Happy Valentine’s Day, folks! Valentine’s Day, in all of its commercialism, is a day about Love; and in case you didn’t know, I LOVE the Saki manga/anime series. So today, I will be making two reviews, each reviewing 14 Saki characters. Why 2 and 14? Because today is 2/14/2014 and I have no better reason beyond that.
The Saki series is known best for making even enemies and neutral characters just as important as the protagonists, but some of these characters I felt could use a little more. This list is for the characters I felt may need more clarity so that I could like them more. The other list are characters I chose as the best characters of Saki.Since there are over 60 characters, many of them did not make these lists. Furthermore, I’m limiting myself to the current anime arcs (Side-B quarterfinal match and Side-A semifinal match), granted I have gotten slightly further with the manga.
14) Yoshiko Yasukoshi (Shindouji): 2nd seat, 3rd year
Yasukoshi is one of those mysterious characters that for whatever reason did not get any backstory whatsoever. In Side-A’s semifinal match, however, she increases Shindouji’s losses from the 1st match by a considerable amount while winning several quick hands! She also manages to dodge Sumire Hirose of Shiraitodai (known as the “Sharpshooter”) to maintain competitiveness. And just to cap it off, she has this frazzled look on her face. Just what exactly is Yasukoshi’s deal?
13) Suzu Ueshige (Himematsu): 1st seat, 2nd year
According to the other girls on her team, Ueshige will occasionally make an “exploding” play, describing a miracle high-hand in mahjong worth, in what I might guess, is at least worth 15,000 points or more. At least, that’s what I would guess, because honestly, I haven’t really seen something like that happen enough yet! Good thing we will see her again after the quarterfinals.
12) Aislinn Wishart (Miyamori)
Wishart is not only one of the highest ranking high school players from New Zealand in the Saki series, she is also, what I would call, the “dream maker.” As an artist, she can visualize how the mahjong hands will turn out so that she will come out on top. Supposedly, this strategy has worked for her in the past, but not when she is faced against protagonist Mako Someya, who is not only also a visualizer, but a more experienced one! Sorry Wishart; guess it just wasn’t your day.
11) Kyotaro Suga (Kiyosumi): Individuals Boys’ side, 1st year
I realize that the vast majority of characters in Saki are girls who play mahjong, but there is at least one male character; and he’s a protagonist to boot! Unfortunately, Suga gets the least amount of screen time than any of the main characters and for whatever reason, I have yet to see him really play mahjong. I realize his character is mainly for comic relief and provide evidence that Kiyosumi High is co-ed, but seriously? You can roll with the titular character and her crew, but the other rivals and teams are more important that you are!
10) Sukoya Kokaji (Pro)
Pro Kokaji is featured in the Side-A spin-off as a commentator. I would have probably left her off this list, but she has an interesting connection with Achiga’s coach Harue Akado. When Akado was in the semifinal match of her first and only Interhigh National Mahjong Championship, Kokaji came out on top and moved on to become a pro player in her adult life. It goes without saying that Pro Kokaji may have actually been the main character of her own pre-Saki timeline. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a glimpse of that? I think so.
9) Mairu Shirouzu (Shindouji): 4th seat, 3rd year
Shirouzu is Shindouji’s mahjong club president and, along with her roommate Himeko Tsuruta, the aces of the team. Her play style ability is called “reservation” (in English, I might add), where she will attempt to complete a hand by forcing herself to win by a certain number of yakumans (special conditions). The interpreted scene of this reservation is that she will chain herself depending on the number of reservations, and will be released once the hand is complete. When she wins, a “mangan” key will be given to 5th seat Tsuruta with a number that’s worth double the reservation. Superstition says that during Tsuruta’s match, she will win the same round’s hand as Shirouzu, but effectively double the number of points earned. That’s really awesome, but there was never any background beyond this dynamic duo’s friendship beyond that. My curiosity compels me!
8) Any of the Kazekoshi Girls
Kazekoshi Girls’ Academy is the school with a rich history in Mahjong tournaments for the Nagano prefecture, where our protagonists come from. The school boasts an army of 80 girls who compete as members of their mahjong team; granted only 5 will actually make this team. Unfortunately in the recent 2 years of their timeline, Kazekoshi got shut out by both Ryuumonbuchi and Kiyosumi. And who can blame them? Other than their captain, Mihoko Fukuji (who appears on the other list of 14 I have), none of these girls really stand out. Kana Ikeda kind of does, but she isn’t nearly as spectacular as her captain. I am convinced that Kazekoshi needs to step up their game, but maybe a little more clarity from their players would help a little more, too.
7) Touka Ryuumonbuchi (Ryuumonbuchi): 4th seat, 2nd year
Touka comes from a wealthy family that not only owns the academy which she attends, but her closest family members and student-maids make up her entire team. She and the rest of Ryuumonbuchi went to the Nationals in the year before this timeline occurred. Touka’s claim to fame in mahjong is apparently as an online no-nonsense player, but with Nodoka Haramura in her way as a more praised player both online and in real life, she will abandon her reasoning and become a demon-like attacker. So yeah, she’s got a grudge. I kind of wanted to know where this demonic Touka comes from; and I’m pretty sure her demon cousin Koromo has nothing to do with it either!
6) Awai Oohoshi (Shiraitodai): 5th seat, 1st year
Like Saki, Oohoshi is in the “monster” class of players, plays as the fifth seat of her team, and she’s the same age. Furthermore, she is on Saki’s sister, Teru Miyanaga’s team; and is considered the successor to Teru’s skill as a mahjong player. Her most favored style is by winning quick hands that are also very expensive. Not entirely curious about her background (though that is a missing factor). I really want to see her in a match against Saki! Trust me though, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious at this point that it will happen.
5) Yuu Matsumi (Achiga): 2nd seat, 3rd year
Yuu is the oldest member of Achiga’s team and Kuro’s older sister. Her main feature is that she wears a lot of layers even in this Summer tournament; and because of this, her ability is by being a red-tile (warm tile) magnet in any given round. As far as skill, she is a more efficient player than her little sister, but I know the least about her as a protagonist on the Achiga side. If she is as powerful as even her sister will claim, why isn’t she coming out as one of the champions of her respective matches?
4) Hiroe Atago (Himematsu): 3rd seat, 3rd year
Hiroe (not to be confused with her sister who is also on Himematsu’s team) is the team ace for Himematsu and is extremely pernicious as a mahjong player. Her loudness and cheeky remarks make her a very obvious tsundere type that even Hisa Takei thinks couldn’t get any more stereotypical unless Hiroe had twin pigtails. She does make herself, at least, appear as the ace of Himematsu, but I’m more curious about her personality. She’s one of the characters I kind of wished had more character development rather than a fairly established persona from her introduction.
3) Komaki Jindai (Eisui): 1st seat, 2nd year
Jindai is the lead of the shrine maiden Eisui team and, for whatever reason, is one of the more celebrated players in the media from the year before. She is said to be on par with Teru Miyanaga, the current Interhigh Individual Champion. During a mahjong match, Jindai becomes possessed by one of six various gods that reside in her temple, who will grant her incredible play powers and miracle hands. During this arc, however, it is revealed that the weakest of these gods possessed her during the quarterfinal match, of which she only won a single hand (granted, it was worth over 16,000 points). I’d love to see what would actually happen if she were possessed by some of the better gods, but unfortunately, Eisui doesn’t move on to the semifinals. So much build-up, yet unfortunate results.
2) Ako Atarashi (Achiga): 3rd seat, 1st year
Ako is the side-kick to the titular character (Shizuno Takakamo) of Saki’s Achiga-hen storyline and is also a childhood friend of Nodoka’s. She plays a no-nonsense quick style mahjong and, for the most part, rivals herself with other players like her, such as Sera Eguchi of Senriyama. She is the pillar of her community in Nara prefecture, and many of the girls, from her aunties down to elementary school children, watch her with great anticipation, but for what? I didn’t really see a great deal of interest in Ako, other than she’s kind of like a carbon-copy of Nodoka: the no-nonsense sidekick to the central character. The vast majority of Saki fans say otherwise, but I personally would like to see a little more development in Ako’s character.
1) Teru Miyanaga (Shiraitodai): 1st seat, 3rd year
There doesn’t really lack clarity, for the most part; honestly. She is the current Mahjong Interhigh Champion, she is celebrated by the press and other pro players, and she is Saki’s big sister. In the first season of the anime, Teru is the apple of Saki’s eye, and Saki has done everything in her power to try and get Teru to notice her. But there is a darker side to Teru. Along with their mother, Teru broke away from Saki’s family. She is the most fearsome player in the tournament and shows no mercy to any of her opponents as she widens the point spread even when it is already very wide. And on top of it all, she never acknowledges that Saki even exists. She has a lot of clarity but seriously, why does Saki want to impress this bitch? She is the antagonist I’m supposed to hate, but Saki still has the deepest affection for her, despite the fact that I’m sure she’s the reason Saki hated mahjong for a good chunk of her past life. Teru Miyanaga: who are you really? That’s what I want to know.
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Thanks for reading (in case you did). I’ll be posting the second half of this blog series (hopefully) later today, when I reveal my 14 favorite characters from Saki.