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. ^^