Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Saki - Episode of Side-A - Episode 2

After a period of hiatus, Achiga Girls Academy has a mahjong club again!  Well, kind of, assuming said club can find the requisite five members to officially become one.

Thankfully, and compared to a lot of shows of this ilk, finding those five members turns out to be really rather simple.  With hizuno and Ako already on board and joined by Kuro, only two more members are required, and before we know it we find them both.  First up there's Yuu, Kuro's sister with a reasonable amount of mahjong talent despite a penchant for wearing warm clothes, scarves and so on even in the height of summer.  To round out the club, Kuro also recruits Arata Sagimori, a girl who idolised Harue Akado during her time of competitive success but fell out of love with the game once Harue gave up playing it competitively.

Ironically, it's Miss Akado who proves to be the other major driver for this episode - after being recruited to join a professional, corporate team, a high-profile defeat sees those corporate sponsors pull the plug on the side, leaving her without a mahjong outlet even if she gets to keep her job with the company.  It's this state of affairs perhaps that pull her back to look in on Achiga school, where she finds the new mahjong club in session - a discovery that makes her determined to go to the national tournament one more time, only this time around as the girl's teacher and advisor.  Can she really repeat the trick of many years previously and lead them on to beating their rivals at Bansei High School?

While not a lot happens in this episode if you're waiting for some hot mahjong action (aren't we all waiting for that?), and although as a result it feels a little like another lost episode in a series which is pretty short as it is, I do still have some kudos to spare for this week's Episode of Side-A for building its team up so quickly without any messing around and putting the show right where it needs to be at this juncture.  The big question is now is whether its characters and the events around them will prove to be entertaining enough to match the franchise's first season - at the moment all of the main characters are really rather dull, so it's going to be up to their mahjong prowess to build them up into something a little substantial, which I really hope and pray that they manage to pull off.  Until we get to the real meat of the series, the jury is out for the return of Saki for now.

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