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Saki Episode #18 Anime Review

5 min read
Saki Episode 18

The sea empties out to reveal flowers underneath. Even though she dropped to third place, Saki is smiling.

What They Say:
Hand 18 – Link

Ikeda encountered a dilemma. They were the lowest ranked, and it seems they won’t recovery from the point spread. Despite Ikeda’s desperate condition, she was very determined to continue fighting as to come out on top. Saki, on the other hand, recalled her original playing style and naturally returned to it.

The Review!
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As we reach the decisive phase of the final round of the Prefectural Tournament, the tension is running high everywhere…though it takes a more comical turn in the Kiyosumi Team Room. While Nodoka is rather tense and apprehensive, Yuuki is rather oblivious, being more concerned about not be able to debut her swimsuit at a Tokyo spa with her summer body. She wonders if the idea excites Kyoutarou. He’s not having any of it, of course, and notes that he cannot make any connection in his head between her and a swimsuit.

Don’t be fooled by her young appearance. She’s about to dominate the table.

As play resumes, we get two segments devoted to Kana Ikeda of Kazekoshi and Yumi Kajiki of Tsuruga. Kana has a flashback to when she first became friends with Mihoko Fukuji. Apparently what they shared in common was that other people considered them annoying. Kana, back in the present, lets out a little yell to psych herself up and return to the fight. As for Yumi, she recalls a conversation that she had with Momoko Touyoko before the run up to the Prefectural Tournament. Momo asked her what would happen if they did not make it to the Nationals. Would there be any reason to be together anymore? Yumi feels a little sorry that she ducked answering the question. Koromo notices their lack of despair and guesses that some link to outside the room has grounded them both. This is a part of the power of Saki, it seems. She is able to break the panic-causing powers of demonic players like Koromo.

Our little moments with Kana and Yumi over, there is still the matter of the mahjong game to play. Both of them manage to win hands during their moments. At the same time, Koromo is starting to become more and more concerned. With her eyes clearly fixed on Saki, she doesn’t even notice or try to stop the other two from winning. Even though the moon is now at its height, which is supposed to give her power, Koromo cannot control events any longer. It is as if there is a shadow blocking the moon. It is as if there is some powerful guardian spirit watching the demon that is Koromo and preventing her from using her control over the tiles.

The club presidents react.

As for Saki, she’s taking it easy. Kicking back, taking off her shoes and…just starting to warm up. Saki has been trying to recreate the way she felt when she was in training camp, the way she felt when she first started to play with the club, and then most importantly, the way she felt when she was playing with her family as a child. Recapturing those feelings, she begins to reassert herself, first with a few garbage victories, and then with a major hand that does serious point damage to the other players. Only three observers seem to notice what is happening, for various reasons: Fujita the pro played against Saki and knows that her abilities, while not infallible, are kryptonite to Koromo’s flow control; Jun of Ryuumonbuchi is also a “flow” player and can sense that Saki’s ability to manipulate the flow at the table may just spell the end of Koromo’s lunar dominance; and Hisa, of course, figured all of this out in Episodes 1 and 2 when the goddess of Luck brought Saki to her door.

We should be reaching the end of the match next time.

While the pace has slowed down considerably, they have done a decent job of interspersing play with scenes from the background stories of the characters, other than Koromo. It is a good tactic to avoid monotony, which might otherwise set in if all we had was hand after hand of mahjong. One of the dangers with having so many characters (Saki, frankly, has far too many at times) is that they can become little more than sock puppets for an author to move about for plot purposes, with the audience unable to get any real sense of who any of these people are. Here, these little moments of reflection, which have been common throughout the tournament episodes, have helped to humanize and define the characters so they get to be more than just a character design with perhaps a speech quirk and nothing else to them.


In Summary:
While the action at the table has slowed to a crawl, enough of interest happens on and off the “playing field” to hold the viewer’s interest. Saki herself is returning to form and playing a kind of mahjong that seems to surpass even Koromo’s control over the other players. Koromo can no longer sense the fear from the others and it has unhinged her. While Saki has a long way to go before she can claim victory for her team, at the moment, it looks like she is on course to retake control over the tournament and advance to the Nationals and hopefully reunite her family.

Grade: A-

Streamed by: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Apple iMac with 12GB RAM, Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan.