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Saki: Achiga-hen episode of Side-A – 11

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「決意」 (Ketsui)
“Determination”

The weary fighter. The fearless sacrifice. The beaten dragon. The executioner king. With Teru on a rampage, and the others doing everything they can in to try to stop her, this match has become one of the most compelling ones I’ve seen in the Saki universe so far. Once again I’m going to take this by character, and go over the impact each of the four characters taking part in this match had on this episode – plus one bonus. Let’s get to it.

The Weary Fighter – Onojouji Toki, Senriyama Girls’ High School. Toki is once again the undisputed main character of this match. Where once I was all about Achiga, now I’m actively rooting for Senriyama to go to the finals instead. The double gambit she pulled early on succeed at stopping Teru’s onslaught – but at a cost. Seriously, I haven’t seen a character looking this worn and beat up in a long time. Hell, I’ve seen dead characters with more life in them! And I’m not talking about the ones that still move around, I’m talking about the no-vital-signs-and-no-more-spoken-lines types.

Unfortunately, using the double took so much out of Toki that she actually played into Teru’s hand. It was good that she stopped Teru, but it might end up costing her more than she saved. Yet I have nothing but respect for her resolve, and her willingness to take all sorts of pain upon herself for the benefit of her friends. Of course, she’s being silly – her friends would rather she not kill herself for their benefit, and will scold her afterwards for making them worry. Still, I’m reminded of something I once read. It said that Japan has a culture that loves to watch its heroes suffer, and that the greater the pain, the greater the honor. If that’s true, there is a lot of honor waiting for Toki on the other side, if only she can survive the attack. Yet, I can’t help but think that if you replace the word “honor” with “glory”, this view isn’t so different from how most cultures feel. The greater the trials, the greater the glory if you can pull out a win, or even just make it out alive. I think humans instinctively respect those who can take a huge beating and come out the other side standing. I know I do.

Then there was the flashback to the Senriyama training camp, and the “Toki Shift”. Like Mihoko of Kazekoshi, I liked that the girls weren’t just foisting the troublesome stuff off on their kouhais, and were instead doing the work themselves. There’s no better way to truly become a team than working together so that all of you can keep going forward together. As for Toki and Ryuuka’s little talk at night, it was indeed uncharacteristic to hear that Sera was so moved to tears after last year’s loss, but not so strange, given the stakes she was playing at, and how far she went. The only thing I could think was that, at the rate things are going, Toki is going to be the one crying on that plane home this time.

The Fearless Sacrifice – Hanada Kirame, Shindouji Girls’ High School. I cannot get over how quickly Kirame (subara!) has rocketed to the top of my favorite characters list. During the Shindouji flashback, we learned that Kirame is definitely not their ace, and is in fact the opposite – she’s a sacrifice. What’s more, the only reason that Kirame is on the team is not because she’s the fifth best player at their school, but because she’s a specialist at not losing. Pretty smart on Shindouji’s part, given the kind of players they’re up against. But what really makes me love Kirame is that she overheard all of this…and then decided to go and be the best damn sacrifice she possible can. Oh man, Subara truly is subara.

And there’s more! Kirame is what enabled Toki to stop Teru’s first charge, she understood what Toki was thinking without needing to say a single word, she just keeps on playing normally even when Teru’s hurricane begins to roar, and while Kuro cries and Toki is barely able to stay upright, Kirame tirelessly works at mitigating Teru’s damage – and is having a blast while she does it! She’s truly, truly subara. How can I not vote for her? At this point, I’m starting to like both Senriyama and Shindouji better than Achiga.

The Beaten Dragon – Matsumi Kuro, Achiga Girls’ Academy. Speaking of, there’s Kuro. Not a lot to say about her once again, as she barely had any presence this episode. She’s really only done one thing (which some insightful commenters pointed out last week, and the characters said this week): because Kuro has been goobering up all the doras, she has prevented Teru from using them to raise her point totals, which has mitigated the damage Shiraitodai could do. That said, Kuro doesn’t deserve any praise for this since she didn’t do anything active to cause it. She just…was. Kuro, you may be helping inadvertently, but slavishly doing the same old thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Fail.

The Executioner King – Miyanaga Teru, Shiraitodai High School. Teru is, simply stated, a beast. Toki had to bring herself to what looks like the brink of death in order to pull just one win out of the champion’s jaws, and now Teru is making her do it again. Teru is simply overwhelming. Watching her go 130,000 points up on the next school has been painful to watch, but it’s also the reason why this match has been one of the most compelling ones of the entire Saki series. Though I want to know how Toki and Kirame (and I guess Kuro) are going to get out of this alive, what it really makes me wonder is how Tacos and the two other teams are going to handle Teru in the finals.

Bonus: The True Protagonist – Miyanaga Saki, Kiyosumi High School. This week, we were treated to some pretty hefty cameos from Kiyosumi. Saki’s actions here are what really interested me. While Teru was inside running rampant over the competition, clearly having sensed Toki’s weakness), Saki paused outside. I think she sensed the bloodbath that was going on as well, and it made her wonder how she was going to confront her wayward onee-san. Look, Saki Achiga has had a lot of storytelling deficiencies, but if its goal was to get us pumped up for Saki season 2, mission fuckin’ accomplished. When’s that airing again??

Next week, we’ll see whether Toki’s triple will be enough to stop Teru. I just have to wonder though, after she does it, will she even be able to lift the tiles anymore? All I can say is that the music during the preview was that of a King’s dirge, as the executioner sharpens her axe to cut off some traitors’ heads. At this point, there will be blood. The only question is whose it will be, and how much.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The weary fighter. The fearless sacrifice. The beaten dragon. The executioner king. Teru’s rampage continues as Toki barely holds on #Saki

Random thoughts:

  • Genki announcer-chan really needs to cut back on the caffeine. That weird squeal was frightening o.O
  • I love Saki’s random RPG inserts. I would watch that show. You see Kuro’s outfit there? I would watch the fuck out of that show
  • Still, not all is bleak for Achiga. Their goal was never to win Nationals, but to play against their friend Nodoka one more time, and by the looks of it Nodoka is just about to realize that they’re there. Achiga can lose the match and still achieve the most fundamental part of what they set out to do, to see Nodoka again. That’s what I’m voting for now.
  • Hang in there, Toki. Ryuuka is waiting for you. Ganbare.

Full-length images: 06, 11, 18, 26, 30.

 

Preview

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End Card

Saki Achiga hen episode of Side A   11   End Card
June 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm
40 comments »
  • June 24, 2012 at 9:23 pmMr, Large

    Oh man! What a cliffhanger.
    I’m hoping for Toki to survive and pull of a miracle win with her 3 turn precognition.
    She’s one of the most epic characters in the Saki universe now! :3

  • June 24, 2012 at 9:25 pmKarmafan

    I’m not sure I like or rather enjoy sitting and watching this series right now. The girls we care about are pushed way to the background and minor side characters are the focus during this match. Its painful to sit and watch Kuro get crushed hand after hand (after she more or less did the same in the last series of matches). I realize they are probably NOT going to win the Nationals but at least make us think the girls have a fighting chance.

  • June 24, 2012 at 9:42 pmSceptile

    At this point, we’ve caught up to the manga and are in uncharted territory.

    To those who complained about Kuro still not having impact… I’m hoping this is the chance to change that. Next episode should be the turning point.

  • June 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm/a/-chan

    Pathetic or not, credit must be given to Kuro.
    Without her collecting all the doras, the match would have been over in round 2.
    Regarding Saki
    Show Spoiler ▼

    • June 24, 2012 at 11:12 pmKJacket

      @spoiler what? where was that mentioned? Show Spoiler ▼

      I always thought Saki lived in Nagano her entire life and it was only Teru(and her mom) who moved to Tokyo.

    • June 25, 2012 at 12:38 amqwerty4321

      • June 25, 2012 at 2:40 amKJacket

        Thanks for the pic.Show Spoiler ▼

    • June 25, 2012 at 2:45 amKJacket

      Show Spoiler ▼

      I’ll go with this thought.

  • June 24, 2012 at 10:15 pmNyaa

    Looks like Kuro is a useful device, but nothing more than that. Well, at least Kirame and Toki are using her well. Speaking of them, when Kirame declared that she will only play like she accepts (She won’t let anyone go below 0) she become my favourite character of the season. She’s just subara, that’s all.

    Watching Toki in pain was really painful to watch. When she started that 3 turns prediction, I wanted to scream out just like Ryuuka.

    And lastly, I just remembered Saki’s match with Koromo. She did something really similar to Teru’s “combo wins”, isn’t she?

    • June 24, 2012 at 11:07 pmKJacket

      I forgot where but wasn’t it said that they can somewhat absorb some of their friends’ powers since you play with them so often or what like they’re more familiar with it and can pull off the trick sometimes. Teru is Saki’s sister so maybe they’ve influenced each other’s powers.

  • June 24, 2012 at 11:01 pmWatt

    Seeing Toki try and risk so much, I’d be really upset if Senriyama doesn’t get into the Finals. I hope the focus on Senriyama isn’t just so it’d leave a bigger impact if they lost.

    And even though Kuro didn’t say much again, one of the things she did say struck me; how she noticed Toki gave up her signature move in order to win. Hopefully, Kuro learns from this and actually pulls something off before the match is over cause right now I’m rooting for either Senriyama or even Shindouji to take second place (first place isn’t even an option).

    • June 24, 2012 at 11:07 pmStilts

      Yeah, I noticed that too. I’m hoping that means she’ll go out on a limb and actually try something new, though, and this goes counter to all the lecturing I’ve been doing towards her, it would be a problem if she lost her dora ability in exchange for her otherwise mediocre skills. Hopefully the dragons will understand, and let her “level up” enough to keep receiving doras even if she discards one every once in a while.

    • June 25, 2012 at 12:35 amAn

      I guess everyone went too harsh on Achiga just because Kuro didn’t do well, saying they have no right to advances and Senriyama/Shindouji should. Isn’t too early to decide? This is still the beginning after all. We still have 16 other players and just like original Saki, the depth of each characters will be explored and their story connects after everyone have played.

      Hey, it’s not impossible after a few matches, we got sympathized with Shiraitoudai instead. *actually expecting this* :p

      • June 25, 2012 at 8:43 pmWatt

        I was actually already rooting for Senriyama prior to this Teru match; overall, i find I like the Senriyama members more even though the other members have yet to be fleshed out as much as Toki has been. Personal likability aside, compared to the other monsters and even normal players striving for the finals, I still think Achiga seems unprepared and just out of their league. This is of course based on their current skill, but if Achiga can still evolve, then the same can be said of Senriyama and the other schools.

    • June 25, 2012 at 1:56 amAnnyms

      They didn’t animate the last page of the latest manga chapter, but basically Kuro is expected to do SOMETHING next episode. We don’t know what it is, but hopefully she will be more useful than a dora graveyard and save Toki.

      • June 25, 2012 at 5:49 amKarmafan

        Her two matches as a “first” player buried her team so far in the hole. Surely the writers will let her make some sort of a comeback. How would she be able to face her friends after this unless she makes some sort of a comeback?

      • June 25, 2012 at 3:44 pmAnimesetsuna

        I really expect Kuro will do something about that. Teru of the day.

  • June 24, 2012 at 11:02 pmAn

    Props for KurokoKirame indeed. When you’re a sacrifice, you’d better make sure it was an one epic SUBARA sacrifice. Kinda makes me curious at their captain since they lineup is weak-to-strong order, the strongest must be quite a monster too if their pawn is this good.

    … *still crossfingers at Kuro*

    • June 24, 2012 at 11:38 pmKJacket

      No, remember how the captain said that they ALWAYS lose the ace(where they put in first) game? So I bet that they’re all just weak, Subara probably is the only one with hax powers in that school plus maybe one other.

  • June 24, 2012 at 11:05 pmKamiyaCheap

    Man I cry for Toki… this is so painful to watch… wonder why I can’t feel like this when reading the manga… Toki Toki Toki!!!!!!! Toki is the true main character

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • June 24, 2012 at 11:17 pmunderMebius

    Oh, God. Toki is like a main character from a shounen manga. Fighting on and risking her life for her friends! Ganbatte, Toki!

    Kirame is spectacular! Her ability of not going below zero is pretty much useless, but it gives her an edge over her competitors. If Teru managed to make everyone go below zero, she’ll be the only one not under it, and if that happens, Shindouji would be the second placer and yet– She says this: “I’ll go with the outcome the one that I’ll agree on. I will not let anyone go bust!”. Truly bro Kirame. Kira-bro. Kiramebro! She’s the bro-est of all Saki character!

    Also, the last scene was very heart aching. Ryuuka’s face! ;_;

  • June 24, 2012 at 11:19 pmmetronome

    Show Spoiler ▼

    let’s bet on who is going to qualify for final (excluding shiratodai obviously)!

    Senriyama x1.30
    Achiga x3.10
    Shindouji x3.30
    oops! that’s my EURO 2012 betting sheets:P

  • June 24, 2012 at 11:44 pmCroos

    I wonder if toki can see one game
    ahead in the next future episodes.

  • June 25, 2012 at 12:43 amZaku Fan

    Not sure if the competition rules allow for it but Hisa may just put Saki as the vanguard or it will be very difficult for Saki and her sister to actually meet at the mahjong table this round.

    Of course the author could postpone that meeting to another match (international mahjong contest maybe?) and have the Shiraitodai second best lose to Saki and comment on her and Teru, expose their past then finally have their meeting at mahjong

    • June 25, 2012 at 1:23 amSerapita

      I think the rules don’t allow the switch. And they still have individual competitions to face off against each other (Saki and Tero, that is), which is going to have all those weird outfit girls 3-4 episodes back participated as well.

      • June 25, 2012 at 1:52 amAnnyms

        That’s probably the most likely scenario for the anime. The individuals didn’t technically happen in the manga or else Kiyosumi wouldn’t have been able to hold a training camp because of the no one from the nationals can play practice matches against each other rule if they are in the same competition (Captain is in the individuals, Kiyosumi only in the team competition). They could use the first season’s individual tournament plot for Saki and Teru to play against one another. My guess though is that some drama will happen during the finals though.

      • June 25, 2012 at 2:22 amKJacket

        But Saki: Achiga manga explicitly mentions the individuals though :S when Akado asked if anyone wanted to join individuals and also for Achiga’s training with Mihoko.

      • June 25, 2012 at 11:11 amFencedude

        Everything that happened in the Individuals in the anime is canon to the manga. Several events are explicitly referenced in both Achiga-hen manga and in the main Saki manga.

  • June 25, 2012 at 1:17 amskizz

    Miyanaga Teru is the Gilgamesh of the Saki universe. Ridiculously overpowered and ridiculously BORING as an antagonist. zzz…

  • June 25, 2012 at 4:15 amFiShar

    I see can why Teru won’t let them go so easily.
    She is totally pissed at them for breaking her streak.

  • June 25, 2012 at 4:55 amNrvqvist

    Well it’s easy to forget since they only mentioned it once but all the doras that Kuro draws are more or less a memento from her mother that passed away. Her ability isn’t really inate but got developed because of her mother told her to treasure the doras so to her it’s a connection to her mother as she thinks of her mother everytime she draws one. It’s probably one of the reasons she’s so reluctant to discard them even if people figure out her playstyle and use it against her, similar to how others would be reluctant to throw away some kind of physical momento from someone they cared about.

    Also if you think about the connection and the fact that she loses it for a couple of games, those games are probably pretty lonely for Kuro though I’m guessing she’ll discard one for the sake of her friends. It might be worth remembering it when everyone gets disappointed over the fact that she doesn’t change her playstyle.

  • June 25, 2012 at 7:11 amYui

    Exactly what i was thinking! I thought Kuro would be that kind of character that can change her tactics! What is Harue doing with her team tactics? Just watching the match?! And you’re right! I LOVE KIRAME! At first she was kind of irritating, well, always saying SUBARA~ but i love her now! She’s some how like Shizu, not breaking (AKA pro EQ) and giving up! Well for Toki, i kind of pity and worry for her, shes doing this and shes so damn weak already… For Teru… OMG can you stop! Whats wrong with the hand?! I guess the only characters in this show that can beat Teru would be like Saki or Koromo, or some world-class pro… Still, i bet if Toki isn’t that weak, she would have a chance!

    • June 25, 2012 at 8:55 amNrvqvist

      Harue is probably doing what she can within a limit, like Nodoka she probably don’t want to deny her feelings. As a coach she probably fails for not correcting such a big flaw in Kuros playstyle. But as a human and someone who knows Kuro then I’d say she did the right thing. I think a lot of people keep forgetting the connection between Kuro and doras and how much that means to her.

  • June 25, 2012 at 7:52 amtendo

    The anime was superior to the manga for this chapter. The third eye sequence and toki’s wife crying were incredible.
    I still believe Achiga will go to the Finals mainly because Achiga’s goal is to meet opai girl at the table. if the do not go to the finals, they will not accomplish their original goal. the other reason is that toki is the best in senriyama and has played already while kuro is not the best in in achiga. therefore the remaining combined power of achiga is superior to senriyama.

    • June 25, 2012 at 5:12 pmStilts

      Please refer to this chart, which was produced in the comments last week. I don’t know the source, but based on everything I’ve seen those relative power levels seem very accurate. Let’s do the math:

      * First round, Senriyama is better by a level and a half
      * Second round, Achiga is better by half a level
      * Third round, Senriyama is better by one level
      * Fourth round, they’re equally mediocre
      * Fifth round, Senriyama is ahead by a fourth of a level

      Of course, abstract power-level ratings don’t always mean that the stronger team will win. There’s one thing for certain, though…Achiga is in over their heads.

  • June 25, 2012 at 9:08 amJ-Luke

    Indeed one of the best matches of all of Saki…
    Toki really lives up to her name here (as in time, since she can somewhat look into the future)

  • June 25, 2012 at 12:58 pmJohn Hayabusa

    Hell, I’ve seen dead characters with more life in them!

    And I thought I saw Dead Master for a moment.

  • June 25, 2012 at 5:27 pmPeteL

    I am convinced of one thing, Ritz loves Yuu and Ako, because they are represented as a hero in every critical situation, and she loves to dump on Kuro, maybe she knew a ditzy Kuro in RL, maybe… She also has a love of bowling apparently (Just a value judgement.). The main protagonist is Shizu, she is even more of ditz than Kuro, yet she loves to make Shizu the Saviour Star Dragon to rescue all. So all that got me thinking that surviving one Demon and not having to face another until taisho match, will allow Yuu and Ako to once again bring their team closer to the qualifying for the finals, while keeping in mind that Senriyama brings their B+ players, Sera pwned Ako in their first meeting, but that will change, again because all this tormoil was for the destined meeting with their beloved tomodachi, Nodoka. Does everyone love Nodoka’s Super Dragon Ball Orbs that much?

  • June 25, 2012 at 5:32 pmPeteL

    One other note, expect a Bankai, Gear Third, SSJ4 moment when Shizu gets probably her only winning hand. xD

  • June 25, 2012 at 7:09 pmPeteL

    I got the IQ Scores but someone will have to edit this for sake of accuracy:

    Saki 170
    Toki 168
    Koromo 165
    Teru 164
    Hisa 160
    Yumi 160
    Mihoko 160
    Nodoka 157
    Touka 157
    Kazue 156
    Hiroe 156
    Mako 144
    Toyone 143
    Sae 143
    Arata 141

    Jun 138

    Note: That is all, rest of the girls are borderline Madonna or Brittany Spears. Eisui girls are guided by spiritual force and therefore their intelligence gauge cannot be measured. Girls that eat too much Tacos cannot be measured nor do we want to go there.