After breezing through the first round of the Nationals at a ridiculous (and I do mean ridiculous) speed, episode five brings us to the second round of matches, and a place in the semi-finals up for grabs for Achiga as they go up against some potentially fearsome opposition, including a seeded side who didn't even play in the first round.
More specifically, much of this episode focuses upon Senriyama school's sickly Toki Onjouji - after a brief flashback which fills in a little of her history and what led her to where she is today, we join the first match in this particular second round line-up, with Onjouji up against Kuro Matsumi amongst others. While Kuro's insistence on hanging on to her dora tiles and throwing out weird discards stood her in good stead last time around, it seems that it's going to be a different story on this occasion.
Indeed, it seems that nobody can even touch Onjouji's play as she shows an almost psychic knowledge of what tiles are coming next, and once she declares riichi there's a whole new level of fear to be experienced from her abilities as she wipes the floor with the opposition. Kuro in particular suffers the most heavily from Toki's torment, leaving Achiga bottom of the leaderboard after the opening match of the round. Next up is sister Yuu, but can she really do anything to turn the tide as she swears she is going to? Given that other teams already seem to be tuned into her manner of play, it's going to be tough for her.
At last, we finally seem to have reached the "proper" stage of Saki - Episode of Side-A, with a focus heavily on the national tournament and mahjong being played within it while using gaps in the play to fill in slices of character's back stories and build up characters rather than the other way around. While it's yet to really ramp up the tension as we might be used to from the original series, it's already a huge improvement and far more enjoyable and fascinating than pretty much anything we've seen from Episode of Side-A prior to this point. Hopefully now we can keep our focus tightly on the tournament and its players, as the series will surely only thrive because of it.