Episode 3.1 – The Meaning behind the Shape

Episode 2 is here 

Episode 3 is pretty jam packed with goodies. So it gets more posts ^^

I. Nodoka’s middle school years

We begin with a flashback from Nodoka.

Take note of the Achiga uniform. Nodoka hasn’t transferred yet. But, she’s already drifting away from Shizuno. We know that Ako  has went  for another school so yeah…

Though, this does  make one wonder if Shizuno and Nodoka aren’t that close.  After all, Shizuno and Nodoka even if they aren’t classmates were still in the same school, I would have thought they had more contact. Or since this happened after  Ako went away. Perhaps, Ako was the bonding glue and without her the friendship collapsed apart?

… Or I’m thinking too much about this. Its a bit depressing but this sort of thing happens all the time.

We get a bit of introspection with Nodoka alone in her computer to highlight her loneliness and perhaps regrets.

Everyone drift bit by bit…

If I knew it would feel like this. I would have ….

Remember, the picture dramas implied that the only reason that Nodoka picked Kiyosumi was because Yuuki, her friend, will be there. (Yuuki of course picked Kiyosumi because its the only school that sells tacos in the cafeteria ^^)

We also know that Nodoka opposed the decision to transfer out to Kiyosumi despite her father’s rather sensible objections. And we know how much Nodoka values “logic”.

I think this shows how much Nodoka want to avoid what happened at Achiga. Friends drifting away, losing contact.  Nodoka doesn’t want that to happen with her team, her friends. She was given a brand new chance and she’s not going to waste it. This time, she will hold onto them as long as she could.


Yuuki and Nodoka meeting was fun though. Btw, want to guess which friend Yuuki reminded Nodoka of?


That’s right. Not Shizu. Don’t believe me watch the early parts of Achiga. ^^

We also meet the rest of Nodoka and Yuuki’s teammate.  Most notable is SUBARA! The wonderful vanguard for Shindouji in the current tournament.

And I swear Muro and Maho is being shipped as a couple. Its a bit weird though that Maho is the one who pick up Muro considering Maho is younger and looked like the less responsible of the two. But, as they say don’t judge a book by its cover. ^^

And with this the flashback ends and we resume the match which was left the following episode.

II. vs. Maho 


Maho’s starting hand. Nothing abnormal here. Her discard is also in line with a digital player.

That’s because Maho is copying Nodoka. She even plays online and have a digital avatar. But, as Muro explains “Super Mahocchi” is pretty weak and has a rating of R1200.

… That’s frankly terrible. If online mahjong in Sakiverse mirror our rating in the real world for this sort of games, a 1200 rating is for a beginner player. For comparison, I remember that Nodoka has a rating of 2300 or somewhere in that range when she plays.  And last time I checked, there is like 3 people in tenhou with that rank. ^^



Anyway, take a look at Maho’s hand. Its not a bad hand. Has lots of waits. Two tiles away from winning. A bit cheap though. Its also no-brainer which tile you should discard if you want to pursue a win. (The 2 of circles)

Of course since she’s playing like Nodocchi. You guys know what she picked. The more logical one. Getting a cheap hand isn’t really worth the danger of getting hit with Nodoka’s probable expensive hand. So she discarded her seven of bamboo and bailed.


If you look at Maho’s discards her defensive ability is quite good. She discarded the seven of bamboo because its in Nodoka’s discard pool. Her subsequent discards follows the same pattern using safe tiles or tiles that were reasonably safe


And here things gets interesting since we can actually hear Maho’s thoughts. She’s using Hisa’s power giving us a window to how it works.

Take note of that hand:

If Maho went for the logical route discarding the 3 of circles she would have three waits: (assuming she picked it up herself)

  • four of bamboo  which would probably give something like a menzen tsumo + sanshoku doujun for 3 han 40 fu = 1,300/2,600 points
  • seven of bamboo has no additional yaku beside the probable tsumo 1 han40 fu =400/700 points
  • eight of bamboo is probably 1 han 30 fu = 300/500 points

If Maho kept the 3 of circles though. She would have a probable mangan. 8,000 points. But, it would probably be a hell wait.

If Maho aims to play like Nodoka she would have picked the win with more option cheaper as it was. But, since she’s playing like Hisa.

…She picked the 3 of circles and consequently won. ^^

In any case, it shows that Hisa’s power isn’t really hell wait. She has certain special feeling about some tiles that come in her hand which she interprets. In this case, keeping the dora which resulted into her win. The hell waits is the consequence of her special intuition for certain tiles, not the power itself.

Its pretty versatile all things considered. Come to think of it, it may be one of the reason why Hisa is good at advising.


Next hand, Maho is using Saki’s power. ^^

We see a typical Saki hand, one with a ready kan. Its also a hand that is waiting for 5 of characters.


 We were also shown Saki’s hand herself. Its waiting on the 5 of character and 8 of character for a two sided wait. ^^

Its pretty intriguing that Maho realized that Saki was waiting on the 5 of characters  I wonder if its because she could sense what her opponents hand was. Or just realized that because they have the same power, they’ll probably waiting on the same thing. Or both.



Anyway, Maho got her rinshan which showed that her power is the genuine article.

But, by now you’re wondering what power is it?

Yesterday, I’ll probably answer with this.

Maho copies powers from people near her.

But, after making further analysis. I think that this is oversimplified. It implies that Maho can use the copied power as a tool. And with more experience and skill she can use them better. I don’t think Maho can actually do that.

For Maho doesn’t  just copy powers.  I think that Maho becomes the person that she is emulating. (If for just 1 hand) 

Let’s take a look at Nodoka’s “power”. She has a great analytic mind capable of discerning the most beneficial path possible from all the variables available to her. But, Maho  in Mahocchi mode didn’t just copy Nodoka’s analytic mind. Maho took on Nodoka’s mannerism, her values and perhaps even her personality as if its her own.

This can be seen with Hisa’s and Saki’s as well. Take note of the way that Maho won and moved. The way that she announced her score. The way she literally thought. Its markedly different each time she used a different  power.

I suppose we should have expected this. In this verse, the powers that the players wield usually embodied and symbolized something important to them. It should no surprise then that to copy the powers successfully, Maho should become the player in question. For its the players biases, judgement, values, those are the reasons why a player pick and discard a tile and thus is the foundation of their playing style.

And since we’re on that subject of player’s powers reflecting something important to them. Maho’s power itself arose from admiration of the powerful players that surround her. She admired them so much that she can’t help but copy them. After all, copying is the sincerest form of admiration.^^

Before we leave this sequence though, its also worth noting that Maho didn’t copy MAKO’S power.

I have three theories on why this happened.

Theory 1: Maho’s power stem from her admiration of a player.Since Maho hasn’t seen Mako displaying her power and making it look desirable as compared to Hisa and Saki. Maho doesn’t admire Mako enough to emulate her powers. (isn’t it sad, Mako?)

Theory 2:  Mako’s power stem from watching and remembering thousands of games played. Maho can’t copy it because even if she imitated Mako’s mindset, she doesn’t have any thousands of plays to draw the experience from. Just like Maho still needs tacos to activate taco power.

Theory 3: The manga ran out of page time. (Just kidding ^^)

I favor theory 2 though. Theory 1 and theory 3 feels like bullying. ^^

Last but definitely not the least, Saki’s reaction to Maho getting a rinshan.


Some have interpreted that Saki became fearful of Maho when she used her Rinshan and I won’t deny that there were elements of fear and surprise there. But, the most surprising reaction for me was the ANGER or perhaps FRUSTRATION
that Saki displayed.

Because that clenched fist cannot be anything else.

And that is intriguing because Saki is a pretty laid-back person. She doesn’t anger or frustrate often. (Actually amend that, we haven’t seen a peep of it on the entire run of the show. ^^ )

Until now, that is.

And quite a surprising trigger too.

Doing a Rinshan Kaihou. 

And its even more interesting when you take note of her reaction to cold! Touka just a while ago. If you remember Cold! Touka stopped her kan dead in the water and she didn’t mind. In fact, Saki was excited at the prospect.

Both times consequently, someone has interfered with her territory. And both times Saki has a differing reaction. And thus, I want to ask what makes stopping Saki’s kans and copying Rinshan different? What drew the different reaction?

For now, the clue we have is the brief flashback we have of Teru and Saki regarding said yaku. And what I’m reiterating in my post for a sometime. That is  “powers represent something important about the user.” 

The main question is then, what? What does the yaku symbolized for Saki?

I leave it for you readers to decide.

But, best bet is probably something about Teru. ^^

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9 Responses to Episode 3.1 – The Meaning behind the Shape

  1. Pingback: Episode 2 – Support | Random Wall of Text

  2. Cytrus says:

    I remember Maho being late for the team tournament. Did she even get to see Mako play? Well, even if she did, Mako didn't exactly fare well in that match.

    I also wonder If Maho is even capable of temporary copying Mako's medical condition of poor eyesight, which is a necessary part of the whole package.

    Nodoka does tell Yuuki that she somewhat similar to two of her old friends. I suppose it's appearance for Ako, and running-around-wildy personality for Shizu.

    I think Saki was angry at /herself/ for letting anyone win by rinshan with her there. There's no doubt the yaku is something sacred for Saki. Just think back to Kuro breaking out in tears before she was able to discard a dora… Saki might not be far behind in terms of emotional attachment to a memento of the past. She already had a bad reaction during the first meeting with Fujita, when the pro broke into her territory.

    • Sorry for the late reply. Work got a bit too hectic. Thankfully, everything is done now so I can make regular updates.

      … For a given version of "regular" ^^

      Regarding Maho's copying. For some reason, Maho's ability remind me of a doppelganger. She's not copying the ability but she copies the person and the ability is just a bonus package.

      For me this has certain implications. One, Maho's growth is a bit dependent on others. I think Nodoka's advice while very good and will probably work 99% of the time won't help Maho much. This is because Maho copies the person and not just the ability. Maho will play exactly like the person she copies – its not just the strength but also the weaknesses which are transferred over.

      For example. If Maho copies Awai's ability. She'll play exactly like Awai will. Even if Maho improved her basic skills that she knows she shoudn't riichi on the first turn. She still will because Awaii in that situation will do so.

      Thus, improving basic mahjong comprehension to use a power better is a no go. Though, I suppose Nodoka's advice might work for all the other times Maho isn't using her power. Probably. ^^

  3. Katreus says:

    Some thoughts:

    1. I think you're on the right track re: Nodoka with Ako and Shizu and that Ako was the glue that kept the trio together. That does put some interesting implications on Shizu's somewhat fervent desire to meet Nodoka again, esp. since not only did Shizu decide to drift away from Nodoka, she also stopped playing mahjong in general. In a way, couldn't we say that Shizu is both: a) slightly ashamed that she let the friendship lapse and is now compensating with her over enthusiasm toward this goal; and b) pricked by pride, not necessarily her own, but to show Nodoka that she hasn't been lazing around through middle school, to be able to stand on that same tier as Nodoka rather than looked down upon?

    It seems to me that this would explain Shizu's insistence that to meet Nodoka, they have to meet her in a mahjong match themselves instead of just arranging informal meetings or even going to watch Nodoka' s matches. Funnily, in this area, Nodoka doesn't feel a need to compete. She readily watches and cheers on Achiga.

    2. Saki was going to win on a West kan again a la Saki S1 ep. 1 and 2. I have to wonder if she has a slight affinity with West or whether it's Ritz herself unconsciously doing it. If it's the former… If I'm not remembering wrong, there's a slight connotation of death (not necessarily negative) and movement toward enlightenment. That raises some interesting questions what with her ability to *take tile / resurrect life from the dead wall* and burning wheelchairs, right?

    3. I would say there's a difference between preventing a kan from forming and 'stealing' (in Saki's view) her tile through a kan declaration. The former, I believe, would be just flow control and sealing Saki's power / ability to draw from the dead wall. Given that she herself seals her own power frequently, it's probably not something strange to her as flow control of a sort is a skill she practices as well. Perhaps it's like seeing someone on the other side of a game performing a beautiful and smart tactic to work with or around your power. (Think: Toyone's reaction to Saki.)

    The latter is a direct infringement on her dead wall territory. If she uses rinshan kaihou as a way to reemphasize her bond with Teru and to illustrate that she herself is blooming, thriving on top of a background death / on the mountain, then someone taking 'her' tile is a rejection of these sentiments. Perhaps almost a feeling of muscling in on her bond with Teru or … *stealing* the visible accomplishment of her progress … or even *stealing* Teru?

    Speaking of that, I wonder if this means that even if Awai calls kan, she *wouldn't* be infringing upon Saki's territory. Awai uses it to get kan ura-dora — but Saki *doesn't use kan dora*. Awai *discards* the tile she draws from the dead wall — Saki would keep it and if Saki's set up her hand right, Saki would win on the tile that Awai draws. Speaking of discarding… ahahaha, I will laugh if this is a subtle indication from Ritz that Awai is discarding her chance with Teru.

    Looking forward to your next posts on Ep. 3.

  4. FdRstar says:

    "2. Saki was going to win on a West kan again a la Saki S1 ep. 1 and 2. I have to wonder if she has a slight affinity with West or whether it’s Ritz herself unconsciously doing it."

    And, funnily enough, the tile Saki is holding in the opening of Zenkoku-hen is a West tile.
    Since they are in Tokyo, I would have thought a East tile would have made more sense…
    It may also represent the fact Shiraitodai is from West Tokyo… Or something else we don't know…

    • I've posted it somewhere else. But, hear are my thoughts on West seat.

      West and Saki has a very interesting correlation. Saki more often than not is seated at the WEST SEAT. She also like calling kans using west tiles. Which is very interesting considering the association of that direction.

      As Katreus have said. West is the direction of death. Its the direction associated with endings. Many myths say that the land of the dead lies on this direction. On the positive side, West is also associated with enlightenment. Remember "Journey to the West." Its also associated with some sort of "eternal reward". Heck, modern chronology goes with this. Remember Tolkien, The place where the ships that Frodo and the elves are going to – WEST. ^^

      What's more interesting is in Japan, West is associated with the White Tiger. And guess who is the White Tiger in this story? lol If you guys need more symbolism. The white tiger is known to observe the world with clairvoyance; corresponds to the season fall, the color white, wind, the element metal, and the virtue righteousness

      More interesting, according to the Chinese Annals of Wu and Yueh the origin of the white tiger is this. Three days after the burial of the king, the essence of the element metal assumed the shape of a white tiger and crouched down on the top of the grave. Here the tiger is a protector – a preserver.

      … And the best part about all this? Despite Saki's association with West. Saki doesn't use it like Yuuki does. In most of Saki's match, she likes to plan her lost in that round.

  5. Pingback: Episode 3.2 – End of Preparation | Random Wall of Text

  6. Alex says:

    Just noticed this but oddly enough the worst person for Maho to imitate would probably be Teru

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      You would probably be right. Imitating the "increasing wins" meant that at most Maho is going to win cheaply and imitating the mirror meant that Maho must lose that round.

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