Yurumates is the kind of series where you'll be in a roomful of anime fans and you'll be the only one who knows what the hell it is. I'm that one guy. Back when the first of the two Yurumates OVAs came out 3 years ago, I instantly fell in love. Few animes can get me to laugh out loud this often in the course of 40 minutes. I kept it to myself, until I shared it with all my other anime buds all of whom naturally enjoyed it.
As a testament to its niche factor, the second OVA didn't even get subtitles for months since it practically went under everyone's radar. Fast forward a few weeks ago when Crunchyroll unveils it will be carrying the weekly anime... it gets a lukewarm response, complaints about how the season's picks are deceiving so far and the anime page gets an insulting 27 Facebook Likes.
Let's give you guys a little primer on Yurumates 3Dei, see if I can spark a little interest for this under appreciated show.
18-year-old high school graduate Yurume moves into a small apartment complex in the outskirts of Tokyo in the hopes of studying for her entrance exam to get into college. Only problem is the place has a reputation for housing students that keep failing their entrance exam, case in point: her three immediate neighbors are all rōnin, students out of high school who are in limbo between their previous studies and the next level of education, waiting for the year's entrance exams to try their luck at being accepted into college.
And that's Yurumates for you. A rare little gem of perfectly timed gags buried among the forgettable mass of comedies. It doesn't even beg for your attention, yet greedily hoards it once it manages to hook you to its charms and makes you wish there would always be more. Now bust out that rōnin spirit and tune in every week for three minutes of aimless fun!
It has been a long three years in waiting, and finally we're treated to a continuation of sorts to the loli-charged, eclectic sub-genre of competitive play anime which is Saki. Leave it to the Japanese to turn anything and everything into something interesting - and lest you think Mahjong and little girls were the last thing to cross your mind, consider yourself not alone. Unlike the more natural overtones one would expect from the badassery of past title like Akagi, Saki has a stronger character base that conjures up for itself a whole different level of epicness as one would expect from something as technically immersive as Mahjong. In this respect, Saki Episode Side of A - the side story dubbed "sequel" to the original season that aired three years ago - keeps in line with the same balance of technicality and character focus that the series is known for.
Saki Episode of Side A takes place in the not-so-distant future, wherein Mahjong has become a widely played "sport" amongst people. With its national-level patronage, intercollegiate tournaments between high schools from all across Japan take place. This season focuses on the girls from Achiga all girl's school and a certain Shizuno Takakamo, who aims to head on to the national tournament in hopes to reunite with Nodoka Haramura whom she met when she was in Junior High School.
For those who have watched the original season, Saki, the plot setting is familiar. The connection between characters plays less of a trivial role and more of a driving factor that pushes this season, in particular, into becoming more than just a side story. In fact, were it to be a side story of sorts to the history of Nodoka, an OVA would have sufficed. Given we're treated to a whole season talks primarily of the importance of this season. Backed by the fact that it is under the helm of a different animation studio (previously under Gonzo, now under studio Gokumi), it's reassuring to see elements of its original season kept in tact, and the overall consistency of both shows are being taken into account. Rather than rebooting the series, Saki Episode of Side A tries, early on, to establish continuity and consistency, allowing itself to compliment rather than supplant its predecessor in the series.
Story wise, the first episode is both revealing and highly jam-packed. This goes for the succeeding episodes, as well, for what was covered in 7 or 8 episodes in the original season of Saki was covered in just 3 - yes, THREE - episodes in Saki Episode of Side A. You can look at this in two ways: first, it means that events and character development leads are grossly underplayed. Though the girls of the Achiga all-Girl's High School Mahjong Club are eclectic enough give us an impression on each of them early on, their dynamics and overall identity as a team was sacrificed. Unlike our attachments to the Kiyosumi team from the first season, the Achiga team still feels distant to me - made clear at the fact that it seemed awfully weird to look at Kiyosumi as the "opponent" in this particular show.
The other way to look at it, however, is that the series is focusing more on their exploits in the National championship. It's true that a handful of episodes from the original series tended to dilly-dally on character development plots and fan-service cues, so seeing a more directed mindset this early on in the production of Saki Episode of Side A gives me the sense that the series is making up for lost time given the 3-year hiatus that it had gone through. Will this be at the cost of alienating us from the Achiga team this early on? It's too early to tell, and surely we'll get to know the girls more and more through their actual play during the National tournament.
But seriously, Saki is the enemy in this season!? It almost broke my heart to see her portrayed as a villain - but I guess that's an interesting twist when we get to see the story from a different point of view. Nevertheless, the technical aspects of mahjong blends smoothly with the cuteness of its characters in an even more balanced fashion than its predecessor. Instead of blatant fan service, we get generous doses of moe coupled with character references to the previous Saki season. It's a well played mix of everything we like in anime and Mahjong. Had it not been too fast-paced in the first few episodes, it may have been just perfect - but chances are, the choice of hurried plot scenarios was in preparation for something big.
In the end, you can't blame people for giving you the smirk for finding little girls playing mahjong interesting - but once you understand the spark that makes this series so strangely alluring, you'll be darned for thinking otherwise.
This dog, Shiro, is very loving to grandpa and grandma. He helps grandpa with his work and searches for places to dig where gold just pours out. The dog is so kind that he carries the gold and insists on carrying grandpa back home even though grandpa didn’t want to strain Shiro with too much weight on his back. The selfish neighbors happened to see the gold that Shiro brought grandpa and grandma and wanted some for themselves. Grandpa and grandma agree to lend Shiro to their neighbors but these greedy neighbors treat Shiro poorly ordering him to carry ALL the equipment and ordering Shiro to find them gold.
Folktales from Japan are filled with these types of stories where kindness, honesty, and good-heartedness always prevails teaching us the basic morals in life. It’s nice to watch these stories and learn a bit more about the Japanese culture. It comes at a good time, a year after the devastating earthquake/tsunami in Tohoku and a time to reflect on being good people that will eventually be blessed in ways you can’t image. Those who risked their lives to save people during the devastation shows the weight that these Japanese folktales have played in the character development of the people of Japan.
The Allied Shinobi Forces are on standby, ready to confront Madara’s army of reanimated shinobi and 100,000 White Zetsu. But distrust still exists among the Allied Shinobi Forces, who were once sworn enemies until recently.
Konohamaru usually practices ninjutsu with Naruto. But now he's sought out Rock Lee to learn better hand-to-hand combat skills. Lee prepares to teach Konohamaru his best moves, but notices something...odd about him?
Lee and the others are ordered to appear for a routine physical exam. But with all the various personalities from the Hidden Leaf Village converging in one spot, it's one incident after another. Will Lee's group survive their physical?
The Saints are on a camping trip nicknamed “Hell Camp”. Their goal is to reach the Cosmo Delta before deadline. Those who make it get a chance to participate in the Saint Fight, with the winner being promoted to a Silver Saint. With such high stakes, not everybody is going to play by the rules.
Brother Jun invites Kaoru and Sentaro to be part of a quartet for a Christmas gig at a jazz bar, but they've only got one month to get ready. Also, Kaoru feels pretty sorry for himself and jealous of Sentaro for "having it all", but comes to realize how paltry his own misery is when Sen reveals the secret of his birth...