Saki: Zenkoku-hen Episode 11: National-Class Monster
Holy shit, that ending was intense! Where has my cute dojikko Saki gone?
I’ll get to her later though. First off, Kasumi’s really managed to pull through for Eisui, and while nothing’s over yet (a lot can still happen in South 3 and 4) I think it’s safe to say that Eisui are very much back in the running again. While I don’t know enough about Eisui’s history as mikos, I found loli Kasumi’s status as a “living talisman doll” sort of mean – their shrine is forcing an eight year old to house all sorts of horrifying spirits! At any rate, her spirits are proving to be fairly useful for when she plays mahjong (and I bet they’re responsible for her galactic Nodoka-sized boobs, too. Seriously, they’re huge). Kasumi seems to be able to call them down at will just by going on the offensive, so already it’s more convenient than Jindai’s abilities – although I don’t know if she’s the most dangerous Eisui player as Kyouko says. I think a Jindai with the right goddess could be even more damaging than Kasumi. Anyway, occult Kasumi hits really hard, and it was definitely painful for the other three as they tried to figure out what was going on – especially for poor Kyouko, who only wants to play some normal mahjong. Well… she sorta asked for it – she did mention that she wanted to see how far a normal player could get against a bunch of monsters.
Kasumi’s ability to hoard a certain suit certainly did its job the first few rounds she used it – had her opponents not been who they were, she probably would have swept Eisui through to the semifinals without much of a problem. It’s amazing how literally no-one else had any souzu before she won with that baiman tsumo – and that Kasumi only drew souzu and honor tiles for the entire round. She built that closed chinitsu without running into any manzu or pinzu, and even had the luxury to discard four souzu tiles that didn’t fit her hand properly (which can be a bit of an issue when one tries for chinitsu). It seems like Eisui has a bit of a thing for chinitsus, although that could just be because it’s worth a lot of han. A bit of tweaking and that baiman tsumo could have become a suuankou. On the bright side, as long as no-one calls riichi they’re never going to play into Kasumi’s hand! They can’t exactly stop her either, so the idea is definitely to beat her to the punch – alongside that, the fact that she’s forced to stay in attack mode will probably contribute to her downfall. Kyouko’s getting around it through emulating 3-player mahjong, while Saki’s also making use of her retained control over the dead wall. The announcer definitely jinxed things by commenting on how Saki hadn’t moved yet during the hanchan.
If Kasumi was the star of the first half of today’s episode, then Saki definitely dominated the second half. Her performance was just beautiful – it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been waiting for a repeat of ever since her magnificent prefectural finals win. At times like this, she makes the other occult players seem like mere mortals in the face of her godlike powers – truly a national-class monster among monsters, and definitely related to Teru. As the only normal player there, Kyouko must be pretty damn terrified. I get this little chill every time Saki calmly calls kan – and she’s now become a lot more aggressive~ While she’s displayed this in the past too, Saki proved just how versatile her control over the flow and dead wall can be – she’s far from being a one-trick pony with her rinshan kaihou, which is something I think the other players were assuming. They react to each kan as if it’ll result in a rinshan tsumo, and decide she just doesn’t have luck that insane when she fails. But instead, sometimes she calls a kan then moves into riichi, or calls a pon and makes a chakan like she did with that chun, taking something off the dead wall. What’s so awesome about Saki is that she can freely draw “what she needs to advance her hand” from the dead wall – it’ll be useful in some way, but will not necessarily be her “winning tile”. Although in many cases she does use kan to win, and thus she ends up with rinshan.
That being said, that doesn’t explain her blank-eyed, demonic pressure near the end at all! Drawing a mahjong tile in this show tends to be a scary process regardless, but that just ramped the epic up a level or two… and she goes straight into tsumokiri? What was that all about? Saki didn’t quite bring a lightning strike down or cut off the power in the entire tournament hall, but she did manage to break Sae’s monocle, while without fully going all out – because of course, her socks are still on!
Tanoshii mahjong is tanoshii.