What an intense match! If I had to describe it in three words, I’d go for “tribal loli yakuman” – that was at the very heart of Usuzawa Sae and Atago Kinue’s frantic attempts to get Hatsumi out of North. Hatsumi’s ability is absolutely terrifying, and her crazy yandere eyes whenever she activates it is merely the tip of the iceberg – if you’ll allow me to reiterate my thoughts from last week, she’s more of a national-class monster than Jindai ever was in her match. The “North-East Gates of Evil” are indeed evil – if Hatsumi successfully calls East and North, it seems like South and West will naturally gather in her hand. We’re talking about a shousuushii or even a tsuuiisou at worst and a daisuushii at best, made all the more threatening from the possibility that Hatsumi’s ability can repeat itself. That’s exactly why I was rather frustrated at Kinu when she was dealer – if you know someone has a capability for suushiihou, then why the hell would you discard any winds? While I do understand her desire to rake in lots of points (she did manage to hit Hatsumi with a haneman) the fact is that Himematsu are in first place. Surely it’d be safer to not be so aggressive regardless of whether you’re dealer or not – I don’t think it’s worth risking a daisuushii wrecking havoc for the sake of speed.
On the other hand, I can fully understand why Nodocchi acted in the way she did – to her, the Gates of Evil don’t exist at all (sonna occult arimasen). As a digital player, Nodocchi will aim for the most efficient win, relying on percentages and statistics in order to do so – if she helps speed up a yakuman she thinks is statistically impossible, she’ll do it. In completely ignoring any superstition, Nodoka’s unknowingly making life harder for herself and Miyamori – while on the other hand, in sticking strongly to her superstition and pressing onwards, Hatsumi’s also making life harder for Miyamori. I must admit, I found myself rooting for Sae this episode, much like how I rooted for Toki in Achiga-hen – in fact, Sae’s pretty much the new Toki! Perhaps she’s not quite putting her life on the line in stopping the champion, but she’s definitely exhausting herself in sealing the hands of her opponents. To be honest, Sae’s power is rather hax itself – Hatsumi was adorably frustrated in realizing she could stop her Gates of Evil by just looking at her. Although given the sharp fall Eisui’s taken this episode, I don’t think a tsumo yakuman will rock the boat all that much, especially if Kinu takes the dealer penalty.
I loved how Nodoka’s dealer riichi (are you fucking serious) was met with such disdain by the majority of her opponents, for all the wrong reasons – I’m so glad Kinu did the right thing this time and quickly folded. Nodoka might just end up killing Sae (the new futuristic player) if her renchan goes on for too long, especially as Hatsumi looks pretty determined to pull off a yakuman at least once. I’d quite like to see one – this match has featured more bark than bite so far, although the threat was (and still is) a very real one.