166th G-View: Saki, Achiga-Hen episode of Side-A

Hey doods and peeps. Welcome to another episode of The G-Views. Despite 3 new episodes being announced as of June 25th, 2012, I feel the initial 12 episodes are more than enough to come to a review of the show. Is the show as good or better than the undeniably awesome Saki? Let’s find out as we take a look at Saki, Achiga-Hen episode of Side-A.

As always, if I’ve reviewed a prequel or previous season, I post a link to it so here you go.

2nd G-View: Saki

Genres: tournament
Themes: mahjong, school, yuri
Number of episodes: 16
Rating: 7/10. 8/10 if you added episodes 13-16.

Plot Summary: Nodoka Haramura’s appearance on television playing in a high school mahjong tournament inspires her old Jr. high school friends to reform their schools club so they can meet and play her in the National High School Mahjong Tournament.

The world you are about to enter is a world where high school girls of all shapes and sizes enter a squared circle and bleed, sweat and shed tears as they beat the hell out of each other into submission or incapacitation. A world where friendship and true love is put to the test in each match. A world where the 4 elements clash and tiles are slammed to the mat with indescribable force. A world where a wrestler’s best friends are her private “pillows”. This is the Mahjong Wrestling Federation, whose roster consists mainly of lesbians with superpowers.

Side-A is a spin-off/midquel of the main Saki series and as the title suggests, it follows the Achiga Girls Academy’s mahjong team. I don’t need to go into too many details about what to expect in this one as it’s more of the same as the original, just a different main cast. For fans of the original, most of the veterans do make appearances.

As I’ve mentioned before in a previous episodic analysis, If there’s one thing I’ve learned after watching Saki, is that “extreme mahjong wrestlers” need three things to go over with the fans: 1) a likable personality/gimmick. 2) lots of screen time. 3) and the most important, A FLASHBACK! While the prequel reveled with this content and various great exhibition and tournament bouts, the spin-off…let’s see exactly what went wrong with Side-A.

1: Not enough wrestling. That’s rather disappointing to many fans as even though we did see some matches early on, most of them were prematurely cut off, with only a few moves showcased and immediately followed by the end results. This could be due to the show’s short length but I personally think bad booking/writing/direction was to blame. The full length matches we did get on the other hand (One in particular) was TOO long. The message was explained after the 1st two parts, the 3rd part felt like filler and the 4th part could have been concluded in less than 10 minutes. Compared to the prequel’s matches, each had a decent amount of time to not only develop most of the wrestlers, but also give each of them the chance to show what they can do.

2: Not enough focus on the protagonists. What I’ve heard from fans who didn’t enjoy The Legend of Korra that much was that compared to the prequel’s splendid main cast, most of the newcomers are bland. Unfortunately, Team despite Team Achiga’s members being more adorable than Team Kiyosumi’s, Team Kiyosumi’s members have better gimmicks, more personality and better character development. Despite this fault, I don’t think their lack of character is to blame. It mainly has to do with.

3) Are Team Achiga TRULY the main characters? In this show there are two teams that have received the most attention, Team Achiga and Team Senriyama. The problem here is that at times it feels like Senriyama are the main characters. You wouldn’t believe how much time was devoted to Toki alone. Luckily her caretaker/girlfriend and the tomboy of the group were her best buds so they got time as well. The other two members also felt like they had character. Meanwhile on Achiga’s side, I can honestly say that Shizuno and Yuu are the ones with the more memorable gimmicks. Arata and Ako barely have any defining characteristics, the former due to her similarity to Toki in the soft spoken dept. so it’s hard to tell them apart and Kuro…hoo boy. Heck, even their coach is more interesting. Maybe their flashbacks weren’t cool enough? Hmm.

4) The cameos are more over with the fans. As mentioned earlier, the veterans make return appearances and as short of time they get on screen, their impact is greater than almost all of Team Achiga’s opponents. Heck, even the newcomers who we didn’t get to see wrestler (Probably because they’ll appear in Saki 2) are more interesting. Possibly the most interesting character in the entire secondary cast aside from Teru Miyanaga and Team Senriyama, is the Marvelous One.

Who doesn’t appear till the last quarter of the original 12 episodes.

Animation and music remain similar to the main series. If you’ve heard the original OST, you know whether it’s your thing or not.

The characters:

Shizuno Takakamo: The only one in the main cast who legitimately tries to be entertaining. Spunky, energetic and wants to have as much fun as possible but is determined to bring her A-Game to every match.

Ako Atarashi: Possibly the girl who suffers the most from the short length of episodes. Apart from being Shizuno’s destined partner, there isn’t much else to say other than she has a lot of potential to be a great wrestler, but we don’t get to see her showcase many moves.

Arata Sagimori: Soft spoken, has a bowling motif and is a huge fan (Possibly crush on) of the coach. That’s it.

Kuro and Yuu Matsumi. While Kuro’s only defining trait is her romantic bond with her older sister, Yuu’s Kamen Rider scarf, fighting style and her extreme sensitivity towards the cold make her a more entertaining character to watch.

Coach Harue Akado. Think of her as a on and off wrestler who is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her career. It’s better to watch that read.

While the prequel is known for its many, MANY, yuri couples, Toki and Ryuuka are the best you’re going to get here. Sure, there are other couplings, but they hardly get as much screen time as the love shared between these two, which is still good.

Is Achiga-Hen a disappointment? Not really. It could have been much better though. I expect hardcore Saki fans’ opinions on this spin-off/midquel to be mixed. For casual Saki fans, it’s worth a watch. I just HOPE that if the show’s Blu-Ray sales are low (I hope not), it won’t have any effect on Saki 2’s production…because if it does, you bet your asses I’ll be fricken miffed!

Also, special thanks to Yuri Musings for the awesome mega.gifs

Update: After watching the additional 4 episodes that were delayed for one reason or another, the initial rating was increased by one point because those extra matches were really good and the Team Achiga members (most of them anyway), got a little more character development.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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12 Responses to 166th G-View: Saki, Achiga-Hen episode of Side-A

  1. ArcaJ says:

    One good thing about this show, is we get even more couples to cheer for. ^_^

    Though, I think Kuro and Yuu-nee could end up winning best couple, if they show some of Kuro’s methods to keep her sister warm. But, while Kuro could recognize her sister’s “pillows” by feel alone, Toki takes the prize by recognizing Ryuuka’s thighs, upside down, while losing consciousness.

    ::HUGS::

    Arca Jeth

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      This is the #1 moment I’ll remember Toki and Ryuuka for. Speaking of best couple, you know I have big plans for the two couples you’ve just mentioned. Oh yeeeessss.

      Like

  2. yurimylove says:

    hmmm, something’s wrong with the bikini pic… Ah I know why, Yuu-nee doesn’t have her sweater and scarf on XP

    Like

  3. Spiderlondon says:

    May I ask why Saki/Saki Achiga Hen episode of side A are Grade 1s on the yuri grading system? Yes, there is yuri but that is not the main thing in these shows, it’s the competition of mahjong. if anything, grade two is better for them.

    Besides that. i will say right now: I love this show to death, cute scenes between characters, the anticipation throughout the anime,the serious tone that turns lighter just at the right time,the fun characters,nodokaxshizuno pairing I love so much(yup,much better than nodokaxsaki),and the game of mahjong that felt like I was watching an intense sports game. The whole anime made me stick around ’til the very end and made me very happy all throughout. So, basically, yes this is one of my favourite animes.

    Like

  4. kracen says:

    I watched Saki quite a while ago now, and because I will never skip part of a series, even a side story/spin off that has ties to the third series, I had to watch this before Saki: Zenkoku-hen, which I will get around to watching asap. However as they were different characters I put it off over and over because its never quite the same watching a similar story with just different people.
    Well, I shouldn’t have put it off for as long as I did, because I enjoyed it nearly as much as I did the first. I still know nothing about Mahjong, so I spent most of my time during the matches going ‘they reacted quite shocked to that, so I assume it was a good move… well done.’

    The thing that I enjoyed about this series, as I did was the original Saki is how they have a ton of characters, all with different abilities and as many different hair styles/eye colours as they possibly could think of and with it being just a standard style Mahjong game (not like say a Yu-gi-oh like card game where winning and losing could determine having a rather unfortunate fate) I just found the idea of them having these powers so funny, not to mention how they managed to make a single game of Mahjong last several episodes (taking lessons from DBZ) and it just made me laugh throughout (in a good way).

    Though the Yuri pairings was lacking, Toki and Ryuuka more than made up for it, all it takes really is one perfectly fitting couple to make it all worth while (Like Hibari and Yagyuu from Shenren Kagura).

    Like

  5. NO1RE says:

    Is there any real romantic bonds between the characters like Saki x Nodoka from OG Saki?

    Like

  6. Christian Appel says:

    In the manga – why didn´t they name the anime “Toki”, too – Toki x Ryuuka are even more lovey-dovey as in the anime.

    Like

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