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
- 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!