Hello my sweet island guests! For my Saturday anime posts I have been covering ways to discover anime for the past two weeks! Ending with how excited I was to watch some random anime using the Random Anime Generator Website! Now once a month, or at least I will try to do so, I will generate one random anime and watch it’s first five episodes (about a movie length) discussing my thoughts about it and whether or not I would pick it up to finish it! My first randomised anime came up as: Saki!
I did not read any descriptions I just generated a random anime title , looked if it was available to me and watched the show. Saki should still be available for everyone using Crunchyroll but I am not sure how everything works for that. The first opening minute I saw a slightly tomboyish girl looking at another girl thinking she is super pretty! I never heard of this anime before and I had no clue what to expect.. but already I was getting some Yuri vibes. Lucky! The tame kind too! It was also clear there would be a lot fan service.. even though it’s fairly tame.. I did find myself kind of annoyed by it, but that is mostly because I really like the character being lewded a lot. They at times make her out to be just a pair of boobs .. and they have to really go out of their way to set it up as well so yes in this case I found it unpleasant. Still I get why you do it.. gotta keep Mahjong interesting.. because yes I stumbled upon an anime about Mahjong. With a pink seemingly gay (semi) main character , some flashy weird animations and people taking part in a tournament. This SHOW random show really hit some marks for me.
I’ll be honest, I have started watching A Certain Magical Index as well, but now that I am five episodes in for both! This one has my preference to finish first. The show is about a girl named Saki .. if you would believe it… a young girl who comes from a broken family. During family game night they would always play Mahjong but if she did to well her sister would throw a tantrum and people would get mad at her and if she did to poorly she would not get any candy! So Saki learned to play perfectly average and is blessed with incredible luck playing this game. She finds out the beautiful girl is in the Mahjong club because a friend asked her to help her out for a bit.. and little by little Saki begins to enjoy the game of Mahjong again .. that she learned to hate under her broken family! Now that same game has the chance to bring the family back together as her sister represents another regions team, playing in the Tokyo nationals. Before they do that though they have to win regionals.. which according to the first five episode holds some very scary and evil girls they have to face. As well as super powers?! I am not sure yet!
I have no idea how to play competitive Mahjong , only that tower stack thing we get from internet games here.. well that is not the Mahjong this is about. This is about changing together events, like Ron and Richi and Kan or whatever they are called. I have no idea but this anime certainly makes it look impressive. Studio Gonzo produced the first 14 episodes ..which obviously includes the first five I have seen and they certainly know how to frame the game nicely. The dramatic reveal of hands really have this larger than life vibe. Which is great because this series very much knows what it is. There is a strong cast of character that are larger than life which again compliments the series very well. Saki is the overly nice naive girl that is attracted to pink girl , with big boobs, talents in spades and a child like demeanour, Nodoka. Nodoka is a very calculative person who secretly is into Saki as well but also someone who can not comprehend her luck (yet) . They represent two aspect a skilled player needs to have , skill and luck! Nodoka has a plush penguin named Etopen which I find adorable! Could it be that she is Waifu material?!
Kyoutarou is the only boy in the Mahjong club.. he dreams of being with Nodoka he wants to play with them tiddies.. but of course he doesn’t know she looks at Saki! His fantasies about her are often interrupted by Yuuki, a tiny energetic bubbly girl, who loves taco and tako. She likes to play house with him calling him darling or husband. She has a wild imagination and always seems to twist reality around her! She lacks the ability to do proper math which results in her being weaker in the game than she could be. The cast is rounded off by the student council president.. though .. she calls it Student Congress President , she is a strategist and plays the group to make them better and then there is Mako.. the presidents bestie whose parents have a maid café. She seems leaned back but also very analytical.
Five episodes in and I really like this cast a whole lot more than I like the main cast of Magical Index. These feel like people I’d enjoy being around. . if I would be their age. I honestly did not expect that I would like this anime this much. Yuuki can be a tad annoying with how her voice sounds but I rather found that endearing. I even smiled empathically at how Kyoutarou is such a loner just for being a guy! If you can make me care for the kinda bro-ish boy .. you are doing something right!
I really like how these first episodes where paced out. Without getting into spoilers to much, episode one sets up the main character Saki and episode 2 sets up Nodoka. Episode 3 sets up the main plot.. that is participating in the tournament while episode 4 lets reality set in and turns down Nodoka’s amazing talent and Saki’s luck by putting in into perspective by having them learn they are not ready for the tournament yet. Which perfectly sets up for episode 5, training camp! Every episode flows very nicely into the next and each episode and as a result each episode can stand on its own. It’s all well defined tiles that when put together form a nice combo. I notice how this is in contrast with Hikaru no Go for example which has stronger episodes in their lineup..but a weaker flow between them. While Hikaru tells the better tale.. it has slack water.. dead tides in between. This show (At least so far) flows nicely. In fact there are very few anime I’ve recently been watching that match it’s amazing pacing.
Toss in a lot of cuteness and this show becomes something that does warm my heart. The Blossoming friendship between our main characters works well. Saki feeling awkward around Nodoka in the beginning makes sense because of how toxic her family games were. When the titular character finally begins to enjoy winning this goes at the cost of Nodoka which makes her passion feel invalidated as Saki claimed not to like the game. It sucks to be beaten by someone who doesn’t take your passion seriously. These emotions feel legit and make sense with the characters that are established.
This does come at the cost of the personality of the other team members though. While Hisa the team leader still shows some proper character.. but mostly in her understanding how others work, Yuuki, Kyoutarou and Maki remain rather 2 dimensional. I am not sure if this is a bad thing though. I found Yuuki’s flat and shallow character quite hilarious and it breaks up awkwardness of two closet lesbians playing with some tiles. Maki is the exposition character. “Boss did you set that up to teach them a lesson” .. “Do you think she realises she has that ability” .. that’s her type of dialogue. It could be painful but since they made her a bit of an analytical slightly colder person.. it works. Kyou makes the awkward romantic stuff more comedical by putting it into perspective. So everyone adds their bit to the pot.
The only thing detrimental to this is the fan service. Our pink haired girl has a fully developed chest while the others don more humble models. Nosoka thusly often gets the butt of some jokes that kinda feel out of place. For example how hugging her plushy means hiding the thing under her boobs. I might be flat so I could not compare.. but I hold my plushies near my heart or chest at , Etopen is quite large though so it makes sense from a perspective that she also has to play Mahjong.. But still that feels like hugging a friend in my belly button area! That just feels awkward! There are a few cheap shots like that like having her run through the rain and giving her a dramatic talk while zooming in on her chest emphasises her white shirt got wet and all. If that floats your boat good for you but I did not like it. I am not against the use of fan service as long as it is used in moments where it’s not detrimental to the main emotions and that’s where the show misses a few swings for me personally. It just feels like Nosoka’s character on occasion has to make room so she can give some fan service at times.. which is a wrong way to go about this.
The opening song and the ending song are AMAZING! Well they aren’t that memorable but the fact that they could make this work for them as a Mahjong series was pretty good! It has action in it but also some beauty..it is almost shot as a shounen opening which I really could appreciate. The ending is so cute that this one one of the few ED’s I ended up watching three out of five times. Well two and a half but normally I don’t watch it at all so thats HUGE!
Like I said Yuuki’s voice can be a bit annoying at times when she talks to long or has to shout for shouting sake. but this also endeared her a bit to me at the same time.. that is who she is. The final knitpick is that this does not make it very clear on how to play Majong.. which is also i’s strength.. it’s not a game you easily pick up I think there is a lot involved so since everyone in universe would more less know how to play.. there is little exposition to explain. There are a few schedules and diagrams but there might as well have been a unicorn poster there! I did not get info at all. The characters do though so that is good.. but I guess I just have to believe the words and the flow here.
I know Ron is a good thing for the one who declares it. So I will use that term for my final evaluation! Five episodes in and I am very pleasantly surprised by this series. So much so in fact that I am probably going to finish this series and bench Magical Index for a while. This series spoke a lot more to me. It’s just cute , slightly yuri , fun with characters I really enjoy and stylistic and visual choices I enjoy even more! I very much hope it keeps this nice buttery smooth pacing throughout the show because that to me was it’s absolute strength.
I could not tell you what I think about the animation because I haven’t really paid much attention it it. I noticed it was from 2009 and I would have guessed it was slightly earlier.. but the visuals worked for me.
The colours are nice and vibrant but never obnoxious, there is plenty set-up going on that makes me feel this might quite the interesting show. So yes I do want to finish this show. With only 25 episodes I should be able to do so before the next randomisation is up but this is also a great series to cheer me up so I might save some of it until I need some Etopen and Yuri Mahjong goodness in my life! We will see but I really think the first five episodes of this Mahjong show where very good! The only thing that prevents it getting my highest score is my inability to comprehend Mahjong.. and my inability to care for boobs!
Random Anime : Saki
Episodes Watched: 5
Watching On?: Yes
Favorite Character: Etopen