The latest chapter of the main manga is up, with the Fifth Place match officially starting… Which I guess answers our previous question if we will see it in the upcoming Toki spin-off or not. I expect the finals to be delayed by at least a year. Sigh…
On the positive side, Ritz appears to be setting plot hooks (Nishida is investigating the Miyanaga connection, Awai practicing with Teru in the dark; it looks like my last post have some merit after all ^^). So long as the Fifth Match follows in this vein, I’m finding myself not despising the latest chapter. After all, if we are going to have this match, it better be good and has a connection to the main plot.
Anyway, here are my two cents regarding the match-ups. Think of it as an estimated power level thing. Mahjong is a four-way battle, even if a player is clearly stronger than the other three – ganging up, making a temporary alliance, or even a stronger one helping a weaker player to eliminate a troublesome team may shake the results. Like what is happening in the latest chapter. ^^
Before the latest chapter was published, I believed the vanguard match is dependent on Onjouji Toki’s condition.
As we all know, Toki pushed herself against her battle with Teru causing her to collapse at the end of the match and go to the hospital. And while this literally feels like years to us, Toki just rested for a day. So, while normally Toki should be overpowering her opponents like in the latest chapter, I wouldn’t be surprised if her normal future sight can’t be used for the whole match.
This uncertainty is further compounded by the fact that Suzu’s power trigger depending on the power level of her opponent. Hanada and Naruka probably will not trigger it. Thus, Suzu’s bomb power is contingent on Toki, who, fortunately, is happily using them in the latest chapter. As long as the next chapter does not show Toki having stamina issues; Suzu’s bomb power will trigger in the subsequent rounds.
As for Hanada’s power, in the past, I thought that it was a bit useless except in special circumstance *cough* Teru *cough*. Past the latest chapter, it seems to be more defensive oriented in general than merely not going zero points. Apparently, even pro players were not able to get her to lose 20,000 points in a match.
This is very surprising. After all, in Achiga-hen she lost more than 20,000 points against Teru and was hard-pressed not to lose more.
I hypothesize two explanations.
Hypothesis one: those pro matches are judged on individual merit, meaning it began at 25,000 points. Per the statement, it meant that Hanada never goes below 5,000 points. Consequently, since 5,000 is nearer to zero, her ability protected her more. This is probably the easiest explanation to swallow, but I don’t like it. It implies that Shindouji entered the wrong variables for their training simulation. Shindouji, who specifically planned to sacrifice Hanada on the team match that they didn’t take their actual fifth strongest player. In hindsight, it would be very stupid to not simulate Hanada’s ability in a team environment. Surely, they know how the ability worked?
Hypothesis two: Teru’s strength is greater than the average pro players. Which to be fair is probably true. It appears Fujita, a prominent pro (has a mahjong card), is “only” at the level of Koromo and Saki, even lesser at some points. And while it appeared that Teru lost to Kainou (another prominent pro ); it is also implied that she is on the same tier. So perhaps, the gap between the average pros and the interhigh aren’t that high? Or more specifically, the ceiling level isn’t that high. Which is a bit reassuring, making another tier above Teru, Koromo or Saki (when she’s actually mentally stable) is going to go silly rather fast.
But, I digress.
Taking all of this into consideration, I think Toki even with limited future sight should be able to take the lead. I’m unsure who would go second between Suzu and Hanada but if Suzu’s power triggers, I’ll give the edge to Suzu. The last place would, of course, go to Uzusan unless Toki keeps using Naruka as a patsy.
It’s a bit hard to say anything regarding the sergeant match; none of them really distinguished themselves in their respective matches (Except for Uzusan who is a beginner and would probably get the last place, but I don’t think we’re talking about that type of distinguished. )
Still, let’s see…
Izumi is the sole Senriyama first year, but it’s clear to see that she still needs more experience to be able to go head to head with her older peers. We were given several windows into her thoughts here and there; every insight and thought process was shown to be faulty in- and out- of the mahjong table. Not that it’s a bad thing, Izumi’s existence, let us see the “average” (for a given version of average) skilled first year in the inter-high – someone that might be skilled but still naive in their own way perhaps due to their lack of experience.
In contrast, the other players, especially Himematsu’s Yuuko and Shindouji’s Yoshiko provided solid past performances. Yoshiko was able to alter her playstyle to deal with Sumire’s arrows and Yuuko’s continuous positive points in spite of Mako and Hao’s dominance is silently amazing in its own way. Perhaps, in a sort of foil to Izumi, I believe it bespoke of experience in the interhigh.
As for Uzusan, while apparently Chikako has improved a lot and is a third year. I really don’t think, she’ll contribute much to this match due to her beginner status.
So, my ranking for this match would probably be something like this?
Yuuko=Yoshiko >Izumi> Chikako
As we go down the lieutenant match, I expect that it would be down to Sera vs. Hiroe.
While Yuan seems to be a tricky fellow, she doesn’t really have the mahjong capabilities to back it up. On the same vein, while I acknowledge that our resident conspiracy theorist must be a good player. After all, Shindouji has an ascending power level in their player roster. She was still dominated by Sera last match.
Besides that, previous chapters have shown some build-up regarding Sera vs. Hiroe. After all, their both hailed as aces of their region (former ace in Sera’s case, but still….) and both are hotblooded so I expect there is some decent rivalry involved.
It is almost the perfect set-up. I highly believe that this match would be critical in determining the winner.
As for whom I think we’ll win between the two?
I favor Hiroe at the moment. Hiroe’s playstyle seems to have an advantage with “traps” for a lack of a better word. While Sera is good at scoring valuable hands, Hiroe I’ve observed can do the same with the added bonus of being good at reading the table and her opponents which combines in a decent table control and danger sense.
Its also been pointed out in the manga that Sera isn’t in the best condition right now due to losing the semifinal. While Hiroe’s “encouragement” seems to have gotten her started who knows what will happen in the match itself?
As for Hiroe, I’m very impressed with the way she carried herself in the tournament so far. Contrary to her first impression of being an arrogant asshole (which she still is); Hiroe is also shown to be a source of confidence in her team and other players as well. You would expect a trap master to mentally destroy their opponents, but Hiroe does the opposite. Like a proper hotblooded Osakan, her antics are done to encourage her foes to she get worthy opponents.
Once again, I think this will be a showdown between Izusan’s Maya and Shindouji’s Mairu. Of course, I expect Funaq and Kinue could probably do something as well, especially Funaq, (since Maya’s ability isn’t exactly hard to spot) but considering how the Side-A Vice-Captain’s match went the person that could stop Mairu’s domination is probably going to be Maya.
On that note, Maya should take pointers from her fellow Vice-Captain (Mairu) and just use her left hand for every round so that her opponents would have no idea if her ability will activate. Unless, there is a consequence for using that, it is a pretty good tactic. Even if it turns out that Maya’s left-hand ability is “unstoppable” (Please note I don’t personally believe this), telegraphing a power activation is not a good idea. After all, it could be the difference between getting a ron or a tsumo which can be crucial depending on the situation.
In any case, this battle seems to be mostly occult free with the exception of the one hand where Maya’s power activates, making it hard to predict. While Mairu is undeniably occult since she has a power shared by Himeko, she plays more like a non-occult player than anything else. Beyond a mindset that demands Mairu to go all out once she made a reservation, said power doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage to her.
As for who will win in a showdown between Mairu and Maya… Sigh… I really have no idea. On one hand, Mairu practically dominated on the one match we are shown. On the other hand, Maya while not that dominant on her previous round still did pretty good.
As Funaq would say, insufficient data for this match.
Speaking of insufficient data, the captain match as always takes the cake for anything goes.
Himeko’s power would depend on how much reservation Mairu managed to get. Sawaya, normally an overpowering player and would probably be my favorite to turn this match around already used most of her Kamuy in the semifinal. While apparently, some came back, Sawaya is most likely weaker than before.
As for Ryuuka, I don’t even know if she will have a power. Does her Toki fairy, replenish per match or does it have a long cooldown, making it something like once a tournament? What about Ryuuka’s anime-only heat vision? Is that even canon or not?
Kyouko is almost a relief in her stability. Her threat level would probably depend on what strategy she could make up on the fly. I expect that Kyouko also knows about Shindouji’s double aces, so she could probably guard on those reserved rounds. I don’t know how Kyouko can prepare against Sawaya or even Ryouka (especially since Ryouka just discovered her power last match) but then again, she found Saki’s “tell”, so this is once again a big question mark.
Rereads the whole post. I think I will stop here. This is probably all I can unbiasedly say about the match-ups. Next time, I’ll try to make a post who I think will win. After all, what’s the point of making a prediction if I don’t make any bets regarding it? So any takers? ^^