Hisa has regained her composure, but she’s going to need some luck to regain first place. If not, Nodoka will have to pick up the slack or at least secure second so that Kiyosumi can move onto the next round.
What They Say:
Episode 7: “Hand 7: Attention”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hisa’s not getting much traction in the game, thanks to Team Cheap…I mean the miko bunch from Eisui, as Takimi keeps on winning quick, cheap hands in order to prevent Hisa from playing one of her hell waits. That doesn’t work against trash-talker Hiroe of Himematsu, however, as she traps Takimi into playing into her just declared riichi in a later hand. Kurumi of Miyamori tells Hiroe off for the nasty chatter at the table.
So, Hisa has it rough with this bunch, but she’s having fun as well since the challenge is all part of what drives her. And that leads her to make a comeback hand at the end of her match. So, it’s Nodoka’s turn in the spotlight, literally as the flashbulb pop a plenty as she walks out of the Kiyosumi staging room. As the middle school champion, there’s lots of expectations for her (and well, her appearance doesn’t hurt the press loving her). But the focus for us might well be her opponents, who will certainly spell trouble. Facing her are Kinue Atago (younger sister of Hiroe) of Himematsu, Hitsumi Usuzumi (the flagrantly underdressed loli) of Eisui, and Sae Usuzawa (a monocle wearer?) of Miyamori.
And this is the round where things go off the deep end. First, Usuzumi appears out of thin air wearing that ridiculous wooden mask we’ve seen before. Because she can teleport, obviously.
And then Kinue of Himematsu kicks Etopen into the rafters (Etopen had dropped out of Nodoka’s hands when she screamed in bewilderment at Usuzumi appearing out of thin air).
At least Kinue is appropriately apologetic (in Himematsu’s staging room, we get the explanation that Kinue played goalie on her middle school soccer team, so it was almost instinctual what she did), but this has pretty much thrown any semblance of reality out the window for this round. Nodoka, however, overcomes her nerves in short order, getting into online mode very quickly. Nodocchi appears and even the other players appear to notice. And it appears to present a problem for some of the supernatural power users at the table. Usuzumi is completely unable to sense any aura from Nodoka, comparing her to a machine. Of course, that is Nodoka’s talent: the ability to play with machine-like perfection and no supernatural powers at all.
But will we have a match of real play, or supernatural shenanigans? I’m going to put my money on something ridiculous happening and on cue, loli girl has some special power that happens when she is sitting North in the hand.
Looks like Nodoka’s turn in the spotlight is over quickly as now it’s going to be a battle between the users of unlikely and unrealistic powers. Usuzumi is going to try to unleash her ability, but it looks like Sae the Monocle is preparing some kind of counteraction. Hopefully the two will cancel each other out and the girls will actually play some mahjong.
I can’t help feel but that this episode is just filling some time. This is not filler, but at this point I guess I’m more interested in getting to the final players’ match where we can see Saki face up against what will likely be the most lopsided group. I have high expectations that Kobayashi has thought up something particularly strange for tall girl Toyone and the final miko from Eisui. I know many others like seeing the weird and interesting powers at work, but I guess I’m rather disinterested in them because they take away any real element of drama or tension. So the next episode will likely enthuse those who like the special effects wizardry and employment of feats of forgotten lore, but not do much otherwise. Nodoka is likely to be a non-factor since machinery doesn’t do well against magic.
At this point, I guess I will just enter Waiting for Saki Mode.
Hisa manages to end strong in her match as she rediscovers her sense of fun, which had abandoned her because of nerves at the beginning of her round. She hands things off to Nodoka who approaches the task at hand with machine-like efficiency. The problem is that there are users of supernatural weirdness surrounding her so this round looks to be filled with odd special effects and powers that upend reason and counter all logic. So, after one good hand at the beginning, I expect to see Nodoka largely disappear like she did in her turn at the prefectural tournament.
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