Since the aniblogosphere is saturated with story movement-oriented episodic blog posts, I’ll try to cover the other aspects of Saki: Achiga-hen.
The anime took yet another orthodox approach for its second episode – going for the by-the-books adaptation of the manga’s second chapter and the first half of the third. While I’m pretty happy that they are sticking very close to the original content of the manga, I can’t help but feel a little disappointment at the relative lack of creativity on the part of the animation staff, particularly the director, Manabu Ono. What the animation is doing so far is make the characters move and talk, but not much else.
That said, I’m still very satisfied from what they are doing here. I’m sure fans of the first Saki anime, yours truly included of course, can get a similar feel from Achiga-hen as with the first series. The atmosphere’s more or less the same, there’s still the very large moe factor present, and the characters still seem to not be wearing any panties.
But what I think the series is doing perfectly so far is the voice acting. It’s not earth-shattering-ly great, but I think they did the casting perfectly. Aoi Yuuki’s energy-filled voice acting is doing a great job giving life to Shizuno, Kana Hanazawa is also doing justice to Kuro so far – I think her voice acting will be put to the test later in the series. Just wait and see. I was quite surprised that MAKO is voicing Kuro’s sister Yuu… she did a great job as Kanna in Koe de Oshigoto, but I didn’t think she would be this good in Yuu’s role. Ako and Arata have yet to impress me, but I’m sure they will soon.
From what I’ve noticed from reading the manga (I’m updated) and watching the two episodes, the yuri in Achiga-hen isn’t as blatant as the first series’, and the mahjong seems to be watered down. It’s up to each person watching to perceive these changes as good or bad, but for a show well-known for over-the-top mahjong and excessive yuri undertones, these elements are toned down to a great extent. Hopefully, both of these problems would be addressed accordingly by the adaptation, if you know what I mean.
…did I say that I won’t comment on the story’s progress? Okay, forget that. I will.
I have seen may bloggers complaining that the pacing is off in this anime. Believe me, this is how they did it in the manga as well. I won’t lie – the story is indeed rushed, especially during the first part. They assembled the team (plus coach) in a span of 2 manga chapters as well. But unlike the others, I really didn’t mind it. Isn’t the blogosphere overreacting to this? If you want stellar storytelling, Saki isn’t for you. The manga, and the anime by extension is just giving to the fans what they want, and fast.