We come to the final showdown as the match enters its final hands.
What They Say
Episode 19 - Friends
Amae Koromo prevented Saki from extending the game. The scene became more and more tense as there was an overwhelming point spread where Amae Koromo was far ahead putting pressure on Kajiki, Ikeda, and Saki.The prefectural competition's finals, the last battle is about to begin.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
We start, rather surprisingly, with a flashback to Koromo's first meeting with her cousin Touka, after the accident that killed Koromo's parents. Then we get a quick look back at Koromo's life. And see how lonely she has been her whole life. Touka has tried her best, in her warped way, to help, but sadly, it looks like she hasn't done much to help the poor little girl (who's actually older than Touka). The only need for her, in her own mind, is for playing mahjong. Therefore, she will wipe the floor with her opponents, since that's her only reason for being.
How incredibly sad. And moe. Let's not forget the moe value in being utterly pathetic.
And so Koromo starts off the final hands by winning yet another Bottom of the Sea victory. It starts to look really bad for everyone else. And yet, neither Saki nor Yumi of Tsuruga have given up yet. Even Kana of Kazekoshi has not completely lost the fight, though her chances of staging a comeback are extremely slim at best. As play continues, however, Koromo, for the first time ever, finds herself at a loss in another hand, as she draws a tile that she knows Saki needs. At which point she thinks deeply and carefully about what to do. And then, just to make things interesting, Saki interjects with how much fun she is having, playing against the opponents ranged in front of her, including Koromo. Koromo is slightly taken aback by this, since she had never had the experience before of someone telling her that they were having fun while playing mahjong with her. So, Koromo herself comes to a realization: that she does not have to be a puppet under the control of her instinct. She can choose to play how she feels, and thus she decides to discard the tile that Saki needs, knowing that she will lose some points, but choosing to do so.
Saki takes the tile, but does not claim the win on a ron. Instead, she makes a melded kong off of the 1 of circles that Koromo has discarded. There are special rules that come into play now (as we are informed in detail), which specify that if a player with a melded kong wins on their own draw (tsumo) after a kong, the person who was responsible for the melded kong pays the points for the entire table, a much higher point hit. But Saki does not take the easy tsumo on her first draw from the dead wall either. She declares another kong. And then another. At which point she draws another tile she needs in order to have a full flush, all circles, all pungs and kongs. A counted yakuman, which means that Koromo has just lost 32,000 points in one hand. And Saki has made an incredible comeback.
Kiyosumi is through to the National Championships. Saki and Nodoka embrace. We have some other heartwarming moments with the other teams. And it's all over.
For the moment.
With the conclusion of the Prefectural Qualifiers, we get to breathe a sigh of relief, even if, in our hearts, we knew who the winner was going to be from the very start of the show (if you were clueless about that, here's a hint: the show is not called "Koromo," though I'm sure there are many who would pay quite a lot to see that show). The actual victory itself was, perhaps, slightly anti-climactic, since it did not end the show itself, which allows itself a few minutes after the tournament to cycle through the various teams and let their feelings be registered. It has been a long trip, but it has been worth it so far. Perhaps now even the characters will take a breath and relax for a moment until they push on to the next stage. As sports anime go, this one has done a pretty good job of balancing out the tension and drama so far. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.