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Saki

Saki is a manga based around the game of Mahjong, with an anime adaptation by GONZO. The anime has been licensed by crunchyroll and can be viewed for free on their site (though only in certain regions).

Saki is in her first year of highschool. One day, while sitting down by the river, she notices a very beautiful girl the same age as her pass by, a girl she's fated to meet later. After lunch, her friend Kyoutarou drags her along to play with the Mahjong club despite Saki insisting that she hates the game. At the Mahjong club, she formally meets the beautiful girl and finds out her name is Nodoka and she was the middle school Mahjong champion last year. They play a few rounds and Nodoka wins.

Hisa, the student council president wakes up from her nap just in time to see the last round of Mahjong. She notices that Saki wasn't playing to win in her last round and was just playing for a draw. She also notices that in all of the rounds Saki had scored a +/-0 score every time and to get that, a Mahjong player would need unreal skill and luck.

The next day Hisa bribes Saki by offering to lend her a series of books if she'll play some rounds with the Mahjong club. They test out her skills for another game, then, in the very next game, they also get her to play to win (by telling her to see a handicap). Saki ends up winning and even though at first she mistakenly assumed the handicap was going to count and that she lost, she discovers her love for the game. She reveals she never really enjoyed playing Mahjong with her family, as they were often sore losers and winners (the reason she always played to a +/-0 score). So Saki ends up joining the club to get to the Serious Business of playing Mahjong hoping to soon win a major tournament.

There is also a spinoff manga and anime series called Saki Achiga-hen, which focuses on Nodoka's childhood friends in Achiga high school who are trying to get into the national high school tournament so they can get a chance to play mahjong with Nodoka again.

In addition to the spinoff two 4koma series, Saki - Biyori and its follow-up Otona no Maki have been serialized. The 4koma mostly focuses on the (often comedic and silly) experiences of the girls from the schools that Kiyosumi (and later, Achiga) have played against, such as Ryuumonbuchi, Kazekoshi, and Tsuruga, though there are also chapters devoted to both Kiyosumi and Achiga.

Note: There is also a character sheet for character-specific tropes.


This series contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Mahjong Club: When viewed from a distance, the building of the Mahjong club looks really out of place. It's a Medieval European-style house on the rooftop of a typical modern Japanese school building. The actual student congress is normal, occupying a room that's just enough to hold meetings.
  • All-Star Cast: Many of the seiyuu in this series are known for very famous roles.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The president of the mahjong club is usually also one of the most skilled members.
  • Avengers Assemble: The way Ryuumonbuchi's team was formed.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In both manga and anime.
  • Battle Aura
  • Batman Gambit and Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: All over the place.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 20, where the Kiyosumi and Ryuumonbuchi teams meet up at an indoor pool. The ending sequence for the second half of the series also shows all the teams at the beach.
  • Bird Run
  • Bland-Name Product: The "DFLL" computer in the commentators' booth, and the book titled "Rord of the Rings".
  • Broken Pedestal: Saki's discovery that Teru publicly disowned her.
    • Subverted in the case of Mihoko and Hisa.
  • Cain and Abel: Teru and Saki
  • Cast Full of Gay: Oh yes.
  • Cast Herd: The majority of the cast is made up of the various schools' mahjong teams.
  • Censor Steam
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The things most of the characters pull off are just ridiculous, not to mention impossible in some cases.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Put to good use during Saki and Nodoka's first encounter.
  • Conspicuous CG: The mahjong tiles.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Ryuumonbuchi
  • David Versus Goliath: Kiyosumi is a perpetual underdog team.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Nary a harsh feeling from the lambasted. Represented best by Yumi, who provided battle data of the national monsters for the Kiyosumi. She collected the data herself.
  • Did You Just Have Tea With Cthulhu: Koromo returning Etopen to Nodoka, as Koromo tries to ask Nodoka to be her friend.
  • Enemy Mine: In one of the matches of the individual tournament, everyone gangs up on Saki. Needless to say, it doesn't work.
  • Fan Service with a Smile: Mako's family's mahjong Maid Cafe; a nice reason to see Saki and Nodoka dress up. And play more mahjong.
    • In the manga, it's actually a maid mahjong parlor. They changed it for the anime.
  • Field Power Effect
  • Flash Back
  • Freudian Excuse: The unnamed king in Yuuki's omake story, who waged war with the Power of Corn and left none for making new tacos because his parents divorced when he was young over how bad tacos tasted.
    • Kaori manages to win a game against tournament level players because her inexperience rendered her completely unpredictable to her Metagame-steeped opponents. Confusion Fu pointed out the Fridge Logic that, since Mahjong is used to gamble, it should've been easy for experienced players to win off a rookie. However, Mahjong is Serious Business to these girls. Gambling isn't their goal, it's seeking Worthy Opponents and defeating them. For this reason it never would have occurred them that they would even play such a newbie, so nobody thought of trying to hustle her, either.
  • Funny Background Event: Kyoutarou and Yuuki horsing around in episode five.
  • Furo Scene
  • Girls Love: Nothing explicitly stated, but a lot implied.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Sort of. By the time Kiyosumi and Ryuumonbuchi encounter one another at a Swimming Complex, Ryuumonbuchi has pretty much been resolved.
  • Gray Rain of Depression
  • Hey, It's That Voice! & Names to Know In Anime: See the character sheet for details.
  • Hot Springs Episode: The training camp before the regional tournament, and the final episode.
  • Hufflepuff House: The regional tournament features two plucky underdog teams who come from nowhere to make it into the final round. One of them is Our Heroes. Sorry, girls of Tsuruga Academy, but until you get your own show, you have no chance of winning.
  • Improbably-Female Cast: The male and female tournaments are separated. Given that this anime's main character is a girl, it makes sense they'd focus on the girl's tournament.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Saki and Nodoka in the opening and in the occasionally-used second ending. Also used in-series, like when they are watching fireflies together.
  • I Sense a Disturbance In The Force
  • Joshikousei: But of course.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At the beginning of the Nationals arc in the manga, Saki admits that she had accidentally worn Mako's skirt (Which is longer than hers) to the Opening Ceremony, apparently to make up for the mangaka's error of drawing Saki with a long skirt in the previous chapter. Since then, Saki has more or less seen an increase in her skirt length (Some might say it actually looks better.)
  • Lightning-spouting Eye of Doom
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Love Bubbles: Saki and Nodoka have a fair amount of these scenes.
  • Luminescent Blush: All over the place. Particularly used with the series' (numerous) Les Yay moments.
  • The Magic Mahjong Equation
  • Mahjong Is Slaughter: In Shiraitodai's first appearance, after Awai finishes her match, her opponents are seen dazed, heads hung, and completely lifeless.
  • Male Gaze: The anime has a special emphasis on the character's sweaty thighs
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Let's face it, Mahjong isn't really all that exciting as a spectator sport. The show uses all kinds of music, camera angles, and special effects to try to make it more spectacular.
  • My Mahjong is Stronger Than Yours: Why of course.
  • Nakama: Ryuumonbuchi
  • Noblewoman's Laugh
  • Oh Crap: Plenty of these moments to go around.
  • Old School Building: The location of the Mahjong club (in the attic).
  • One Word Title: About 2/3s of the episode titles fit this.
  • Overtook the Manga: The last match of the regionals ended in the manga two days before it ended in anime.
  • Panty Shot: Subverted; The girls look like they're not even wearing underwear.
    • And based on the first episode, Nodoka isn't wearing any bra either.
    • And this happen in the manga.
  • Perpetually-Shiny Bodies
  • Pinky Swear: Saki and Nodoka ("No holding back?")
  • Pluralses: Momoko is subtitled like this, though it's really more of a Verbal Tic.
  • Power of Love And Trust
  • Puni Plush: Everything except for the boards.
  • Real Place Background: Frequently utilized.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Nodoka's father thinks "Mahjong Pro" isn't the most secure career aspiration for his daughter, but lets her keep at it as long as she keeps winning.
  • Relationship Voice Actor: Head to the trope itself for details.
  • Retraux: Flashbacks are often done in sepia.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Nodoka and Saki, Yumi and Momo, and Mihoko and Kana. Whether it might be more is up for debate.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: In Episode 25, when Mako, Tomoki, and Miharu all make the collective decision to gang up on Kaori as revenge for getting beat by her so badly in the Prefecturals. They all lose badly to Kaori.
  • Serial Escalation: How much can we make a statistician somewhere cry? It's actually a plot point, because the rules for this year's tournament specifically favor players with outrageous luck.
  • Serious Business: Mahjong, obviously. However, the importance of having fun when playing is stressed as well.
  • Sequel Hook: The scenes during the ending credits showcase new characters from other schools competing in the nationals, and hint at the inevitable showdown with Teru.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Subverted, Teru appears clearly in the first opening and during Saki's Flash Back. Played straight for most other top-tier players.
  • Shower Scene
  • Shout-Out: In the anime, many to Akagi (much of the 'camera work' and motions during a game are straight Akagi, and the Conspicuous CG happens to look identical).
  • Sleep Cute: Nodoka and Saki in episodes eight, ten and nineteen.
  • Super-Deformed: Used during the exposition bits and in the ending credits.
  • Taste the Rainbow: All sorts of characters, all sorts of fetishes, and all sorts of genres.
  • Tournament Arc: Prefectural tournament in season one. Presumably, the Nationals will be covered in season two.
  • Trash Talk: Averted for the most part, but there were a few instances: Hisa subtly insulting Satomi's intelligence during the halftime break of their match, and all of Hiroe's matches so far.
  • The Worf Effect: Kazekoshi Girls' School has a Mahjong club membership of at least 78 people and a reputation as THE school to go to for girls who play Mahjong. They were the reigning champions for years until the Koromo started attending high school. Once they reach the final rounds of the regional tournament and get ready for some revenge, every single member of their team besides the captain gets completely dominated.
    • Part of the problem is that Kazekoshi plays very standard and conventional mahjong and are flustered when they meet players with unconventional playing styles. Note that in the two rounds where Kazekoshi faced conventional players (round 2 and round 4), they played reasonably well.
    • Yuuki has fallen victim to this 3 times now - In her first match against Jun and Mihoko, her match against Nanpo, and her match against Jindai (The latter of which when she was A HAND AWAY from victory)...Poor, poor Yuuki.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Some of the players on Eisui All-Girl's School's team didn't think much of Kiyosumi because the regional tournament they won only featured twenty schools, but still give them some respect because they managed to beat Koromo and the rest of Ryuumonbuchi. Then Hisa won Kiyosumi's first match by dropping one of the other schools below 0 points. In the third match. Before Nodoka and Saki even got to play.
  • Unrelated Effects: The Mahjong games are full of them.
  • Vapor Wear:
    • Shots of Nodoka's wet uniform scene from the first episode made the fans theorize that Nodoka and maybe the other girls did not wear any lingerie.
    • Hajime's casual clothing pretty much excludes the possibility of her wearing underwear.
  • Visual Pun: The third ending sequence has an octopus (tako) holding a taco.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Mahjong with special effects and camera angles; we're not just talking dramatic music and lighting, this has winged creatures, transformation and lightning.
  • X Meets Y: Akagi Meets Hitohira. Saki can be seen as a Captain Ersatz of Mugi, for one.
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