Saki: Zenkoku-hen Episode 9: Sortie
I felt like everything just defused in a really anticlimactic manner after all the build-up we were treated to last week. Maybe it was partly to do with the decline in animation quality, but I also had the impression that Nodoka would go on a renchan while Sae continued to struggle valiantly in stopping Hatsumi’s suushiihou in its tracks. Instead, Sae stopped trying (Toki would never just give up like that!) and Hatsumi still ended up stuck in tenpai. While she did eventually manage to win her yakuman tsumo, with Nodoka paying the dealer penalty, I felt that it could have been so much more – in the end, Miyamori’s “anti-Usuzumi tactics” meant that much of the threat she possessed ended up being mere hot air. And if you’re thinking that sounds familiar, it was unfortunately what happened to Jindai too during the vanguard match. It might not be right to say this given how unpredictable Saki’s matches tend to be, but at this point it looks like Eisui are pretty much doomed – both their aggressive, occult point grabbers have come and gone, and now Iwato Kasumi has to pick up the pieces amidst a monstrous battlefield while barely hanging onto third. If anyone played really well in the fukushou match, it was Kinu! She managed to safely protect Himematsu’s lead after Hiroe’s efforts, while staying wary of Hatsumi – admittedly she didn’t have to physically strain herself, but hey, that’s just how it is.
So. We’re finally moving into the taishou match, and we’re doing so at breakneck speed – I have no idea what’s going to happen for the three remaining episodes, but we’re already done with an entire hanchan! While Saki managed to pull off a couple of cool wins that reminded me of a certain champion (exuding nothing but quiet confidence with that rinshan nomi) the main threat is definitely identifying itself as Anetai Toyone so far. Putting her height aside, I’ve always been sort of creeped out by her, and those red eyes aren’t helping – nor is her strange tendency to chase after riichis like that. It’s an occult power for sure, and despite its oddness Toyone does benefit a lot from it. A power involving riichi gives you the possibility of lots of ura-dora, and the high ippatsu rate is nice too. And then you have the psychological advantage over people who are new to your power – which, in this case, refers to everyone. The one thing I don’t get is how she manages to be in tenpai around the same time Kyouko is – what sort of crazy flow control is that?!
In light of the monsters she’s up against, I can’t blame Kyouko for going for cheap, fast hands in order to end everything quickly. Putting aside her constant riichi gambles (which must have hurt her points a lot) she’s still building her nest egg as much as possible even though Himematsu are so far ahead in points, no doubt in order to soften the blow if anything happens to her… or rather, if anything goes after her.