The first of my spring 2009 anime impressions covers one of Gonzo’s new shows. As you probably know, Gonzo is struggling for their survival and they’re betting the house on their spring shows. Will this inspire Gonzo to create great anime or will they stick to what got them in trouble in the first place?
A reminder, all first impression posts now include a rating called “Anticipation Level”. This is a measure of how well the first episode gets me interested in watching the rest of the series.
Rating: episode 1 – 3/12D
Anticipation Level: low
If this first episode is any indication for the rest of the series, Gonzo whiffed with this series. Even so, I didn’t want to give it such a low score (letting it pass with a C) but I fell asleep twice while watching this episode and when I watched Phantom right after this, I didn’t fall asleep so it’s only fair.
The story follows Saki, a mahjong playing high school freshman. She grew up playing against her family and thusly detests the game though she has the ability to always score zero during a game. This ability gets the mahjong players all excited, especially the big boobed member who is supposed a national champ but can’t remember to wear a bra. Of course the mahjong club (4 girls and 1 guy) need one more female player to be able to play in tournaments as a team and thus want Saki to join but she doesn’t want to.
I probably wouldn’t have watched this episode if I wasn’t writing for this blog since I know nothing about mahjong and would be worried that the show would focus too much on the game. Therefore, I don’t want to complain about how I couldn’t follow the game well or even understand how a person wins and loses but a significant portion of this episode was the various characters playing mahjong. Maybe mahjong is huge enough in Japan that they don’t have to attract non-mahjong viewers for this show to be successful but for me, I don’t think this is a good strategy. I’m reminded of Bamboo Blade which was an anime about a high school kendo club and it had 5 girls and 2 guys. On the surface then Bamboo Blade sounds similar to Saki but they aren’t similar in the least. Bamboo Blade focused on the characters and the show became a show about the characters that happened to be in a kendo club. On the other hand, Saki, skips character development and heads straight to the game.
Just about every component of this show screamed average at best with most things like the characters felt heavily cliché. The exact details of the show are already slipping from my mind less then 2 hours after watching it. I’m giving this show one more episode to give me a reason to continue watching it; if it doesn’t feel like developing it’s characters and only uses fan service to entice further viewing (very tame fan service compared to some of the other shows now airing), then I will be dropping this.