OP Sequence

OP: 「TSUBASA」 by StylipS

「憧憬」 (Doukei)
“Aspiration”

I can’t say it enough – while the early parts of Saki Achiga alternated between weirdly fast and simply lackluster, the semi-finals have been a total blast. This episode was no exception. I felt like I was watching Nodoka and Saki and the rest of Kiyosumi again, with all the chill-inducing mahjong tanoshii that entails. Get fired up!

Third Round, Part 2 : The Yakuman Harvest

Players: Atarashi Ako (Achiga) vs. Shibuya Takami (Shiraitodai) vs. Eguchi Sera (Senriyama) vs. Ezaki Hitomi (Shindouji)

With the majority of this round happening last time, we only got the climax here, and I must say it was of the anti variety. Takami busted out a Daisangen, scoring 8,000 / 16,000 for a total of 32,000 (half of which came from Senriyama). A fierce hand – but she lost much more than she gained over the entire round, coming in behind both Sera and Ako for points scored. Verdicts were passed on the player’s performances, and I went huh. That was odd.

That is, until Sera and Ako talked about the frightening potential of Takami’s power – what happens if she is the dealer on the last hand? If the dealer wins, you go into bonus hands, and with her power operating she’s liable to get yakuman after yakuman. Losing a boatload of points to get one stellar strike isn’t ideal, but doing it to get two? Three? More? Holy hell. And chances are that’s exactly what will happen in the finals. Too bad the two frenemies Ako and Sera won’t be there to fight against the storm together. Watch out Sera, FunaQ is pissed at your flirting!

Fourth Round: Bondage, Evil Genius, and Revenge. The Champions Falter!

Players: Sagimori Arata (Achiga), Matano Seiko (Shiraitodai), Funakubo Hiroko (Senriyama), Shirouzu Mairu (Shindouji)

Given the Achiga player involved, I didn’t expect this fourth round to be so exciting, but boy was it! Much of this is owed to Shirouzu Mairu (Kano Yui), Shindouji’s ace and the practitioner of bondage majong. While FunaQ was initially paying attention to Matano Seiko (Shimizu Kaori), Shiraitodai rightly picked up Mairu as the principal threat.

For those who may have not caught it, here’s how her power works: Mairu sets a limit (sometimes called a reservation) on herself of how many han she’ll win with. Then, if she wins with that many, her yuri love partner Tsuruta Himeko (Oogame Asuka), who plays last, will win the same hand with double that many han. In laymen’s terms, that means for every hand that Mairu wins be matching her stated limit, Himeko will get a metaphorical key and win even bigger. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword, because if she sets a limit on herself and fails to make it, Himeko has almost no chance of winning.

What makes Mairu so dangerous is not only her special ability, but the fact that she’s just a damned good mahjong player. While Shiraitodai’s fifth best player can whoop normal aces, Mairu isn’t a normal ace, and it showed. I couldn’t believe how much Seiko was getting whopped! I was getting shades of Izumi from her, though she didn’t take her beating quite as badly as Senriyama’s young’n did.

While a lot of the danger came from Mairu, she was indiscriminate in who she took points from, whereas another player was not. FunaQ came out in this round as a twisted evil genius, proving that she’s not some bench warming number-crunching team manager for a reason – that girl can play! I was impressed by how good she was, but best of all was how she tricked and screwed with her opponents. Rather than take points as they came, she targeted Seiko with traps and feints that took points away from the champions Senriyama seeks to slay. Seriously, not only did FunaQ rocket to the top of my favorite character’s list with all her evil brainiac glory, but she actually pulled Senriyama within a hair of besting Achiga for second place, and dragged Shiraitodai down in the process.

But, not quite! Though overshadowed for most of the series, and even most of this match, Arata came out swinging like never before. Her first strike (ha ha ha) was a good one, but she went up a whole level in my estimation when she pulled that glorious trick out of her sleeve. Her own play style is too obvious, too easy to defend against – it’s like playing against Kuro, you know exactly what she needs (circles), so don’t give her those and you’re fine. Then she mixes in Harue’s old style, and suddenly she’s tearing people up and nobody knows what to think. Woohoo!

This, my friends, is Saki crazy mahjong at its finest. Not since Toki collapsed have I gotten those old chills, that thrill up my spine that says something special is happening on-screen, and I have no idea what it is or who will win. The last hand came down to Mairu and Arata going head-to-head, with Mairu labouring under a seven reservation to give her team a chance at the win…and Mairu pulls it out! Holy hell guys, that was exciting!

Looking Ahead – onto the Fifth Round

The stage is set. Thanks to the machinations of Arata, FunaQ, and Mairu, the top three teams (Shiraitodai, Achiga, and Senriyama) are all within spitting distance of one another, and Mairu has collected some powerful keys for Himeko to use. Next time is going to be a terror of a match. Shindouji is primed, Awai is loose, and Ryuuka is determined not to let Toki’s pain be in vain. Can Shizu withstand multiple monsters and come out with at least second place? And what are these “gears” Harue and Ako were talking about? It might just be that Shizu has a special ability of her own. I don’t know what the final round will hold, but it’s going to be damn fun to see!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Shiraitodai is overwhelmed in by Mairu’s bondage, FunaQ’s evil, & Arata’s burning spirit of revenge! Mahjong tanoshii, woohoo! #SakiAchiga

Random thoughts:

  • Oh gods Hajime, Koromo, you two need to wear more clothing! Or at least keep the ones you’re wearing on, Koromo.
  • I very much enjoyed Himeko’s reaction every time Mairu set her limit. I hope that doesn’t keep up when you’re on national television Himeko, or you’re going to be really embarrassed. Wait, what am I saying? Of course I hope that happens!
  • Toki is awake! Now Ryuuka can really fight. Erh–uh oh. Watch out, Achiga.

Full-length images: OP 01, 01, 17, 19, 25, 29.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「Futuristic Player」 by 橋本みゆき (Hashimoto Miyuki)

Preview

55 Comments

  1. If you see Mairu and Himeko’s last key, it was a 14-han at the Match 2, South Round 3. Meaning that it’s the second-to-the-last hand. That key means a counted Yakuman. A whooping 32,000 point key just for Himeko’s taking! If that’s successful… Shindouji will be put on top, even if it’s NOT a direct hit. Since it’s the second to the last han, it’s impossible to drag Shindouji down unless a miracle occurs and another Yakuman hits Shindouji.

    The next match will totally be intense! All of the point scores are near each other! Inside the spoiler is the Vice-Captain overall points

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Also, Seikoo did more badly than Izumi since Sumire only targetted her whereas Seiko had been targeted by everyone.

    underMebius
    1. If Himeko is the dealer for East 3 and South 3, the rounds we know she’ll have the big scoring keys, there’s a maximum of 72,000 from just two hands, which is an insane amount of guaranteed point gain. However, her chance of being first place from it depends on whether or not the other three teams leave her alone during the whole of the taisho match.

      It’s entirely possible that she’ll be targeted throughout the whole of the taisho match, which could negate any gains she is guaranteed from the reservation keys. Mangan and haneman hands aren’t difficult to achieve given some smart play, a bit of luck, and a few dealer repeats, and given the kinds of abilities the many girls have demonstrated throughout both series, it’s possible Himeko could be quickly reduced to the low thousands well before she gets to use her kazoe yakuman key.

      IcarusFW
    1. Sounds fun, save that I don’t really understand how to play mahjong =/ C’mon man, why you gotta make me admit my faults like that? Yeah, I’m the guy who blogs about mahjong without knowing about mahjong. I’m a fraud, WAAAA!!!

      *runs away crying*

      Stilts
    1. Every time that grin came up, it felt like I was watching Soul Eater. Dunno. Though I could totally see FunaQ at the Academy.

      She’s definitely in among my favorite characters, but in Saki, ‘favorite characters’ covers about 20 people.

      David
  2. This is truly a moment of badassery!

    Been waiting to see Sera filrting with Ako, gotta look forwards to their future kids. lol

    For guys who condemned Kuro before, now we get to see that each of 4 teams actually has a bad player ;
    Achiga’s Kuro, Senriyama’s Izumi, Shindouji’s Hitomi and now Shiraitodai’s Seiko.
    It’s now a fair game again. *shields Kuro* :p

    Great news for the final match having 2 episodes. Shizu will have to face 3 hungry beasts, and with so much intensity going on, ‘epic’ probably won’t be able to describe the captain match anymore.

    An
    1. She still got a baiman which is impressive for this point in the match and against these opponents. Doing so did guarantee a counted yakuman for Himeko though, as long as it doesn’t get stopped for some reason (my guess would either be Awai making someone go bust or Shizuno suddenly pulls out an ability that stops it).

      Annyms
  3. As a riichi mahjong player, Saki and Achiga-hen makes for entertaining viewing, but mainly for the h4x super-powers on show – it takes “occult mahjong” in a whole new direction, and probably isn’t perfect when it comes to serious tactics. For that reason, I prefer watching Akagi, for true mahjong badassery. (I still love watching Saki and Achiga-hen, though.)

    I’m a lot more curious to see the last two episodes now, because if a national-class monster like Koromo mentions to Saki in-passing that Shizuno is “a problem”, then that means Shizuno has something big up her sleeve that hasn’t been hinted at at all yet. Given that we’ve only seen Shizuno play one or two short hands all series, they’re probably saving the best until last.

    IcarusFW
    1. She had better! Actually, I think it is a mistake (storytelling-wise) to leave us thinking that Arata and Shizu don’t have anything really special about them until this point in the series. That’s an outgrowth of how fast Saki Achiga has progressed, but it leaves Achiga feelings under-powered, and then making anything shown to fix this perception seem like an asspull.

      Mind you, this is still all a side story about the teams that will lose to the real protagonists, Kiyosumi (or so we assume, naturally). Still, better leading up to Arata and Shizu’s hax powers would have been nice, since they can always pull a second ability out of their repertoire to look extra awesome. I mean, Arata did that this episode, but considering we didn’t even know her main tactic it was still a bit sudden!

      Stilts
    2. A lot of “sports” genre rather stretch the rules. Kuroke no Basuke is pretty much a story of wizards wandering into the world of basketball.

      The other major kind is mind games like Kaiji.

      Personally I prefer the more puristic kind like Major, but Saki is still great cause it doesn’t pretend to cling to realism.

      Shin
  4. I was waiting for the Koromo-scene. In the manga translation she said Shizu spells disaster. It’s a more threatening (and fitting) way to express her never giving up attitude which is probably the key to Koromo’s opinion. Strangely Koromo didn’t sound very koromoish to me even though it was definitely Fukuhara Kaori voicing her. It was like she used her Tsukasa-voice instead of Koromo’s.

    I really enjoyed the vice-captain battle, particularly Seiko losing a lot of points, but now here comes Awai, who quickly became my second favorite character behind Koromo. She is quite the confident witch for saying that she can spare a counted yakuman. Foreshadowed to be a demon-level player probably on par with Teru, se will make a great adversary for Shizu, Ryuuka and Tsuruhime. I can’t wait!

    Jurkasz
    1. Of course Awai is going to be a terror! They had to give Saki a good opponent to fight against during the finals. Now we just have to see if Shizu deserves to be among that number.

      Stilts
  5. https://randomc.net/image/Saki%20Achiga-hen%20episode%20of%20Side-A/Saki%20Achiga-hen%20episode%20of%20Side-A%20-%2014%20-%20Large%2007.jpg
    – Now this is a pairing I didn’t see coming. Also for someone I consider as one of the most composed and calmest member of the Achiga team, I didn’t expect Ako to panic during that match. And she looked cute doing it. After the match is a different story. Against a very friendly Sera, no doubt she’d be flustered.

    https://randomc.net/image/Saki%20Achiga-hen%20episode%20of%20Side-A/Saki%20Achiga-hen%20episode%20of%20Side-A%20-%2014%20-%20Large%2019.jpg
    – Hajime really gives the term “short skirt” a whole new meaning.

    – She had a short screentime, but it was nice seeing Yuu again.

    – Can’t wait to see Shizu in action and see how far her never giving up attitude will take her. Definitely rooting for Shizuno.

    Zhinvu
    1. As Harue pointed out, Ako isn’t as level-headed as she seems. She’s logical and dependable certainly, but she’s a fast and clever player who can get caught up in the emotion of the thing. No, dependable isn’t the same as being level-headed, and for that stoic, always cool, never-show-the-pressure type of player, there’s no one better than Arata.

      Stilts
      1. Yeah I was surprised too when Harue said that. My impression of Ako being the most level-headed was based on her conduct prior to this episode. On the other hand, it was also nice to see how strong a character Arata is. Harue definitely made the right choice to make her the president of the club.

        Zhinvu

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