Airing 2 years after Saki Achiga-hen, Saki Zenkoku-hen is actually the continuion of the original Saki series. What did I think of the third anime installment of the Saki franchise?
Name: Saki Zenkoku-Hen
Unfortunately, I found the series disappointing compared to the previous installments. I still think Saki is a classic series to this day and I actually would proudly proclaim Achiga-hen as one of my favorite shows.
I guess a major reason for my wariness towards Zenkoku-hen is the amount of fanservice, which was increased to alarming levels. I’m not a prude, but excessive fanservice kind of bums me out these days. I understand that the Saki setting is no stranger to fanservice given that no one ever wears underwear, but the Eisui girls really take the cake.
In regards to the yuri content, Zenkoku-hen is rather lacking compared to Saki and Achiga-hen, but they’re there – they’re just real low-key. I hope you have extra strong shipping googles so you can see the splendor known as Suehara Kyouko x Ueshige Suzu. There’s other potential ships, too, of course.
The focus on the opponents’ backstories happens again (primarily for Miyamori), but this time it felt like Gokumi was more careful about the frequency and duration of the flashbacks. I wasn’t left thinking that a rival school or opponent stole the main character role like Toki did in Achiga-hen. Maybe the studio learned their lesson.
As for the faithfulness to the original adapation, Zenkoku-hen receives top marks for not only going above and beyond the source material but for also providing relevant content that fleshes out the story. Yes, the sergeant match, as usual, receives the least amount of screentime and the captain match dominates the series by occupying over 3 episodes, as expected. But the show actually expanded on what was shown in the manga in regards to the sergeant match, which was a good job done by Gokumi. In fact, the anime actually demonstrates the playstyles of certain characters better by giving them more scenes.
Yet despite Gokumi doing an excellent job padding out the series (in a good way) and being careful to not let another character or school take over the show, I can’t bring myself to like this series as much as Saki or Achiga-hen. I guess the blatant fanservice just overshadows the show’s good qualities for me.
The animation during the supernatural mahjong scenes remain as good as ever. The OST is decent, but it doesn’t measure up to that of the previous installments.
It’s a shame. I really was looking forward to this series yet it didn’t wow me as much as I’d like. Maybe setting my expectations too high was another factor that contributed to my disappointment.
If you’re a big Saki fan who wants to see scenes concerning the quarterfinals match (Side-B) that weren’t shown in the manga, you should watch Zenkoku-hen. If you don’t read the manga but you still want to know what happens after Saki, you should also probably watch Zenkoku-hen. If you look past the shameless amount of fanservice, you’ll find a good show, but it just falls short of the previous two installments, in my opinion.