Nodoka, about to touch greatness, as she is on the cusp of a perfect game, is about to face her greatest challenge in the form of an angered Touka Ryuumonbuchi. But anger has its price, as nemesis lies on an unsuspecting side of the table.
What They Say
Episode 14 - Existence
Nodoka is playing at a steady pace gaining points for her team. She is quickly advancing but Touka Ryuumonbuchi will give her a hard time. Touka prevents Nodoka from having her "perfect game" resulting in extending the game.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Nodoka is on track to have a perfect game, but Touka is determined to ruin that possibility, so she plays an aggressive hand to beat Nodoka and take the lead for Ryuumonbuchi. But this also extends the first half of the match. And that is when Momoko Touyoko of Tsuruga Academy strikes, taking a win off of a discard from Touka. Now, Momoko's secret is revealed: she has no presence, and had been told that since she was young. Therefore, she has worked to make herself even more invisible, to the point that people do not even notice her. And that makes her a dangerous opponent, since part of the game is watching discards, and if no one is noticing the discards, they can fall into traps.
Which is exactly what happens to Touka twice. The skill is quite pernicious, since it only seems to affect people in her immediate vicinity. Those watching the match on the TV screens see and hear her normally, and Hajime and Jun of Ryuumonbuchi are increasingly left wondering how Touka could fall for the same trap twice. As usual, the only person who seems to even have an inkling of what is happening is Hisa, who hypothesizes that what the players in the room are seeing and hearing is different from what those watching outside can see.
And so, Nodoka's perfect game was ruined, but the true beneficiary will not be Touka.
While it's nice to finally learn the secret of Momoko, this episode dragged a lot. Much as some will appreciate the relationship between Momoko and the captain of Tsuruga, Yumi Kajiki, it's just another girl-girl pairing in a show that is already overflowing with them. It added nothing new or interesting.
Especially in the middle episodes of a series, there needs to be close attention to pacing, and frankly, things were slowed down perhaps too much this episode. There was quite a bit of reused animation used to tell Momoko's story, a clear sign of cutting corners and saving the budget. While all companies have only limited budgets for each show, there are ways of reusing animation in an interesting way, and then there are lazy ways of doing it such as this, where you have static scenes with voiceover, and just change the voiceover the second time around. Or you have the exact same lengthy sequence played again, but this time you put a fill layer over it, such as a sepia tone to signal that this is a flashback. Thankfully, the preview implies that we will be moving ahead to the next round of players.
Most of this episode is devoted to the strange Momoko Touyoko of Tsuruga Academy, who upstages Touka Ryuumonbuchi's short-lived victory over Nodoka at the end of the first half of their round. It appears that Momoko is a stealth master, operating below everyone's radar screens before slowly, efficiently undermining the other players and stealing their points. I did not expect Nodoka's round to be drawn out this long, but it looks like there will be a strange turn of events before Saki takes the main stage, facing off against the cute and demented Koromo.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.