Saki First Impression (w/ comparsion to K-On)

saki-anime

Why do I like this girl so much?  Wait…right it’s the Rie Kugimiya factor…it must be!

I don’t get it, if Kyoani is supposed to be inherently prone to bringing out masterpieces and Gonzo is supposed to be inherently prone to bringing out utter failures, then why is Saki’s opening episode so much more enjoyable than K-On’s opening episode?  Granted they both leave a lot to be desired in terms of character development in their openers, as K-On opens cold with little character development and a girl joining a light music club full of other girls, and Saki opens cold with little character development and a girl joing a mahjong club primarily full of other girls, but it seems like Saki hits upon it’s actual premise in Mahjong far more than K-On hits upon it’s premise in light music.

Both series feature clear and present moe appeal in their characters.  Saki has the calm and reserved Saki who wishes not to offend in her deserve to score a net zero at the end of every game, The hyperactive Yuuki who for some reason gets better at her mahjong game as she consumes tacos (don’t ask me), Nodoka who is the protypical oujo-sama character that is the alpha female and dominant player in her Mahjong club, and Hisa who is the observational president of the club.  Likewise K-On has Yui who is the ditzy new member of the club, Mio the tsunderish wise cracker on Guitar, Ritsu the hyperactive girl on drums, and Tsumugi the cutesy yet reserved keyboard player.  Saki=Yui, Mio=Nodoka, Ritsu=Yuuki, Mio=Hisa if you want to make some really rough comparsions.

And yet still despite the superficial similarities and comparisons, despite the fact that K-On wins flat out in terms of animation compared to Saki, I still find myself more interested in Saki.  Is it because I have experience with Mahjong unlike some other reviewers (who were also either bothered by the light fanservice elements, or just plain seem to dislike Gonzo for past shortcomings), when looking at this and because I am not terribly concerned or obsessed with knocking said series down because of some light fanservice moments or for being a game played by ” old loogie-hocking Chinese ladies” (love that line by Jaalin for some reason despite the fact that it doesn’t make any sense to me)?  Is it because Saki get’s right into the whole Mahjong affair while K-On lingers until the very end of the episode?  I’m not quite sure what is is specifically, but it’s probably a combination of the above and the fact that I find the Mahjong fair presented to me in Saki’s opener fair more sophisticated and to my tastes (Yes by the gods despite the fanservice that is really barely noticeable unless you are looking to it and despite the fact that it’s the much maligned Gonzo and not the much beloved Kyoani producing it like is the case with K-On) then K-Ons light music which barely got approached in the first episode.

saki-01-large-02

If You Are New To Mahjong then Go Ahead And “Lol Wut?” At This Hand, But For Me I Am Just Imaging The Chance I Might Have Next Hand To Strip Her Down As If I Am Playing One Of My M.A.M.E Games

Granted if K-On’s pace can be described as too slow Saki’s pace can be described as much too fast, and it is certainly not to Mahjong noob friendly, even with the translator notes.  At the end of the day K-On is the much more readibly approachable series in it’s simplicity compared to Saki, but since I get Mahjong and since I am not overly concerned with fanservice (Oh noes not wet clothing when it’s raining, I have been traumatized for life!), and since the characters in Saki are equally as charming (in a moetastic sense) as those in K-On, at the end of the day, because of that added focus on the actual premise of the series in the opener, Saki squeaks out my nod on the 4-Girl moe comedy opening episode of the season.

Conclusions:

+ Makes good use of moe appeal to bring out the concept of Mahjong to a new generation of anime viewers

- Doesn’t do much to make the game any more comprehensible to scrub players.

+ Excellent cast of Vet Seiyuu’s including Ami Koshimizu, Jun Fukuyama and Rie Kugimiya, Ryoko Shirashai and Kana Ueda at their best.

- Leaves much to be desired in the area of animation.

+/- A lot more sophisticated then your average anime out there when it comes to the premise, but if you are extremely irked by elements of light fanservice such as wet clothing/tight fitting clothing then you might be turned off.

Rating: Six And A Half Out Of Ten

Kaioshin’s Note:  It has come to my attention that eating Taco’s will not in fact increase your proficiency for Mahjong.  Sorry, but unlike Yuuki you are fresh out of luck.

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24 Responses to “Saki First Impression (w/ comparsion to K-On)”


  1. 1 lelangir April 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    K-ON is epic, you’re a sniveling maggot.

  2. 2 Zack April 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I really enjoyed Saki. Then again I am interested in Mahjong (Even if I’m all sorts of levels of fail in it) to an extent so that may kind of skew with how I view it. I was kind of expecting them to go the road of fanservice, moe and such while only lightly touching on the actual Mahjong and only getting into it a few episodes in, but I guess I was wrong and pleasantly surprised.

    Although this probably won’t get near the level Akagi was to Mahjong (If I’m wrong I’m going to be scared. I really don’t think it will though) I still think it will be very enjoyable to watch and see how it progresses.

  3. 3 digitalboy April 6, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I wasn’t bothered by the fanservice itself so much as that bitch’s boobs. After all, I love fanservice: http://fuzakenna.com/2008/07/06/strike-witches-is-perfect/

  4. 4 Kaioshin Sama April 6, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    @lelangir: Well now you know what I have to do. I’ll be at your house tomorrow. :P

    @Zack: I too actually imagined them going the route of fanservice and almost entirely forgetting the Mahjong premise seeing as one of Gonzo’s last series was the notorious Strike Witches, and while as I mentioned there were some elements of light fanservice, it chose mostly to focus on the whole Mahjong gimmick from the get go, which I liked…even if it was a little too fast and hyperactive in some regards.

    @digiboy: I’m glad you’ve decided to bury the hatchet with me so soon and came back to comment. Likewise I am more than happy to set aside our previous squabble and start over. :)

    Now, Nodoka’s breasts are indeed ludicrously oversized for someone of her build and I think I can probably tell you why. Nodoka is of the oujo-sama (rich girl) archetype and it seems quite popular (pretty much a trope actually) to draw them with a large bust. Apparently that’s something all rich tea-totalling girls have, I don’t get it either, much like how eating taco’s temporarily ups Yuuki’s Mahjong skill level.

    It occurs to me now that I think of it that the first episode of Saki was actually 2 chapters and not one, so that probably accounts a lot for the fast pace. If this show keeps up at that pace it’s liking to get even more confusing for non-Mahjong players so while I think this opener was decent, the show might fall short even by the next episode.

    As such if I had to bet on which show will have the better 2nd episode of the two that I compared here, I would put it all on K-On with it’s guitar shopping adventure.

  5. 5 Myssa Rei April 7, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Well, Saki hits the ground running when compared to K-ON (slice of life + moe archetypes never really picked up early), unfortunately it’s handicapped by the company producing it (GONZO) and the newbie-unfriendly subject matter (Japanese-variant Mahjong, quite different from the stuff played by my mother and aunts here in the Philippines, that’s for sure).

  6. 6 Kaioshin Sama April 7, 2009 at 1:47 am

    @Myssa Rei: Handicapped in which way? Animation quality?

  7. 7 Anonymous April 7, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Its no Akagi.

  8. 8 Myssa Rei April 7, 2009 at 2:31 am

    More the latter than the former (though GONZO producing it DOES skew perceptions a bit), actually; actual knowledge of Japanese Mahjong rules — which introduces some scoring modifiers not present in the run of the mill Chinese version prevalent in SE Asia — seem to enhance the viewing somewhat, ignoring the fanservice aspects of course.

  9. 9 fangzhao April 7, 2009 at 4:15 am

    “Impossible, right?”
    “What if she actually had that incredible ability?”

    *thunder and lightning*!!11

  10. 10 Kaioshin Sama April 7, 2009 at 5:23 am

    @Myssa Rei:

    Yes, unfortunately it is starting to seem handicapped in that regard, especially in it’s match ups with K-On on some other blogs. It seems that the fact that Saki uses pandering moe appeal along with it’s girl meets club premise and is done by Gonzo somehow makes it bad, but the fact that K-On uses moe appeal along with it’s girl meets club premise and is done by Kyoani somehow makes it awesome. It’s really kind of the same deal when you get down to it, albeit one show is slower than the other so I don’t see why the two are getting such overwhelmingly polarized reviews unless it is because people just don’t get mahjong (more likely it’s the “Ohhhh Gonzo Bad, Kyoani Good” pressure that is in place in the community that is at least partially responsible though).

    As I said in my write up though I don’t understand why anyone would think that they could adequately review Saki and slap a rating on it if they don’t even understand the core idea behind the show well enough to know what is going on. If you’re going to watch it regardless then fine, but I frankly think it’s…well….stupid to basically say “I don’t get Mahjong so this show fails” and think it will stick. Of course if you get Mahjong and still find the show poor then so be it. I know how to play Mahjong (although like a lot of players I need a scoring chart for the scoring phase) and I basically find this show to be slightly on the upper edge of medicore because it’s really not all that well animated and is a bit to fast paced.

  11. 11 omisyth April 7, 2009 at 5:26 am

    despite the fact that K-On wins flat out in terms of animation compared to Saki

    It depends on how you think of animation, as in “how much things move” or “consistency”. With K-On it felt like things were moving constantly to hide the fact that the art wasn’t good; with Saki at least a hand doesn’t look completely deformed. I personally found Saki much more appealing to the eyes than K-On!

  12. 12 omo April 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Nice image caption for the second one.

  13. 13 nazarielle April 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Well, I didn’t really know Mahjong coming in, but I had heard whispers of it in the dark corners of Twitter. Now that I have a better feel for it, I think the next episode will be a bit less ‘wtf just happened.’ Even if the scoring still completely eludes me, I have a better feel for how it’s played. And it makes me wish I could get a hand like that :<

  14. 14 no_sushi April 9, 2009 at 4:39 am

    I enjoyed Saki about as much as I enjoyed K-On, though I oddly think I like Yuuki more than most other Kugimiya Rie characters. Maybe it’s because she mostly voices loli/tsundere types (both of which I find to be eyesores) and Yuuki completely got rid of the latter (still loli though *shudders*). I developed an interest in this series and even read up on the manga (still can’t understand what’s going on though). I’m watching this (and K-On) more to see the interactions between the characters than anything else (though Saki also has the mahjong element going for it that K-On lacks right now. Overdramatization is fun!).

    One thing that irks me to no end is the size of that girl’s breast (the reigning champion, can’t remember her name). Here’s one case of anime not being consistent giving its own rules… sigh…

    @lelangir: How narrow-minded can you get?

  15. 15 unicogirl April 12, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I admit, I have no interest in Mahjong. But the first ep of this did capture my interest. It was bright and the pace was good (imo)

    I don’t understand the stilt legs and butt skirts. Then again GONZO does seem look at original works from manga/novels and take it as some kind challenge for Ecchi.

    Something makes me want to call this show “Sa-ki-Oh”

  16. 16 Kaioshin Sama April 12, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    @unicogirl: Yeah I don’t get Gonzo’s pantsu/no-pantsu fetish either, but it doesn’t bother me too much. What probably makes you want to call this show Sa-Ki-Oh is that Saki’s “luck of the tiles” is basically the same as Yu-Gi-Oh’s “heart of the cards” where whatever she needs to draw she seemingly gets, much like how in Yu-Gi-Oh he always draws the card he needs to turn the tide when it comes down to the last desperate draw.

    Spoilers below:

    Unlike Yugi who basically is always in a pinch though, Saki won’t be having too much trouble until she runs into a character named Amoe Koromo who has the same luck of the tiles as her, but is on a whole different level as a mahjong player.

  17. 17 Duo Maxwell April 15, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    C’mon, don’t make it sound like it’s GONZO’s fault about those no-pantsu fetish, lolz. Just take it as “they follow the manga closely” XD
    For example:
    http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m40/DSveno/Anime/Saki/saki02-156.png

    Yugioh makes the game looks like dumb, and completely base on luck (from YGO player’s PoV, and I believe I’m quite good YGO player), while Saki is clearly using her skill together with her luck.
    But as you should have expected, Koromo is overwhelming Saki, until her “awakening” in volume 6. Well, the outcome still hasn’t been determined, but this is manga, so I expect Saki would have a close win.

  18. 18 GOMU GOMU GATHING GUN April 19, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    u should watch Akagi its about mahjong total different yeah its old but its about win or lose live or die kind of anime

  19. 19 TACOS April 21, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Why do I like that girl so much?

    She’s the embodiment of Gir, from Invader Zim, as a loli-schoolgirl.

    The Rie Kugimiya factor just adds to her charm.

    TACOS, FTW.

  20. 20 GBunny July 21, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Initially I liked Saki as much as K-On. Saki was good in both story premises and pace; artwork wise I think it’s decent but nothing spectacular. I enjoyed it until they started the tournament and everything became all over dramatic. I had to fast forward many of the internal dialog during Nodoka’s match with Toka. Episode 16 started off good until the same over dramatic “special effects” were added for Amae.

  21. 21 Kaioshin Sama July 21, 2009 at 10:24 am

    @GBunny: Those over dramatic special effects are kind of what make Saki so take em’ or leave em’ along with the rest of it. As for K-On I hope to never have to speak of it again. Looking back I kind of regret even putting it in the same comparison bracket as Saki.

  22. 22 Jacob Stawarz June 25, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Needed to give you that very little remark simply to thank you once more because of these spectacular techniques you have provided in the following paragraphs. It’s so particularly generous with folks that you to deliver unreservedly what many people can have marketed for an book to earn some dough for their own reasons, primarily given that you may have completed it if you wanted. The tactics also acted to get fantastic way to understand or know that most of us have similar desire just like my personal to understand very much more on this condition. I’m there are a huge number of more pleasing opportunities in the beginning in case you go through your blog post.

  23. 23 Kitsukii October 1, 2011 at 7:05 am

    no other than .. I love both anime series!!! I can’t help watching and listening to HTT because they are just so cool!!! I also admire Saki (anime) because of their Mahjong skills specially their pairings (HisaMiho, NodoSaki, HajiTouka, YumiMomo, etc). I cant choose .. hehe .. :D


  1. 1 THAT Animeblog - Powerchord, East Wind, (屮゜Д゜)屮♫ Trackback on April 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

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