Wednesday, April 15, 2009
After watching episode 1 of Saki, the first thing that I did...was take a nap. That wasn't entirely Saki's fault, but it's certainly not a winning endorsement for a show about competitive mahjong (or competitive anything). The games failed to generate any tension or excitement because the outcome was predictable (and I don't know the rules of mahjong, Japanese or otherwise). The characters failed to make me care about them, despite the writers' risibly transparent attempts to generate yuri subtext that I know will go nowhere, because they're bland archetypes. Unfortunately, despite the Maria-sama ga Miteru-riffic voice cast (hearing Kana Ueda as Saki was the highlight for me) I just don't care enough to follow this show.
But let me me backtrack a little.
Saki is about a high school student named Saki (probably 16...they're always 16...) who hates to play mahjong. After hearing her say that she hates mahjong, her friend Kyou makes her play a game of mahjong at the mahjong club he's in. Saki agrees to play more readily after seeing that Nodoka, the girl with big boobs (you think I'm trivializing her character by describing her that way? Not when the anime never lets you freaking forget it.) who Saki saw walking outside earlier that day, is a member of the club. It turns out that Nodoka rocks at mahjong and she, Saki, Kyou, and the resident high schooler who looks like she's 8 (Saki and Nodoka look like they're 12) all play a friendly game of mahjong. Partway through, their president wakes up from a nap she was taking in a corner of the room (I guess that, like me, she couldn't handle the excitement) and checks the scores, realizing that Saki managed to score plus or minus zero during all three rounds. zOMG. Saki promptly leaves, but Nodoka, her pride wounded at thinking that Saki threw the games on purpose, chases Saki in the rain (which the animators take full advantage of, unfortunately) and asks her to play a mahjong game with her again. Saki comes back to the mahjong club the next day and plays another game, scoring plus or minus zero again, which confirms the club president's faith in her awesome potential. And apparently Saki hates mahjong because her family used to get upset whenever she would win, so she adjusted her game so that she would always get plus or minus zero. God, the suspense is killing me.
With far better options airing this season (Fullmetal Alchemist, Eden of the East, even Ristorante Paradiso), unless you're a mahjong fan, I don't see much reason to watch this. I'm sure that there are people watching Saki for its (not even well executed) subtext between two characters I don't care about that will lead nowhere (and if it does...whoopee?). But with Aoi Hana set to air soon, I don't need to watch Saki for some dubitable yuri crumbs when there's a full meal with dessert and coffee coming right around the corner in July.
Art: C (By the way animators, quit using high schoolers who look like 8-12 year olds for fanservice. It's jarring and gross.)
This series isn't terribly bad as far as the first episode, but it's not terribly good or entertaining either.