Disclaimer: I didn’t upload those video. A big thanks for victorpresti and ventuzas13 for uploading it. Have some internet cookies guys. Anyway on to the post itself.
I don’t know what drew me to Saki since at first glance I thought of it as a pleasant time waster. But, after a few episodes this unassuming anime got my complete devotion. And after a few years and several re-watch of the series later – I still manage to find something new about it that manages to capture me.
The new thing I managed to notice about Saki is the awesome battle music. It may seem a bit generic at first glance but when you go with the context that Saki anime and manga provides – its just perfect.
First, I’ll review the awesome OST of the Miyanaga siblings. They are both very very strong players but their way of playing is drastically different and it reflects on their Monster theme. Second, their character theme is also noticeably very different.
Let’s start with our dearest protagonist – Miyanaga Saki.
Saki – Gakkou
(咲－学校 lit. Saki – School)
The title of the track is simple. Its just said – Saki, school. Considering its on the school setting wherein we see Saki and watch her character I suppose it is an appropriate ost to show what we know of her character. Though, I do wonder about that title if this is Saki – school… could there also be Saki- Home? Just kidding ^^. Though, I’m very interested in Saki’s home life especially her past home life.
Anyway for a character theme music, it is very very laidback. The piano notes are unhurried and calm. There is absolutely no sense of urgency in this BGM, only contentment. It paints of peaceful days watching clouds go by while sitting on the shade of a tree. On the other hand, behind the zen like atmosphere, there seems to be a hint of nostalgia and some hidden sorrow…
Attouteki na Chikara wo Mokuzen Toshite
(圧倒的な力を目前として lit. Overwhelming Force Comes)
Technically this BGM isn’t exclusive to Saki. But, I think it was safe putting it here since one of the iconic moment wherein this BGM plays is the moment Saki decides to take off her socks and is regaining her groove on the prefecture finals. It also played at the hand building phase of final hand of the prefecture team finals.
The BGM is exactly what you expect from the name – a suspenseful song that seems to be heralding something powerful is coming. It starts of slowly and softly, then proceeds to a countdown tempo heralded by trumpets that gets progressiveness louder. Finally, we have frantic drumbeats and an ominous final note at the end as if something have completed its descent.
Its the perfect accompaniment for Saki metaphorically taking her gloves – I meant socks off in the game and finally getting serious. The trumpets play when she was doing her tiny point hands and ‘warming up’. It culminated in doing a sankantsu baiman for 8,000 all. And more importantly to the Kiyosumi’s team eternal relief – the overwhelming force has finally landed -the real Miyanaga Saki has finally shown herself to the table.
Akuma ka Kami ka
( 神か悪魔かlit. Demon or God?)
The title of this BGM calls back to the infamous quote of Hisa way back into episode 1 or chapter 1 in the manga when we first witnessed Saki’s hax. This BGM plays itself at the final hand of the prefecture team finals. The moment “Overwhelming Force Comes” ends when Kana did not take the yakuman, this song immediately replaced it. Coincidentally, Koromo turn is next and she drew the dreaded one of circles instead of her expected 5 of characters.
To my ears, this BGM has the same beat or arrangement as “Attouteki na Chikara wo Mokuzen Toshite” only this beat seems to be more intense perhaps signifying that the overwhelming force is already here. Near the tail end of the BGM is where you hear the appearance of church bells followed by some punctuating drums giving the BGM a hint of the supernatural.
In the anime, this BGM begins when Kana didn’t take the yakuman – Koromo certainly did not factor that in her calculations. But, with the way the BGM was arranged with Attouteki na Chikara wo Mokuzen Toshite being immediately replaced with Akuma ka Kami ka during the whole sequence of events, I wonder if a certain someone did.
It did not help my suspicion that Kana was essentially being manipulated by Saki for a couple of rounds by now. I’m quite happy for Kana – she showed that she will not give up no matter how bad her situation is. But, guess who helped Kana on her moment of despair and planted the seeds of this unwavering determination?
Beside that, Koromo got the one of circles instead of her desired 5-wan showing that someone is surpassing her table sense and may be merrily leading Koromo by the nose. The whole sequence of events just give the vibe of ‘just as planned’ for Saki. And if a certain someone orchestrated everything that lead to this moment – the title of BGM is very appropriate… Kami ka akuma ka indeed.
Kami no Ryouiki
(神の領域 lit. Realm of God)
This BGM played itself during Saki’s awesome last hand against Koromo. To refresh your memory – its chinitsu toitoi san ankou san kantsu 1 red dora rinshan kaihou for 32,000 points.
The church bells are more prominent now. The feel of the track made it blatant that something supernatural is going on. And there is… Saki is metaphorically laughing at the laws of probability as she manage to do this comeback win. As one blogger put it- you have better chance of being hit by lightning twice than doing what Saki did. .
Continuing on, I felt that the BGM has an air of benevolence specially at the beginning but this does not detract from the BGM’s frankly ominous tone. The name of this ost is perfect, Realm of God’s tone easily gives rise to images of a god descending down to earth from her lofty heaven – slowly and inexorably.
(宮永照 lit. Miyanaga Teru)
Yes, I kid you not. One of the song in the OST is simply titled Miyanaga Teru. You know you are all that when you can just title your battle theme by your name and it still retain all the badass factor. I suppose that it is appropriate as well, for most of the players in the interhigh- Miyanaga Teru is the invincible champion. Just the thought of fighting Teru is enough to invoke a lot of dread. She is the FINAL BOSS of the interhigh whom most of the player are aiming at. The peak of the interhigh mahjong and this BMG express it beautifully – with its continuous military like drumbeat and loud trumpets that would not feel out of place in an imperial march
(驚愕 lit. consternation)
A simple search defines consternation as a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion. This is probably one of the best description of the emotional state that those who fight Teru experience. Teru relentlessly pound her opponents and most of the time you can’t do a single thing about it.
It has the same beat as the Teru’s theme but faster in my estimation. If ‘Teru Miyanaga’ seems to be hailing the champion as she walks on the ring. This BGM is more action oriented and reminiscent of the continuous combos that she dish out. It reminds me of those rpg games that I played wherein the final boss uses her main attack and the game won’t let me dodge or skip the animation so i have to helplessly watch my character get pounded on.
Saki’s OST themes are more varied. Though there is certainly continuity among them if you listen in order – still it is very hard to reconcile the difference between Saki – Gakkou and Kami no Ryoiki. On the other hand, Teru’s themes are recognizable and almost indistinguishable from one another.
I suppose that this is understandable. The Saki we know from her everyday life seem like a different person when she is playing mahjong. On the other hand, Teru’s persona that we know of at this point in time is the same as when she is in a competition.
Another disparity that I’ve noticed is while Teru’s monster theme is active in the background all the time when she plays perhaps signifying that Teru is almost always on monster mode; Saki’s monster theme is noticeably absent from most of her games. In fact, Saki’s monster theme only played for one hand in one match on the team prefecture finals.
If you notice, in all the games Saki played during season 1 the only game wherein Saki actually took of her socks off is at the tail end of Koromo’s match and her last match in the individual. Yes, that’s right folks, even when she was playing Hisa – Saki still has her socks on.
I suppose this reflect on their BGM as well, when Teru’s BGM are fast and without preamble, showing it means business from the beginning; Saki’s BGM starts as slow and seem to be building pressure until the end for one decisive finishing blow.
Lastly, the tone of the BGM is drastically different – “Realm of God” is blatantly giving supernatural feel while “Consternation” though has a more oppressive atmosphere seems to be more rooted to earth.
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Want a figure of one of the Miyanaga siblings?