Beware the tall ones. There’s more to them than meets the eye.
What They Say:
Episode 10: “Hand 10: Friends”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half ends with Toyone gaining a lot of points, but the two teams that will go on have not changed yet. Himematsu remains in first with Kiyosumi in second. Miyamori does rise to third, leaving the seeded Eisui in last. So, who will rise to the next round, the semifinals, and who has to go home? It will all be decided in these four hands (barring any dealer bonus hands).
Toyone now unveils her second little trick, which is to win off of everyone else’s discards, resulting in what’s called a “naked” wait, as all of the person’s tiles except the tile they are waiting upon for the final pair are displayed. She easily draws her needed tile for a tsumo. Kumakura, the advisor to Miyamori, isn’t happy about Toyone revealing this ability, but notes that they have no choice against Kiyosumi (why Kiyosumi? Saki’s been largely missing in action). And then we get a flashback with the girls of Miyamori. So, more character focus on other schools. We’ve seen this before, a method of padding out the running time that was very common in Episode of Side A and has been used quite a bit in this series (it was not entirely absent from the first Saki series, but much more time was spent developing Kiyosumi, the ostensible protagonists of the continuing story).
This entire episode feels like a way to pass some time without advancing what is happening at the table. That’s not really much of a problem unless, like me, you kind of want to have things advance. There aren’t many episodes left to this season, so to have things end without even making it to the semifinals, when Side A got that far, seems like a bit of a let down. If we knew for certain that there was more anime to come, I wouldn’t mind the time spent, but without that guarantee at the moment, I do almost feel like this episode is using valuable time without too much of a payoff.
When we do get back to the table, Toyone does her little naked wait trick again and wins. Now, she’s in first place. So, the other teams take note. It’s looking bad for Kiyosumi and Eisui, but that just brings out Kasumi the priestess. While defense is her thing, that won’t get her team into the semifinals, so it instead looks like a second monster is about to appear.
The final half of the fifth players match is being dragged out deliberately. This is not abnormal in sports and tournament anime (or manga), but it just feels a touch more annoying than usual for some reason. It’s not that I object to the focus given to Toyone and the girls from Miyamori. We don’t really need more time spent with the protagonists off screen as we know them all so well at this point. The other teams have had a little bit of time for them here and there, so this is only fair. But I guess I’m getting a little impatient after what has been now a very long wait (since 2009) to see Saki come face to face with her destiny, to face her sister. And every time things are slowed down to a crawl, as happens in this episode, it just irks me a little.
It looks like we’re barely going to move more than a hand or two per episode, so that we can get flashbacks and character development of characters and team members…who we might not even see more of come the next round of the tournament. I don’t begrudge Miyamori the time given to them this episode, but I am starting to tire a bit of the long wait for the match to advance. In a marathon viewing session, this kind of slow pace is fine, but on a weekly basis it begins to turn watching the show more into a chore than a piece of entertainment.
Streamed by: Crunchyroll
Apple iMac with 4GB RAM, Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard