One of the great underachievers of 2012 returns for three special extra episodes. Let’s hope they don’t waste the opportunity provided to do better by the girls of Achiga.
What They Say:
Episode 13: “Free For All”
No episode description was provided at this time.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Toki’s grand moment is over, and so the second group of players are on (with Yuu taking over for her sister Kuro for our alleged lead characters, the girls of Achiga). Before getting to the second group play, we have some behind the scenes looks at Shiraitodai (where we get our first sense of the future monster Awai) and Achiga (where Harue has a plan to revive Kuro’s ability to draw dora tiles, which appears to recover naturally if she plays a certain number of games).
It’s not all backstage talking, however. There is, oddly, quite a bit of mahjong being shown at the table this episode. We get quite a bit of play action and a look into the abilities that various players have. The second group match is noticeable for the mismatch between the eager first-year Izumi from Senriyama, who is pitted against three veteran third-year players: Shiraitodai’s Sumire, Achiga’s Yuu, and Shindouji’s Yashiko. Izumi’s lack of experience is telling as she gets hit hard by Sumire’s special ability, which is to target a single player and take a large amount of points from them.
While Yuu has largely done nothing so far, it appears that she has some protection against Sumire’s attack. Harue, Achiga’s coach, has watched many hours of footage of Sumire and noticed that she has a tell which alerts you as to who her next victim is going to be. She moves her hand and looks at her next target. So, Yuu has been watching carefully, and noting whom Sumire plans to attack. This sets up Sumire to become Yuu’s victim instead, as she dodges Sumire’s attack and then pounces when Sumire makes careless discards. Teru and friends notice that Sumire is now vulnerable to Yuu, and Sumire herself knows to avoid her. In the meantime, Yashiko from Shindouji continues to take small wins (to the delight of GSubara-chan). In the end, the one really in trouble is Izumi, who feels like she really let down the side in her round. Sera comes (as she’s the round 3 player) and tells her to cheer up and go over to the hospital to get Ryuuka (Senriyama’s “captain” player, the 5th round player).
While it may be Ako’s turn, it’s Sera’s time to shine. With speed and power, Sera quickly takes 36000 points in the first half of the third group’s play. Ako manages to keep in second place for a while, but soon Sera surpasses her. Shiraitodai’s player, Shibuya, is staying cool despite losing many points. Shindouji’s Hitomi, however, seems to be the one who is doing the worst at the table. A few big hands might wipe them out. And that big hand could come from Shibuya, who has the weird ability to take her discards from previous hands and turn it into a monster hand (a yakuman point limit hand) in the final hand of the group round. Ako is trying to control events to prevent that, though we will have to wait until the next episode to see if it worked.
There is much better balance in this episode than in all of the episodes leading up to this point. The behind the scenes looks at the team “locker rooms” (to place this in a sports context, which is fitting for this show) provides necessary commentary and exposition without being too boring, while the time at the table was much better than it has been for most of the regular 12 episode run earlier this year. If this was animated recently and not well back when the show first ran, perhaps someone has noticed the imbalance and, well, boredom-inducing pacing of the original show. While this is not quite the same compelling drama of the original Saki series, this is much, much better than much of what occurred before. I hope it can keep this up for the next two special episodes.
We are back, and back where we want to be: at the mahjong table. In the second group’s play, Izumi of Senriyama is overwhelmed by the experienced veterans of the other three teams, especially Sumire of Shiraitodai. Yuu from Achiga gets to shine for a moment, however. In the third group’s play, it is all Sera of Senriyama, though a nasty surprise may be in store from Shiraitodai’s Shibuya. We will have to wait until next week to see what it is. At least they have fixed some of the problems with imbalanced action and poor pacing within an episode that plagued the regular season run earlier in the year. Let’s hope things continue in this vein both for the next two episodes of Side A and for the future Saki series to come.
Streamed by: Crunchyroll
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