Spring 2009 Anime Impressions – Saki


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.

6 thoughts on “Spring 2009 Anime Impressions – Saki”

  1. I don’t think the next episode will change your review of Saki.
    The plot itself revolves around mahjong and if there is anything else it will be more mahjong ^^,

    Could the same be said about Hikaru No Go? Go and mahjong are wildly popular in japan as a sport well mahjong at least as I know a few of my chinese and japanese friend having extensive knowledge about it and seems to be enjoyng the technical side to saki.


  2. I agree with zaeris, the next episode is not going to change that much. I haven´t seen it yet, but it looks to me that they are using the same formula as other series but with a different “sport”, with cliché characters and girls with no bras. I know I need to see it first before I judge it, but I will wait till you see the next chapter and I will trust your decision.


  3. I watched Gonzo’s three spring anime’s first episodes (god, that’s some badly worded crap) already, and Saki was the worst by far.
    Slap Up Party was stupidly funny, Shangri-la had it’s moments, and Saki has lightning mahjong tiles + yu-gi-ohesque “Heart of the Mahjong Tiles” + appeal to only people who play mahjong. I could have been sitting there watching a german subbed Slap Up Party and still enjoy it ten times more than I enjoyed Saki 01.


  4. while I won’t comment much but Mahjong like other games it relies on luck. It’s quite a norm to be winning with luck which In plight I see no errors in such assertion. Maybe you’ve been watching too much yugioh? lol, if so a lot of sport/gambling anime can have a yugioh feel to it.


  5. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    I did actually think of yugioh when I watched them play but I didn’t bring it up since I’ve never really watched the series so I didn’t know if I should have thought of yugiohor not.

    The thing with Hikaru No Go was in the first chapter of the manga they introduced Sai who’s spirit was trapped in a Go board and his desire to play the perfect game or whatever it was called. We also see the protagonist try to make a fast buck using Sai even though he didn’t know how to play Go. This introduced the characters and gave non-Go players a real hook – Will Sai’s soul finally have a chance to play the perfect game and find peace? I don’t need to know how to play Go to understand Sai’s desire and as a consequence, I have a much higher chance of sticking around.


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