Anime of Tomorrow
Saki: Achiga-hen – Episode of Side-A Ep. 1
Initial impression – pleasing, but lacking impact (5/10)
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)
While I think Saki is nice, I’m not sure what else I can say about it. I know next to nothing about mahjong and I find it hard to swallow the idea that there’s a large enough community of players in a rural junior high school to warrant a dedicated club that is nationally ranked (though I’ve been wrong before). More acceptable might have been an underdog story similar to what was introduced in Chihayafuru, as cheesy as that sort of premise might be. I do like the nice variety of characters and their natural acceptance of the paths their lives are about to take. Instead of focusing on what they’re losing by going their separate ways as they grow up, they want to cherish the time they have together in the present and that’s definitely something to value. I imagine from here this anime is going to turn into some sort of reunion story as the three friends meet up again through the game that originally brought them together as children. I’m optimistic this series isn’t going to turn into a “sports anime,” based on some weird super-mahjong theme, but there just doesn’t seem to be a very energizing conflict to keep things interesting. So even if Saki seems to be a pretty, well-thought and laid-back slice of life story centered on mahjong, I’m unimpressed by the nonconfrontational start.