It's been a long time in coming (almost five years in fact, Episode of Side-A notwithstanding) but we finally have ourselves some more Saki, taking in the Nationals tournament that was so cruelly teased at the end of the original series back in 2009.
To kick things off, we're introduced to just some of the other major schools which have qualified for the tournament - a cavalcade of names, locations and characters that I have absolutely no hope of remembering, which is giving me a cold sweat when it comes to trying to accurately write about the series. Hopefully some of the characters will stick a little more once we've seen some more of their decidedly unique characters and supernatural mahjong powers.
Of course, ultimately our focus returns to the team of Kiyosumi High School, as they arrive in Tokyo and find their hotel in preparation for the big tournament. As it happens, there are a number of familiar faces to be found there, which eases the tension for some - not, however, for captain Hisa, who is as still and tense as they come when she takes her place in the draw for the qualifying round of the tournament. Nervous she might be too, as her pick in the lottery finds Kiyosumi drawn against unseeded but much fancied Himematsu and the instantly recognisable shrine maidens of third seed team Eisui Girls' School.
Given that I'm here for the insane mahjong action rather than any of the show's more character-centric moments, I was braced for an episode with lots of build-up and putting together the pieces for the series proper to start, and that's exactly what I got - no bad thing in itself, but hopefully we get straight into the thick of the action next week, as with just thirteen episodes to fill there'll probably be little time to focus on events outside of the tournament itself.