segzdaviciute. She made a big splash in the Press Presentation as she garnered the Miss Photogenic title. It seems she might have a heads up on the competition and may have serious inroads into the Top Three because of that award. She does qualify as a pretty girl, though I quibble that the swimsuit she wore was rather unflattering and doesn’t really showcase anyone’s figure the best. But, well, her delicate features are to the Japanese public’s liking, so we should indeed keep an eye on her.
LUXEMBOURG – Corrine Semedo Furtado. Well it’s nice to see this country back in this pageant after an absence of 17 years. She is an atypical representative as her heritage is actually from the African island nation of Cape Verde. Her thighs and torso seemed thick but still I should regard her as a worthwhile contender.
MACAU – Adele So Ka-Wai. She garnered a sponsor’s prize, so it makes me wonder if that means she might make the final cut. Well, she is cuter than the representatives from China, Chinese Taipei or Hong Kong, so it may be possible that the “goodwill slot” usually accorded to China may go to her instead.
MALAYSIA – Charissa Chong Su Huey. By all kinds of standards, her features are just too plain and she is definitely not in serious contention.
MEXICO – Lucero Miroslava Montemayor Gracía. There is something about her features that falls a tad short to qualify unconditionally as pretty, but I think she’s got what it takes to be one with an inside track to make the final cut.
MONGOLIA – Namshiryn Anu. She may not be as pretty as previous representatives from her country to this pageant, but with her outgoing personality she seems to be on an inside track to make the Top 15.
MYANMAR – Gon Yi Aye Kyaw. There are angles where she looks cute that she could be in contention to make the final cut, but there are angles where she looks plain. Let’s see how she projects in the finals…
NEPAL – Shritima Shah. She has a dignified presence about her that may be catnip for the Japanese judges to consider her for the finals. Can she edge out India if this happens?
NETHERLANDS – Nathalie Den Dekker. This lady is the most experienced pageant veteran of the lot, with a whole host of international pageants on her belt, particularly making the Top 15 in Miss World 2012 and winning Miss Tourism International 2010. But she somehow missed the cut in Miss Supranational 2010 and Miss Universe 2012 (even if she was prominently featured in the final broadcast and won the Miss Chi special award post-pageant). I find her current styling rather interesting–in most shots, it seems a dark strawberry blonde, but when it hits a light, it would turn into a bright yellow blonde. Some pageant fans and pundits may assume that she is a front-runner for the crown, but I feel that she might be a shoo-in for the semifinals, but not really a crown contender.
COMING UP: NEW ZEALAND to SLOVAK REPUBLIC