After a week's break from the intense mahjong action after the ending of the team qualifying tournament, it's time to move on to the individual qualifiers for Saki's twenty-first episode, which is enough to leave me pretty excited, not least because I've been learning to play and trying my own hand at Japanese mahjong online over the intervening period. I still suck at it though, in case you're wondering.
With the qualifying round for this part of the tournament spread over two days, this episode largely sees all of the familiar faces from both Kiyosumi and other competing high schools coming up against nameless lightweights - Mere cannon fodder for our favourite girls to blast through like so many of Star Trek extras wearing red shirts. It's Yuuki who really blazes a trail though, making the most of the surfeit of East wind games thanks to the organisation of the individual tournament to storm into an overall lead in the race for the three places up for grabs based on who scores the highest.
The only really juicy game that comes our way (aside from a fantastic bit of beginner's luck on one occasion against Touka - Why do I never get hands like that?!) is between respective team captains Hisa and Mihoko, with the former's habit of choosing weird waits paying dividends until the latter takes an opportunity to pull out all of the stops.
As per usual, I find myself feeling both refreshed and excited having been treated to a hefty dose of mahjong-related excitement by this episode, which perhaps isn't quite as nerve-wracking as the team tournament we've been used to, but it managed to be satisfying nonetheless. Actually understanding what is going on in terms of how the game itself plays is proving to be a big help for me too, which is a relief as I was worried that being grounded in reality might detract from my enjoyment of the show, which it hasn't. Still, with tough times ahead for Saki herself next episode potentially, I'm once again left well and truly looking forward to see what this series serves up for us next.