Wed 20 Jun 2012
For the last two weeks, Miyanaga Teru has been on a tear in Saki: Achiga-hen Episode of Side A. This is what we signed up for all along. This is the sequence that we looked forward to after watching the teaser in the last episode of Saki. Let’s start with Teru herself. While she’s warm and friendly with the press, her demeanor at the mahjong table to be absolutely ruthless. She’s cold, rarely talks, and does nothing but win hand after hand after hand. I wouldn’t even call it a poker face — she barely even talks to her teammates. Her sheer indifference to human relationships (like with a certain sister she has) puts her teetering on the path of psychopathy.
Of course, it won’t actually be like that. She’ll eventually encounter her little sister on the battlefield, have a tearful and emotional outburst at the most crucial moment (cue lines like “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL THESE YEARS?” etc.), and the broken family will be dramatically reunited with the pomp and decorum of the last episode of Kanon. Of course, it will be several episodes (or another season!) before we can collectively groan at that scene, so we’ll accept Teru and her heart of ice for now.
Teru’s ability reminds of of Whitney’s Miltank from Pokemon gold and Silver. Unless you put it to sleep or somehow got it to miss, it would shred your team with Rollout. Every successive attack does more and more damage until I threw my Gameboy Advance across the room. Kuro’s lame-ass dora power has proven to be totally useless, and Senriyama’s Toki has been equally trumped by Teru’s overwhelming dominance. Does Sumire even have a power? Teru is Godzilla stomping over these poor and helpless girls! Yet we root for her, because this is what we’ve been waiting for for months. We want to see her powers and we want her to win. I want to see Kuro get sent to the hospital, dammit!
Saki: Achiga-hen Episode of Side A is charming in that exact regard. We get to see the mahjong tournament from so many different perspectives and we are genuinely invested in several of the schools. This way, the show can explore so many characters, teams, and cool shounen mahjong sequences. One school I am not very invested in however, is Achiga itself. For being the titular team, Achiga’s characters sure are boring. Kuro does nothing but cry and whine about how useless she is, and the hair colors are either “brown” or “dark brown” don’t help differentiate any individuals. Their personalities, character designs, and 1337 m4Hj0Ng powers don’t hold a candle compared to any of the schools in the first anime.
Thank goodness Toki — a characters with at least some personality — looks to be the one stepping it up next episode. While looking an extra turn into the future is hardly compelling, it’s better than the crap the girls of Achiga has to offer.