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Saki Episode #20 Anime Review

5 min read
Saki Episode 20

Now that the Prefectural Qualifying Tournament is over, what is next? Must be time to tread some water while they figure out how to proceed.

What They Say
Hand 20 – Sisters
Kiyosumi High School mahjong members are instructed by the captain of the club to bring their swimwear for a special training session at the Sportsland Pool. Nodoka and Saki show off how beautiful they are in their swimsuits, attracting people and attention from all directions…

The Review!
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One thing is clear from how Episode 20 proceeds: the staff had kind of lost the thread of what they were doing. It’s not that the episode presents a chaotic mess in full disarray, no that’s not what happens at all. But what we have is an episode that clearly feels like it is treading water as the production staff try to figure out what to do. You can see it in the opening section which largely replays the climactic high of the previous episode, though tries to cleverly fold it into new material focusing on a dream Saki is having about finally getting to see her sister again. It’s a nice try, but it can’t hide the fact that there is a lot of reused animation there.

So, with the team tournament over, what can we do next? It would probably be a good idea to take a break from the tension at the mahjong table, though that doesn’t mean there can be no attempt to move the story forward, gingerly. So…how about a time out at the pool? That’s Hisa’s feeling as she decides that the team deserves a little reward for their hard work. So, it’s off to the pool. Pool? Yes, you guessed it: when in doubt about what to do, do a fanservice episode. It might also appear that the budget began to run a touch thin at this point of the show as it looks like the animators cannot quite keep everyone on model all the time. Nodoka is overdone as usual, but somehow seems slightly larger and slightly smaller at times. Hisa and Mako also seem to have been enhanced a bit. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, which I’ve mockingly referred to as “Situational Breasts.” Swimsuits can certainly enhance figures that loose-fitting clothing hides, but the differences are something a bit too noticeable. There is no equality of opportunity though, as Saki and Yuuki do not get any benefit.

Touka being Touka, angry at the smallest reason for Nodoka to stand out more than she does

While fooling around the complex, the team from Kiyosumi happens to run into the team from Ryuumonbuchi. Not a surprise really, since the pool resort is owned by the Ryuumonbuchi Family. So, it is literally Touka’s place. And yes, they continue to put Hajime in an outfit that is probably illegal in some jurisdictions. Still, this chance encounter gives an excuse for a Ryuumonbuchi flashback, as Touka recalls their trip to Tokyo last year, and how much Koromo enjoyed going to a family restaurant. Because of the happy memories Koromo has of that trip, Touka vows to win the individual tournament, so that she may bring Koromo and the rest along with her to Tokyo. (There are a few translation errors in this segment, where Koromo and Touka refer to the “team tournament” when they obviously were talking about the “individual tournament”). We also get some moments with the girls from Kazekoshi, who are still engaged in Captain Mihoko worship, and the team from Tsuruga, where Yumi the Strategist is already worrying about whether any of them will be able to advance far in the individual tournament. Her plan had been to rely on teamwork and Momoko’s Stealth Power to help them take the team championship.

As I said before, in the midst of all this frivolity, there is also an attempt to move the grand narrative forward, in small steps. There is another Prefectural Tournament underway. It is the Finals of the West Tokyo District Tournament and one team is favored to dominate: Shiraitodai, the powerhouse school of the district and current reigning national champions. Led by one Teru Miyanaga. Yes, that Teru. They win the tournament handily and gather together for a post victory meeting, but Teru looks very unhappy. And she is: she complains that she wasn’t even able to warm up against the competition she faced in her round of the match. Another team member then hands her a newspaper which lists the teams they will be facing in the National Tournament. Asking if Teru has ever heard of Kiyosumi, Teru doesn’t even respond. When asked “Don’t you have a little sister?” (we can see Saki’s name listed in the newspaper), Teru, answers coldly. I will leave her response for you to see for yourself.

After this big bit of drama, we have a musical segment where they make use of the first ending theme, “Netsuretsu Kangei Wonderland” (“Enthusiastic Welcome Wonderland”), as the soundtrack for a long montage featuring the four various teams who were in the finals doing various things during the break before the individual tournament, which should start next episode. It’s immediately followed by the ED credits, so…it’s pretty obvious that it was pure filler. As I recall, the entire individual tournament section of the anime is filler as well as the anime had caught up to the manga fairly quickly (thus the nearly five year gap before The Nationals sequel series came along). So, the rest of this season, I’ll just fill you in on what there is knowing that it probably does not have a strong impact on the sequel that follows.

We’re out of story, so we might as well kick back and relax

In Summary:
Since the manga material gave out at this point during production, what we have is anime original content. “Filler” to most people. It turned out to be a long wait to get any new original material (the manga author had a significant hiatus owing to health reasons). Therefore, filler is what we will have to work with for the rest of this season. As filler goes, this was amusing enough. We had swimsuits. We had flashbacks. And we have quite a lot of breast-centered humor, all of it at Nodoka’s expense (not all of it particularly funny). Up ahead will be the individual tournament matches to see who else gets to go to Tokyo to compete. So, expect more mahjong ahead.

Grade: B

Streamed by: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Apple iMac with 12GB RAM, Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan.