The second game of the match at hand is now over, but before the third can begin... it's time for lunch!
After a little catching up with various individuals and teams involved in the tournament, from some of the commentators through to Achiga Girls' School (remember them?), it's time for Hisa to take centre stage. Well, actually, it isn't time for that at all, as she rolls up to the table fifteen minutes early - a period of time which is nothing more than a blur to her as the full scale of what she's about to embark upon suddenly hits home.
Unfortunately, this is enough to destroy Hisa's concentration entirely, and when she's informed that she's inadvertently showing a tile to talkative opponent in the form of Himematsu's Atago Hiroe her confidence is shattered too. Once the game begins in earnest, it's Hiroe who goes on a tear, taking her team from last through to first while the exact opposite is true of Hisa. As the game reaches its halfway point however, a throwaway comment from Hiroe allows her to realise exactly what's going wrong here - she's forgotten that she's supposed to be having fun. With her outlook duly adjusted, Hisa starts to make inroads into retrieving the situation, but can she do more in the second half with her opponents now also seemingly warming up to the fight ahead.
Save for one or two moment, Saki - The Nationals still feels like a series with pacing issues - its constant asides and distractions away from the main match at hand kills its tension and momentum far too frequently as it tries to cram its huge roster of characters into shot at every turn. Perhaps I'm simply an outlier here, but for the most part I'm not interested in the characters as much as the games themselves and the dramatic tension that comes from them, superpowers and all. Thus far, there's been far too little of that for my liking, and I can only hope that changes as the current match moves towards its pivotal period.