Saki: Zenkoku-hen Episode 5: Gods and Demons


Pic065They’re really blitzing through these matches, aren’t they? I’m not sure I can even call it fast pacing (as opposed to skipping) when the vanguard match concluded in the way it did – I literally gaped when East 3 of the first half suddenly became South 4 of the second half. And Suehara Kyouko trolled us all with Suzu’s supposed explosive wins against strong opponents – nothing actually happened at all! As for Jindai Komaki… I’ve got mixed feelings about her. I won’t deny that I got the chills when she suddenly hit Yuuki with a sanbaiman – declaring riichi in the all-last (despite that point lead) was a massive mistake, and Yuuki paid the price for it as she had no choice but to discard her 9-pin. I think all the national-class monsters (from Saki to Awai) felt the presence of Jindai’s goddess descending down to possess her – and it’s also interesting that both times, she put together a closed chinitsu in preparation to dish out some heavy damage. But… is that all? It might just be me hyping up my idealized image of her, but I sort of expected something more from a national-class monster. Hitting someone for 24,000 is great and all, but that’s the only hand she won throughout the match – while she was awake, Jindai actually lost a lot of points. I’m not sure how she’s done in the past (or will do in the future) but it pales in comparison to Koromo or Awai, both of whom are constant heavy hitters. Especially Awai.

Pic082The sergeant match came and went pretty rapidly too, and the primary victim was our short-lived moeblob, Aislinn Wishart. She’s adorable, and because of that I really feel sorry for her (and by extension, Miyamori, who had confidence in her abilities). Suehara Kyouko’s analysis of her was spot on – hands that never reach tenpai do happen many times, and having an absurdly high win ratio is enough to trigger alarm bells. The events of the sergeant match were never properly explained, but I think I have a fairly good idea of what happened. Aislinn “materializes” her ideal set of tiles before they’re revealed, and so her wins are predetermined. If everyone keeps drawing tiles one by one, her hand will take the shape she wants it to. But that’s the thing – all someone has to do is call a tile and suddenly the drawing order is changed. Aislinn looked so sad every time Mako disturbed the flow (although I would not be happy about giving up tanyao, pinfu and iipeikou for the sake of a 300/500 trash win). I felt pretty bad for her – she looked like she had no idea why everything was happening like that. Did no-one call any tiles at all during her regionals match?

Pic092Well, next week we’re finally going to get some Hiroe time! She’s awesome. Actually, I think Himematsu in general are hilarious – I love how Hiroe is technically the captain, but Kyouko’s the one who’s really in charge. She actually slightly reminds me of Senriyama’s FunaQ with her detailed analysis and everything :D It’ll definitely be interesting seeing Hiroe go up against Hisa, who is an excellent player in her own right – I’m sure she’ll do fine though, given Kiyosumi’s current track record and Hisa’s own renchan in the previous round. We’ll see… after they have lunch, that is.


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6 Responses

  1. dangerism says:

    I don’t think the anime did a good job of explaining it, but Jindai’s primary power was to cockblock other players’ powers from being effective, hence why Yuuki stopped winning and Suzu’s explosive counter never happened (all the other mikos were discussing in the previous episode as to how much points are going to be lost, as this power does nothing to help her win. -_- ). However, Yuuki managed to get herself a rather big hand despite that, hence Jindai changed gear into full miko mode in retaliation. That said, it was pretty dumb of Yuuki to declare riichi despite being in lead.

    • Vantage says:

      Oh I see! Yeah, they didn’t touch upon that at all (perhaps it was vaguely implied by how nothing eventful happened from the first East 3 to the second South 3). It’s a pity Jindai is really weak when she uses that power – the other national-class monsters use a defensive and offensive power in conjunction (Koromo’s no-tenpai hell and haitei, or Awai’s 5-6 shanten start and daburii). If only that second goddess possessed her a bit earlier!

      And that last riichi was… very unfortunate :D It was the South round after all.

  2. Katreus says:

    Re: Jindai’s power – That’s not Jindai’s power. Blocking is Sae’s power. Her power can already be guessed at with your observations of what her hand looked like prior to her awakening (debuff) in Ep. 4 and of course, here in ep. 5 with her win. A closed chinitsu can have some very interesting effects on the interactions with other players, especially in regards to defense and offense (as you speculated for other national-class monsters) and interestingly, *speed*. Jindai, after all, didn’t play into anyone until after she woke up. Other than that, I would ask how far off is a closed chinitsu from a chuuren poutou? In addition, the winning hand was very close to a kazoe yakuman should Jindai have declared riichi.

    Re: Jindai as Miko – Unlike other monsters, her power is not really innate to her specifically as it is to her gods. As the chosen miko princess, she can be a vessel for the gods and thus express one of the god’s power through her while she is asleep. (Because of course, even the gods play mahjong in Sakiverse.) When she is awake, as Kasumi says, she’s just a normal, hard-working girl. So, yes, not as consistent as other monsters or occults but can hit plenty hard when the god is being expressed. Note that this whole … thing… was weird. Kasumi mentions that Jindai has never played a public match without a god and that’s why she’s never lost. (And Toyone’s comment is that last year, Jindai completely sealed off Fujiwara Rise so she can be quite scary. No wonder Rise is a bit … obsessed with Jindai and doesn’t want Jindai to lose to anyone but her as she says to Achiga.) That one hand wiped out all of Yuuki’s gains, dropping her from 1st to 3rd, and brought Jindai’s team back to neutral and 2nd in terms of points. I know we’re a bit unrealistically spoiled with the large amount of high value hands in Sakiverse, but getting 24,000 off a 2 go-around awakening is pretty amazing.

    Re: Vanguard Match as Comedy of Errors – The theory is that Shiro can’t muster up the energy to be a true threat throughout the round and Yuuki’s only dangerous half the time. With those two, Suzu was never going to go off while Jindai was awake (because no one is strong enough to trigger the explosion). Jindai get possessed according to the god’s whim / will, when she’s in trouble, or (as she showed) when she really wants it (and this is the first time she really wanted it) and it’s unclear what power strength is needed until Suzu goes off so the gods wait as well. Net result: Yuuki and Shiro rake it in for the majority of the round. Activation conditions are annoying, right, Cold Touka? There’s some additional fleshing out but that requires info that has not yet been given in the anime yet.

    Re: Aislinn’s Absurdly High Win Percentage – Highest in the nation within prefectural tournaments. … Ahaha. She has a higher win percentage than Teru in the regional tournaments!! Sorry, that’s just so amazing to me. Also, hilarious. The fact that her wins are ordinary seems to indicate that as of now, her power is (sort of) like an occult version of Cold Touka’s power.

    Re: Aislinn Wishart – Or Wish Art? The description of her power seems to indicate that while she doesn’t influence her or others’ starting hands, she can set all the draws. Basically, the game plays out the way she wants it to. Her sketchboard also seems to indicate she can see the discards and final hand. With this info, she’d also know the starting hand so… Aislinn has all the info at any given time. What she seems to do with her power is to subtly nudge the draws so that she can successfully go out every turn. In any case, you can see either her inexperience (has only played 6 months) with how conventional her discards and others’ are. Her power, if developed more and if Aislinn gains more experience, can be crazily OP.

    Re: Calls – She also subtly debuffs the opponents with the draws they get, just enough to keep them hooked and not bailing out of the hand but not enough for them to ever reach tenpai (none of the other 3 are in tenpai on Aislinn’s initial preset order). They generally wouldn’t call because it wouldn’t be logical for them to do so given the information they have (the discards, their draws, their hands). Aislinn can incorporate players calling into her preset if doing so makes sense. For ex., South 4 has the 1st set up with Eisui calling chi on a red 5. But this *makes sense* for Eisui given the info she has and so Aislinn herself already knows she’ll call but this call doesn’t bring Eisui any closer to actually winning. However, like steps along a path, if someone makes an unforeseen call and steps off the path, everything afterward has to be reset to take into account a call that didn’t occur in the original plan.

    The problem? Aislinn’s play – and that of the others at her table for that matter – is too conventional and we know that Mako can handle conventional players. Mako’s FFA power thus gives her additional information. She can read the flow by observing the face of discards (the river) that Aislinn is reaching tenpai so she deviates from Aislinn’s plan. Note that this is basically crazy and confusing play to not just Aislinn but *everyone else* – except, I suppose, Hisa, but hers is more just that she trusts Mako knows what she’s doing – because no one else is getting the info that Mako gets. With what they can see, she *shouldn’t* be doing what she’s doing and you can see a litany of people going ‘what the hell?’ including the waiting rooms and the other opponents at the table (‘she’s weird!’), *including* Aislinn.

    Re: East 2 – Dealer: Mase. Mako’s hand at the 8th go around is: 2368man 44red5566pin 3(4)57 sou. She’s in iishanten for tanyao iipeikou with 2 dora, 1 aka dora. Pretty nice, a potential mangan or more. Now, the logical step is to discard 7 sou to keep two sequence possibilities and move to 1-shanten from 2-shanten. Of course, since we can see Aislinn’s sketchboard, we know that Aislinn is going to win in 2 draws (the 9th go around) and that after the 7 sou discard, Mako will pick up a worthless 9 sou and discard it. She will, as of Aislinn’s win, remain in iishanten. Notably, no one else is going to get into tenpai, much less a win, either but every discard they make will *seem* logical — they just ‘happen’ to have a string of bad luck with draws that doesn’t really advance their hand. Strange, no?

    Mako’s power allows her to realize that Aislinn is about to win soon. If she doesn’t have this info, she’d keep with her hand but because Aislinn controls the draws, Mako would never win before Aislinn. Interestingly, the anime shows us a brief glimpse of what was to come with the discards — did Mako’s power or rather, is a potential upgrade for Mako that she can view flow controlled discards? When Mako drops a red 5 worth 2 han, that baits Mase into calling pon on it. Without the call, she’s getting at most 12,000 from 4 han. Calling it jumps her up to 5 han from dora – at least 6 han and 18,000 since she’ll need a yaku – and brings her to tenpai for a 2 or 5 sou. So that’s one person who’s broken out and is a threat.

    This means that the draw order has shifted back 1, meaning the 7 m and 1m that was to go to Eisui now goes to Mako, which puts her in tenpai for a 3 or 6p. Aislinn’s 2m ends up with Eisui, who is now in tenpai. She’ll keep it because it completes a possible sequence and it’s still a ‘live’ tile. Eisui *knows* that Mase has at least a 18,000 points hand so she wants to play it safe and avoid playing into Mase. Looking at the discards, Mase had dropped a 3 pin before so 3 pin is safe against her. All 4 2 pins are out on the table, which would remove a 12 sequence waiting on 3 pin. It can’t be a 3 pin pon because the remaining 3 pins are all in Eisui’s hand. This leaves only a 45 sequence waiting on 3 or 6 pin but Mako has dropped both a 4 pin and a red 5 pin. Given what a red 5 pin was worth, it makes *no sense* for her to drop it if she still had that sequence. So, Eisui drops the seemingly safe 3 pin and plays into Mako’s iipeikou with dora.

    In this one hand, Mako baited Himematsu into the pon, broke Aislinn’s preset order, and then trapped Eisui into playing into her. Everyone made the smart, logical choices with the info they had and Mako essentially owned all 3 players in the hand.

    Re: Confusion – No one knows what’s happening other than Mako and no one calls outside of Aislinn’s already set up calls because it makes no sense to recklessly and seemingly illogically call unless you know that you need to disrupt Aislinn. Mako’s calls aren’t advancing her hand and are, in fact, devaluing her hand for what seems like no real reason. We know that going along that path leads to a loss and a smaller amount of positive points is still better than losing points to a tsumo, but aside from Aislinn and Mako, no one else can see this path.

    This is where Aislinn’s inexperience and the sheer amount of info she needs to keep in mind is problematic. South 4 shows that Aislinn can deal with unforeseen calls somewhat by resetting the draw order after Mako’s 6sou chi call, but it’s *hard*. Think how much you need to keep in mind: everyone’s current hand, the discards already on the board, reset the draw order so that it makes sense for them to draw and discard or even call given the info they have and yet only get to iishanten or worse while Aislinn successfully wins – oh yes, and re-plan everything on the spot in a couple seconds.

    I’m really not surprised that Aislinn is having trouble dealing with Mako’s calls. Everyone else at the table is having the same confusion and trouble.

    Re: Strategy Sperg – Sorry for the rather long discussion / explanation. I’m just sad that very few people are going to realize just how competent Mako was this match. This is Mako’s crowning glory, her masterstroking 3 players over and over, but … it’s over so quick and requires poring over Aislinn’s plan and people’s hands at different go-arounds to realize just how well Mako played.

    • Vantage says:

      Re: Chuuren – That particular chinitsu seemed closer to a suuankou than a chuuren – although that being said, 1) we have no idea what the rest of her hand was and 2) there’s no telling how it might have developed had Jindai continued drawing. I have a suspicion that chuuren wouldn’t really be Jindai’s “thing” though – like many others, I’m speculating that it’s the final stage of Teru’s exponential wins, intelligently described by Awai as the “thing that goes whu-whu-whee”. I seem to recall that it was the ending credits of Saki S1 that showed Teru with nine lanterns behind her.

      Re: Jindai – We’re definitely spoiled, and I blame Achiga-hen. Putting Teru aside, Awai just pulls out hanemans and baimans like they’re nothing, and the very concept of a guaranteed win with double the han of a result in a previous game is very inflated even for Sakiverse standards. Then we have Saki’s own prefectural finals win – I think someone actually calculated the fantastically impossible chance (0.0003~%) of calling three consecutive kan and winning on rinshan.

      Re: Aislinn and Mako – I see what Ritz did there! Very crafty. While Mako was very much an unsung hero, I think that fits in really well with her personality. She was always pretty collected, and was never really the type to attract attention unlike the boisterous Yuuki or the outrageous Hisa.

      • Katreus says:

        Re: Chuuren – There was only 1 triplet. It spread out a bit more than I’d expect with 1-8 in her hand albeit no pairs in the right spot. I think Jindai can get a chuuren. It shouldn’t be that hard if she’s getting chinitsus. I’m not sure how much we can take from the S1 ending given that S1 had overtaken Ritz at that point to the point where the proper training camp had to be somewhat retconned here in S2. I think it’s fairly obvious that Teru’s peak will be a yakuman but whether that yakuman will spec. be a Chuuren, I’d be less sure about at this point in time (even with the 9 lanterns look as it hasn’t appeared at all in the manga).

        Re: Saki’s Prefectural Finals Win – Yes… less than the chances of being struck twice by lightning IIRC.

        Re: Aislinn – Aislinn’s power is quite crazy really. We’ve seen good draws for yourself or worthless / dangerous draws pushed toward others, but setting the draw order itself for everyone is ridiculous. It trades off Cold Touka’s flow control and activation condition for more control over the draws but less power behind it and requiring more planning. I suppose micromanagement turned out to be both advantage and disadvantage. I’d love to see what experimentation could go on with it. Does she have to plot it all the way to the end? Could she just set a limited draw order to give herself yaku? Or set 1 go around draws to be able to view everyone’s hand in her mental sketchboard? Given the mahjong setup, having extra info amounting to ‘I know what’s in your hand and what you’ll get’ is an amazing leg up on everyone else.

        Re: Mako – Understated, hrm? Possibly. Her ability is probably one of the harder ones to portray. Either she understands and owns the table or … she doesn’t and loses.

        • Vantage says:

          Oh, I see now – you’re talking about her direct sanbaiman on Yuuki! The chinitsu I was thinking of was Jindai’s nice collection of souzu right after she woke up, with 3366777999 visible to us.

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