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.
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.
+ 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.