Copycat: it all ends here.

First of all, congrats to everyone who participated, you are all worthy of prizes because I'm sure you learned a lot from this :] Thank you for entering this challenge!
Second, the first three entries were very hard to rank; if it were possible, I'd like to give the first prize to all of them. Seriously, you guys did amazing.
Third, so as not to be a prick, the non-top-three contestants will get 2 icon requests each! Also, they're listed in no particular order, so don't think I'm ranking them.
Fourth, while the judging may seem stupid and crude, it's all fun and games, so please don't take it to heart if I say something a bit innapropriate ^_^ "How close" refers to how exact your copying was.
So, without further ado, let the bitching judging commence!

Contestant: Angel Zakuro
Entry: listen to you.
Rank: Faaabulous First >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 98% - attention, we have a forger on the loose!
Awesome!: Good description, I could tell what you did and how you worked. Also, the likeness is amazing, you managed to imitate Ritona Raito's style very well and paid attention to the elements she usually uses when making cards.
Meh: The red is too bright for my eyes! You should tone it down a bit, there is some pixelation on the hair and at the edges of the face.
Yuck!: Nothing as extreme to warrant a mention here.
Prize: a wallpaper request, a maximum of 10 icon requests, one gift

Contestant: Ritona Raito
Entry: King of Eden
Rank: Seductive Second >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 95% - can pass as authentic!
Awesome!: See, that's why I said judging was difficult. Very detailed description of the work process and eerie resemblance to the inspiration-artist's style, down to the fonts and brushwork.
Meh: If anything, your card turned out better than your source of inspiration's >.> I'm just sayin'. (more like a 'meh' directed towards the source) One thing that bugs me, though, is the graininess inside the outlines of the character. I don't know whether this was intended or not, but it makes the overall flow of the card go down a bit, quality-wise. Since you have so many "round" elements, it'd be best to have another element from the main image (the character) of a similar quality, so as not to contradict one another.
Yuck!: No bitching from me here!
Prize: an e-card request, a maximum of 7 icon requests, one gift

Contestant: Mizuginiro
Entry: Advice is like snow
Rank: Tittilating Third >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 97% - who am I kidding, did you steal and submit this as your own?
Awesome!: Very good likeness to the style of the source, I especially like that you improved the font by making it less jagged.
Meh: More description! I know you mentioned what you worked on, but elaborate a bit on what you did. Posting the source image (the images you used in making the card) always helps as well, since you can compare and see how much you've modified it. Lastly, I would've liked to see more blending of the background and the character. The extraction is good but he looks like he's standing in front of a cardboard panel (the contrast in the BG is too high compared to the character, whose color are more muted; texture not taken into account because it's part of the source-artist's style).
Yuck!: Nothing extreme to report on here.
Prize: a maximum of 4 icon requests, one gift

Contestant: SaxGirl
Entry: Daylight Lucidity
Rank: Kickass Contestant >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 75% - not quite there yet, but almost!
Awesome!: I think your description was the most detailed of all, so props for that! Also, the overall layout is very similar to your source of inspiration.
Meh: The image and text are too distinct. Try to blend them more - often, modifying the text isn't enough, you need to work on the image as well. I suggest you experiment with Curves and Selective Color, they're great ways to achieve distinctive coloring with very little effort.
Yuck!: The text in brown isn't readable. At all. I know it's mostly for artistic purposes, but the image is too dark, compared to the text; try to up the contrast on it. Some advice: generally, people use pixel fonts for this artistic-yet-unreadable type of effect; there are lots of pixel fonts available and you can play with the settings until you get something satisfactoy. Try to stay away from system fonts (those that come with the operating system), since they're almost never a good choice.
Prize: a maximum of 2 icon requests

Contestant: Pikmin541
Entry: Goodbye...
Rank: Kickass Contestant >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 20% - I don't see it!
Awesome!: I like the sparkles and font!
Meh: Not enough description. You nailed the basics but it'd be best to elaborate more. This way you know what you did and where you can improve.
Yuck!: *sigh* Alright, first things first, do not compress the image like that. If you really want to have that big a part of it in your card, try putting black bars on the top and bottom (as if it were a movie) or, if you're ninja (:D) enough, extend the top and bottom instead of adding the bars (manually, not by stretching the image!). Always maintain the proportions reasonable! Moreover, I don't really see the resemblance between your card and your source's. Don't be afraid to use textures and brushes, they enhance your image. Play with colors and hues more.
Prize: a maximum of 2 icon requests

Contestant: SakuraDust
Entry: My Definition
Rank: Kickass Contestant >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 85% - very similar!
Awesome!: I like the fact that you used your own style and blended it with the source's; that way you try something new while still keeping to your way. Love the use of textures as well, and the whole grunge feel.
Meh: Uh, I feel bad about saying this...but your card actually looks better than the source. The text is a bit too sharp and distracting, though, and you could add a bit more to the description part.
Yuck!: Nothing to complain about here.
Prize: a maximum of 2 icon requests

Contestant: swizzledhazelnut
Entry: haruhi ROCKS!
Rank: Kickass Contestant >> banner of awesomeness
How close: 55% - I can see the likeness!
Awesome!: I'm in love with the background! It fits with the character and I like the fact that you weren't afraid to try a more daring and chaotic color scheme. I think you improved the source's style.
Meh: I'll let it slide that you used a wallpaper as inspiration, even though you were supposed to use a card. The description is lacking, you should write more about what you did, share the experience.
Yuck!: Edit the font, it doesn't fit with the rest of the card. I hope this isn't the case, but it almost looks like you took a wallpaper made by someone else, cropped it and the text was your only addition. To avoid this confusion in the future, make sure everything blends and that nothing looks out of place or can be doubted.
Prize: a maximum of 2 icon requests

Be sure to let me know what you'd like for your prizes, either here (in the comments) or via PM. Obviously, everyone automatically gets a medal. By the way, I don't shy away from yaoi/yuri/hentai, so feel free to request stuff like that if you want to :D

Feedback form!
Of course, you're not forced to fill this in, but it'd help a lot to get some feedback ^^ Here are the questions:
1. How was this challenge for you? Easy? Difficult? Boring?
2. What did you like most?
3. What didn't you like?
4. What would you like to see/participate in next?

Let the throwing of the rotten tomatoes begin! :D