Saki: Zenkoku-hen Episode 12: Truth
And that’s it! The Side B quarterfinals are over, and the final results are as follows:
Miyanaga Saki (Kiyosumi) – 109,700
Suehara Kyouko (Himematsu) – 101,700
Iwato Kasumi (Eisui) – 101,200
Anetai Toyone (Miyamori) – 87,400
Although it may have seemed like the board was dominated by Saki in the latter half of the match, it was still a fairly close game overall. Something as achievable as a mangan could have upset these standings a lot, and this applies to Saki too. At least this time it’s reassuring that she easily ended up within the relative safety of first place, unlike her prefectural finals match against Koromo when she only barely edged in. There was probably more tension over the fate of the other schools than whether Kiyosumi would get through, plot armour aside! While I do like Miyamori, I’m glad that Himematsu got through in the end. They’re an interesting bunch, and I’d love to see Hiroe and Kinu play again in the semifinals. I think all of them were fully aware of just how narrow their win was – with them in 2nd only by 500 points, a trash hand would have been enough to trigger a comeback win for Eisui. And if Kyouko played into any hand at all, it’d have been over – she was forced to start tearing apart her hand near the end for fear of playing into Miyamori. While Himematsu does have its limitations, they are a very strong team on the whole – and the external help they’re going to get will make them even stronger.
Even with that in mind, though, I’m surprised that Saki said what she did – that of all the girls there, Kyouko posed the greatest threat, and that she had let the toughest opponent through. While she should be commended for emerging victorious against strong occult players like Toyone and Kasumi as a strategically aligned normal player, Kyouko is still a normal nonetheless, who will be up against even stronger supernatural powers in the semifinals (I hope she keeps her new look though, it’s very cute!) And it’s even arguable that her win was orchestrated by Saki, whose flow control sustained her dominance over the tiles – Kyouko won that baiman tsumo because Saki let her, so that she could end up in +/- 0. But hey, maybe there’s some dormant power somewhere deep inside, ready to unleash havoc – if she made life hard for Saki to the point that she subconsciously reverted to +/- 0, then that’s gotta mean something. I can’t believe all that insane power Saki released ended up being a reaction towards the fear she felt towards Kyouko, of all people – how crazy is that?
I felt sorry for Miyamori and Eisui (it was heartbreaking seeing Toyone cry so openly) but Eisui definitely brought it upon themselves. While Hatsumi and Kasumi understandably faced difficult opponents, it seems like the fact that Jindai was possessed by a weaker goddess was not an unfortunate accident. It might seem like a good, confident strategy to use as a powerhouse school with a national-class monster, but their mistake was that they underestimated their opponents. Maybe a key issue lies in the fact that someone as strong as Jindai sits in the vanguard position, leaving Eisui less able to make a comeback should anything go wrong – because ultimately, it’s the captain’s performance which determines whether a school gets through or not, and sometimes staying on the defensive (as Kasumi is best at doing) may not be an option.
While I know we’re not technically done with Zenkoku-hen yet, I definitely feel like it’s time to be looking ahead – this episode was more of a finale than next week’s will be. Much like what Achiga experienced in their semifinals match, Kiyosumi will be in for a difficult fight. Not only will they have Himematsu to contend with, they’ll have to face off against Rinkai as well, who have Tsujigaito Satoha as their vanguard. Then there’s Usuzan, a school I know absolutely nothing about – but if Mizuhara Hayari (all grown up from Shinohayu the Dawn of Age) is more wary of them than she is of Shiraitodai, they won’t be easy opponents. If only because of unfamiliarity, I’d even say that Side B will be more fiercely contested than Side A was – and we all know how that turned out.