When I was watching the Saki anime, the two things that really made it compelling watching for me were the great stories of love and loyalty among the players battling in the regional mah jong chamionships and the way the game strategies were brought to life through animation. It made the whole mah jong thing so much more interesting.
In Volume 4 of the Saki manga, we are well into the competition. With two losses and one win, Kiyosumi High enters the final two rounds with some ground to make up, but in a good position. The story begins as Nodoka heads out to her round, a little depressed because Saki hasn’t woken up yet to see her. When Saki runs out to reaffirm her love their vow to reach the nationals, Nodoka powers up.
The book is primarily taken up with Nodoka’s round against Ryuumonbuchi club captain Ryuumonbuchi Touka. Touka’s imagined scenes of RPG-like battle with Nodoka were captured in stills here – and were no less amusing than they were in the anime.
Interstitially, we learn about how Touka not only reformed her teammate Hajime, but also gave abandoned and unloved Koromo a family. Self-centered and absurd as she may be, by the end of this volume you really have to respect Touka.
Additionally, we learn the story of how Tsuruga’s Yumi tracked down and found “Stealth” Momo and how she too threw a lifeline to a girl who had been left alone and ignored by almost everyone else.
After a climactic, hotly contested (and slightly silly) round, Nodoka passes the baton to Saki with a lead.
As we head into the final round, Kazekoshi finally has an actual chance to make an impression with their captain Kana taking the helm against Koromo, Saki and Yumi.
It’s all down to the final round as we head into volume 5!
Personally, I’m really looking forward to Volume 6, and the stuff that comes *after* this final round, but I’m not going to skip it or anything. :-)
There are a lot of things to like about Saki. The tales of intra-team love and loyalty are tops of this list. By the end of the championships, there are pretty much no unlikable characters in this bunch, which counts for a lot with me.
The one serious downside of this series is the service. Nodoka’s breasts are voluminous and omnipresent. We pretty much always are looking at her breasts, unless we’re also getting to look at her thighs, too. It’s absolutely exhausting.
But it’s the price one pays to read a ridiculously fun and somewhat Yuri-ish series about, heaven help me, mahjong. ^_^
Art – 5 Nodoka has breasts, really, reallly BIG breasts
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 7
Service – 7
Overall – 7
Zettai Ryouiki. WTF. Get a grip on something other than your penises, guys. Really.