Saki: Zenkoku-hen Episode 6: Withering
While our anticipated lunch interval didn’t really achieve much, it was great seeing some of the characters from Side-A after they’ve been out of the spotlight for so long – Sukoya and Kouko have gotten little cameos here and there, but their presence has been sorely missed! Not that there’s anything wrong with Kainou-pro of course. It was also nice seeing the Achiga girls and Arakawa Kei once more, whose friend seems to be targeting Jindai Komaki in the individuals – which, as I’m sure you know, won’t be happening for many, many moons. Lunch also served as a interlude period for the unfolding of Hisa’s many worries this episode, which was a rather strange sentiment for her to carry – and it was one steeped in lots of foreshadowing. Not much attention is usually paid to the pre-match thoughts of any character, let alone Hisa. And putting that aside, I’ve never associated her with any emotion resembling anxiety before – all along, we’ve known her as a confident buchou with a calculating, devious streak. She was capable of sinking someone below zero in her first round match, and yet we’re seeing that same person feeling the pressure of the Nationals all of a sudden… it’s pretty unsettling. Hisa herself identified Eisui and Himematsu as potential threats, so maybe she’s intimidated by the prestige of her opponent schools… I don’t know about Eisui and their team of Nodoka-size boobs, but she’s probably made the right call in being wary of Atago Hiroe.
Hiroe is loud, confident and almost seems arrogant – the complete opposite of Hisa’s current demeanour, which is not helpful for Kiyosumi. I loved it when Miyamori essentially just told her to shut up! Up till now, mahjong matches have involved all these internal monologues only broken up by the occasional call, and yet here we have this awesome girl being extremely loud and breaking protocol left and right with her stupidly hilarious jokes involving a humble 6-pin and an accidental suji trap. She could have gone for the tsundere reaction (i-it’s not like I wanted to declare riichi, or anything) but that would have gone completely against her image :D Seriously, though. Hiroe, the after-riichi suji trapper. Never have I been so glad to be able to understand an inside joke.
All joking aside, Hiroe is a very strong player – I have a feeling she’s serving as Himematsu’s ace, while leaving Kyouko in the taishou position against Saki. I honestly don’t think Hisa’s quick recovery will be enough to surpass her, impressive as though that may be – if she plays her cards right, it’ll give her a fighting chance. Eisui and Miyamori are being warily aggressive too – in quickly ending Hisa’s dealership with a cheap hand, they got rid of the possibility of having to deal with a long renchan. And most of all, they managed to crush the momentum she built up with that epic tile-slamming win on a terrible wait (she even managed to win back the lost pinfu and iipeikou han through a couple of dora). Awesome hijinks will go down in the second half one way or another, but it won’t be smooth sailing like the sergeant match was.