On to the next round of moe-meets-mahjong-themed anime. Now that we are into the tournament, we should expect the sports cliches to start piling up.
What They Say
Episode 7 - Tradition
Nodoka brought her stuffed penguin to the competition room. Those who noticed this were creating a commotion and eyes were fixed on Nodoka as some seemed irritated. It looked like the only person having fun with this was Hisa.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
And so, we go back to the Prefectural Qualifiers, with Nodoka entering the room. Lots of people standing around wondering aloud if Nodoka will live up to her billing. And as everyone is commenting on the stuffed penguin, Hisa reveals her strategy behind having Nodoka do it: so that Nodoka will be comfortable playing at the competition table, just as if she were playing online at home.
Well, that was half of the reason, so says Hisa. But it does appears to be that Nodoka makes fewer mistakes when holding the penguin, thus improving her gameplay. And it works, since Nodoka mops the floor with the competition. In the audience, Touka Ryuumonbuchi is alternatively angry and struck dumbfounded by Nodoka's play, as she realizes that Nodoka truly is the legendary online player Nodocchi, playing the same exact kind of flawless play. Of course, we get this point rammed home to us by a "transformation" sequence where Nodoka turns into her online avatar, which is basically Nodoka as an angel holding a long spear (she still has enormous breasts). As we come to the halfway point of the episode, Nodoka has mopped the floor with the opposition, giving Kiyosumi a runaway victory at this point.
Time for Saki?
No, as we don't get to see Saki play at all. All we see is a group of other players lounging around the hallway, remarking on how the fifth player, the "taishou," simply blew away the competition in the final match of the first round. She ended the match, in fact, by completely knocking out one of her opponents. And so, time for lunch. At lunch, the pro, Fujita, comes by for a chat. She was impressed by how Saki and Nodoka had improved their play in the ten days since she wiped the floor with them at Mako's cafe. She's impressed, but notes that the finals will bring two very tough opponents: Ryuumonbuchi, with their ace Amae, and Kazekoshi, who have brought their best team to the tournament, looking to make up for their defeat last year.
For the second round matches, apparently no one is interested in seeing Kiyosumi play. That's because all of the focus is on the two seeded teams, Ryuumonbuchi and Kazekoshi, who enter the tournament at this stage. Speaking of Ryuumonbuchi, we have a funny little interlude with them, where we learn…just how screwed up the members of their team really are. I guess eccentricity and ability are linked. The attention then turns to Kazekoshi. They win their match handily…but that doesn't stop their coach, Kubo, from being physically abusive to her own players, calling their play sloppy. Their Captain eventually calms the coach and sees her off. Following that, she makes a dramatic speech (you have to have those in sports shows of any sort), and we get yet another exaggerated effect right after the end of her speech. As we only see her with one eye open all the time (what is up with that?), at the end of her speech, we see a blue gleam emerge from the closed eye. Don't tell me, she only opens that eye when she's serious.
I guess we'll find out. Next time.
As the preliminary rounds of the tournament are finished, Kiyosumi achieves its goal of reaching the Finals, but there in front of them will be Ryuumonbuchi and Kazekoshi, two teams that have their own issues to work out as they enter the finals. The tournament setting works well, though sadly we don't get to see too much in terms of gameplay: just Nodoka's completed hands. This is likely for the best, since watching a real mahjong match might not be as entertaining. The drama level is being ratcheted up a notch, however, as we are given quite a bit of time with Kazekoshi near the end of this episode, and learn that they are hell bent on revenge for their defeat last year. Will Kiyosumi be collateral damage in the all-out war about to commence between Ryuumonbuchi and Kazekoshi? Or will Hisa the Strategist see an opening to seize the victory for Kiyosumi?
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.