Synonyms: Saki: Nationals
You can watch this series here: http://www.crunchyroll.com/saki
It was lunch in the mahjong tournament hall for roughly the length of the first half. I thought this part was a waste of time both in the anime and in the manga, unless you’re a fan of the pro players. This scene and the one with Achiga only served to hype Achiga and to remind us that they’re here. I wish I could forget about them (well not Ako), but that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. Hisa went to the playing room fifteen minutes before her match began. But she stood in the gap of the door stunned by the size of the room. She is a nervous wreck and didn’t see the other players walk by her. How long did she stand there, she wondered.
Her opponents are: Hiroe Atago, a third year at Himematsu High and the team captain in the mahjong club; Kurumi Kakura, a third year at Miyamori Girls’ High. Kurumi is childish, snarky, and loves sitting in Shiromi Kosegawa’s lap; and Haru Takimi, a first year at Eisui Girls’ High School (she is the younger cousin of professional player Yoshiko Kainou). Haru is the quiet one, Hiroe is the loud and fun one, and Kurumi plays the ‘straight guy’ role if she and Hiroe were doing a comedy skit together.
Hisa wasn’t doing much better when the match started for she left one of her tiles face-up on the table without realizing it. Hiroe pointed it out to her. Everyone was very wary of Hisa after the second round match when she ended the match without having Nodoka or Saki play. She also scored the most points back in her match in the regional tournament. To be honest, to some degree the other players were scared of her. But now they see that she’s merely sitting there doing nothing, walking into obvious plays. She’s allowing her nerves to get the better of her and it’s affecting the way she plays.
Hiroe was expecting to have a fight for first place from Hisa, but now she’s bored. She expressed her boredom with the match openly. Hisa heard this and then about a minute later realized that she’s being stupid. She was thinking only about her friends and their hopes in her (Kiyosumi also) to win the nationals, and everyone back home also added to her burden. She wasn’t thinking about playing a fun game or how her opponents feel, or anything. She’s not having fun, she realized and remembered that Hiroe’s not having fun either.
Hisa thought about the nationals and how many hands she has left to play. At the rate she’s going right now, it’s possible that she might end up losing the match for Kiyosumi without Nodoka or Saki playing. But even if they win this round and reach the finals after beating Rinkai in the next round, there are only five matches left to play. That’s far too little. And if they lose here then she has just one match left to play. This is because in each match there are four hands so each player can be dealer in turn and for the tournament each player is dealer twice.
Hisa woke up out of her stupor after realizing this. Nodoka was the only one in the team room that felt comfort watching Hisa make sound plays instead of her usual tile slamming, reckless playstyle. But Saki and Mako both felt assured that she’s back to normal after seeing her win with her trademark slamming the tile on the table. Kurumi would normally have said something about the tile slamming, but she was so surprised by it that no words came to her mouth. Hisa was waking up and the other players knew that the fight for first place was suddenly going to become extremely difficult. Going into the break between matches, Kurumi and Haru worked together to stop Hisa from going on a winning streak. In between matches, Haru and Hisa became friends.
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