Saki Drama CD and its implications

I recently came across an old drama CD. And it has a very interesting snippet about Saki and Teru. Mainly, the track gives us a rough timeline on the events surrounding the family. Though, there is some doubt on its status as canon. (The Drama CD was published before the anime was even shown.) Its still an official release so assuming no retcon, I will try to pierce the sequence of events leading to the rift.

To those interested the snippet can be found here:

http://archive.org/details/SakiDramaCd

Teru: Tokyo huh…. Isn’t that a little bit far?I wonder when will be the next time I see a scenery like this again?

Saki: Onee-chan? I’ve been looking for you but just like I thought, you were right here. Mom is already calling for you.

Teru: Yeah.

Saki:  Hey Onee-chan…  Don’t you think something strange is going on between Mom and Dad?

Teru :  …

Saki : Onee-chan?

TeruYou know about Rinshan Kaihou right?

Saki: Yeah. It’s the name of a Yaku in mahjong right?

Teru: Do you know what it means?

Saki: It’s when you win with a tile drawn from a Kan right?

Teru: *giggle* That’s not what I mean.  Rinshan Kaihou refers to a kind of flower, it means the flowers that bloom on top of the mountain.

Saki: Wow.. “Flowers that bloom on top of the mountain”?  “Bloom”? It’s the same! The same as my name!

Teru: Thats right Saki!  Far above the trees on the highest mountains, there are flowers that bloom.

Saki: Whats the matter Onee-chan?

TeruYou can be strong just like those flowers…..

So what we can get from these short conversation?

Once upon a time, Saki and Teru is really really close. Well, we already know that from the anime. But, what the conversation above provided was a rough timeline and some context.

From the conversation, its obvious that this scene takes place just before Teru moved to Tokyo.  Thus, whatever rift that formed between them has a high chance of happening when Teru is already in Tokyo. Maybe when Teru is already a first year at Shiraitodai? This   would, of course, neatly explain why Sumire has some knowledge of Teru’s imouto.

Anyway, it was worth noting the context in which Teru had the conversation. Saki asked if there is something wrong with Mom and Dad. We know there is and Teru knows it too. But instead of answering, Teru changed the conversation asking if Saki knows Rinshan Kaihou. Saki’s answer was interesting for it revealed that at this time in time Saki hasn’t specialized in Rinshan Kaihou yet.  But, more than that…  Teru’s words, they seem to be some sort of farewell/encouragement/apology. Her last words are, You can be strong as those flowers…  

Those simple words revealed that Teru really believed in her imouto.  A flower that blooms  at the top of the mountain meant a flower that blooms even in the harshest environment. And, Teru believed Saki could do it too. Teru believed/hoped even in the rough patch ahead with their parents divorcing in all but name and with the two of them separating, Saki would/should still be okay.

Onee-chan hug me!!!

Onee-chan hug me!!!

Anyway, Saki’s side was also interesting and it gives juicy implications. Remember this conversation happened just before Teru moved to Tokyo and we know Saki only played with her family.  I see two ways that this could play out: 

One: With the last few games that they played as a family, Saki mastered Rinshan Kaihou. Then, Teru moved to Tokyo and then <insert bad thing> happened.

Two: Teru moved immediately and <insert bad thing > happened.  This is one of the few happy conversations that Saki and Teru had before everything went to the dogs.

Anyway, both path would end with Saki treasuring Rinshan Kaihou.

Its kinda heartwarming but the whole sequence subtly tells us why Rinshan Kaihou is Saki’s favorite yaku. Saki doesn’t treasure the yaku because it matches her name. But, she treasured it because Onee-chan pointed out it matched her name.  Rinshan is essentially  one of the few things that remains of their bond from before.

This also neatly explains why Saki wants to win with Rinshan every single time she can to the point that her opponents thinks all she can do is rinshan. Its quite obvious that it isn’t  a restriction that she must obey. Heck, Saki sometimes pass up yakus that will net her a higher value in favor of calling rinshan kaihou…

Getting Rinshan Kaihou is probably an affirmation of that bond and we know that the biggest reason Saki entered the mahjong club is to reconcile with Teru.  I have a feeling that Rinshan Kaihou  especially in a tournament setting wherein Teru could see a transcript/video  of Saki’s match is also a message. Saki is subtly saying,  “Look Onee-chan, I’m blooming like the flower at the top of the mountain like you told me too. I mastered this yaku. I haven’t forgotten you. I’ll do anything for you… Please please talk to me… ” 

Teru Damm it!!! Hug your Imouto!!!

Teru Damm it!!! Hug your Imouto!!!

There is also the implication on Saki’s playstyle. The Drama CD revealed is that Rinshan Kaihou is a relatively new thing for Saki. Teru told Saki that spiel just before she went to Tokyo. But, we know Saki was pulling +/- zero when she was six years old. This means that Saki has another play style, one that maybe stronger than what she is doing now and is not dependent with Rinshan.
Yes Funaq. There is something more to Saki than Rinshan.
Yes Funaq.  Your worries are confirmed. There is something more to Saki than Rinshan.
This means if you ever ever permanently stop Saki from getting her Rinshan Kaihou. You are playing with a loaded gun. Either Saki is going to experience PTSD because you broke/meddled with her precious bond with Teru. OR Saki is going to be very very mad at you and use her original playstyle – the one that is not dependent on Rinshan to gun after you. If the latter happens, pray very hard.
Lastly, this is a good measure of the timeline where this happened.
img000013
Note: Mysterious girl  said visit with Teru-oneechan. I interpreted this to imply that Teru still lived with Saki. This meant that this conversation happened before Teru explained Rinshan Kaihou to Saki. Since mysterious girls is giving a farewell here, this could also be Saki’s last conversation with her.  This also implies that mysterious girl could not be directly the cause of whatever fallout that will occur with Saki and Teru.
The only problem with this is, it means that Saki has two separate traumas instead of one. One with Teru who is currently shunning her. Two, with mysterious girl who is conspicuously missing or might be dead. (Please don’t be dead).
Concluding Note: 
When I was looking at the images, I’ve noticed that Saki is crying there while she was dreaming about mysterious girl. And when, I watched the dream sequence with Teru, the same thing happened.
Its also worth noting that we have been shown 3 dreams of Saki now. 2 of them is Teru and now 1 of them is about mysterious girl. It seems that Saki dreams about her past a lot, maybe she wants to subconsciously remember happier times. This is probably one of the reason why Saki is a very deep sleeper. It could be difficult for her to leave her dreamworld/memories wherein Teru and mysterious girl is with her for the reality where they are not.
Credits and Disclaimer:
I would like to thank Ju-su for the translation of the Drama CD. This article would surely be possible without it.

7 thoughts on “Saki Drama CD and its implications

  1. Oh hey, this was the translation I made.

    Anyways, I still think that at the very core of it all, Rinshan Kaihou is still Saki’s central playstyle. The +/-0 effect is just the icing on the cake. In fact, the extent of her absolute control over the table was already seen in her fight against Koromo. Many people don’t notice that if she didn’t get an Aka Dora as her Rinshan Draw, then she wouldn’t have gotten a Kazoe Yakuman and would’ve ended up with a Sanbaiman instead, a score not enough to come up with a comeback win.

    But the scary thing is that her absolute table manipulation allowed her to know the exact tile Koromo will discard for her to invoke the Open Kan Pao Rule, and even beyond that, she knew that she would get an Aka Dora within the dead wall. And that amount of foresight (or inevitability perhaps?) is the thing that makes Saki scary.

    And a little note about the mysterious girl (whom people affectionately call “Goldfish”) She explicitly refers to Teru as “Teru-oneechan”. This hints towards a certain amount of distance between the two. As if they were closer or perhaps even related, she would’ve just called Teru as “Onee-chan”. This adds an interesting dynamic as to what her relationship to the Miyanaga sisters really is.

    • I forgot to add that before she induced the Pao Rule Massacre on Koromo, Saki said to Koromo that she was eager to win and meet with her family again at the Nationals in Tokyo (i.e. Teru). In which case, it’s kind of funny how the whole driving force behind this Pao Rule Massacre is Saki’s strong desire to meet Teru again.

      • Really, you’re the one who made the translation? Thanks for that. Have a million internet cookies. ^^

        On Mysterious girl, I’m leaning on cousin instead of sister. As you’ve said there is a certain distance on her address to Teru. Beside that, I’m beginning to think that mysterious girl has no direct cause on whatever rift that formed between Saki and Teru.

        The timeline assuming there is no retcon should be this;

        6 years old Saki (+/- zero)
        v
        v
        v
        Mysterious girl and Saki’s talk in the pier
        v
        v
        v
        Saki and Teru’s talk about Rinshan
        v
        v
        v
        Teru goes to Tokyo with Mom

        I believe there is a short gap of time between Saki and Teru’s talk of rinshan and Teru goes to Tokyo with Mom. In the Drama CD, Teru is already anticipating it. Heck, Saki just said Mom is looking for Teru. It could be possible that this is the last conversation the siblings have before they are separated.

        On the Rinshan thing, I agree with you. Without a doubt, Saki’s current playstyle revolves around Rinshan Kaihou. But, Saki hasn’t specialized into it yet when she was talking to Teru which means Saki has played mahjong for most of her life without relying on Rinshan. Its actually a mind-boggling realization because Saki and rinshan kaihou has been linked to each other in my mind for some time.

        This does have several implications on Saki’s future matches especially since most of her opponents seems to think that if they stop Saki’s rinshan, they will defang Saki for most of the match. And yeah, the possibility is there. Saki could go PTSD if you stopped her. But, what this new information says is that there will also be a chance that Saki will become stronger if someone manages to disable her rinshan. I will be laughing like a hyena for a long time if the latter possibility turns out to be true. ^^

        On Saki vs. Koromo.
        Yup. Saki got the exact aka dora that she needs to make her ridiculous hand. I mostly put it in the evidence that Saki can make use of dora especially the kan dora. But, just like Kyouko said in the last match, Saki doesn’t bother. Perhaps its a hold-over habit from the time when she is playing +/- zero since dora exponentially raises ones hand but Saki doesn’t really take advantage of the doras.

        On the Pao rule massacre and Teru. Well, Saki’s primary motivation for being here is Teru. So in short, any massacre/mindbreak that Saki commits can be partially blamed on Teru. :D

  2. I disagree with this part: “Note: Mysterious girl said visit with Teru-oneechan. I interpreted this to imply that Teru still lived with Saki.” Living apart doesn’t mean you’ll never see each other again, and it’s entirely possible mysterious girl/Goldfish is expressing a wish that Saki and Teru visit her aquarium when they do meet up. (Considering Saki’s less-than-enthusiastic agreement, I think this interpretation is more likely…and on a meta level, given Ritz’s buildup I will be very surprised if Goldfish isn’t the main cause of the sisters’ estrangement.)

    • You have a good point. Still, if the flashback happened after the schism. Then, that means mysterious girl is in good terms with Saki. It could then imply two things.

      One, mysterious girl isn’t the cause of the sister’s estrangement.

      Two, she is the cause of the sister’s estrangement but Saki isn’t the one to blame (the flashback imply some closeness on mysterious girl and Saki). Corollary to that Teru is that is at fault.

      Three, Mysterious girl is the cause of the sister’s estrangement and Saki has some share of the blame to what happened to her, Mysterious girl forgave Saki. Teru did not.

      • Hm. I was thinking that the schism takes place after Teru and her mother move to Tokyo. In other words, the timeline looks something like:

        Drama CD –> Teru moves away –> Flashback –> Bad Thing happens, schism between the sisters, Teru disowns Saki

        Of course, we don’t have nearly enough information to make firm conclusions.

      • That’s a good timeline. ^^

        Truthfully I can’t wait to see a certain flashback animated. Hopefully the anime would also add something to make it longer.

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