Saki – The Player is a cross between sports action and high school drama that revolves around a girl’s spiritual growth through a tactical and adventuresome mahjong competition with keen rivals all aiming for the high school club championship. What makes it different from traditional mahjong-themed pieces is the character that are all colorful and charming whose personalities are far from being dark, cunning or cowardly. The story opens with the arrival of Saki who demonstrates her almost magical talent by instinctively playing the game in an extremely calculated manner so that she never loses or gains even a point…
© Ritz Kobayashi/Square Enix, Kiyosumi High School Mahjong Club
Episode 1 Synopsis:
Saki doesn’t understand why she was taken to play mahjong but that’s where Saki and Nodoka met. Nodoka wins but questions Saki’s playing style so she asks for another game.
Filtaku Episode Review
Saki is the name of the main heroine and she has the ability to get ±0 in score for any game, it would seem. In this episode it was mainly character introduction. The beginning scene was pretty nice opening up with Saki reading a book under a tree overlooking a stream. Saki notices a beautiful young lady walking by and admires her beauty, especially the size of her breasts. Saki typically pats her own small bust. At this point a male character Saki calls Kyou-chan shows up and it is later revealed to be a friend of Saki’s since middle school. Kyou-chan after eating lunch and finding out that Saki plays mahjong, brings her to the mahjong club to play. Here she meets the same pretty girl she saw earlier in the day. Nodoka, the pretty girl, turns out to be a member of the mahjong club and is one of the best since she won the national middle school mahjong tournament last year. Here another character barges, Yuuki, into the room and boasts about Nodoka with admiration while holding a bag of tacos. They play a game and during the game the student congress president, Takei Hisa, wakes up and introduces herself. Takei Hisa is also likewise the president of the mahjong club. The game ends with Nodoka winning and Saki getting a ±0 in score. This surprises Takei because she previously saw Saki’s hand which was a big one. Nodoka leaves and the remaining members of the mahjong club discuss the issue with Saki. They all realize that Saki was purposly playing to get the score she had. Nodoka upon realizing runs out the room to chase Saki. The two meet up. Nodoka asks if Saki really was playing the way she did. Saki confirms and then leaves with Nodoka’s pride broken. The next say the student congress president sets up another game with Saki, Nodoka, and Yuuki. Only this time with one of the new characters also participating, Mako one of Takei’s friends. They play the game to test Saki’s abilities which they confirm with her yet again getting a ±0 score in an amazing bout of luck.
This anime seems pretty interesting. The team of characters is quite an interesting bunch. A soft spoken highly skilled player, an eccentric genius that power ups on tacos, a seemingly normal guy, a student congress president, a glasses wearing aide possibly to the congressional president or maybe just a normal friend, and finally a docile girl who hates mahjong cause of family reasons and is able to always get a score of ±0.
Whats interesting in this anime is when they actually play mahjong. Course not everyone knows the rules and jazz about mahjong but nicely with the English subtitles provided with Crunchyroll’s legal stream of the episode, are brief explanations of moves and terminology. With the more complex stuff, Yuuki the taco genius girl, explains herself in the anime. You’d think that watching a game of mahjong would be sorta boring, especially in an anime. However, they compensate, and usually do, with a fast pace and over dramatized scenes with effects and phrases that seem like a magical finishing move. Hey, its anime. Everyone loves the over dramatics of this type of Japanese media. I certainly do.
So far it seems pretty closed lid on the actual story. This episode was an introductory episode anyways. Though it did leave a few parts open for questioning. For example, why she hates mahjong and the relationship of that and her family. Makes me also wonder what they, the mahjong club, intend to do with Saki and her ability. I’ll look forward to the next episode, if anything this series would be the one to actually get into mahjong.