Is it because Saki gets right into the whole Mahjong affair while K-On lingers until the very end of the episode? I’m not quite sure what it is specifically, but it’s probably a combination of the above and the fact that I find the Mahjong fair presented to me in Saki’s opener fair more sophisticated and to my tastes…then K-Ons light music which barely got approached in the first episode.
Yes, that’s very true. K-ON tried all too hastily to give us a full-blown exposition in the space of an episode. You can lay out a relative, reapplicable sequence of events:
1. Existence of the subject (music club) is made known (Ritsu confronts Mio)
2. Existence of subject is problematized (not enough people)
3. The problem is slightly remedied (Mugi joins)
4. Full remedy of the situation requires another Event (Yui needs to join)
5. The subject is unproblematized (music club is up)
*6. Problematic secondary subjects arise (Yui needs a guitar and she can’t play guitar)
Of course, each of these bullets is a process in itself. *6 is important because it’s the cliffhanger, it’s the event that establishes continuity between the first and second episode.
The part I didn’t like most was #3, when Mugi joins. She originally wants to join the choir club, but is very easily converted into the light music club. Obviously this was a directive to speed up the exposition, but it was contrived and felt very forced. Mugi’s passive archetype only corroborates this.
What I did like about this episode were the two parallel narratives. I listed the chronology of Ritsu/Mio/Mugi, but Yui’s is different:
1. Subject made known (Yui herself as a first year student via opening ceremony)
*2. Subject is problematized (can’t find a club)
3. The problem is addressed (Yui contacts the light music club)
4. The subject is slightly unproblematized (she joins but needs guitar and can’t play)
*2 is when the two narratives meet, which is fairly well into the episode. Yet the viewers always know the irony between the two narratives.
1. The subject (Saki) is established
2. The site of the subject (mahjong club) is established
3. The subject’s problem is revealed (Saki hates mahjong)
4. The subject’s problem is addressed (but she says it’s different than playing it with her family)
5. The site is developed (SUPERHUMAN LUCK)
The key difference in expositional technique is that K-ON has to establish the premise, problematize that very premise, then resolve it within a single episode, and all that is just the exposition. Saki, on the other hand, uses character revealing to set up continuity to future episodes but focuses on the development of the site (mahjong game progressing). It’s also significant that a “passive third person” (student congress president) narrates the development of the site – I doubt she’ll receive any character development – to frame Saki’s narrative in perspective, rather than face-to-face as it is in K-ON.
But let’s be clear.
light music club > mahjong club
moe blobs > orthodox fan service