I’m certainly not unhappy with the fact that Toyone is the “last boss” of zenkoku hen. With her ominous presence and the way it has been subtly built up, it’s pretty damn exciting to see our little Miyanaga friend finally squaring off against her.
Looks and foreshadowing aren’t all she has either. Toyone has shown herself to be more than a formidable opponent with her riichi chasing that has kept Kyouko, our weakest player of the race, pinned down and feeling helpless. I’m also pleasantly surprised to see that Saki has kept her composure and isn’t getting frazzled as she usually does (Despite being the best player, I feel that Saki has a tendency to get upset and nervous very easily compared to say, Hisa or Nadoka).
To further cement Toyone’s strength, she gets a back story in the middle of the episode showing that even the show’s narrative is on her side. Toyone was originally prospected from a far off part of Japan where her sole entertainment in life was watching mahjong on TV. She didn’t have a lot of modern conveniences. Thanks to this, Toyone has a great understanding of the game but relatively little experience playing others. This doesn’t stop her from being extremely deadly as she roasts her teammates in her first exhibition match against them. She cries, proclaiming she wishes she could go to the same school as the rest of them. The old woman exclaims that arrangements have already been made (Seriously, what a gambit! What if she didn’t end up going?) and Toyone attends their school and joins their mahjong club.
Circle back to the present and the pace has slowed considerably. Saki hasn’t taken her socks off yet but she’s still holding her own. We’ll see what happens next!