It has been almost five years since anime watchers were introduced to the Saki franchise. Its lucid blend of yuri overtones, fanservice, and ridiculous shounen motifs captivated viewers who otherwise would have no interest in watching an anime about mahjong. Now, Saki Zenkoku-hen picks up right where the original Saki left off, as the girls of Kiyosumi take on the strongest high school mahjong teams in all Japan.
The pacing is chunky as expected; mahjong scenes are interwoven between drab backstory and inconsequential flashbacks. But that’s only the peripheral issue with the show. The main issue with Saki Zenkoku-hen is realism. Though Saki has a pretty accurate depiction on how mahjong is played, I simply cannot believe that this many people give a fuck about womens’ sports.
Now, before accuse me of being the “s-word”, but hear me out. Mahjong is totally a sport. It takes a lot of coordination, physical strength, and intense training to be able to shoot lightning, slam tiles into the table, generate wind, and give intimidating stares towards the camera. I know because I used to play competitive mahjong on MLG when I was younger and I trained with all the elite mahjong pros. So before you accuse me of being a “sports elitist” please understand the facts about how high-level mahjong is played.
Saki has the details of mahjong more or less correct. The realistic mahjong action scenes really differentiate the show from pretenders like Akagi. What I find completely bizarre is that there is a crowd of people watching these girls play mahjong. I mean, come on isn’t there a boys’ nationals tournament?
All in all, I think Saki is an OK anime. I’ll still watch it, if not in complete and utter disbelief at all the silly crowds on screen. Nothing will ever compare to the greatest mahjong anime of our time: episode 5 of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei.
Rating: 9/10 “ehh, it’s ok”