After a one week break (or us as viewers at least), we return to Episode of Side-A with Achiga's semi-final still a shade over a day away - having bumped into some rival mahjong players during the long wait for their match, they might just have found themselves the leg-up they need to progress as well.
Although there are rules surrounding not being allowed to play practice matches if you're a part of the individual tournament, there are no such rules in place for team matches, giving Achiga's girls the perfect opportunity to test and improve themselves, as they find themselves under the tutelage of not only the girls of Tsuruga Academy's team, but also a top individual player in Kazekoshi Girls School's Mihoko Fukuji and a couple of her comrades. It's quite the baptism of fire for our girls, but they come out of it feeling more confident than they went in, which can only be a good thing.
Carrying on this sense of progression, the girls spend their final free day finding others to practice against, with only limited success, but still enough to build their abilities further. The final potential silver lining for the team is news regarding overseer Harue, who it seems is neither going to leave her young charges in the lurch nor use them as a launchpad for her own professional career. In other words, we're all set for a rip-roaring semi-final against some of the best players in the game....
It certainly can't beat actual tournament play in terms of drama, tension and so on, but there was still some enjoyment to be had from watching Achiga's practice matches (however briefly) this episode - then again, it does once again prove that the main character roster of Episode of Side-A are simply nowhere near as striking or interesting as those from mainline Saki, which is a real shame to be quite honest. Still, with all of the necessary plot points which required tackling nicely wrapped up, I'll be waiting very impatiently for the semi-final kick-off next week. Never mind Euro 2012, high school mahjong is where it's at!