Category Archives: Winter 2014

Saki – Zenkoku – hen 7

This episode handles the end of the the 3rd round. Hisa ends it all with a nice tsumo, putting Hiroe in her place as she seems to have the funny idea she’s a better player than Hisa (Who in the fuck actually looks down on Hisa? Do you look down on God too?) Not even players better than Hisa (Saki) look down on Hisa. In any event, Hisa ends the match pretty much right back to where it started; at roughly 100,000. Given that Hisa, Nadoka, and Saki all take up the rear battles, I’m not too worried.

Next up is Nadoka. Squaring up against her is Himematsu’s Kinue Atago, Miyamori’s Sae Usuzawa, and Eisui’s Hatsumi Usuzumi. Hatsumi seems to be the star of this show (Eisui seems to have a lot of powerful players on their hands) as many await her entrance to the arena. With her very tribal-esque mask, she actually simply teleports to the arena, and yes, I’m very serious. Hey whatever though! Maybe she ought to call on one of those shrine maiden gods to lift up her shirt a bit more because she is perpetually falling out of it, and it’s not like she has much to show off. Her shoulders look as though they would crack if I pushed down on them with one finger. She seems cute and harmless enough…at least on the outside. On the tables is a different story.

Nadoka shows off her touted mahjong prowess as the best non-supernatural player by playing logical hardball and moving like a machine, which is noted by other players. Nadoka successfully grills the other players in a way that makes all of them, save Hatsumi, very uncomfortable. However, towards the end of the match, it seems a god is descending on Hatsumi as she “powers up”…Here we go!

I don’t doubt that Nadoka can hold her own as she’s the 2nd or 3rd best player in Kiyosumi’s rotation. The question is how she will respond to this new change in playstyle. My money’s on it catching her offguard for a hand or two before she catches on. She always does, doesn’t she? Ok, most of the time, anyway….

Saki – Zenkoku – hen 6

Hisa is up to bat!

…And she plays uncharacteristically poor, but it’s not her fault; the poor girl has let her nerves get the best of her. And that’s pretty rare considering that we never see Hisa in a vulnerable state, or associate her with anxiety or anything like that. That’s why this episode felt so weird. It’s just not Hisa if she doesn’t have a perpetual “sasuga” expression on her face or plays knowing exactly what her foes were aiming for. Given that Hisa is pretty broken as far as mahjong goes and Kiyosumi was doing way too well, I figure they felt as though they needed a way to bring Kiyosumi down to even.

And bring them a little lower than that they did! They introduced anxiety to a character who is a stranger to such odd, vulnerable emotions. The other players can consider themselves very lucky; Hisa at the top of her game would have smoked even Hiroe Atago, who is a strong player I’d level at about Egutchi Sera’s skill level (which is pretty damn strong). But let’s face it, she isn’t at Hisa/Mihoko level, who are only trumped by the mahjong demons and Toki.

Back to the match rather than theory mahjong-ing. The match features Eisui’s Haru Takimi, Miyamori’s Kurumi Kakura, and Himematsu’s Hiroe Atago. Haru and Kurumi are largely irrelevant throughout the match as even weakened Hisa and Hiroe steal the show as the stronger players. Hiroe, barring Komaki, is easily the strongest opponent we’ve seen thus far in the nationals; she’s proven her ferociousness and I’d venture she’s definitely Himematsu’s strongest player.

Here’s to hoping..er, excuse me, knowing that Hisa is going to make a comeback in the second half. I know she will. She can kick their asses easy, just please Hisa, concentrate this time!

Saki – Zenkoku – hen 5

“Mahjong is tanoshii” ~ Some Miyanaga bitch

So Yuuki’s match finishes with minimal casualties (Thank GOD) through some miracle. Shiromi and Komaki somehow didn’t kill her to all high heaven and the match ends up with Kiyosumi having roughly as many points as they started with; not bad at all. Good job Yuuki!

Focus is all on Mako for this episode as it’s her time to shine against Aislinn Wishart, who is clearly a foreigner because she has blonde hair and blue eyes and we all know what that means in anime! Haha right I know so original. Doesn’t matter, she’s still cute and I still love this show.

The match begins with Mako standing up against Miyamori’s Aislinn Wishart, Eisui’s Tomoe Karijuku, and Himematsu’s Yuuko Mase. Aislinn is clearly the strongest non-Mako player here and Mako plays accordingly; goes for cheap wins to break up the way Aislinn is playing. All in all, this is clearly a round of defense as Mako confesses that if she played the way she normally does, she would have gotten severely iced. Smart playing Mako!

Karijuku and Yuuko are also fairly competent players but in my opinion this match’s competition isn’t quite as fierce as the match before featuring Shiromi and Komaki, who could probably wreck these guys. Mako plays defensively and comes out with minimal losses and small gains, which is still quite good.

Everything is in place for Hisa to do what she normally does and beat the ever loving shit out of everyone, which she has done without fail. We have never seen Hisa in a moment of vulnerability and even when she knew she would lose a hand, she knew it ahead of time (Against Saki in the individuals). Using her trademark cutthroat abilities and wild, crazy bad waits I’m sure she’ll further cement Kiyosumi’s dominance.

…Or will she? Honestly, Kiyosumi’s two weakest players have played already and have done fairly well. The stage is set for someone to mess up badly at this point. Hisa is also acting strangely, choosing to go to the stage earlier than normal. Is it her nerves? I hope not. Does she even have nerves? I’ve never seen them if she does. Round 3 is ready to begin!

Saki – Zenkoku – hen 4

The first match begins. We have Suzu from Himematsu, Shiromi from Miyamori, Komaki from Eisui, and Yuuki from Kiyosumi. Between Suzu, Yuuki, Shiromi, and Komaki it’s easy to tell who the elephants in the room are. It seems clear to me that Suzu and Yuuki are the weakest while I find Shiromi to be very intimidating and calculating and Komaki…I’m not sure what the hell is up with her. Her “Battle aura” leads me to believe she is a demon level mahjong player which, if that is the case, the rest of them are all very screwed.

As we all know, Yuuki is always strongest during the East Wind so she does well as expected during the beginning of the round. Yuuki attempts to address her weakness by optimistically proclaiming that she will “Never let it be anything but the east hand”. Given that Shiromi and Komaki are there, I am not so certain that is going to be the case.

Apparently Suzu has prior knowledge of both Tacos and Shiromi’s abilities. All I can say is that when I saw Shiromi stop to think for a minute, I thought everyone was fucked. Towards the latter half of the match she has proven to be ferocious. Komaki, despite having the machinations to be a demon, gets stomped for pretty much the whole match before revealing she was “Asleep”. Uh oh. HERE WE GO AGAIN GUYS.

I’m thinking that Miyamori is going to be the school that ends up advancing with Kiyosumi to go against Shiraitodai and Achiga. Jesus, that first match is going to be of the scale to cause a national emergency between Shiromi, Yuuki, Kuro, and Teru. RIP Yuuki and Kuro is all I’ve got to say.

Yuuki is certainly holding her own even against Shiromi, but now that Komaki has awakened, hopefully she can hold off long enough for the games to get to the Kiyosumi golden 3; Hisa, Nadoka, and Saki.

Saki – Zenkoku – hen 3

The finals finally begin!

It turns out purple girl is essentially a fearow with Mirror move; she can copy anyone’s signature move/ability once per four or five hands (Kinda scary to think what would happen if she ever managed to copy Teru’s mirror). She captures and demonstrates this ability by recycling Saki’s Rinshan Kaihou from the dead wall. Hisa sits there with a “Keikoku doori” face as the rest, save Nadoka, are surprised. After the match she gets thoroughly spanked in point and Nadoka chides her for copying others abilities before improving her own. Whatevs man, she’s still cute.

We also see a nice flashback in the beginning of the episode showing how Nadoka and Yuuki met; of course, poor Nadoka got teased about her chest size. It was nice seeing the old lady ask about Shizu and Ako though. Hey guys, please don’t forget about them, ok?

Hisa also reveals that part of the reason for the combined training camp was to strengthen Mako’s skills and expose her to more playing styles. I still feel as though Mako is better than Yuuki as a player. That said, I don’t doubt that Hisa has a plan; she must have felt as though Mako had some weak spot that was easy to expose or take advantage of.

Did I also mention that we got wind that Hisa shut down whoever they faced prior to this match so badly that they never even got to their fourth player (Nadoka)? Jesus, she is frightening.

In any event, the first match is ready to begin as Yuuki dons her famous cape (that she apparently just bought?) and steps into the always permanently purple room. Shit is about to go down.

Noragami – 7

After seeing Yato is such tough shape last week, it was only a matter of time before we were given the inevitable “Yukine will kill him before something is done” that Bishamon’s regalia has confirmed this week.

This week we are introduced to the concept of a Nora, which is a regalia that has served multiple masters at once without severing their connection to their previous master. The stigma attached to this is to be expected; how can they be trusted, knowing this? Yukine continues to sink lower and lower as he’s caught stealing the donation box at a shop for seriously no good reason. Honestly, anyone know why he actually did that? I know he’s being angsty but what does stealing that even do for him? Make him feel better, I guess?

In any event, I’m really sorry that Yato has to deal with him because he’s really been a little shit the past few weeks. Poor Hiyori is stuck in the middle of all this nonsense. I have to admit it would greatly help things for Yato if he would just explain himself to Yukine. That typically never happens in anime until the “time is right”, as it were.

The ride has been crazy and I can tell we’re ready to reach a head here. Between Bishamon after Yato’s head, Bishamon’s regalia’s strange sense of loyalty towards Yato, and Yato and Yukine’s strained relationship, it’s only a matter of time before something happens. That something is doubtful to be nice.

Saki – Zenkoku-hen 2

Saki returns with another combined training camp, which I totally love because we get to see all of the characters we know and love again. While I still think I prefer the achiga cast, I love Ryuumunbuchi, wahaha, and etc. It’s nice to have an excuse to get to see them.

Highlights of this episode include Kyoutaro being Mexican, Hisa and the gang getting a message from their school back home, Touka apparently being better than she lets on, and purple haired girl from middle school who appears to be a buffed Yuuki (Strong during the first half of the game). That’s quite a bit to take in!

Touka losing conscienceness was extremely off-putting as something supernatural rarely happens in Saki outside of the mahjong games. In the games themselves, of course supernatural shit is happening all over the place, but we love it that way. Ok, I love it that way. Touka really surprised everyone by sitting at the intimidating-as-shit table which was seating Saki, Koromo, and pro-Fujita. Touka is good but these three are way outside her league; I’d rank Hisa, Nadoka, Toki, Mihoko, and the demon level mahjong players as stronger than her. Honestly, Momo might be stronger (As well as the purple haired girl from Wahaha’s school, who I believe is a stronger player). That said, Touka can certainly hold her own and is, in my opinion, Ryuumunbuchi’s second strongest player. The other players called her possessed state “Cold Eyed Touka”, where she appears to be insanely strong. She collapsed in the beginning of the fourth hand and apparently was completely unaware of what happened the previous day.

Hisa also called this random purple haired loli to outperform the Kiyosumi girls in their training camp (Doesn’t Hisa always call someone who will kick their asses?) Who knows what she holds in store for them, but the similarities in playstyle to Yuuki have been noted by the show itself. I’d imagine she’ll surprise them but in the end she’ll have the effectiveness of a buffed Yuuki. We’ll see.

Hamatora – 7

Right from the beginning, this episode had the machinations to be the end of Art. It’s never a good thing when your episode begins with major flashbacks and exposition of a character’s motivations and reasons for “trying so hard” and etc.

Our friend Art is not exempt from this rule, as it so turns out.

A confrontation set in motion since Art and Morale’s meeting in the third episode comes to a very final conclusion in this one. Art is revealed by Honey to have been the first and likely only person to graduate from the Minimum Academy that has never been able to manifest a minimum. If this guy isn’t brooding an extreme inferiority complex then he’s a strong ass dude. But as the past has shown us, he in fact has fought that urge as anyone in his shoes would.

Honey’s partner in crime actually took Art under his wing as his kouhai in physical combat; Art was hoping to compensate for his lack of a supernatural ability by strengthening his bare-handed combat. Congratulating him on a job well done, they take a break.

Art, still determined to keep Nice and Morale from ever meeting, connects Morale and his latest hits with a graveyard. Surely enough, Morale was waiting. Attempting to discern what Morale’s true intentions are by pumping out non-innate minimum holders is, he finally tells all. It’s lonely at the top and at the top, there are no equals. His ultimate goal is to become Nice’s equal and “save” him from that despair. Having none of Morale’s bullshit, Art rushes him and is easily conquered.

And here comes what I’m sure everyone saw coming. Morale offers Art the chance at having a minimum of his own. Art clearly contemplates but declines (Nice going, Art!). Ultimately, it doesn’t matter; he is stabbed and shot, repeatedly. Art meets his untimely demise while reaching for his phone to answer Nice’s call.

Art couldn’t stop Morale and Nice from meeting each other. Nice is going to have a bone to pick with Morale and I’m sure it’s not going to be pretty. I except to go straight into the endgame at this point. I must also say that the pacing for this series has been pretty damn solid and I’ve been presently surprised with how uninterested it is in sitting on it’s laurels. Brace yourself, Morale; with blood on your hands, your days are numbered.

Saki – Zenkoku-hen 1

Yeah, that’s right. The time has finally come.

Kiyosumi is finally going to the nationals. And this time, they play for keeps.

Saki is convinced to find her sister, Nadoka is convinced to see things through in the nationals with Saki, Hisa has her dream of winning the nationals with her friends in arms reach, Mako has helped Hisa achieve that goal, and Yuuki is just, er, Yuuki. Henceforth she will be referred to as Tacos.

Episode 1 convinced me we’re in for quite the ride. Rather than focusing on the mahjong battles of dragonball z proportions that we are familiar with, zenkoku-hen gently sowed the seeds for further conflict, showing us our new cast (and having us reconcile with some old ones. I miss you Toki!)

Particularly unsettling was the characterization of the Achiga girl’s school who we have become intimately familiar with thanks to Saki’s previous installment. Usually portrayed as the adrenaline-happy-go-lucky undisciplined girl’s school, we are given a stark contrast where they are seen as both intimidating and in the case of our friend Shizuno, oppressively intimidating. You may recall this scene occurred in Achiga-hen right as the girls arrived at Nationals, where the situation was reversed portraying Saki as the monster. In truth, she was just looking for the bathroom. Absolutely hilarious.

I’d also like to point out how it’s nice the better characters from the first season won’t be going away just because they’re defeated. Mihoko has especially grown on me. Hope she takes individuals! Oh wait, Teru plays individuals. Rip Mihoko.

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