Saki is smiling, even though she's dropped to third place.
What They Say
Episode 18 - Link
Ikeda encountered a dilemma. They were the lowest ranked, and it seems they won't recovery from the point spread. Despite Ikeda's desperate condition, she was very determined to continue fighting as to come out on top. Saki, on the other hand, recalled her original playing style and naturally returned to it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As we reach the decisive phase of the final round of the Prefectural Tournament, the tension is running high everywhere…except in the Kiyosumi Team Room. While Nodoka is rather tense and apprehensive, Yuuki is rather oblivious, bragging to Kyoutarou about how she will amaze everyone, especially him, at a Tokyo spa with her summer body. He's not having any of it, of course, and notes that he cannot make any connection in his head between her and a swimsuit,
As play resumes, we get two segments devoted to Kana Ikeda of Kazekoshi and Yumi Kajiki of Tsuruga. Kana has a flashback to when she first became friends with Mihoko Fukuji. Apparently what they shared in common was that other people considered them annoying. Kana, back in the present, lets out a little yell to psych herself up and return to the fight. As for Kajiki, she recalls a conversation that she had with Momoko Touyoko before the run up to the Prefectural Tournament. Momo asked her what would happen if they did not make it to the Nationals. Would there be any reason to be together anymore? Kajiki feels a little sorry that she ducked answering the question.
During the little moments with Kana and Kajiki, there is still the matter of the mahjong game going on. Both of them manage to win hands during their moments. At the same time, Koromo is starting to become more and more concerned. With her eyes clearly fixed on Saki, she doesn't even notice or try to stop the other two from winning. Even though the moon is now at its height, which is supposed to give her power, Koromo cannot control events any longer. It is as if there is a shadow blocking the moon. It is as if there is some powerful guardian spirit watching the demon that is Koromo and preventing her from using her control over the tiles.
As for Saki, she's taking it easy. Kicking back, taking off her shoes and…just starting to warm up. Saki has been trying to recreate the way she felt when she was in training camp, the way she felt when she first started to play with the club, and then most importantly, the way she felt when she was playing with her family as a child. Recapturing those feelings, she begins to reassert herself, first with a few garbage victories, and then with a major hand that does serious point damage to the other players.
We should be reaching the end of the match next time.
While the pace has slowed down considerably, they have done a decent job of interspersing play with scenes from the background stories of the characters, other than Koromo. I suspect things will end rather slowly next week as well, but it will be an enjoyable end to the tournament.
While the action at the table has slowed to a crawl, enough of interest happens, on and off the "playing field," to hold the viewer's interest. Saki herself is returning to form and playing a kind of mahjong that seems to surpass even Koromo's control over the other players. Koromo can no longer sense the fear from the others, and it has unhinged here. While Kiyosumi has a long way to go before they can claim victory, at the moment, it looks like Saki is on course to retake control over the tournament and advance to the Nationals.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.