April 15, 2012
So they're trying to do Saki again. Only they want to leave out the fireworks, the angst, the fan service, and all guys. Problem is, once you remove all those things, just what's left?
Well, the game, I guess, and some pretty ordinary girls who like to play it. But not really a lot of story potential. The original series was pretty watered down as far as story telling is concerned, and this series is very thin soup indeed.
I can't say it's awful; it isn't. But it isn't very compelling, either. In ep 2 the three girls from last episode are on a hunt to find two more players and a faculty advisor, and by the end they've got them.
The closest to a "tragic past" as was featured in the original series again and again is the teacher, who got trounced as a high school student ten years before and lost her nerve. She's hoping to find it again by proxy. So the girls are partly going to be fighting for Harue, their teacher. But the other goal for most of them is to play against Haramura Nodoka, now attending Kiyosumi High School.
The next ep teaser says that we're going to run into Miyanaga Teru, Saki's estranged older sister. But for the nonce, this team has to win their provincial tournament in order to have any chance of playing against Nodoka and Kiyosumi. The established MahJongg power in the province is Bansei, and we met a couple of their players in this episode. They're going to be playing the role that Ryuumonbuchi did in the first series: terrifyingly good opposing team, but our girls win anyway.
Part of the story in the original series was that as good as Nodoka was, Saki was better. But even more important was that she had a way of pulling out freakishly improbably good hands any time she needed them. Other teams referred to her as a "demon". (They also called Koromo a demon; she's that strange little blonde girl who played for Ryuumonbuchi.)
So as good as Hisa, Yuuki, and Mako are, Nodoka is much better and Saki even better than that.
I don't see any sign so far of any one of the girls this time being any kind of freakish player, but maybe that'll develop later. I bet not; I think that's another thing they're trying to leave out this time. But if you don't have that, either, then just what the heck is left?
Well, there is one. Kuro seems to have a knack for attracting all the red dora tiles. When she's playing no one else ever gets any. OK fine...
Based on the cast so far, my favorite is Arata, the one with black hair whose family runs a bowling alley. When she plays Mahjongg, she wears one of those special gloves that some bowlers wear.
I'll keep watching, I suppose, but this series isn't compelling me to watch the way Mouretsu Pirates is. Mouretsu Pirates is, "Is it Saturday yet? Is it Saturday yet? Two more days, I can't wait!" This version of Saki is, "Oh, is it Sunday afternoon? I may as well watch it."
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