In Saki, Volume 3, the curtain has already opened on the High School, Regional Mah Jong championships. The Kiyosumi team is meeting, some for the first time, their rivals from the other schools in the area.
Don’t click around looking for reviews of Volume 1 or Volume 2, btw. I haven’t read or reviewed them. On purpose. For me, Saki truly begins to be interesting at the regionals. And from here on in, it gets more interesting.
If you’ve seen the anime, the manga will be entirely familiar, as the women of Kiyosumi meet their rivals from Ryuumonbuchi, Kazekoshi and Tsuruga High schools. And, as we meet the various competitors, we learn their back stories which are almost universally Yuri-ish enough in nature to satisfy almost every craving.
In Volume 3, Yuuki suffers her devastating loss due to lack of Tacos, followed by a frustrating loss by Mako. When the third match begins, it’s up to team Captain Takei Hisa to make a splash – and so she does. Kazekoshi’s captain remembers her, and is distressed that she can’t warn her teammate about Hisa’s crazy play style.
Meanwhile, while Nodoka and Saki snuggle in the resting room, two creeps steal Nodoka’s stuffed penguin. It’s recaptured by none other than the infamous Ryuumonbuchi player, childish Koromo, who delights in being able to return it to Nodoka and make a new friend.
For me, this is where the series actually began. Everything up to this point was no more than a prologue, and an introduction to the main players. They are all here now, and the game is heating up.
What amazed me about the series at this point is that all the characters were likable. There were no evil rivals, only worthy adversaries, with their own passionate reasons to win – and that reason was often another member of their team. Interpersonal loyalties ride right on the edge of love and desire and in some cases, step well past that line.
This is not really a “Yuri” manga, of course. It’s a sports/game manga in which nearly everyone is a member of the Order of the Lily. Which just makes it double the fun for us. Especially as mahjong bores me to tears and I need something to pay attention to because I couldn’t care less what the game play is. ^_^
Art – 5 They have no noses! How are they supposed to breathe? Moe art really distresses me….
Story – 8 Other than the fact that it’s about mah jong, it’s *great*
Characters – 8
Yuri – Tons. Everywhere you look. In fact, it almost seems hard to find a character not locked in a passionately emotional relationship in this manga
Service – 7 One more view of a thigh at the edge of a girl’s skirt and I was going to scream.
Overall – 7
I will happily pick up the remaining volumes to watch the manga move past the regionals and head to that mythical place Saki and Nodoka yearn for – the National Championships. /fanfare/