Saki Portable for PSP

Posted by DiGiKerot in Gaming, Saki at November 26, 2009 on 5:02 pm

I’m not much one for news recycling these days, but, hey, it looks like they are making a Saki game for PSP – that’s kind of neat! Maybe I’ll actually get off my arse and learn how to actually play mahjong these days. That’d probably help, though I admit the last time I tried it confused the hell out of me. Next time I think I’ll skip the set-up rules and go straight for the play instructions ^^;

Actually, the real reason that I found this vaguely interesting is that the article mentions that the illustrations for the game are all being done by Gonzo’s Studio5 – this is interesting because it’s the first occasion in recent weeks where I’ve heard of Gonzo doing something other than closing part of their company or cancelling a release. Guess they aren’t entirely dead quite yet.

Saki Episode 25

Posted by DiGiKerot in Saki at September 27, 2009 on 7:35 pm


Seriously, I was expecting Saki and Nodoka to finally drop pretext and just start sucking each others faces off, but they stopped short of that one.

But, yeah, it was the last episode, which means that not a whole lot happened – there were hotsprings and bathing and some wacky hijinks and a laugh at Kyoutaro’s expense and Touka and precious little Mah Jong, but other than that and the Saki/Nodoka stuff, not a whole amount in terms of what could be considered development. Oh, I suppose there was some stuff about Teru ignoring Saki’s existence as well.

Then we hit the ending credits, where it suddenly jumps to the Nationals and gives us something like a potted highlight reel of what we may be getting assuming Gonzo survive long enough to produce another series – dozens of new characters, including what seems to be a all-Miko school, and more excitingly what appears to be the promise of Teru TEARING OUT YUUKI’S VERY SOUL in what’s perhaps the most insane display of Mah Jong yet.

By which I mean to say, the ending credits looked approximately three to seven times more crazy, and therefore more awesome, than the rest of the series which proceeded it, and ending on such a note is just an incredibly cruel move by the production team. What a bunch of jerks.

With that, the series is over, and I’m now left wondering what on Earth I’m going to write about for the next few months. I am left which a huge, gaping whole in my soul which will no longer be filled on a weekly basis. Well, that’s what those who seem to think I’m obsessed with the show would probably think I’m going through. In reality, I’m more curious as to what the dozen Fall ’09 shows Crunchy will be broadcasting are. Hopefully Railgun. Probably Arashi.

So, I guess there’s just one final matter to address – was Saki the best thing Gonzo has ever produced? Objectively? No. Subjectively? No again – my vote still goes for Monte Cristo. Saki is most definitely up there with the studios best, though – despite the fact that the studio appears to be collapsing all around it, the show did somehow manage to get through without plummeting production values. The consistently decent animation alone is kind of enough to make it one of the best Gonzo productions ever (even if they didn’t actually do the production/animation work for the second half). I think the fact that they managed to steer clear of the usual Gonzo obsession with wrapping things up probably helped a lot as well – despite the fact that they’d ran out of manga material, that they didn’t go too far off onto their own route in an ill-conceived attempt to provide some sense of finality makes it a welcome oddity amongst Gonzo’s manga adaptations.

Saki Episode 24

Posted by DiGiKerot in Saki at September 20, 2009 on 9:31 pm

I honestly did have every intention of making a post which did not entirely pertain to Saki at some point this weekend. Alas, for various reasons (mostly “I was playing the PS3”) it didn’t pan out, meaning that I’m increasingly at risk of being accused of being entirely too Saki-obsessive. Whoops, too late!

Honestly, though, it’s just an easy show to throw up a few hundred words about, and to make jokes about in one form or another. The show concludes next week anyway, so at that point I’m going to be somewhat forced to evolve towards blogging other material, else risk letting this blog fall silent.

Anyway, in this weeks instalment, the production staff throw a bone to those of us complaining about the writing out of the shows more entertaining characters (*cough* *cough*) by having Hisa invite the other Schools of Interest to a combined training camp. Whilst Yumi accepts on Tsuruga’s behalf on the grounds of it being a good idea for the younger members to get some additional experience playing in the big leagues, and Koromo overrides any dissent that Ryumonbuchi may be generating, Mihoko delays on replying. Apparently she feels guilty accepting something for selfish reasons, or at least that’s what Kana thinks, explaining that with Mihoko being the only one playing in the Nationals, she doesn’t want to put the others out for something largely to her one benefit.

Well, the concept of a combined training camp is certainly most likely to benefit her the most from the Kazekoshi group, but given that this episode throws out more “LESBIAN!” flags (across the board) than most of the previous episodes, it’s probably the quality time with Hisa that she’s looking forward to. Indeed, the episode ends with Mihoko coming to Kiyosumi to accept in person, before spending a romantic evening with Hisa. Try as she might, it seems that Mihoko just can’t quit her.

Elsewhere, in what other’s may describe as “The A-Plot”, Kyoutaro reveals to Saki that there’s going to festival next weekend, and that they should really all go, not to mention that it’d be real swell if she wore her yukata. Kyoutaro figures that if Saki wears a yukata, then Nodoko will be sure to wear one to match. Poor guy, his logic is so right, yet in his delusional state he’s missing the point of his own argument – the reason why Nodoka would wear a yukata to match Saki. That being the matching Saki part.

In any case, Kyoutaro’s best laid plans are almost scuppered when Yuuki reveals that she’s failed – you guessed it (I certainly did) – Maths, and the potential for additional lessons not only puts the festival at risk, but also the training camp! OH NOES!

Which is why Hisa bans the first years from the club room, meaning that Saki and Nodoka are left attempting to teach Yuuki enough to pass her make-up exam, with “hilarious” and often Taco-related results. Kyoutaro, meanwhile, has once again been forced to gather all the supplies required for their training camp – this episodes actual punchline being that, after being the one to put all the effort into both organising the trip to the festival and preparing for the training camp, Nodoka spends the whole festival holding hands with Saki, and Kyoutaro doesn’t get to go to the training camp (or, at least, he’s not on the bus – though I guess it’s something to do with there being twenty girls yet only one guy).

At this point in the series, there’s not really anything left to speculate about – there’s only one episode yet, so presumably they’ll use it for doofy inter-school hijinks with little-to-no consequence. As a result, I only really have one thought to close with – what’s with Touka’s butler waiting until she (along with Koromo and Hajime) are in bed before delivering her mail? Doesn’t post usually come in the morning?

Actually, make that two thoughts – does he get to go to the training camp? ^^;

Saki Episode 23

Posted by DiGiKerot in Saki at September 13, 2009 on 8:15 pm

And the individual preliminaries have concluded in me being a little on the disappointed side.

Remember how I mentioned last week that the show was being a little on the inconsistent side in so much as Nodoka’s ‘net-Mah Jong developed resistance to Stealth Mo-mo-mode didn’t extend to Touka nor the glasses-wearing girl who was playing with Saki and Hisa in that match? Well, it turns out that online Mah Jong was the key after all, as Saki is apparently so amazing that her incredibly brief spell playing online Mah Jong taught her enough to able to clearly read the whole board by paying attention only to the tiles, and not the players behind them. This means she could see Momoko’s silly discard for long enough to win the game off it.

After which, the episode turns into a bit of a mess – an understandable one, admittedly, given they’ve only got an episode or so left. They play three games of massive importance at the same time, all in less than half an episode. It wouldn’t be so bad, but it does mean the Saki versus Nanpo match they’ve been building to gets absolutely none of the screentime or gravitas that you’d want from it. Even more criminally, though, is the fact that they set up a match between Hisa, Touka, Mihoko and Yumi, something that’d promise to be an epic affair good enough to span several episodes, only to spend about as little time on that as they did on the Saki game.

The final disappoint is the predictability of those going through to the Nationals, though. Mihoko, that’s fine. Both Nodoka and Saki going through, though, is rather less interesting. I understand that the intention is presumably to lead up until a dramatic Saki versus Nodoka battle during the nationals, perhaps even as the conclusion to the entire series, but in the short-term at least there’s no drama or interest in it. And, frankly, Nodoka and Saki are just about the least interesting and entertaining characters in the entire series. Sure, Saki promises to be interesting once she finally meets up with her sister and mother, given Saki’s tendency to display character traits that suggest a major history of abuse, but that’s a ways off yet. For now, neither really has anything beyond lesbianism or huge b00bs going for them.

Honestly, I was hoping right up until the last minute that Touka was going to knock someone out of the top three, particularly when Saki just edged her way into that third spot whilst the other games were still ongoing. I guess that really isn’t going to happen when your show’s called Saki, though. In any case, it’s been noticed by others that Saki and Teru play extreme different positions in team games – Teru starts off for her team, whilst Saki closes out for hers. Unless one of the teams had a major re-think, they’d have to be playing in the singles tournament for them to be able to meet (and, really, Saki has to play last for Kiyosumi for purely dramatic reasons). I just wish it was someone other than Nodoka who was going through in that last slot.

Really, though, I think I’m less disappointed in the result than I am in the complete lack of theatrics that went along with it. The players went through here without having been shown to do anything to actually deserve to do so. The cliffhanger from the previous episode went nowhere, then they payed little more than lip-service to these final games. It’s all a terribly anti-climatic way to end such a story long arc, particularly the way that they simply end up discarding Nanpo after they’d spent the last few episodes building her up to be a credible threat. It all just feels rather pointless.

Oh, well, that’s enough venting from me. It really wasn’t that bad, to be honest, and I’m sure that Touka at least will find some excuse to turn up at the Nationals in some capacity anyway. I mean, she’s rich, so it’s not as if actually playing in the Nationals is the only way she could justify going to Tokyo. That, and it’s not as if Gonzo is going to be around long enough to produce a second season anyway – every week that they aren’t animating Strike Witches Series 2 is a week in which they edge ever closer to death.

Next week, Yuuki gets an F, presumably in Maths. Really, though, it’s likely to largely be consumed by the fallout from this week. Come to think of it, is next week the last episode, or is there another one scheduled for after that?

Saki Episode 22

Posted by DiGiKerot in Saki at September 7, 2009 on 7:08 pm

After an absence of a week, Saki is back on the air. I figured it made this weeks episode worth it’s own post, though from the looks of things there’s only going to be three more episodes after this week. How will one possibly survive afterwards?

Anyways, this weeks episode saw the formal introduction of the latest threat, Kazue Nanpo, whose South Wind expertise proves to derail a Yuki riding high on her first day winnings and a spectacular round as East Wind.

There’s some debate as to whether Kazue will be appearing in the manga, or if she’s exclusively an anime-only character – curiously, those who have gone back and checked the early episodes (which isn’t me – I’m going off hearsay here) clocked her as appearing in the background back in the sixth episode, but apparently she’s also visible manga chapters covering the same content. I suppose we’ll find out when the manga chapters covering the singles tourney published, but even if her role is anime-unique, at least they’ve trawled the manga content for her design.

That said, Kozue hammering Yuki is really just set-up for the next couple of episodes, methinks.

Anyhow, as predicted, Saki isn’t really trying – she’s reverted back to her old +/- 0 ways due to concerns over possibly preventing Hisa getting to the nationals on what is her final chance to do so. Nodoka isn’t pleased, however, as they’ve previously promised to do their best together. As a result of a stern talking-to, Saki manages to pull herself up into twelfth position within four games, only to find herself thrown into a game with a Hisa who won’t pull punches, and a Momoko itching for revenge.

It’s an interesting position we end up in at the end of the episode. As the leaderboard goes, Mihoko has a very clear lead – large enough that Mihoko could probably take too pastings as still make it through. After third place, though, everyone is pretty much grouped together – it’s only fifteen points down from Touka in fourth to twelfth place Saki, and given everyone Saki is up against in her current match is placed higher, anyone winning that game with a decent score could hit the qualifying positions.

Which makes Hisa’s gameplan against Saki kind of curious – it’s not high scoring. Those who actually know how to play Mah Jong tell me that it’s very much a Hisa-style play due to the crazy risk she’s invoking – she schemes to throw Saki off-balance by showing the other players how to counter her play style, but this is going to keep everyone other than Saki pretty much on even footing points wise. Basically, the one who ends up winning the game will be the one who manages to pull a good score out of the last hand of the game. Hisa is obviously taking the long odds on that being her – it could just as easily be Saki assuming she isn’t too shaken. They have the misfortune to be going up against Momoko, though, who hit’s the episode’s end in Stealth Mo-Mo-Mode, making the break away from the rest of the bunch before Hisa has the chance to jump herself.

Now, if the show was being consistent, you’d think that the girl with the glasses (who no-one seems to remember the name of) would have at least some immunity to Momoko’s special techniques – Hisa notes she’s an online-type player, and as we saw when Momoko played Nodoka, their tendency to focus on the tiles more than the players plays to their benefit. That doesn’t seem to help her here, though, just as it didn’t help Touka earlier.

How Saki and Hisa are going to fair is another question entirely. Honestly, I don’t think Momoko – or anyone from Tsuruga – is likely to be in the top three in the end. Tsuruga seem to have hit a narrative dead-end. Saying that, I think it’s quite likely that she’ll come out trumps in this particular game, leaving Hisa and Saki in a most dramatic situation. In actuality, though, I think it’s Hisa who is going to come out on top here, pulling something crazy out at the end and leaving Saki in one hell of a hole to dig herself out of.

Honestly, though, Saki really needs to lose at this point. Hisa may seem full of herself, but Saki has an understated, but very present, sense of arrogance about her. She’s been making the assumption that if she actually tries to play, she’ll steam-roll everyone. Obviously getting trashed by Fujita-pro wasn’t enough – she really needs to be knocked down a peg or two at this point, as it’d probably do her the world of good in the long term.

But Saki losing here (which I’m assuming is going to happen) means that she’ll have a huge point margin to make up, else she’ll have to start pulling other people down. This presumably means that she’s going to go up against at least a couple of the top-rated players. I’m expecting Saki to go up against at least Kazue, and probably Mihoko as well since she’s going points to lose at this point, in the final game. With Kazue’s strong South Wind play, it makes dramatic sense for someone who improves as the game goes along to be the heroines opponent at make-or-break time. As for the forth player, I’m going to go out on a limb here as suggest it may be Nodoka.

Whether Saki will actually end up going through to the Nationals off the back of that game is another question – obviously the expectation is for Saki to pull out an amazing play right at the last minute to win the game, but there’s always the possibility that she’ll not win by quite enough to pull herself through.

I think she probably will. With only three people going through, I reckon it’s going to be Mihoko, Touka and Saki who will be hitting emerging victorious. It’d seem too convenient for them to use this as an excuse for all three of the significant non-Kiyosumi schools to go through, but on the other hand having more than one Kiyosumi player hitting the finals would seem like a waste. It wouldn’t shock me too much for the final game to see Nodoka being scuppered by Saki in the end. Saki will make some big hands against all of her opponents, dragging Nodoka and Kozue out of the running at the end just enough for Touka to make the top three, and knocking Mihoko down to third.