With its recent success in Saimoe ’09 and the lack of running shows to actively follow, I decided to pick up Saki despite my complete ignorance on mahjong. 14 episodes in, and I still do not know a thing about the goddamned game, but I am having loads of fun despite it, and I don’t even have yuri goggles.
Perhaps it’s the different skillsets that each player has, four of which clash over on the mahjong table. Or maybe how each team works and supports its own members in its own special way.
At any rate, despite being good, raw entertainment, Saki does have some nice themes going for it. First is Saki’s family problem. It’s understated, but you can clearly see how lonely Saki’s household is, and how ineffectual and pathetic her father looks. I haven’t a clue as to what caused her family to separate, but I imagine it must be sad, so much that Saki acts so withdrawn from the world, renouncing the joy of mahjong.
Another is Hisa’s struggle with mahjong itself–the girl wanted to go to Kazekoshi for its mahjong club, but she could not afford the tuition. Again there’s little drama about it (which I like, since sob stories about poverty are pretty much trite nowadays), but I’m impressed with how Hisa managed to stick through those years, waiting for bad odds, as her actual mahjong playing style goes. Face it, anyone could be born with special mahjong powers, but perseverance is the mark of a true player who loves the game more than anything.
There’s also Koromo’s loneliness and her heartfelt desire to make friends, but I’ve only just scratched the tip of the iceberg with it.
Just one problem with the show is how most of the matches focus on only a fraction of the players, and never all of them. Three out of the five Kazekoshi players have next to no personalities (not to mention butt-ugly, except for the glasses girl), and Tsuruga is only starting to pick up with Stealth Momo (the Haman-haired girl was a total disappointment). Not to mention that one usually dominates the game, and takes up most of the screentime. Quite sad because each player could have her own story and mahjong hax.
Hell, the meganekko round (episode 10) was boring and only served to explain Mako’s mahjong power, which was rendered useless on the same round. I wonder if the show hates meganekko or something.
That aside, this question has been boggling me since the start of the show: what is that cat-thing around Yuuki’s waist and why does it mimic her facial expressions?
That’s probably it for now, I’ll have to continue watching, and read this Japanese mahjong rulebook my friend gave me…