「激化」 (Gekika)

After a quick last hand in the fourth, it’s onto the final round! Boy, for all this match was once lopsided thanks to Teru, it isn’t any longer.

Fourth Round, Part 2: One Last Hand

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

There’s very little to say on this, save for one thing – after Mairu’s epic seven reservation that gave Himeko a 14-han key to use late in the game, there was another hand. That’s the big thing. Had that been the last hand, that would have given Shindouji a powerful weapon for one last overwhelming strike to win the game – and if they pulled that off, there would have been no chance of reprisal. Fortunately there was at least another hand after that, which means even if Shindouji does pull ahead with that mega-strike, the other teams will have a chance to come back. Still, good job at winning that last hand, Arata. D’aaaaww!!

  • Final Score, Round 4: Shiraitodai 117,700, Achiga 112,900, Senriyama 95,600, Shindouji 73,800.

Fifth Round: Double Aces, Lap Pillow Prescience, Double Riichi Horror, and Shizu…?

Players: Takakamo Shizuno (Achiga) vs. Oohoshi Awai (Shiraitodai) vs. Shimizudani Ryuuka (Senriyama) vs. Tsuruta Himeko (Shindouji)

This match is what Saki mahjong is all about. There were definitely echoes of the titular Saki’s match against Koromo in the regionals of the main series, with the protagonist going up against a cute blonde monster, a skilled regular player, and the one I know I’m going to want to hug by the time this match is over. The only difference – Shizu isn’t a monster, and we still don’t really have a clue what she can do. But I’ll get to that soon.

First was Shindouji’s assault. Actually, first was Awai’s “Perfect Safety Zone”, but that only served to make it even more satisfying when Himeko cracked out her first key and gave it to her. Maaan, since the days of Subara soldiering on way past a normal people’s tolerance level, I’ve had a soft spot for them, so damn was it good to see them charge back! Second best was the strong yuri undertones that Himeko was throwing out, which was great because Toki and Ryuuka shouldn’t have to do all the yuri-work. Third best was Awai’s reaction. I can’t help but like Awai, no matter how much of a monster she may be, ’cause when the going gets tough, Awai just has more fun! Even if it’s after her opponents pull off a baiman, woohoo!

  • Score Update: Shiraitodai 109,300, Shindouji 109,300, Achiga 99,200, Senriyama 91,100.

Suddenly, the tables are turned and Shindouji rockets up to second place! Truly, if there is one thing that the Saki series does well, it’s keep all the competitors relevant and dangerous when it wants to. Though by all rights Shindouji should have been gone long ago, now they’re in second place! Suddenly it seems like it’s Shindouji that’s in control, and you know that Awai has something up her sleeve, so it’s Achiga and Senriyama that are looking outmatched. I was legitimately worried that Ryuuka would be a non-issue for a few minutes there.

Nope! In comes that ‘ol Saki (borderline ass pull, trope!) magic, as Ryuuka suddenly develops some very useful yuri telepathy. First of all: both full ghost and chibi ghost Toki are SUPER CUTE HNNNG!! Ahem. But while Ryuuka suddenly obtaining what is basically an offensive (and more limited) version of Toki’s telepathy (based on lap pillows and Ryuuka’s thighs…works for me!) is a pretty abrupt development, it served its purpose – to keep Ryuuka relevant, and swing the game a different direction. Senriyama strikes…and is in the lead!

  • Score Update: Senriyama 103,100, Shindouji 100,400, Achiga 99,200, Shiraitodai 97,300.

Not that it lasted long. Within a hand, Shindouji and Senriyama had switched places, putting Shindouji back on top. See what I mean about all of them being relevant? (Mostly.)

Nor did even that last long, as the reigning champions stepped up to prove why they deserved to be in the game. Awai is the monster that Saki is going to have to beat in the main series, so I don’t think anyone had any doubts that she had more in her arsenal than just an area-effect debuff on her opponents. Turns out we were right. Just as the tide started to go one way, it went another. 18K direct strike on Shindouji, and Shiraitodai is back in the lead!

  • Score Update: Shiraitodai 110,300, Senriyama 106,100, Achiga 92,200, Shindouji 91,400.

First Himeko, then Ryuuka, now Awai. The Saki series is simultaneously both unpredictable and…not so much, and this falls into the latter. With the other three already having proven their mettle, it was time for Shizu to show her stuff. The thing is, I’m still not entirely sure what she did. Points go to Akado for being the only one to pick out Awai’s double riichi ahead of time, but how did Shizuno stop it? (Don’t answer that, those who have read the manga – that was rhetorical.) From what I gather, it has something to do with how much she has played that day – her “gears” – and probably also something to do with the roll of the dice, as Akado mentioned that the snake eyes were a good thing. How all this goes together, I don’t know, but if I had to guess, I’d say that Shizu’s ability is to disrupt other player’s abilities. It sounds like she did that to Koromo, who is certainly a nationals-level monster, so that’s good news for Achiga. And who doesn’t want a genki, female version of Touma who doesn’t like to wear underwear? You probably shouldn’t answer that question.

With that said, there’s one other thing to say – when Ryuuka deferred from using her hax and Himeko had no keys to deploy, it came down to Shizu to stop Awai’s rampage…and damn, it felt good when she smacked 8K out of Shiraitodai and reminded them all she was there. Whoops, did you forget about her girls? Suckers!

  • Final Score, Round 5 Part 1: Senriyama 106,00, Shiraitodai 101,300, Achiga 101,200, Shindouji 91,400.

Looking Ahead – The Final Hanchan of the Semi-Finals

There’s still a lot to see in the final half of the last match. Awai is going full blast, Ryuuka still has two Toki-ghosts to call on, Himeko has a counted yakuman on the way, and Shizuno…well, I’m still not sure about her, but it looks like she’s waking up. I’m not sure what will happen (save that Shiraitodai will advance in first place…hey, this is still a side story, it has to serve the main story you know!), but I can tell you this – if there’s anything else that the Saki series is good at, it’s using the four-sided nature of mahjong to throw unexpected wrenches in at just the right time. We know most of what these characters can do (supposedly), so I can’t wait to see what they’ll throw at us next!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The Keymaster, spontaneous yuri prescience, & an eldritch horror in schoolgirl form make for an exciting last round. As for Shizu…? #SakiA

Random thoughts:

  • Pillow God Toki-chan is still the best Saki girl in this series, funya~
  • Related: I agree, Toki – Ryuuka is totally perfect just the way she is! Especially her thighs :3
  • I am fine with Shizu being in an actual uniform if it means that Ako is pantless in her jersey. Variety is the spice of life, eh?
  • You know, I think there’s even a bit of a yuri vibe between the announcer and the pro! Saki – ya gotta love it.
  • The next episode will be airing on May 25th, and yes, I will be blogging it. Feel free to remind me though (thanks, Croos & others!), cause these erratic airings always sneak up on me!

Full-length images: 05, 20, 30, 36, 48.




    1. Quote Stilts: And who doesn’t want a genki, female version of Touma who doesn’t like to wear underwear?

      Lv 0 mahjong player.

      Yeah, like most of us, you no idea at all…

    2. Shizuno powers is to shut down other’s powers. Koromo said that she wanted to do her special move win with last tile 3/5 the first day. At the end of the second day she wasn’t able to get to the last tile. So I’m guessing that the longer she plays the powerful it gets, that’s why Harue and others warm her up before the match.

      Pretty sure it’s going to end up that Shizuno stuns down everyone’s power by the end of the match and her team will advance either first or second. Teru’s team will also advance to face Saki.

  1. I just want to say that full power Shizu even has Saki worried and Koromo can never win her. It’ll explain why Shizu was placed as the ace when the others seem so much stronger (up till now)

    1. With Saki Achiga, a storytelling problem is always a possibility. The titular Saki is easy to root for (the yuri aside) because she’s always been strong, but she’ll pull out crazy moves or new abilities or stuff when in tough battles – that is, she’s portrayed as strong, then thrown up against seemingly stronger opponents, and she prevails. It’s a clash of titans, and it’s entertaining as hell.

      For Shizu, we’ve been told she’s good without ever seeing it. I don’t see the reason for keeping that a secret other than time, but it impacts the enjoyment here, because I’ve spent 15 episodes now being unimpressed! Even if she reverses that now, it’s going to feel more like an ass pull than anything else. Just not very smooth sotrytelling.

      1. when you will see her true power and her back story why she have it you wont think it ass pull like you think beside we were have a glimpse of her win in quarter finals in one of the episodes

    2. The power up was too sudden, when did they even know about Shizu’s powers? It didn’t seem like they knew in the beginning when placing the playing order, seemed like Akado dumped it out of nowhere during the semifinals.

  2. You know… I find it tragic that for all that hoohah:
    a) Saki won’t be able to play her sister directly. That’s a downer.
    b) Nodoka won’t be able to play any of her old clubmates directly. The odds are 3/5… and she plays Arata. GDI.

    … unless Ritz decides for a deus-ex machina (four hanchans?) for the finals where they can shift up the order in the 3rd hanchan. Or decides the anime individuals tourney is retro-canon and adds it to the manga. Lol I’m not even sure where the story is going anymore.

    1. The individuals tournament is canon, it was mentioned multiple times in the main manga. Like when Yuuki faced their opponents in the quarters, I remember someone explaining that she curbstomped the competition in the east-only matches on the first day of the individuals.

      1. What Jurkasz said. They got retconned into the manga because…well, they seemed like a good idea I guess! I agree, so I’m not complaining…especially since yeah, it’s the only way Saki can play directly against Teru.

    2. This is pure speculation, I’m gonna make a guess and say Saki will force a draw in the last hand of the finals. I dunno what the rules would be if there is a draw.

      I can make a few guesses. For example, if there is a draw ,the teams will have to play a 6th round and can pick from any of their 5 players for the tie breaker In which case there will be Saki, Teru and possibly Shizu show down.

      I’d love to see Teru vs Shizu if she really has the ability to nullify/disrupt powers. May put Teru at a disadvantage, by that point in the match Shizu would’ve been geared up good, having played to 2 han chans already in the 5th match.

      1. Well, this is for those who don’t know. In Japanese mahjong, there’s no such a thing as a draw. When there are more than one people with exact same points, the ranking is decided with their initial seat position in that match. A person whose dealer turn is earliest (i.e the first one in east position) will take highest priority over the others. Of course, I don’t know how it will be implemented in Saki’s team match since the battle is consist of more than one Hanchan(one East-South round).

  3. What a episode. From Ghost Toki to multi-riichi drifting…mahjong is serious business indeed. Also, kinda interesting to hear Awai’s voice change from usual childlike voice to more Senjougahara-like when she declared riichi or ron.

    Kevin Yamagata
  4. The problem with Achiga-hen is that it relies too much on crazy bullshit compared to the main manga. One of the main contenders is the X-ray vision of Yuu. The way the tables are designed and looking at the level of sitting, it’s clearly impossible for Yuu to see Sumire’s finger movement without having X-ray vision. But the clearest example would be this match. Himeko and Ryuuka’s powers are essentially instant win powers. And as for Shizu, don’t even get me started. I’ll spare the details to avoid spoiling anyone but Shizu’s power is the class definition of asspull.

    This is why alot of people who are fans of the main flagship series tend to frown upon Achiga-hen. I understand that the main series is Seinen and that Achiga-hen is shonen so there are clear differences in the atmosphere and general flow of things, but this is really just bad writing.

      1. Tch fine. I’ll bite. I’ll explain this two ways. One from a storyline perspective, and one from a technical mahjong perspective. It’s gonna be a wall of text so bear with me.

        Let’s look at Shizu. Back when they were kids, she played mahjong, but she didn’t really have any notable abilities. Back then, she was even behind Mahjong ability compared to Kuro and Nodoka. After her elementary school years, she took a 3 year hiatus from mahjong and only resumed near the end of her middleschool years just as she began highschool. She still had no magic powers indicated. Now looking at the present, Shizu was still by no means the star player of Achiga. If anything, it was said that either Kuro or Ako were the most reliable players around.

        Back at the quarterfinals captain match, Shizu was at a tight spot. Now, if Shizu used her powers there then she would’ve had no problems and Achiga would’ve gotten in easily. Now, the “She was only hiding her powers as an ace up her sleeve” card doesn’t work there because Achiga was in serious danger there. If anything, that would be the perfect moment to start using her abilities. But she didn’t. For most of the match, she was in a precarious situation and only managed to win second place thanks to a last minute gambit. And now, in the semifinals, shes suddenly the grand manipulator and dark horse behind the scenes. Her suddenly turning into that feels off in so many ways.

        And now for the technical side of things. I’m going to reference events that would happen in the next episode and the explanation of some abilities so I will spoiler this.

        Show Spoiler ▼

      2. If only every complainer of Achiga as detail as you are CrazyGuy, things will be very easy to get a dialogue…

        I am not here to disapprove your comment because as you said, until more explanation happen (hopefully anime will do it, but I highly doubt it) we can only stick with our assumption, whether it is good or not…

        I comment here to simply point out 3 reasons why everything you complained about happen in Achiga:
        1) Ritz intention to keep Achiga as underdog
        2) Ritz intention to make Shizu’s power as a surprise
        3) Mostly the lack of Achiga’s episode which reduce time to show thus explain many-many stuffs

        For example, why doesn’t Shizu use her power in quaterfinal?
        It is a legit question, but unfortunately we never know how exactly this round played out.
        Does it happen very quick?
        How tactful the enemy is?
        Is it exactly Shizu fault or is it because Shizu being targeted carefully?
        So so many question which can explain why Shizu doesn’t, can’t, and/or can’t yet use her power…

        Show Spoiler ▼

        In the end, Achiga isn’t bad at the concept (and that’s the reason I like Shizu because her ability will certainly scare Saki or can be said Anti-Saki), but Achiga certainly bad at pacing which I factored above why.

        Show Spoiler ▼

      3. I haven’t read the above spoilers because, you know, spoilers (thanks for tagging them by the way!), but I have to agree with Crazyguy’s storyline (storytelling) point, which is actually the same one I made above, only said a lot better (and spelled out more). Well done!

        But yeah, for Shizu to go from what appeared to be a regular players who damn near screwed the pooch to a total gamebreaker so quickly is an ass pull. They’ve foreshadowed some stuff, but it all amount to telling us that she’s a badass rather than showing us, and that’s a cardinal sin in storytelling. Now, had they used the opportunity that Crazyguy pointed out (the quarterfinals taishou match) to show off a glimpse of Shizu’s ability, that would have been excellent foreshadowing and I would have no complaints – even her just wondering whether she should use it or not (or lamenting that she couldn’t for some reason) would have done the job. As is though, she came off looking like a regular player, so for her to emerge as a monster now is very shoddy storytelling.

        It’s possible something in ep16 will change my mind on that, but I doubt it…the track would have needed to be laid out by now, and I haven’t seen it. Doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to it! I’m still going to call out the storytelling insufficiencies, though. It’s sort of my thing : )

      4. Actually Stilts…
        Achiga does foreshadow Shizu’s ability at that match, but too subtle and rushed (more rushed than subtle) to be noticed…

        Even I take two months since the manga end to realize it…
        If my take on that scene is correct…

  5. Anyone else noticed the player introductions for the 5th match?

    Himeko (Shindouji) = Double ace (with Shirouzu)
    Ryuuka (Senriyama) = Highest average points in Kansai
    Awai (Shiraitodai) = The next Teru
    Shizu (Achiga) = Not wearing a tracksuit?!?
    Made me chuckle a bit.

    But I guess it goes with the whole she’s good good but “no one knows her real strength/ability” thing they’ve been going with.

    Also as for guessing what her ability is, I’m going with power canceling/imagine breaker ability that people have been saying here.

    1. Hah, yeah, no one is really counting on Achiga. That I can get behind when they’re up against such strong opponents like these. It makes their (presumed) ultimate victory more thrilling…even if I wished I knew more about Shizu going in.

      1. “… even if I wished I knew more about Shizu going in.”

        I have to agree with that. From a storytelling point of view there has been no clue, no hint, no foreshadowing that Shizu has special abilities. From I’ve seen all that’s been said about her is that she’s a really good player but she’s still in the ranks of the “normal” people. Right now I’m hoping that, whatever her ability is, they at least gave subtle hints throughout the past episodes of what she can do (ie. by rewatching the series we see small, subtle hints of her ability that we(the viewers) have overlooked since we don’t know what to look for.)

  6. @stilts i wont spoil but it not cancelling abbilty it somthing weak then that. also i dont remembr what episode but this was near the end of the qurterfinals that we got small hint of shizu abillity when they seen the end of the querter finals captian match so look at 8 or 9 at least to see the hint

  7. Show Spoiler ▼

    The reason why she didn’t use her power in the quarterfinals was because her opponents are all digital players and thus the usage of her ability was pretty useless.

    By the way, in the end,Show Spoiler ▼

  8. Am I the only one who noticed Shizuno’s change from genki voice to the lay-down-the-smackdown tone when she declares her win? I seriously want hear her deliver the closing line of the match in that voice now. ^_^

    1. Oh yeah, was an lol time. Not to criticize any translators but the naming wasn’t a good choice imo. Was slightly put off by the weird names though what to complain about free translations?


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