Powerchord, East Wind, (屮゜Д゜)屮♫

[←122] Kaioshin:

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.

Saki’s timeline

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

(屮゜Д゜)屮

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29 Comments

  1. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Ha! A convoluted analysis, with a decisive end.

    Will the moe blobs rule the world?

  2. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    light music club > mahjong club
    moe blobs > orthodox fan service

    I LOL’D. Great post man.

  3. Posted April 7, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    i agree with your inequalities, although i am also looking forward to a fanservice friendly beach episode..

  4. Karisu
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    It comes down to this:

    I will continue to watch and enjoy K-ON! because it is very well produced and has great and entertaining characters.

    I will however never watch another episode of Saki again because the characters are boring and cliche without any air of freshness and the “orthodox fanservice” is so played out and dime a dozen. Also, mahjong is highly boring and uninteresting.

    K-ON! wins.

  5. Posted April 7, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    @ Karisu:

    The problem of Saki is not really to be compared with another moé show, but with another anime that set the bar of mahjong anime very high: Akagi.

  6. Posted April 7, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Succinctly put, especially with the ending inequalities. Now, in light of your music-related posts, inquiring minds (but probably just me) wish to know which series has better music. :P

  7. Posted April 7, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    And I’m still watching both regardless, because this sort of comparison seems silly to me. :P

  8. lelangir
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    lol if I split it into two posts would the stigma of silly comparisons go away?

  9. lubczyk
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Both Saki and K-On have really uninteresting moe characters and designs. I’ve literally seen the same **** before over 2 dozen times. IF you have been watching anime for over 20 years, the uninspired setups of both will bore you to tears.

  10. Posted April 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Works for me, but:

    mahjong club > light music club
    moe blobs = orthodox fan service

    I was a chess club member in High School so I’ll admit I have a bias towards table game clubs vs. music clubs. Moe blobs have just become too common in recent years such that they can pretty much be equated to classic skinbearing/undegarment revealing fanservice in my opinion. Though that could be an interesting debate for another time.

  11. Posted April 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    moe blobs = orthodox fan service

    ^ This.

    The part I didn’t like most was #3, when Mugi joins.

    Yeah, I agree there, but I just went with it. I had more a “lolwut?” reaction to when Mio and Tsumugi are so strongly trying to get Yui to join. Mio suddenly switched from ‘meh, I don’t really want to do this’ to ‘OH SHI- gotta get this girl to join!’ Although I guess there were time gaps that were explicitly stated (a week after putting up the poster), so I suppose she changed her mind in that time frame.

  12. vin-nii
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    light music club > mahjong club
    moe blobs > orthodox fan service

    but
    playing Mahjong > listening to music

  13. lelangir
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    sucking at mahjong < actively listening to good music

  14. Silver
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Hmm. For me,

    light music club > mahjong club
    moe blobs = orthodox fan service

    I’m more of a musician so I am biased. However, I do like chess too so at first, it was kind of hard.

  15. Posted April 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    @Lelangir:

    sucking at mahjong < actively listening to good music

    Well obviously. :P

  16. soyahoney
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve decided to watch both.

    KyoAni’s moe and loli characters, to me, get better and better with even more unrealistic and hysterical twists. I like light music anyways, so why not? XD

    Saki reminded me of the less serious, less trap and less Kawasumi Ayako version of Shion no Ou, in which I enjoyed watching. Saki is the safer and funnier version.

  17. lelangir
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ve decided to watch both.

    KyoAni’s moe and loli characters, to me, get better and better with even more unrealistic and hysterical twists. I like light music anyways, so why not? XD

    Saki reminded me of the less serious, less trap and less Kawasumi Ayako version of Shion no Ou, in which I enjoyed watching. Saki is the safer and funnier version.

    Really, in the first place, I don’t see why people give a fuck what other people watch.

  18. olivia
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    great analysis

  19. lelangir
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    >>Now, in light of your music-related posts, inquiring minds (but probably just me) wish to know which series has better music.

    The typified answer is “it’s not a question of better”, and I wasn’t paying much attention to Saki’s music except the first little bit. Music also relates to how it’s used, so there’s a dynamic between scene/sound. I would not rate K-ON’s music very highly though.

  20. Limewarrior
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    K-ON! was fun to watch. The moe was a little thick though. I usually don’t mind, but good god, it was like swimming in honey. Still, I love music and the animation was great. It reminded me how much I loved SHnY’s rock scene.

    Also, how awesome was that ED!

  21. liquid
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Saki was meh, K-on was ok, but teh ending of K-on.. was just awsome XD

  22. RM
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Wha? K-ON was about music?

    moe blobs >>>> everything

  23. D=
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    @Sheba

    It doesn’t help that for those of us who play at a level higher than the ladders of North America (You would know if you tried Yahoo MJ! Terrrriibbleee)know how to play Saki’s style against bad players. While Saki does do it enough that even I can’t ignore, the “concept” itself of aiming for a specific score is not exactly Akagi level.

  24. D=
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    @Karisu

    MJ is definitely boring if you aren’t a patient person or someone who takes initiative in the little things when it’s waiting aka the majority of average people. It also contains the flaw known as luck and while that takes it away from something as monotonous as chess, it has the exact opposite fatal flaw.

    Then you couple it up with the fact that games these days offer awesome graphics and audios and what not and it’s just plain obvious that a game made over thousands of years ago is out of date.

    Still =] there are nerds who love even the dumbest things in life. MJ certainly has a bigger player base than most of those dumb things, including chess and checkers combined.

  25. GGear0323
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    just for fun, i have given a try most board games that i could find: Chess, Shogi, Xiangxi, even Go. though, i never get TOO into them and have nobody in my family that plays them so that is also why i never get too into them. never tried MJ though.

    oh, and for the record, K-ON is sooooooo much better when watched after Cross Game ep1. i needed something to pick me back up.

  26. GGear0323
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    p.s.- i meant Xiangqi, not Xiangxi. one is a game, the other is a place.

  27. D=
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    @GGear0323

    Not sure about Xiangqi, but vs Shogi, Go, Chess, etc MJ is totally different in that there is luck. A supposed super computer that mapped out every single possibility will not be able to win 100% or draw 100% if given the chance to. That’s the big difference.

    The second difference is that MJ has a bajillion variants. If you thought Go or Shogi had it’s amazing set of rule sets, you have not seen MJ. It’s worse than the amount of options you get to screw around with in Super Smash Brothers Brawl when setting up a game. Personally I don’t like Japanese style MJ, as it’s too damn complicated for new people or non-MJers to appreciate. No way in hell is it as easy to pick up or as popular as the anime series or manga series depicts regardless if it’s Akagi, Saki, etc. Of course this is total bias, as where I live we all just play no doras, no riichi, and most of those shit hands that magically add up doras do not exist. And lastly the minimum hand has to equate a certain amount of points to be valid, so you can’t just zerg the shit out of the games. Doesn’t sound as flavorful, but it allows you to play with newbies and older people who don’t have the memory to remember all 56300359 fucking hands based on how fucking high and clear the moon is. Okay the last one was a joke, but you get what I mean.

    But it’s definitely fun to a point, just like any other game you and 3 other friends kind of understand and can play together is.

  28. Roy Mustang
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    >>>Yes, that’s very true. K-ON tried all too hastily to give us a full-blown exposition in the space of an episode.<<<

    Now that’s a bitch slap. I feel sorry for Kaioshin.

  29. Nemo
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    K-On has many more comic elements, and uses them ; Saki is a fairly straightforward show and yet can’t seem to get started. One could say that there was very little music and way too much majong in the two first episodes of both shows : K-On does a classic yet effective character introduction, and Saki rushes to its “core” matter, the majong. Maybe it’s because I hardly understood it (but then again, I hardly understand Go or Boxing and still I found the pace of Hikaru no go and Hajime no Ippo was drawing me in); but Saki seemed dull, uneventful and uninteresting. In Saki, the characters are very cliché, there is little to no comedy, the gist of the anime is “superhuman luck” in a strategy game, well well. The only redeeming point is the pink haired bouncy breasted loli cutie, but that might even be a glaring fault for other, more normal people.

    Both anime never risked being great, but while K-on borders on generic, Saki is plain empty. I mean, it took 2 episodes before the protagonist decided to play majong, while most anime do it in one, with comedy on the side, and more character developpement.

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