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Saki Episode #23 Anime Review

4 min read
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Saki Episode 23

Momoko is in Stealth Mode. Sneaky little girl. Can anyone see her?

What They Say
Hand 23 – Serious
We finally welcome the Nationals for the individual tournaments. Saki needs to regain her strength with the ones that remain in this tough competition. Momoko goes into stealth mode for the strong, hard battle. At that time, Saki recalls the intensive training she had during training camp.

The Review!
Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The main problem with this little filler tournament, which ends here, is that there really isn’t much in the way of surprises or splashes of creativity, though it’s to be expected as the story is not following directly from the manga anymore. How the Individual Tournament plays out is fairly easy to guess in many respects.

While Stealth Momo thinks she has completely disappeared from the view of the other players, Hisa is alert to the problem and does her best to counter it. The real surprise, however, is Saki, who takes Hisa’s training camp advice to treat the table as an online game. When she does that, she is able to replicate what Nodoka was able to do during the team tournament, seeing through Momoko’s stealth and gaining a comeback victory to win the table that round.

In Saki’s second match (the final one for the Individual Tournament), she has to go up against Kazue Nanpo, the South Wind expert who currently holds the third and last spot that will get you to the Nationals. During the firs half, the East Wind, the others at the table get their turns in the spotlight, but once the South Wind blows (literally, as we get another silly special effect with the change in prevailing wind), Nanpo starts to exert herself, winning hands and racking up the points. Except that once again, when things seem bad, Saki starts smiling again. That’s because, as we all know, Saki seems to only reach a new level in tile manipulation when the chips are down and she manages to come back with a massive hand, in her usual tsumo after a kong style, winning the hand and the room, putting her into 3rd place overall in the tournament. It looks like there might be a place for her in the Nationals.

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In the other matches, Nodoka defeats some serious competition to assure her place in the Nationals. The final spot, however, seems firmly in the grasp of Kazekoshi’s Mihoko Fukuji. At the final table, she faces Hisa, Touka Ryuumonbuchi and Yumi Kajiki. The battle is fierce, but Mihoko seems to be in sufficient control to maintain her lead. On the final hand of the match, however, even though Mihoko has opened up her special eye, Hisa finally manages to defeat her by changing up her hand at the last moment, going for one of her favored “hell waits.” Hisa manages to win the battle, but unfortunately cannot win the war, as Mihoko’s point lead in the tournament was too large for Hisa to overtake her in the overall standings. So ends the tournament to see which individual players will make it to the Nationals.

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We are the champions

It’s hard to say if there was any real way to make the Individual Tournament interesting or satisfying, especially after the thrills and highs of the team competition. There was always going to be something of a letdown, now that we know Saki will be going to Tokyo to face off against her sister (that is, of course, if she and Kiyosumi can make it to the Finals of the National Tournament, where Teru Miyanaga’s team is widely expected to be waiting). Though it might have been near impossible to create upwards of seven episodes of silly school hijinks, training camp, or light comedy filler.

Mihoko, Nodoka, and Saki will play in the National Individual Tournament. Not unexpected.

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In Summary:
Saki started off in a tough position, playing against an opponent who specializes in disappearing (literally) from the table, and against the master strategist, Hisa. But in the end, her monstrous ability with the tiles prevails. In the second match, we have monster pitted against monster, but the result is never really in doubt. So ends the Individual Qualifiers. Now we know who will be playing for themselves at the National Tournament. It’s been a long road, but this stage is finally over. There was some exciting play at times, and it appears that training camp exercises can occasionally come in handy in a spot. Saki is her usually clumsy self in all of this. It’s been interesting to see all of them playing mahjong, but I can’t help but want to have a little respite from it at this point.

Grade: B

Streamed by: Crunchyroll

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