Saki Achiga-hen episode of side-A – 01 Review

Yeah, a sentimental goodbye-scene is just what this character needs. It’s not like the fact that she was just introduced a few minutes ago would lead to me not giving a shit about this sentimental goodbye-scene…

Saki Achiga-hen episode of side-A 01: One Season Condensed Into One Episode

Wow, this must have been the first episode with the worst pacing I’ve ever seen. They could’ve finished Dragonball Z in twelve episodes with that kind of pacing. I’m not sure yet as to how exactly some characters are different from each other personality-wise. It’s rather hard to see the traces of individuality with these K-ON!-like characters. They’re all so moe, optimistic and whatnot… and apparently I have to differentiate between them using the size of their boobs or whether they are retarded or not… Gee, can’t they simply give them a personality or something?

A bunch of girls are friends and they love mahjong. Years later they all are at different schools when one of them sees one of her former friends kicking ass at an important tournament. That inspires her to reopen the original mahjong-club from children’s days (why it’s closed? Well, long story… not really, I mean it takes a few minutes in the episode to tell that part…). And her friends from the old days join her so that they can go to the nationals and kicks the ass of that one girl who dared being famous before them.

Seriously, get these freaks another hobby…! How can these characters stand playing with a person who has a game-breaking special ability?! This game has rules so that it’s fair! If some people want to play X-Men in Mahjong – fine… but don’t do it when normal people are present! And don’t expect me to care about the game if it isn’t a really cool ability. And soaking up Dora-tiles? Not cool, not one bit…

Don’t ask me what this episode is about because apparently we blasted through one season already and witnessed the start of the second season. That’s at least what it felt like to me. This one episode was just like a recap of season’s worth of plot. The pacing made it possible to rush through multiple meetings, goodbyes and reunions – and the audience is supposed to care about all of them.
I know there’s a series called Saki and this is a spin-off. And… that’s it. Seriously having watched may have prepared you for the tone of the story and you might have known that it will be about Mahjong but beyond that? Not helpful, the first series doesn’t add anything to this episode. But having seen this I suddenly don’t regret never having seen Saki because this wasn’t good. It’s not even about girls playing mahjong against each other. Well, of course that’s what it will be about eventually but in this episode Mahjong just sorta happened off-screen like the shark in the first half of Jaws.
If you start a series you try to set up a stage and you introduce the characters who will play on that stage. And then the dialogue and the BGM set the tone of the story and give exposition. This episode does all that but the pacing is so fast that it moves beyond the point of that having any meaning. I don’t care about these girls splitting up, they just became friends a minute ago! And it’s not even jumping from one important event to the next, some of the scenes seem to settle down as that’s the point when the plot will start but instead there’s simply another abrupt time-jump. It’s like that Meryl Streep movie Plenty where time-jumps are these disruptive moments that simply take you of the story as the audience. This episode makes it impossible for the audience to settle down and follow the story since it can jump ahead any moment.

I don’t think having pride is part of the moe-package. It kinda gets in the way of being clumsy or retarded all the time.

The characters aren’t great either, they’re some kind of androids right out of the K-ON!-factory of moe girl characters. It means they’re all moe on some level and they’re all up for some energetic fun and some characters show it more than others. Everyone’s clumsy in some way and it’s supposed to be funny finding out about that. But I certainly didn’t see any individuality. Like in K-ON! characters are defined by what they appear to be and the desire to appear somewhat moe at any given time. They aren’t deep and they make boring jokes that get lame very fast although they will repeat tirelessly nonetheless. Speaking of jokes: This series likes perverted jokes. As far as I know Saki liked those sort of jokes as well so I figured it’s just the crappy writer thinking it’s his trademark or something. It’s girls making jokes about the boobs of other girls and the girl with the boobs always has to be embarrassed about it which makes it a stereotypical routine instead of any kind of character-interaction. And city-girls, this series really hates city-girls apparently. The first few minutes portray Nodoka as a highborn girl from the city being helpless in the country and wearing fancy clothes. And the girl from the country acts like she’s from another world. What kind of weird portrayal is that? What the hell am I supposed to think of that? It’s just this list of stuff and there’s no real personality behind it to tell me who Nodoka as a person is. And like that every characterization is handled. It’s not just character-traits and some stuff being used as a vague background-story. A character should have more than that!
And Mahjong…? Well, this episode didn’t really give me a taste of how it handles Mahjong. We see girls playing in the episode but the plot doesn’t focus on that. Apparently the mahjong is more like a plot-device for preachy speeches about friendship and whatnot instead of a real event like in Akagi. And it gives me shivers just thinking it will include stupid abilities like soaking up all the Dora-tiles. So if it just wants Mahjong as a plot-device for character-development and melodrama then the series failed as far as the first episode is concerned. The characters are bland, the plot uninteresting and I can only guess that it could be a more driven K-ON!-sorta girl-club doing cute stuff but with a goal story.

If you like sports-animes about mahjong you shouldn’t watch this. You shouldn’t watch it for the characters either because those aren’t that interesting. If you liked K-ON!, though, or only disliked it for being too slow-paced and not getting anywhere this might be something for you. But even then you might have a hard time getting into a story since the really atrocious pacing of this first episode makes it nearly impossible to get into the story and care about it.

Episode-Rating: 3/10



About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on April 11, 2012, in Anime, Reviews, Saki Achiga-hen episode of side-A and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. So compared to the first series this is a polar opposite :/


  2. I’ve watched the first few of the first series, it was actually okay to watch, still haven’t got round to finishing it. It just doesn’t make you want to watch more as I just got distracted by watching other anime series’s.


  3. I think you are missing one major point of Saki… IT IS “X-Men in Mahjong”! This little “special ability” portrayed here stands no chance against monsters from the previous season. Actually these “normal” girls already have my sympathies going into upcoming national competition.


  4. I really hate it when I saw X-Men playing basketball/tennis/football, but I kind of interested when you say X-Men in Mahjongg.
    Maybe I should try watching Saki.


    • Yeah, I can already imagine what those will look like… It will be something like “Opponents don’t get the tiles they need when I pout.” or “I get an amazing very unlikely winning hand when I try to make a point about friendship.”.


  5. Where is Fate/Zero? D:


    • Don’t worry, we get through all the new series here… It’s just a matter of time.


      • @morgoth from what i seen in the manga this anime will get intresting and epic matches when they will meet the main character of the original saki and it wont be about freindship or wining hand thier abillitys will be on somthing else but i wont spoil to you it will get intresting only at episode 3 or 4 at least.


  6. @morgoth can you do a review of episode 3 of saki achiga hen since that the place where it get intresting please?


  7. Sorry, had to post my comment this late.

    You might think that Kuro has a game-breaking special power, which might’ve caused a ruckus if she was playing against newbies. In the later episodes reveals how much her ass gets kicked BECAUSE of her powers. In the Saki universe, there’s always a way to counter whoever’s hax.


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