I started watching Saki a few days ago, and soon finished this intense, captivating anime about mahjong.
Saki follows Miyanaga Saki and her Mahjong club members as they aim for the national mahjong tournament. Saki is a first year high school student who dislikes playing mahjong, despite her astonishing skills. This soon changed, however, after she meets Haramura Nodoka, another top level player. They quickly became yuri lovers best friends. Together, they play against interesting and tough opponents along the journey to nationals.
From what I have read before about Saki, I has expected a fan servicing anime featuring lots of yuri and lots of strip mahjong teases. However, Saki is a keen and impassioned series, and embodies the essence of any great sports anime. I grew up playing mahjong with my family, and the intensity, the anxiety, and the excitement of Saki really resonate with me. Although usually I have no idea what is actually going on, I still love watching the characters wait for that big hand (none of which I have ever seen achieved in real life). When that impossibility comes, it is simply an amazing feeling.
Further, I think Saki really does portray another aspect of mahjong quite well. In its core, mahjong is a game of skill and luck, and inevitably, the culture of mahjong involves much superstition and belief in a supernatural aspect of the game. Minor things like losing and winning streaks, tile draws, or even certain spoken words are all believed to be heavily influential to winning a round. Therefore, I love that Saki stays true to this mahjong culture. The series does not treat mahjong as a purely probabilistic game of chance and skill, but rather incorporate elements of the “flow”.
Perhaps the best part about Saki is its characters. Saki manages to present a dozen lovely characters from four schools in relatively few episodes. More importantly, Saki makes me care about these characters. Most of them are memorable, cute, and well developed. This is really quite a remarkable series in this aspect.
Finally, Saki has its strong yuri hints and moments, and that pretty much makes it sooooooo much more enjoyable for me. In fact, Saki and Nodoka, Momoko and Kajiki, Kana and Mihoko, and some other pairs are perhaps more than mere insinuations.
Anyway, it has been a while since I wrote a series review…
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