Winning a game of Mahjong is hard; getting the same score every time is practically impossible. So imagine the surprise of the school Mahjong club when Saki Miyanaga walks in and does just that. Despite her dislike for the game, her talent is obvious and it's up to the club members - the top-heavy Nodoka, the energetic Yuuki, the cunning Mako and the permanently in control club president Hisa - to persuade her to join the club and help them reach the Nationals. But even then, will their combined skills be enough to overturn some of the toughest high school players the country has to offer?
Disclaimer: This is not a site review. If you're reading one of these, it's unlikely I'll ever write a site review for this anime. Probably because I don't want to pick it apart. ^_^Saki's problem lies with its blatant imperfections. Up to around episode 15, this show is amazing. The spectacular animation and amusing characters mitigate the sometimes sluggish pacing, the mahjong sits center-stage at nearly all times in the show, and Rie Kugimiya is voice acting. What more can you ask for?However, when the action wanders away from the board into a land where the animation budget clearly isn't as high, the show's visuals deteriorate rapidly, and the intensity evaporates, bringing the plot to a grinding halt. In addition, the main arc of the anime (the team tournament) ends with five episodes left to go in the season, causing the individual tournament arc to share the remaining morsels of screen time with two cute, but inconsequential fillers. While the plot pacing makes sense with the decision to have the second season start with the opening of the national tournament, it still feels disappointing.The mis-handled end kept Saki out of my Top 5, but that doesn't mean that the anime failed. If you can get past the preponderance of yuri, the character development is quite solid, and I feel for each character, despite the fact that I know they are just grist for the mill of Saki's mahjong. Paired with the excellent voice acting, the strong characterization present here really sold the series. By going deep into each girl's background, she became more than a special ability and a cute design. Frankly, I'll be sad to see most of them go when the next season starts.In the end, Saki represents a decent shounen sports anime hiding behind a bunch of girls sliding around tiles. A strong voice cast, some impressive visuals (albeit with the occasional lapse), and an interesting cast make this show worth checking out.
Saki had potential if it had taken itself more seriously as a competative gaming anime. However, it ended up focusing a bit too much on on a huge cast of girls (fan service), without providing much depth to the plot or character development. It's similar to Girls und Panzer in this way. Too many tournament scenes and moe, not enough of anything else. (A series like Hikaru no Go is a good example of a decent gaming anime that focuses on characters and plot as much as the game scenes.) Plot: Saki is about a small high school Majong club. It's members are from various years and are almost all female (one guy, but he's usually ignored anyway). The show includes a team tournament (most of the show), an individuals tournament (squished into a few episodes at the end), and random fillers inbetween (training camp, swimming, etc.) Using Majong is quite original, although the plot is otherwise ordinary. Characters: This is one of those shows that has TONS of characters. At first, it's a bit confusing, but they did a great job of introducing them all during the team tournament. By the end of the tournament, I could place any of the characters in their school groups. In a few of the other anime I watched this season, they couldn't pull this off so the show turned into a confusing mess. Character development was common and bland- minorly interesting. I did appreciate the cute shoujo ai between two of the major characters, which was unexpected. The only character that really bugged me was Nodoka, because of the intense focus on her chest (for a show that isn't really eechi, it focused on her boobs a bit too much). Overall I have no idea how to play actual Majong. However, just like in Hikaru no Go, they make the game so interesting and intense, even if the details aren't clear. I never once felt like I didn't know the standing of each player in the game. Unfortunately, while I think the games themselves were well done, the background plot could have used some extra work. While I wouldn't say I disliked the show, there are much better gaming anime out there to watch.
I should start off by saying that this isn't what I expected it to be, it was a lot more. I gave it a 6.8 but that was for a number of reasons. Animes like Saki have been around for ages, mahjong was just another way to spice it up. For example Beyblades, Yu-gi-oh, Battle B-Daman, to name a few, which doesn't help for originality points. However the fact that it was mahjong and was the first mahjong based anime I have watch left it feeling quiet different and was enjoying to watch.. and also made me want to learn mahjong (which I did). I would recommend having at least a basic understanding of mahjong before watching, unlike me and having to guess what the hell was happening every time they started playing. A brief synopsis is that a girl named Saki is kinda pressured into a least seeing the mahjong club, since she is a fairly good player. Upon seeing her talent at getting scores of + or - 0 each game (which is harder then actually winning) the mahjong club seek to enlist her so they can prepare for an upcoming tournament. After some deliberation and some initial resentment from Saki, she eventually joins and helps them in competing for the Mahjong nationals, all while slowly building up a relationship with the originally resentful Nodoka (pink hair). The plot was quite predictable but was picked up by the slight romance aspect, even if it was shojou~ai. Although don't be turned off by this, there is no actual pairing and so little shojou~ai i wouldn't even classify it as one. The powers and such that were put in place to spice it up seem a bit farfetched but somehow flowed with story and didn't seem too out of place, although one person in particulars power was a little bit OP but that would be going into spoiler territory. Now I have to add animation sound and the rest because apparently if I don't I'm being bais towards story. Not that I watch anime for the sound or animation but I suppose it does help probably ALOT, So I shall add it in. Animation and effects were well done and everything seems crisp, there were a few cheap scenes were minimal animation and chibi's were used but that added to the appeal of the anime. I especially liked the over the top aura and magic effects, which ofc all mahjong players must learn before entering tournaments. Music played a big role in this anime with all of the background music heightening the feelings received from certain scenes, although this is imminent in most anime Saki managed to pull of most moment with an upbeat and face paced electronic/technoy beat. However most of the background music was just average and didn't really stand out, however the openings and endings is what really gave it that extra + to its score. Not much to say on saki but if your a game based anime enthusiast, like mahjong or wouldn't mind a piece of shojou~ai then Saki is a nice anime to watch. I was contemplating re-watching after I learnt mahjong (because it was good enough to re-watch again), however recent news of a season 2 for Saki has left me waiting instead. (Hopefully more romance and shojou~ai in the next season hey ;P) I might have been a bit hard on Saki, it has been a while since I watched it so the after feeling of epicness that I may or may not have gotten from it might not be there so I might give it a 7.1 or so but I can only guide and any views on Saki is just my personal opinion.
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