Saki: Zenkoku-hen Episode 13 [Final]: Past, Present and Future
This was a slow and relaxing final episode, serving to wind things down and wrap things up for the series – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s actually really sad knowing that Saki has come and gone again, and in adding to that I felt this sense of quiet nostalgia as we revisited the day of the Side-A semifinals. Of course, while it was a calm day for Kiyosumi, it was exact opposite for Achiga – with their tumultuous and momentous match ending with the underdogs knocking Shiraitodai down a peg or two. It’s been some time since I’ve properly seen Achiga-hen, so it was nice seeing some of the series’ defining moments referenced throughout the episode – Nodoka’s promise comes to mind, as does Toki collapsing and of course, Teru mercilessly raping everyone. There were some other nice shout-outs too, with one particular surprise being that scene from the start of the Shinohayu manga, where Kainou-pro meets up with Hayari in a mahjong bar. It would have been nice to see a bit more of that, especially as Harue, Sukoyan and Noyori Risa turn up later on as well. While I’m not actually sure how much of the episode was directly adapted from the original manga, I’ve got no complaints – and one scene in particular made me ignore any other negative things I may or may not have wanted to mention.
As you might have expected, I’m referring to the little flashback Saki had while thinking of Teru – seriously, what the hell was that?! While I was aware that the events leading up to their estrangement weren’t exactly pretty, it still felt rather dark and edgy to me – and they sprung it on us out of nowhere! A lot can be both inferred and speculated from that short montage we got, but it’s evident that Saki and Teru used to know a blonde girl, who used to hang out with them… I almost thought she was Oohoshi Awai for a moment. It might not even be too far off to speculate that she’s their sister – her eyes have a reddish tint, and she’s also got that cute trademark Miyanaga tuft of hair. Whoever she was, she became the victim of an accident that involved fire, and I’m guessing that she didn’t survive the blaze due to her disability. Saki’s actions (or reactions) during the incident probably weren’t to Teru’s liking, and she was disowned as a result. It’s far from the full story (and some of my guesses are bound to be wrong anyway) but I’m glad we’re getting small bits and pieces as we go along. After all, we’ve got a long, long way to go until their confrontation in the individuals, as Saki vs Teru certainly won’t be happening in the team finals. At least Teru acknowledged her at the very end of the episode though!
From the looks of it, the semifinals will be incredible! Putting Kiyosumi aside, all three of Himematsu, Rinkai and Usuzan look really strong – if I had to pick a team to move to the finals alongside Kiyosumi, I’d tentatively go for Rinkai at this point given Satoha’s reputation (she looks so different outside of matches!) although it’s true that reputation alone never ends up being a good prediction for how these matches will turn out. And who I think will get through isn’t necessarily who I want to get through – as a Himematsu fan, I’d love to see them go on to the finals. As ever, I’m looking forward to all the crazy powers that’ll be unleashed, and the Side-B semifinals look like they’re stuffed full with them – Suzu’s fully ready to explode, and both Nelly Virsaladze and Suehara-chan look like monsters for sure. Saki will have her hands full in the captain’s match!
All good things must come to an end. The same applies to Saki, which turned out to be one of the few great shows in what was otherwise a mediocre season. Although short, it was a wonderful run, filled with lots of crazy mahjong skill, strategy and abilities – while I admit I initially held doubts as to whether Eisui, Miyamori and Himematsu would be anywhere near as likeable as past rivals were (including Ryuumonbuchi, Senriyama or Shiraitodai) I’m glad those worries turned out to be unfounded. My only gripe is that this show really should have lasted longer, though this is an issue more to do with Ritz instead of the anime itself. With the pace I hear she’s going at, we’re probably not going to be getting any more adaptations for a good few years – so now seems like a good time as ever to catch up with the manga and see how the semifinals are going. It’s with a heavy heart that I’m saying goodbye to Saki for an indefinite period of time, fittingly with the original season’s OP1 to boot – you will be missed.