On to the next round (or should I say hand?) of mahjong-themed anime.
What They Say
Episode 5 - Training Camp
In order to blow out the other teams at the prefectural qualifiers, training camp has started. Saki and Yuki are on their journey for their special training but in the meantime are enjoying themselves in an open air bath and dining on a delicious meal. Nodoka who is also part of the special training begins to think like Hisa which has caused her to become timid in her play.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So, it's time for Mahjong Training Camp! The gang are headed off in a little bus. Yuuki again seems to claim Kyoutaro as her "honey" while he's having nothing of it. During the ride, Nodoka has a flashback, recalling a conversation with her father, who seems to disapprove of her staying in a little backwater town, when had planned for her to attend a school in Tokyo. Nodoka however, wants to stay in that little town, and apparently, she managed to get a small concession out of her father: if she can win the National Tournament, she will be allowed to stay in the town. I guess we now know Nodoka's motivation.
After they arrive, it's time for a nice bath. Well, for the characters, though not for the viewers just yet. There's special training first. Yuuki needs to improve her math skills. Nodoka needs to improve her people skills. Saki needs to improve her ability to play logically and not be entirely reliant upon reading the people she is playing against. So, with their marching orders issued by Hisa, the first-years get to work on their training. We also get a little recent history of Kiyosumi's Mahjong Club. It seems that Hisa had hoped to go to Kazekoshi, but her family was too poor to afford the private school's fees. So, Hisa singlehandedly went about reviving the Mahjong Club at Kiyosumi. Now we know her motivations.
So, we continue with another episode warming up to the Prefectural Tournament, which should be coming up next. For now, it's a moment for some comedic calm before the competitive storm hits. There's some fanservice, some steam (lots of steam–you'll have to hope for DVDs to see anything more), and many touching moments of bonding between the characters. We also get a little backstory behind the motivations of Nodoka and Hisa. While there has been a lot of build up so far without yet getting to the main event, it hasn't been all wasted, as we've come to know more about the motivations and feelings of the members of the Mahjong Club (except for Yuuki and Mako at this point). I look forward to the tournament, which is in the preview for the next episode.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.