Monday, September 27, 2010
At first glance I thought this anime was definitely going to be one aimed at a very niche market. It's basically about a high school 'Mahjong' club who aim to compete in and win the national Mahjong tournament. Upon watching further however, I came to realise that no understanding of the game of Mahjong is required what-so-ever to still be able to enjoy this anime a great deal. While the focus definitely rests with the playing of Mahjong for most of the anime, there are also several other interesting aspects that are worth notice.
Firstly, to clarify the game of Mahjong. Mahjong is a board game that is usually played between 4 people, where 'tiles' are used to form certain combinations that can add points to the players score as well as remove points from the opponenets score. At the end of the game the player with the highest score is the winner. Several rounds may be played in one match, and there can be many variations to the rules, as well as the format of the game, such as team matches. The many rules and combos in Mahjong do certainly appear confusing at the beginning of the anime, but you will gradually come to understand more of the game as you continue to watch. However, as I stated before, you can certainly still enjoy this anime without understanding Mahjong one bit.
An anime centering around a board game may sound rather dull at first, but that assumption will fade very quickly as soon as the real battles begin. Each and every character has a very distinct play style as well as certain special abilities, which range from the ability to partially fade out of existence to being able to 'feel the flow of the tiles' and interpret your opponents hand. These skills are displayed with sometimes truly explosive effects. In my opinion these special effects were a great addition to the anime and they greatly increased the excitement levels during matches, which most of the time, seemed more like action-packed duals to the death.
The vast majority of the cast is female, with only one male member in the club of the main character (Saki). The anime employs several of the standard stereotypes to the characters, however there are a few characters who step away from these stereotypes from time to time. Overall I really enjoyed the characters and there were none that I found particularly annoying.
I found Saki to be a very enjoyable series, not a classic by any means, but still more than something to just pass the time. It included many of the fan-favorites such as the 'hot-springs' episode, and although some people may think these are often overused, it didn't feel to out-of-place in this series at all. I would recommend this anime to anyone who wants to take a stroll off the beaten track that so many other animes follow, and experience something quite unique.
Length: 25 episodes.