The first round of the school prefectural competition continues in episode seven of Saki, and all eyes turn to Nodoka as it's her turn to take the table. Well, Nodoka and her penguin, who seems to garner just as much interest as the girl herself.
After a slow start, Nodoka soon picks up the pace to the levels previously only seen from her when playing Mahjong online, which eventually causes problems for her opponents and leaves her walking out the winner of her round. This leaves only Saki left to play, but unfortunately we don't even get to see her leg of the competition, learning only that she breezed past her particular opponents to take Kiyosumi through to the second round.
The action really dries up at this point as we don't get to see any of the second round action at all, instead turning our focus to the two hottest competitors at this stage of the tournament, Ryuumonbunchi and Kazekoshi high schools respectively, both of which make light work of their second round ties while Kiyosumi also make it through to the next round. In the case of Kazekoshi, we see the girls in their team working for a coach who is beyond a hard taskmaster, providing the inevitable "evil coach" stereotype that I suppose I should have been expecting from this series at some point.
As per usual with this series, I find myself oddly drawn to and mesmerised by the actual Mahjong action, but not so much by the show's over the top personalities and background drama. I suppose Saki would soon become rather too dull without at least some of the latter, but for me this episode was all about Nodoka's turn at the table, and I was actually genuinely disappointed not to see anything of Saki herself in action, which I'm sure is something that will be put right pretty soon. Still, despite the utter predictability of this series so far, it has been watchable fluff for the most part with a fair amount of oddly compelling action now we're well and truly rolling through the tournament stage.