I teared up twice.
First time was when Harue’s backstory was revealed, when Shizuno learns that the Mahjong Club is but a temporary setup for Harue to regain her love for mahjong. It’s always heartbreaking the first time you realize that something won’t last forever. But rather than grow bitter, Shizuno wishes the best for her teacher when she got scouted.
I’ve been in a chess varsity team before, and playing any game or sport competitively requires you to play to win–which may or may not be the kind of play you really want. Sure, you could keep on moving your Knight before your Bishop, but that’s going to get you creamed sooner or later in a serious game. The slump that Harue experienced, compounded by the high expectations everyone placed on her, was something I could definitely relate to.
It’s cathartic for Harue to teach young kids the love of mahjong, because nothing quite cures one’s distaste for a game than seeing others have fun with it. Teachers are so wonderful.
Second, when Shizuno decides to go to Achiga Girls’ School to revive the Mahjong Club, so she could meet Nodoka again. Back in elementary, I didn’t have any close friends whom I would keep in touch with, despite them going to a different school, but how I wish! One of my biggest fears is watching a close friend drift away, and I’m powerless to do anything.
Well, anyway. It’s such a conceit–there’s no guarantee that the Nodoka they would meet would remember or even acknowledge their friendship. People could change drastically in a few years. (Of course, we as the audience know that Nodoka still cares about her childhood friends, but Shizuno doesn’t know that.) But this is the sort of cheese that I really like.
There’s also Ako, who ditches her safe choice of going to Bansei High and its strong mahjong team, so she could be with her friends. Ah, youth is so enviable!
In the meantime, I guess I should learn a thing or two about reach mahjong.