Ohh Saki, how you tease us so in this final episode of the series... In more ways than one in fact, given that this is a training camp episode to finish off the series which just so happens to be held at a hot springs.
With that in mind, of course there's plenty of fan service (with lots of room for even more fan service on the DVD) on offer here, as all of the show's main characters gathered together in the name of getting naked in a bath. Oh, and to help Kiyosumi practice for the national championships as well. I almost forgot about that part.
It turns out that having all of these other top players from the qualifiers is going to do Kiyosumi a great deal of good, with Yumi Kajiki stepping up with some detailed statistics on many of the players who will be attending the nationals, while some of the girls who made it to last year's tournament also share their thoughts on who are the girls to watch. This leads to a mention of one Teru Miyanaga - Saki's sister, of course, which brings out some mixed feelings on her part which are only assuaged by Nodoka and the two girl's deepening friendship.
As if all the fan service wasn't enough of a tease, we're then taken right to the bring of the national tournament, and even given a few tantalising glimpses of Kiyosumi's opponents in action and the like, before having it swiftly snatched away from us by the end of the episode, and thus this series. As the graphics at the end says however, "we're just getting started!". Indeed we are.... Let's just hope Gonzo survives for long enough to deliver what looks to be the inevitable second season of the show.
Overall, I have to give it to Saki for absolutely exceeding my expectations - My early opinion of it was far from positive, with the show seeming to be a bit daft from beginning to end, but once the actual mahjong tournament started it had me in its claws from the moment on - Who knew that a simple game delivered via the medium of anime could be so compelling and generate so much edge-of-the-seat tension? But deliver it did, to the point where even those crazy mahjong "superpowers" seemed cool, and I ended up enjoying every second of the competition segments of the show. Even at the half-way point of this series I didn't think I'd be clamouring for a second season of Saki... Now it simply can't come soon enough.