Sunday, 26 January 2014

Saki - The Nationals - Episode 4

The rain may be falling, but it certainly isn't raining on anyone's parade as we (finally!) reach the business end of Saki - The Nationals with an actual mahjong game!

Of course, first up for Kiyosumi is their very own caped crusader in the form of Yuuki, who as you might expect wins the draw to be dealer and sets off on her usual East wind blitz of victories.  Even though at least some of her competitors are prepared for such an event, they find themselves initially powerless in the face of three consecutive winning hands from Kataoka to push Kiyosumi into an early lead.

That isn't to say that Yuuki's opponent's around the table should be underestimated however - Himematsu High School's Ueshige Suzu is well-versed in the abilities of her opponents, and this understanding eventually comes good to ensure that her team remain in the hunt; Miyamori Girls' Kosegawa Shiromi gives away her powers by hesitating on discards, a sure sign that she's building an expensive hand; and of course there's Eisui Girls' School's Jindai Komaki, a player expected to be ferocious even if she allegedly spends half of this round asleep before finally coming to her senses and waking up.  With Yuuki's early power seemingly spent in this prestigious company, it's time for the other girls to strut their stuff, but it still seems to be Jindai who is the one to watch and the game progresses.

After three episodes of moaning about the lack of proper mahjong, at last we're immersed in the tournament proper, and although we haven't reached the heights of tension that this series can deliver at its peak it's still far more satisfying stuff - a little stilted in places as it's broken up by various comments or interactions from outside of the arena itself, but relatively engaging and enjoyable as a whole while setting us up for some more spectacular events further down the line no doubt.  At last, Saki is back and doing what it does best!

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