Archive for April 11th, 2009

Clockwise from the top: Nodoka, Saki, Maki, Yuuki.

Reposting after dealing with technical difficulties.

Up until now, my only experience with Mahjong has been with the version known occasionally as Shanghai, as befits my preference to solo in MMORPGs. I've always been meaning to learn, however, partly because learning new things is invariably useful, and partly because people keep talking about it and I feel a little left out.

I actually spent a couple of hours in the #AnimeBlogger IRC channel spectating a couple of matches between four of the channel denizens. Lupus took out a hefty chunk of that time to teach me the basics of Mahjong, Hong Kong rules style. It apparently bears a faint resemblance to the basics of poker, except in groups of three (or four): if I remember correctly, a "chow" is a three-straight, a "pung" is a three-of-a-kind, and a "kong" is four-of-a-kind. In play, someone draws a tile from the "wall", which apparently serves the same purpose as the common deck of cards, and discards another tile (whether the one just drawn or otherwise) from their hand, which is the row of tiles directly in front of them. Someone else can pick up that discard as their draw, or not; if the discarded tile is left alone, it is arranged neatly at the centre of the table, presumably to let everyone see what tiles have been played. Presumably there is no special tile that lets you summon something from the graveyard at the cost of all your mana.

The first episode of Saki confirmed my belief that I still have a long, long way to go. What are these people talking about? Where is the glossary for all this terminology? Have I somehow switched to watching the more jargon-filled scenes of Asura Cryin? When my friend told me that I needed to at least have a handle on the vocabulary of Mahjong, he meant every word.

But it's all right; I'm here for the cute girls. Nodoka's insistence on Saki joining the club and her reputation of being the champion makes me think that there's some Angst in store for her, either in the backstory or plot, but she does seem to be designed to attract attention anyway, what with her pink hair and huge tracts of land talent bounce. Yuuki is perky comic relief, and Saki herself is… well, I suppose she'll display some more personality in future episodes.

The intense background music and arcs of lightning that appear whenever the characters dramatically draw and discard tiles is… well, if I were less experienced in anime, I'd say that it's overdone, but after Yakitate Japan I don't think that's really possible anymore. I half expect that along with the electronic scoring system, each Mahjong tile is actually intended to give off dramatic sparks and gusts of wind, individually powered by tiny nuclear reactors.

Best not to slam those tiles down.

A strange thing is that I've generally figured Mahjong to be a social game, like Bridge. While playing competitively, everything is all Serious Business, but among friends, I'd anticipate at least some chatter. The Mahjong Club in Saki doesn't exactly play in silence, but there's still a lot less conversation than I expected.

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Yes, I'm aware that something broke in the blog since the last post. It's also way too late at night (or rather, too early in the morning) to deal with it right this instant.

Suffice to say that I will be spending a sleepless night (or morning) on the matter.

EDIT: Deactivating the Post Teaser plugin seems to have solved matters. I do not know why it broke in the first place.

I'll miss it, even though it gave no actual useful information. So it goes.

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