Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Saki - Episode 1

Saki Miyanagi, a first year student (why are they always first years?!) is sitting by the river just before the entrance of her school reading quietly until she noticed a pink-haired, big boobed girl, who also happens to be a first year, walk by. One thing leads to another with the interruption of Kyou, her guy-friend (not boyfriend, simply guy-friend), she ends up in the mahjong club where she meets this mysterious pink-haired girl, named Nodoka Haramura who happens to be a very “skilled” (I use this word carefully) mahjong player, once more. This time they are formally introduced. Due to lack of members, Saki is peer-pressured to fill in for a game of mahjong.

This is when the whole loli fa├žade shatters into miniscule pieces of lame mahjong talk and animation which I won’t even explain. Let’s just say, Saki is apparently a mahjong prodigy who manages to maintain her score at 0 (you can get negative points in mahjong) in all the games. After Saki takes her leave, Nodoka with her pride hurt chases after Saki. Saki explains that when she played mahjong as a child, she always aimed for 0 because if she won, her family would get mad, and if she lost, she wouldn’t get any candy. Yes, I cried at this scene and yes, this is about as tragic as it gets (I think). The next day she plays a couple more games of mahjong and still manages to maintain her leveled score. Check the pictures, this scene was so intense (not), sparks jolted out of the mahjong tile as she slammed it on to the table, literally.
Preview: Some Magical Mahjong! Woo! Definitely a rave! T.T

Without the large selection of lolis and female anime archetypes, I don’t think I would have lasted a minute watching this. It’s like they turned Japanese mahjong into some outrageous and overcomplicated magical duel. Overcomplicated, now that’s a major issue, I bet 99% of the western viewers out there have absolutely no idea what these lolis are on about (even with the subs explaining it!).

The comedy department is average but I’d say the art quality is inconsistent at times you get lovely loli pictures but other times you get a really simplistic view of characters (excluding the chibi drawing that was used for comedy).

Now it’s time to slate the plot. Knowing that this was an anime about mahjong, I thought the protagonist wouldn’t have known how to play and that we, the viewers, would gradually learn alongside her. This would have been a much better approach as it would’ve definitely widened the target audience for this show. The serious problem with the plot is that we all know what’s going to happen; the whole shazam is about getting to the mahjong tournament. Whether they win or lose depends on how sadistic the director, manga artist or whoever is in charge is.
So, no more Saki for me… X.X

Bottom line: Don’t waste your time unless you know how to play Japanese mahjong.

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