On to the next round of mahjong-themed anime.
What They Say
Saki is a cross between sports action and high school drama that revolves around a girl's spiritual growth through a tactical and adventuresome mahjong competition with keen rivals all aiming for the high school club championship. What makes it different from traditional mahjong-themed pieces is the character that are all colorful and charming whose personalities are far from being dark, cunning or cowardly. The story opens with the arrival fo Saki who demonstrates her almost magical talent by instinctively playing the game in an extremely calculated manner so that she never loses or gains even a point...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Saki Ep.4: Beat-down
We open with that bombastic narration again about mahjong and all that, followed with Saki in the bath. She repeats to herself what she thought before: if she can make it to the National finals, she will be able to see her sister again, and make her hear her. Nodoka, lying in bed, also remembers her exchange with Saki and blushes. Deeply.
And so we get an episode of high school hijinks for the first half. That's a nice change of pace. Apparently, Kyoutaro is deeply impressed with Nodoka (or he's just overwhelmed by her chest). When Yuuki jokes at lunch (the four of them have lunch outside) that Nodoka is such a good cook since Nodoka is her wife, it puts Kyoutaro into a tizzy. Instead of provoking jealousy, however, the word just launches Kyoutaro into a dream of Nodoka as his wife. Yuuki bursts his bubble, however, by noting that Nodoka likes mahjong more than men. This depresses Kyoutaro, but not quite enough to distract him from noticing Yuuki's attempt to steal one of his meat buns. Kyoutaro reaches to get it back, and the two fall down into an almost compromising position, at which point Yuuki blushes (so does her cat belt pack), and says that "She's not ready yet." Kyoutaro, of course, is having none of it, launching back "Not ready for what?" These two are becoming a decent comedy team.
The comedy quotient doesn't end there. Apparently, Mako's family owns a cafe, and Hisa decides that Saki and Nodoka will go and help Mako out (since, apparently, she's too busy with Student Congress affairs to help. Sure. Right). And when Saki and Nodoka get to the cafe, they are in for a surprise: today is "Maid Cafe" day, so they'll be dressing up as maids. While Mako has a very conservative, long skirt outfit, Saki and Nodoka are shoved into tight fitting, short skirted outfits. So, it's cosplay fanservice time. And yet there's also a mahjong table there.
So of course, they will play. Hisa's a deep one, she is.
Of course you know we wouldn't get through this episode without Yuuki appearing in a maid outfit to impress Kyoutaro, but Kyoutaro seems completely immune to her charms. He definitely likes his woman more built.
Back to the game. What had been a friendly game changes when a strange woman (the one seen in the last episode) appears. She plays a very deep style of game, plotting ahead to deliberately win off of Nodoka while stealing Saki's plan for victory. It is revealed that she is a pro, and a friend of Hisa's. After beating Saki and Nodoka, she then reveals to them that she was once beaten at a pro-am tournament by a 15-year-old: Amae Koromo of Ryuumonbuchi High School, the player and team that the Nodoka and Saki will have to get through to get to the National finals.
So, the outline of things to come is being further sketched out.
This episode provides an interesting mixture of material. The first half is spent in comic frivolity, with some nice high school comedy, and even some maid cosplay. The second half then turns into an elaborate ploy staged by Hisa, who is turning out to be one of the great mastermind characters, with plans within plans. It's clear that the big match up, which has been hinted at in the opening animation since the beginning, will be Nodoka against this Amae Koromo. The table continues being set as we gear up for the prefectural quarterfinals.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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