Tue 15 Dec 2009
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
Two mahjong tiles
and Mio saying ‘moe moe kyun’
Twelve Moments in Anime 2009 #11: Saki
Saki was GONZO’s ambitious and hilariously entertaining project in 2009. The radiant jewel highlighting the 2009 spring/summer season, Saki was a bundle of joy whether you played mahjong or not. From the moment it was announced and some details were revealed, I had my eyes on this show. I went in expecting a well drawn, over-the-top dramatic pile of pulp mahjong action, decently funny and light-hearted plot lines, and some fanservice. And Saki delivered exactly what I wanted, as well as an incredibly diverse and likable ensemble of characters backed by a loaded seiyuu crew, and 744mL of undiluted awesome.
Few thing gave me as much joy, more undeterred happiness than watching this show. Sure, Saki kinda makes you wait for it just a while. It’s also inconvenient that the two main characters, Saki and Nodoka get pretty annoying pretty fast. But really, these negative aspects almost seem to make the fun parts of Saki more fun. It’s some kind of bliss sitting through cheesy dialogue and lame yuri knowing that eyelighting and exploding tiles are just around the corner. The characters are also designed nearly perfectly for the over the top mahjong action, outlandish reactions, and ridiculous situations. They really bring the game of mahjong to life, and make even the driest moments of Saki work.
Saki launched some kind of mahjong craze among the anime-watching population, as well. There’s been a mad swarm of traffic at Tenhou as viewers, myself included, were compelled to pick up Japanese mahjong. I often see Saki-esque play when I’m burning off a quick hour playing mahjong on Tenhou and snicker a little. But really, what’s the problem? Mahjong is a fun game that I’ve been playing nearly all my life and it’s good having more people interested in it.
Fan favorite Kataoka Yuuki, voiced by the lovely Kugimiya Rie, inspired some very creative marketing. I probably wouldn’t actually eat a Yuuki taco because getting Mexican food in Asia just does not seem too attractive to me. I also find that picture in the article quite funny. A guy seems to be begging for money while a kogal ponders what taco she wants.
A massive fan following and oodles of positive reviews? What else do you need? How about one of the most amazing Saimoe performances ever? In Saimoe Japan 2009, Saki sent six of its characters into the top sixteen. The previous record was four, held by Clannad (2008) and Rozen Maiden (2005). Though the ride would end almost as fast as it began, Saki‘s Saimoe potential was stuff of legend.
Though not yet officially confirmed, a sequel was hinted at during the end of the first season. Hopefully Obama will give some bailout money to GONZO or another studio will pick it up. You can talk about themes, motifs, complex plot structures, social commentary, et cetera all day. In the end, anime is all about fun. And for me, this show was like going to Disney World with Santa Claus and doing ecstasy while riding dinosaurs. Live on, Saki, and may you bring us holiday cheer for years to come.