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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