The Saki franchise is pretty much driven by two things: bone-chilling mahjong plays and adorable yuri moments (or moe for those of you who haven’t seen the light yet). For the purposes of this post, I will focus on the matter of mahjong and exaggeration.
Mahjong, like many other games that depend heavily on luck, has spawned many brands of superstition and irrational ways of thinking about the game. For example, Saki’s tendency to get a Rinshan Kaihou (winning by tsumo off a draw after declaring kan) can most likely be traced to some players’ belief that they get lucky draws when calling kan. The same can be said about every girl in the series that have “powers”. Each of their abilities represent a certain mahjong superstition.
What Saki does, is exaggerate these traits into superhuman abilities. Most recently in Achiga-hen, we have seen Kuro and her tendency to get all the dora in the game, as well as Toki’s inhuman intuition (chokkan). Sure, someone who plays mahjong often may fall under the impression that he/she gets more dora than others, or feel that he/she can “predict” the discards and draws of other players, but since reality is a big pain in the neck, we can’t have lightning-induced winning draws, or have static come out of resin tiles when we get to tenpai – much more pull off six consecutive Rinshan Kaihous or Haitei Raoyues. Saki makes mahjong a larger-than-life game, much like sports-turned shounen anime.
The thing is, exaggeration in fiction serves as a way to spice up mundane events in our daily lives as boring people. Unless you’re some idiot who thinks all anime should be as realistic as possible, you should have at least watched and enjoyed an anime that makes relatively unappealing games seem like the greatest things in existence. We all want to see stuff that excites and entertains us, and Saki does that by exaggerating mahjong to Shaolin Soccer levels. It’s a really basic entertainment gimmick, and I love it.