The opening episode of Saki certainly did a good job of demonstrating the protagonist of this series' talent, as we saw Saki herself ratcheting up a number of ±0 against all the odds. Unfortunately, the series did less of a good job in helping me figure out how the Hell you play Mahjong - The again, that isn't really the point of the series, so it is duly forgiven.
Anyway, in order to obtain access to some books that she wants, and against her will, Saki has agreed with the club's president to play another game of Mahjong, except this time the very same president plays a bit of a sneaky trick on her, asking her to imagine that she's playing with a points handicap against all of the other players. She duly does this, and once again pulls off some near-impossible moves to end up with ±0, at which point the bombshell is dropped - The president asked her to imagine she was playing with a points handicap, not to actually play with one. Recalculate the scores and we find that Saki has won by a handsome margin.
This state of affairs sends ripples of emotion through both Saki herself (who comes to realise that winning can be enjoyable) and Nodoka, who can't stand to be beaten, not least by someone who previously confessed to not even liking the game. Conflicted feelings all around as a result of this then, but it isn't enough to prevent Saki from catching the Mahjong bug, and come the end of this episode she becomes an official member of the club. What will this mean for the Saki-Nodoka relationship?
There's something eminently amusing about the way Saki handles itself, from the Mahjong titles that spark and shoot lightning to the magical girl-esque moment between Saki and Nodoka, all of which is topped off by the straight faced drama that the series somehow manages to bring forth from what basically amounts to a board game. Yet, no matter how much I tell myself how ridiculous the whole thing is, I can't deny that it's actually quite enjoyable to watch. Yes, I don't know how the actual games of Mahjong work, but seeing a game in progress is oddly compelling, and Saki herself has a kind of mysteriously likeable quality to her which keeps the show ticking over in this episode. This can't quite be said for Nodoka however, who aside from being a bad loser also suffers the ignomony of being top-notch fan service fodder - Yes Gonzo, we have noticed that she has huge mammaries, we don't need them shoved in our face every other frame.
Pointless fan service aside, Saki could well end up as an unlikely hit with me - It isn't too demanding, and despite its attempts at drama it all remains pretty bright and breezy to keep me entertained thus far. It's probably better than spending half an hour actually learning to play Mahjong, that's for sure.