Rewatching Saki Episode 1 – Miyanaga Siblings Introduction to Mahjong in Parallel Part III

Chapter 171 is up as well as the leaks for the next chapter. I think that I’ll be covering that in my next post since the two are interconnected. For now, since I’m already covering the first episode of Saki, I might as well continue it? This time with some actual mahjong analysis!

I would also like to give special thanks to Katreus for his mahjong expertise. Without him, this post would have come out sometime next year?

….Or not at all.

…..Probably.  The writing muse is a fickle mistress.



According to Saki, this is the first game she played which is similar to what Teru will tell Sumire in the flashback.    That implies the siblings stopped at roughly the same time. More than likely, it’s the same event that led to such stopping! Due to this, we can be assured said event is before Teru’s enrollment to Shiraitodai.  Not much but it helps to narrow down the timeline at least.

Also, some mahjong explanation.

To make it easier, I would like everyone to remember that at its roots mahjong is a gambling game. Thus, imagine all 4 players having 30,000 points before the start of the game. The players then give 5,000 points and put it into the imaginary pot leaving each of them with 25,000 points. Whoever wins the game (i.e. first place)  gets the imaginary pot of 20,000 points. Thus, for example, Nodoka finishes with a +3  getting first place. By getting first place Nodoka gets the bonus +20 making her final score +23.

Incidentally, this rule meant that it is impossible for Saki to be in first place and get +/- zero even if she manipulates the score to the eleventh degree. Luckily(?), as we discover in the next few games; Saki’s +/- zero has no bearing on what rule set but is based on  Saki’s head.

In any case, we begin with the first game.



Saki’s lightning spewing flower summoning rinshan kaihou is flashy but we shouldn’t forget her other forte which is point manipulation. It is even the first thing that the manga introduced about Saki’s mahjong.

And yeah, its blatantly obvious that Saki gave the win to Yuuki for this round.

Yuuki called chi exclusively for the circle suit forming 2-3-4 and 5-6-7 melds of circle tiles. The only other meld that isn’t a circle (pin) set is the valueless honor tile (north). Yuuki’s discard pool, on the other hand, showed no circle tiles  (pin). Anyone who is familiar with the game could see that  Yuuki is collecting the circle (pin) tiles and thus the basic counter strategy –  not dropping any circle tiles.

Kyoutarou and Yuuki justified in thinking Saki is a newbie here.

To make it more obvious that Saki gave this win, the anime added a few scenes. If you look at Saki’s discard pile, you don’t see her discarding circle tiles except for the lone terminal 9 pin. Another warning sign is  Saki breaking her 3-4-5 set to discard the 3 of circles.

A normal Saki discard would be the eight of bamboo considering it is on Yuuki’s discard pile and thus safe.  That and since this is Saki, the six of bamboo meld is more than likely kan material so she has to discard the eight of bamboo for hand development anyway.



Ritz skipped until the last round wherein Kyoutaro declared a riichi and discarded one of circles.

And as said by the subtitle, Ritz made a mistake. That hand isn’t a sanshoku.  By winning with one of circles it became a pinfu. See:

22 pairs of bamboo – 234 meld of bamboo – 234 meld of characters- 123 meld of circles456 meld of circles.

A sanshoku need to have the same sequence of melds on all suits. Meaning it needs to have a 234 meld of circles instead of the 123 meld here. It is easy to fix though. In order for this to be a sanshoku, Kyoutaro should just discard a four of circles or a seven of circles to preserve the 234 meld of circles and make the last meld (4)56 of circles or 56(7) of circles.

That said, according to Yumi-chin (in the comment section), the line in the anime could be a mistranslation by the subs. Instead, of Saki getting a Sanshoku, the line is supposed to be Saki throwing a Sanshoku yaku for a less valuable hand. Which you guys know is something that happens a lot when Saki does +/-zero.

Also makes Saki’s score at the end blatantly suspicious.

Two +/- zero in a row.

Its a bit of an eye-catching score isn’t it? Hisa noticed the shenanigan once she saw the scoreboard. Heck, the only reason people don’t go crying bullshit sooner is the fact that it is ridiculously improbably to ensure ones score to end up +/-o (or any other way to be honest).

That said, the first game is quite close. If we take out the first rank bonus from Nodoka, she ends up as +3 – a mere thousand point away from Yuuki. Yuuki, on the other hand, is 2,000 point away from Saki.

Heh. Just noticed, 2,000 points is the exact number that Saki fed to Yuuki with the ron honitsu in the first hand. I wonder if that meant anything?

Game 2 is where Nodoka dominates with an 11,000 point from 2nd even without the first rank bonus.

As for  Kyoutaro…  Better luck next time. ^^



And now, for our last hand of this post. We are back to Saki shenanigan.

You see, when Hisa passed by the table she got a glimpse of Saki’s hand. Which is a pinfu tanyao sanshoku doujun. Saki has a 678 meld of characters -(2)34(5) waiting meld of circles – 678 meld of circles-  22 pair of bamboo – 678 meld of bamboo.

At the minimum, if Saki calls a ron this should net 4 han 30 fu which is 7,700 points. If Saki draws the tile herself, the hand is already a mangan worth 8,000 points (4,000/2,000). And judging from the discard table, the two-way wait isn’t bad either.

So when Saki calls a ron for 1,000 points. Hisa knows something is up.

One of the thing that doesn’t make sense is when Saki drew the 9 of characters and discarded the 6 of characters. Discarding the 6 of characters destroy the 678 meld and thus destroys the chance for a sanshoku. Remember the same sequence (in this case 678) must occur in all the sequence.  It would have been palatable if the 9 of characters is a dangerous tile but if you look at the discards it seems safe. (Not to mention, its a terminal tile, which in my experience is a bit safer than tiles in the middle sequence).

Hisa quickly realizes it when Saki’s score is +/-zero for the third time.


It is only now when we’re introduced to Teru, reigning champion of inter-high and someone who walks all over her opponent without trying that the full implication of the above image is clear. Not to mention the probable power level of Ai Arctander AKA Miyanaga Mom…

The implication of Saki’s reason for developing her +/- zero playstyle; Saki wins too much and Saki doesn’t like the consequence of losing.

If Saki ever develops to her full potential she will be ridiculous.

On a lighter note, I’ve noticed that the consequence of losing is changed from the manga to the anime.  It is losing candy in the anime while it is losing her new year money in the manga. Though, I note that the rewards are not mutually exclusive as regular games could have candy as a bet while new year games can have money.

As I read Teru’s flashback in the manga, I think the change is a plot point. We know that Teru has a massive sweet tooth. The reason why Teru entered the Shiraitodai  mahjong club is because of SWEETS and PANCAKES. And unless I’m missing something this is a trait that Saki doesn’t share with Teru.

Remember that the Miyanaga family games in the anime have candy as the prize for winning and losing. Teru who has an established sweet tooth might have fought harder in those games simply because she like the reward better. It would neatly explain why Teru doesn’t mind selling her mahjong skills for pancake and sweets as well. It would be business as usual for Teru!  A continuation of her family games.

Saki, on the other hand, unless I’m missing something doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth which makes the daily mahjong prizes in their household less appealing. Not to mention Saki’s self-sacrificing tendency. Besides the reaction of other family members, Saki might feel guilty for getting more than her fair share if she wins. Thus, +/- zero wherein Saki wouldn’t take someone’s share and just keep her rightful share.

This also neatly explains why the Kiyosumi team would have to try harder in bribing Saki than Teru. Saki has more antipathy for mahjong as a game and they don’t have much of a hook. More on that later…



Whenever I analyze Saki’s match, I’m reminded of Saki’s playstyle. It is a sharp contrast to Teru’s playstyle which is straightforward. It makes me think about personality and mahjong which in the Saki-verse is strongly correlated.

I’m then reminded of Saki and Teru’s answer for why they hate mahjong to Nodoka and Sumire respectively. In many ways, even if Teru gave less detail to Sumire “have painful memories”, it is probably the more truthful answer. It conveyed the appropriate context of the situation. Saki’s +/-0 explanation of their family mahjong games while not lying managed to make light of the situation.

And yet, I’m hesitant to label Saki as deceptive and Teru the more honest of the two.  Perhaps, it is more accurate to say that Teru is straightforward like her playstyle? Teru directly tells the truth or Teru directly tells lies. In contrast to Saki whom like her playstyle is circuitous and obscured? While Saki does tell the truth more often than not, her answers need context.

Finally, I’m glad that there seems to be a reason why Ritz changed the reward to candy from New Year’s Money. It is a bit reassuring that even back then when the anime first aired Teru is set to have a sweet tooth. ^^


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14 Responses to Rewatching Saki Episode 1 – Miyanaga Siblings Introduction to Mahjong in Parallel Part III

  1. Alex says:

    I can't believe the day finally came where Teru is described as the more truthful one.

    A comment on the bribing part, on one side it was sweets and the other it was books. Getting the two into the club room was actually about the same degree of difficulty it was the getting to play part that took longer.

    You can say Teru was easier to convince but I think if you estimate the total time it took about two days in both cases. Only the method used on Saki was a little rougher.

    Last thing does the 2000 point bit with Yuki mean anything, maybe but that could just be over analyzing after all Saki when she purposely plays into a hand generally knows how much she is going to pay. I can't see a real reason to make an issue about it. Point scores are always strange when Saki plays.
    Still I really wonder how Kotaru doesn't incidentally screw up something in this absurdly delicate type of control. Granted Saki will pull a huge hand out of nowhere if necessary but I don't think it happened in the first two matches.

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      I was musing on playstyles on that. And I don't think I want Teru to be described as the truthful one either. Mostly I feel that's its kinda unfair to Saki who while I suspect is omitting information, never really truly lies to your face unlike Teru.

      I've been musing on it due to the latest chapter. But, I've come to conclusion that Teru is better described as "straightforward" than "truthful".Teru is either 100% lying or 100% telling the truth. More than that, those close to Teru knows when Teru is lying or telling the truth. Saki is murkier because while Saki tells the truth (or at least we have no evidence that Saki isn't), the truth you hear isn't always the truth that she's telling (if you get what I mean),

      Like the latest chapter, Hisa asked if Saki found her way from there?

      Saki answered, Yes I found my way, no problem this time." with a smile. In contrast to Teru who freaking burst into tear which is the more honest reaction. Though, I would note that Saki answer is technically true. Saki did find her way in Kiyosumi's room with no problem. Saki just omitted that she met Teru who is the reason why she want to go in the nationals in the first place who then proceeded to ignore her. Even the answer to Nodoka's question isn't a lie if you think of it from Saki's point of view.

      As for the bribing and Saki and Teru's reason for staying into the mahjong club. I found it fascinating similar but different.(now that its over).
      I'm actually tickled that it seems the anime's candy reward and Teru having a sweettooth can be a plot point as in Teru developed a sweettooth due to winning on all those family games.

      And yeah,I may be overanalyzing on Yuuki's hand. It could mean something or nothing. Saki's play is always like that heh.

      • Alex says:

        Speaking of playstyles there are two things that seems off.

        Saki said that Teru's playstyle was totally different from when she was younger at one point but the manga shows Teru starting off her first game in a while in her trademark how many times have you won in a row. I can't believe that was made up on the spot. Though their is a possibility that Teru simply was not able to do her streaks in the same way front of her family. Her hand does tend to slow down and while there is little you can do at first we have seen it becomes stoppable later and if it is stooped early a big hand can make up the difference.

        This may be a problem on our end but in a previous discussion we once thought that rishan was actually somewhat new to Saki that is clearly not the case.

        • nightsentinel09 says:

          "Saki did say that Teru's playstyle changed". Either that is a technical truth and has your first scenario in mind or Teru's playstyle really changed.

          Meh… went back and reread the last chapter and I think we can't say either way since the manga actually skipped the match except for a few panels. All we know is Teru dominated and she kept the dealership until someone went bust. We don't actually know if Teru used her current playstyle to do this. While, yes, Teru's current playstyle main point is keeping the dealership. There are other playstyles that could have easily done so like let's say Full!Moon Koromo. I imagine ordinary players would also be unable to take even a single dealership away from her even if its a completely different playstyle.

          • Aaron says:

            Speaking of playstyles, it is well known that in especially in the most powerful of characters that their values, personality, and emotions are incorporated in how they play. In the same way that Teru affects Saki's playstyle, it would be reasonable to say that Saki also affects Teru's playstyle seeing how much see cares for Saki in the recent flashback chapters. My current hypothesis is maybe Teru is speaking to Saki in mahjong that it is ok to win a lot. Also could it be possible that Teru's playstyle to have been influenced by Saki's old and most powerful playstyle?

          • nightsentinel09 says:

            Considering the amount of parallels between the siblings and the neon-highlighted hints that Ritz is throwing – it is more than likely that Saki and Teru's playstyle is correlated. I kinda wish that we actually got a glimpse of how Teru first played in the club so we can see if she is using her current playstyle or as Saki hints an old playstyle that we haven't glimpsed yet.

  2. Yumichin says:

    About the Sanshoku: Ritz didn't make a mistake, the translators did. The Japanese version has always said something like "You threw away your sanshoku for that?" As in "why would you declare a win on the 1 of circles, just pass". With a hand like that, it's pretty standard to pass on a 1000 point win and wait for the more expensive out of 7700. (Although against an opponent who just riichi'd, stopping them might be more important).

    In any case, intentionally cheapening her hand is exactly what Saki's +/-0 style does.

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      Ah I see. Thanks for the correction. I thought that the scene was portraying Saki being lucky enough to get a sanshoku which is wrong. Your correction makes more sense and also makes Saki's action more suspicious.

      I'll probably edit the post somewhere tomorrow to accurately reflect the information.

      Thanks again for noticing. ^^

    • KuroiHikari says:

      Managed to find a raw chapter for that, and I can confirm that this is actually true. How stupid I am for thinking that it was a mistake.

      Also looking forward to more Saki contents too.

      • nightsentinel09 says:

        Thanks for confirming it for me. I don't blame the translators though, I managed to talk to them once and they say that translating mahjong manga is apparently a pain lol.

  3. Haru says:

    Question: Do you think that Shiratsuki Shino might be related to Saki or has a link with any of the main Saki manga? I mean, some of the characters of Achiga-hen has a link with Nodoka haha. And, do you have any theories regarding Shinohayu the Dawn of Age?

    PS: I really like your insights about the Sakiverse.

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      While there is a chance that it will happen depending on the plot, I don't think that Saki and Shino are directly related by blood. If the plot will intersect, I think its something to do with the conspiracy surrounding Shino's mom being brainwashed and whatever is wrong with the Miyanaga family. That said, I won't also be also surprised if Shino is Saki's second cousin/aunt removed or something. lol

      My pet theory regarding shinohayu is there is something that will happen at the end which will trigger the rise of player with supernatural ability. Shinohayu is after all the "dawn of the age" and one of the glaring things about it is the fact that there haven't been much ability users around. On the other hand, going by Nodoka most of the ability users seem to pop out on High school and we already know Shino and co are in a collision course against Sukoyan who is implied to be a ridiculous monster. So its also likely "Dawn of Age" could refer to something else? ^^

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