Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is really good.


I’m not kidding. I’m jumping straight to the topic. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a highly enjoyable comedy that’s so far been able to make me wince, cringe, laugh, and grin in all the right places. It should be no surprise as the studio behind the show has been proving repeatedly they’re experts at their craft. Studio Dogakobo’s early track record is spotty. Koihime Musou and 11eyes weren’t exactly telling of what they’d later produce. But starting with Yuru Yuri, things sort of escalated quickly. From GJ-bu to Engaged to the Unidentified, Dogakobo pretty much nailed the essence of each show, delivering humor with precise timing that would make a Starcraft 2 professional proud.  (Maybe not.)

This show has never let me down in the awkward situations department. It manages to teeter between unbearable and hilarious so often, that perhaps that may also be it’s downside, as I’m sure there’s a good number of people who are tired of conventional tropes. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun has its share of familiarities. If you’ve come to this show after a bout of comedy shows, many of the punchlines aren’t absolute left-fielders. In cases like that I imagine there would only be a joke or two that may get you to grin.

The standard 3 episode test works well with this show. It sets the tempo, which at the moment seems to be the same since episode one. Every time it delves close to drama material, its swoops back towards comedy. It’s a regular, but well executed comedy show, that has Sakura Chiyo’s VA (Ozawa Ari) displaying comedic chops and straight-man jabs on par with Nakamura Yuuichi himself. Granted, Nakamura seems to be able to do this in a real world setting naturally. No clue if Ozawa could pelt it in the same manner.

In any case, I’m happy to hear female seiyuu in comedic roles are often asked to run the gamut of their vocal range, instead of remaining in the high registers. It can get grating after a while. Case in point: Saki Achiga-hen. Had the opportunity to rewatch it, and holy ball sacks, everyone’s voice is squeaky-squeaky all episode long.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is really good.

Mahjong – 06


For a minute, I thought I was looking at an incomplete boat with the sail gone, black rain as long as spears, between two rock formations overlooking a bay of unrendered ocean. But then I saw a tiny triangle that broke the illusion, informing me that I was watching Saki.

The image above is Takei Hisa switch from a moody slump into “Hey, I’m here to have fun, not lose!” mode. And as Hisa starts to enjoy playing, I’m still enjoying the rather fast pace Saki is going at. Perhaps it’s alright since I’ve gotten used to the fundamentals of hand compositions that I don’t have to look up whether or not it’s a mangan (high point hand). The one thing that immediately stood out was this zoom-in on Hisa’s smile. It appears unabashedly in low resolution. It doesn’t help that I watched a 720 video on a 1080 monitor. However, even switching to 1080 didn’t markedly improve the visuals here.

And speaking of visuals, I highly enjoy Atago Hiroe. Her buoyant attitude and strange disposition to run towards her team’s resting quarters is well animated. All this energy and focus on other characters is side-lining Saki pretty hard. Makes me wonder if she’s got something up her sleeves that the director wants to keep under wraps. I’ve been able to stay away from the manga. Wouldn’t want to spoil any goodness coming our way.

Unless something absolutely batshit crazy happens in the next coming episodes, I’ll refrain from a weekly reaction. The weirdly low resolution smile is probably the only thing that stood out like a pink shirt in an army base.

Mahjong – 06

Saki and Mahjong: S&M


I didn’t realize it, but the relationship between Saki and mahjong, is truly an S&M relationship. All these characters just keep abusing the mahjong tiles, and the tiles themselves just take it quietly. Like it enjoys it. Because there’s silly statements made during the show like being “loved by the tiles” or whatever mojo some girls employ to make the tiles obey them and their fantastical abilities. S&M, let it be said. I do have a feeling though that I’m not the first to discover it. Let it be known that I’m too lazy to go find out this specific fact while writing this.

It’s becoming a little hard to find decent screenshots of this show. While there’s random fanservice like after bath scenes, it’s not surprising, considering that the action is limited to when the characters are SITTING DOWN PLAYING MAHJONG. You’d have to develop a strong affinity to enjoying stuff like how a skirt creases around their butt as they sit in their probably comfortable chairs. I’ll be fair to admit to developing said fetish ever since Kyoto Animation randomly focused on animating Irisu’s process of sitting down, allowing us to view the entirety of her hands manipulating her skirt, as they flowed past her butt and primly organized her skirt. The view of such beauty is only more exemplified by the magnificent creases in the skirt as they accentuate where her hips transition into her butt and lovely thighs. Ahem.. Truly, females have no defenses against such perversion. For mine perversion has the strength of folded origami! (Made of steel.)

In today’s viewing of Mahjong, episode 5, I had also developed an interest in Himematsu High School’s team. Ueshige Suzu’s reactions (in episode 4) to the shrine maiden team player was cute. Her hair is also wacky as ever. Although the lieutenant of their team, Atago Hiroe, also has some major crab ahoge. Probably doesn’t count as true ahoge. One can’t ignore the grayish-blue hair that looks like a lunch box tako (octopus) weiner. She looks fine from the front though. Quite cute actually. She also has glasses.

This was also the first episode that featured a match that ended in a single episode. Mako closes out without any flashy techniques, and solidly wins back the big hit Kiyosumi suffered. I felt it a bit dramatic how Yuuki was so disheartened at losing score placement due to a single riichi stick. I guess things balanced out, since something like that would have stuck out like a sore thumb for me. I liked this match, because the build up to it was focusing on Aislinn. The information we were given was biased and favored her. That detail of Ainlinn visualizing the final hands, and her own winning one, was an interesting diversion to how Mako simply brushes past it. Mako’s style of play seems reactionary, and responds quite powerfully against Aislinn’s play style of prediction. Quite similar to Toki’s future vision, so I lumped them together in the prediction style. I personally favor watching the disruptive ones, like Inoue Jun from Ryuumonbuchi.

Ideally, the current pacing will keep going (1 to 1.3 matches per episode) until the really major matches, where they can go wild with the smoke and lightning. There’s still no hints as to how crazy it’ll get when we eventually see the Saki versus Teru match. At least for anime only viewers.

Just realized a lot of my favorite characters have a natural disposition to be flat chested. Other than Office Lady stereotypes.

Saki and Mahjong: S&M

Mahjong – 4


Let’s be honest. There’s only one mahjong anime people are watching this season. I don’t need to tell you it’s still Saki: Actual Second Season do I? Also, silly Touka standing up like it was 1990s. That doesn’t mean anything, since the year and her posture has nothing to do with mahjong, except in the fringe case that you need lumbar support for your lower back while you mahjong. Thus, during the 1990s, one group of people spearheaded the industry of ergonomic commercial sector chairs. I have no idea where I’m going with this. Nor do I know the name of this group, should they still be around.

There’s something about Saki that seems to avoid a strange pitfall of the typical shonen-esque build ups. The game of mahjong is very much about significant parts of chance, luck, and skill. You could argue that at a baseline of skill, chance and luck are the only things that will carry the game forward. Some bizarre ability to land special yakuman everywhere, or that after two riichi sticks are in play, your chances to hit tenpai skyrocket will happen. Probably true. But the higher the character/player skill (in respect to the Sakiverse), luck tends to take a backseat and chance becomes a mutable object (I’m looking at you, Saki). It’s like some sort of magical system of checks and balances; having strength in one area has another being pulled along, while the last third languishes in the gutter. Until it’s broken beyond imagination by some unexpected 13+ han hand..

These crazy girls third portion does not even seem to languish at the bottom at all. You know, like: “My weakness is not a weakness! It is a lure for your lack of insight! Have at you, meatsack!” Very shonen like. It also helps that many veteran animators of shonen combat scenes have worked on Saki.

In any case, Tomoki is hawt and Touka is still voiced by Chihara Minori. I can’t get enough of that “Oh ho ho” — quite an exquisite ojou-sama laugh.

Studio Gokumi (the producers of the current Saki season), I thank you. Saki still manages to be a mahjong anime that reminds me that I can still enjoy a shonen-esque build up. Although it seems like I’ve been horribly poisoned beyond normal capacitance. No longer can I watch an actual shonen anime with men unless it’s over the top like Kill la Kill or JoJo’s Bizzard Adventure.

Some people might think, due to past evidence, that I’d be harumphing about Tomoki. While Hajime and Touka are top-tier DFC, Tomoki has some major Office Lady going on. Insane potential. Glasses. Dat skirt.

I also just now realized that Touka’s pose in the screencap provided could be shopped into a bowling alley without problems.

Mahjong – 4

Saki: Actual Season Season – 2


The second episode was pretty much a cooking episode, with tacos as the highlight. Many fresh ingredients were brought from all over the world to construct the finest tacos the world has ever seen. I’m completely lying. I’ll be damned if someone believed that because they saw my write up on the second episode before everyone else. I’m several days behind everyone in posting speed!

Back during the first season of Saki, coming home after work past midnight and watching the latest Saki episode was routine for me. It now has a very calming effect on me. It was also when I would eat dinner. My internal clock is very much rotated past the average work day by several hours. The L.A. area is dotted with taco trucks late in the night, so food was never an issue. I sure do love a spicy taco. And no, I do not mean a Spicy Taco (innuendo), nor any variant like Spicy Taco™ from A Certain Specific Taco Place. So as I gaze upon the tacos in the above screenshot, my stomach rumbles. At least when I’m actually hungry.

Saki finally felt like it stopped trying to shove old information from the past in the second half. It was more about watching wholesome whores win mahjong. (Too bad mahjong doesn’t start with a “w”; an otherwise wacky sentence would have had some nice alliteration. And I mean whores in a nice way. Is there even a positive connotation for whore?) But it was also good to see a bit more interaction from the other teams. Perhaps that just might be my bias, since I often prefer to see tertiary characters get more camera action than any one series’ pegged main characters. The Supposed Second Season, plain and simple, didn’t have the same sort of staying power in my brain. I can’t even remember the school they went to, let alone their names. All I know is that Yuuki Aoi voiced one of them. (The one that always looks like she’s naked, aside from a track jersey.)

I smirked when Bundo went nuts over the mahjong champion collector’s card set. Makes me wonder why I haven’t seen anyone that enthused over cards in real life. I’ve got friends who are deep into tabletop gaming, specifically CCGs on motorcycles centered around dueling. I never got into it. This scene also brought in Fujita Pro who I wish we got more of an explanation who she is, other than some professional that likes playing with little girls.

Now I totally want an automatic mahjong table. I had been slowly saving up for one ever since the first season of Saki. Yeah, I know. Technically, I could have bought several of them after this long. I keep buying other things which are more pertinent to my immediate work and hobbies — guitars and computer parts.

Saki: Actual Season Season – 2