Saki 168-169: Miyanaga’s Siblings Reintroduction to Mahjong in Parallel

To my eternal joy, the main manga is continuing the Teru flashback!

And it’s a compelling thing, how Teru is characterized in the past two chapter – as someone who is similar to Saki while retaining subtle and distinct difference. It got me curious enough that I went back at the beginning and reread the first chapters.

And the parallels are interesting.

First thing first, I’d like to note how Teru loves reading like Saki.

This is probably the first humanizing thing that Ritz showed us about Teru, way back in Achiga-hen when the champion is portrayed as a stone cold unstoppable force of nature (which she still is, in a way). Also, one of the first signs that Teru and Saki are more similar to each other than they are willing to admit.

Rereading stuff, I’ve noticed that Ritz liked to portray the Miyanaga siblings reading somewhere secluded. Heck, its one of the first thing we see Saki doing!  It is quite a consistent thing that  I’ve wondered what is Ritz trying to say in all this panels….

What comes to mind is this quote:

Reading is solitude. One reads alone, even in the presence of other people.

The Miyanaga siblings are a secluded people. They don’t like crowds.  When they aren’t around their friends, the manga implies that they can be found somewhere without people reading by themselves.

And yet, as I look at the panels, I feel that  while Saki and Teru are alone reading, there is none of the expected  loneliness,  Instead, there is a feeling of “untouchability”.  As if the siblings are in another world, thinking of another thing, miles from where you are standing….

It is only when someone in their significant circle calls their attention do the illusion break.

It  is an interesting portrayal and I think appropriate considering Saki and Teru’s usual role in the mahjong table.

Who wants to bet that Teru used her Shoumakyou (照魔鏡) ie. the magic mirror that illuminates evil here? 

I do.

We know that some magic powers aren’t exclusive to mahjong. I would wager that every mahjong ability has some real life application.

Seriously, Teru handpicked a bunch of low-leveled mahjong players that she has never met before and with just a bit of advice said team managed to curbstomp more skilled players. And, considering that Teru didn’t play mahjong at any point,  that’s all the proof  to know that Teru can freaking use Shoumakyou outside the game.

Which has many intriguing possibilities

From Achiga-hen, we know that Teru uses her magic mirror in the first turn wherein she does nothing and has fast increasing value hands which reset whenever someone disrupts her winning streak. But, in this flashback, we get a strong hint that Teru can use her Shoumakyou though  she’s not in the mahjong table.

Uh… huh…

Worst case scenario, Teru can use her magic mirror all the freaking time and just doesn’t want to. It may even be a big component of her original play style from before.

Least worst scenario,  Teru may not be able to do anything when she activates her magic mirror.  So Teru just uses it once on the first turn where it has the best impact.

… There is a hole in the least worst scenario though.  Like  why Teru doesn’t use her magic mirror before the game itself considering that its apparently possible. If Teru wants every advantage, I imagine tracking her opponents down before the game and using her magic mirror on them while having a chat is feasible.

Of course, Teru  may think  its too much effort for so little gain. That it would make the game less challenging, seeing that Teru walks all over her opponents even when she doesn’t do it.

Kinda arrogant even if its true.

Still, I can’t say its not consistent with Teru’s characterization;  I remember Teru complaining how her opponents doesn’t put a fight in the first season when Shiraitodai is in the prefecture level.

Or maybe, its an honor thing?

It is possible.

Moving on, I’m actually more curious about the significance of this  in her personal interactions.

What information does shoumakyou provide Teru?

The probability can range from just mahjong playstyle to the whole information on the person itself up to the point that Teru used her mirror.

Though, even if its just mahjong playstyle considering how much personality, the person’s choices and their way of life is tied to their mahjong, with a few inference Teru can still get a lot of information.

I do wonder how often Teru uses her shoumakyou though…

If Teru uses it often like demonstrated here, when a stranger approached her; maybe its showing another difference between the sisters.  How Teru is untrustful and a bit wary in general, not taking people at their word. In contrast to Saki who is pretty gullible, in some ways.

Speaking of another difference

Did you find Teru’s conversation here weird?

Teru is “almost” insulting Sumire here. Seriously.  And the “ALMOST” qualifier is only there because Teru appear to be “OBLIVIOUS” to what she is saying.

Which by the way, I don’t freaking buy for a second.

Mostly because Teru’s demeanor strongly correlate to the facade that Teru put up when she talked to the media. That and I’ve said Teru used her magic mirror just a moment ago. *Feigning obliviousness doesn’t work when you know the person doing the feigning  have  the mirror that illuminates and the series runs on  personality superpowers.

You know, I find it amusingly ironic that Teru who has the magic mirror that shows the true face of a person is depicted as a lying, liar who lies most of the time. While Saki who at the surface has a deceptive playstyle is honest to a fault. Its another interesting dichotomy between the siblings.

I suppose its somehow logical though.

The person who can see facades and lies and how they work is probably also the person who understand how one can use  said facade and lies as well. And  I don’t find Saki deceptive even if she acts like a chessmaster in her matches like nobody’s business. Saki to me is surprisingly straightforward, once you get her “logic”.

The key word here is getting Saki’s freaking logic.

Because straightforward for Saki might as well be a circular loop for everyone else. Saki might not “lie” like her big sister. But, its hammered that the truth that Saki sees might not be the truth that everyone sees.

Finally, this scene.

It’s a stealth heartwarming all around once you’ve noticed all the implications. Also, another parallel. Heh.

You know Saki partially managed to get involved with mahjong because of Teru. Apparently, Teru will do as well. When Sumire and Shiraitodai’s manager were arguing about their team selection; about the merits of picking people based on individual result or not.

I think Teru thought of her little sister.

Saki who has great skill/strength in mahjong but whose strength does not reflect in her result.

I’m getting the feeling that her little sister being dismissed out of hand because of poor result might be a bit offending to Teru. And the thought, even if Saki is probably never going to go to Shiraitodai is  enough to make Teru act.

Basically, if we look at the subtext, Teru’s words is this.

“I want to prove that even though you [Saki] gets poor results, you are actually pretty strong.”

Combined with Saki-Teru’s talk about flower blooming in the mountain, I think these words are things that Teru wanted to say and make Saki believe even back then.

Still, for Teru to act that way when she doesn’t like mahjong at this point. I wonder if the coach and Sumire’s argument once played out in their home  and maybe that’s why  Teru was driven to act. Because she instinctively want to squash that argument. Perhaps, because she wasn’t able to back then. Or perhaps, because she is falling into old roles.

Who knows?

For me, this is [proof] that reconciliation between the siblings is still possible. [Proof] that Teru does care about her little sister no matter what she says at the present.

Final Note

About Saki and Teru’s  identical response/feeling toward mahjong and what it means; I’m going to wait for the next chapter.  So let’s just talk translations.

Thanks to the helpful note (Saki and Teru’s quote is the same in Japanese even if the translation is different) Aki0-san put at the bottom, my mind is leading me into strange places.

Here are the two translated quotes, btw.

*I just don’t like mahjong” —> Saki

*I don’t like mahjong that much —> Teru

The first translation  is pretty clear cut into the negative side. While the latest translation is more neutral.

Although, I can’t judge which is more correct; I like the latest translation better, mostly because of the way it muddies the water on the speaker’s feelings.

The hint of ambiguity that the original language have. That I believe that the Miyanaga siblings feel for the game before its reintroduction in their life.

I wish I have more Japanese knowledge so I can tease more meaning out of the quote more. But, this is the end of the road for me. If anyone wants to add something, feel free to comment below.

Also, while making the parallels in this post, I’ve noticed that Saki and Teru personality and abilities are a bit synergistic?  Hmmm…

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5 Responses to Saki 168-169: Miyanaga’s Siblings Reintroduction to Mahjong in Parallel

  1. Lxndr99 says:

    I loved reading your analysis and after readin chapter 170 wow you were right about Teru using the mirror. I think Teru saw in the mirror that Sumire is a bright student but when she didn't do the greeting at the entrance ceremony, Teru assumed Sumire wasn't chosen because her grade were bad. She probably couldn't see if Sumire had a scholarship or not.
    A bright student with bad grades is like a strong mahjong player with poor results. Teru compared Sumire to Saki and thought she was wasting her talent (like Saki with her +/-0 results). I think this is the reason why Teru was almost insulting to Sumire. I wouldn't say Teru was lying, more like she jumped to conclusions and didn't think about the possibility of Sumire having a scholarship.
    Cheers.

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      Teru thinking that Sumire is wasting her talent there is another explanation that I didn't think of! Considering the mirror may tell Teru what a person capable of, I wonder if Teru is a bit frustrated with people who are not living up to their potential? Probably a leftover emotion from Saki and her plus minus zero? Which is why she's almost insulting Sumire there?

      About the lying part. I'm mostly comparing Miyanaga's tendency to be deceptive in the past. Teru does lie a lot compared to her little sister. To be fair, Saki is a bit blue and orange mentality that its almost on par.

      One thing is for sure. The elder Miyanaga's personality is a bit spikier than the younger. ^^

      • Lxndr99 says:

        You're right about Teru lying in the past, like when she said 'I don't have a sister'. I only meant in this case it didn't seem like she was lying. But yes I think Teru is a bit disappointed/frustrated with Saki for not living up to her potential. At the same time I agree with what you said about Teru being offended when she felt Saki was being dismissed when Sumire and the manager were arguing. So Teru is proud of Saki but she's also a bit disappointed because she wanted Saki to play to win, not to play for +/-0. I think Teru will be happy if/when Saki wins the interhigh. Teru knows Saki is amazing and she wants everyone to know as well.

        • nightsentinel09 says:

          Yeah. It is actually amazing how protective/defensive Teru is in this flashback when the mere insinuation that Saki is weak got her into a mood to prove it wrong. If this is still true in the present timeline, I really want an idiot person to comment that Saki is weak in front of Teru.

          Maybe the idiot media? Some of them seem to believe that Kiyosumi is weak team only carried by Nodoka.

          Heh. Depending on Teru's self-control, the firework may be glorious.

          … I also want someone to say something bad about Teru in Saki's presence just for a quick comparison sake. But, that is unlikely to happen. No one in the right mind is going to call the reigning champion weak. ^^

  2. Pingback: Rewatching Saki Episode 1 – Miyanaga Siblings Introduction to Mahjong in Parallel Part II – Randomwalloftext

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