Amae Koromo and Her Weird Japanese Speech Patterns

Amae Koromo, demon of the high school mahjong world, is the first major opponent in the manga Saki. Able to oppress her opponents using the power of the moon, her physical appearance is deceptive: though she’s a year older than Saki herself, she resembles a small child, which causes her grief to no end. Those of you who’ve seen the anime and read the manga, however, might not be fully aware of just how much Koromo’s strange mix of naivete and maturity also comes across in her speech.

When Koromo speaks, the two main elements to notice are that 1) she often mispronounces words and names like a child would, but that this is contrasted with 2) she uses a heavy, heavy amount of classical Japanese idioms and obscure, old-fashioned vocabulary. So just as often as Koromo will call Nodoka “Nonoka,” and act like a spoiled brat, she’ll throw in phrases like 黄壌 (koujou, afterlife) and 神算鬼謀 (shinsan kibou, ingenious scheme). Her Japanese is so dense and difficult at times that Japanese people themselves have trouble. If you do a search for many of her lines, you’ll find even Japanese speakers asking, “What in the world is she saying?”

The result is that Koromo comes across as a girl who is very well-read and intelligent, but also sheltered and unaware of what the commoners enjoy. This, as readers of Saki know, is exactly what she’s like.

This site collects Koromo’s idioms up to Volume 8 of the manga, while this one has some other examples of her strange vocabulary. And as always, may the Haitei Raoyue be with you.

Alpha vs. Omega, Awai vs. Koromo

As a manga about cute girls with mahjong superpowers playing in tournaments, Saki constantly adds new characters as opponents for its heroines. We’re getting to the point where the cast is not just large but enormous, which has me wanting to see characters who are not normally associated with each other paired together. I don’t mean that in the yuri sense, but in the mahjong throwdown sense.

The two characters I really want to see square off against each other, possibly in the national individuals tournament, are the lunar-powered Amae Koromo, Miyanaga Saki’s final opponent in the Nagano prefectural team tournament, and the double-riiching Oohoshi Awai from Shiraitodai, who is a teammate of Saki’s sister Teru. The reason why I want to see a mahjong match between them is because their respective abilities appear to function almost opposite to the other’s.

Koromo has two main abilities. The first is that she can consistently win by drawing the last tile in a game, also known as Haitei Raoyue, or “scooping the moon from the bottom of the sea.” When combined with her second ability, which is that she can bog down her opponents’ hands, making them unable to reach tenpai no matter how hard they try, it means a slow, painful death to her adversaries.

Awai also has two abilities. Rather than winning on the very last tile Awai is firstly able to reach tenpai on her opening hands and call a double riichi, and then combo off of it for big points. Along with her second ability, which is to induce awful starting hands in her opponents, it means she’s able to reach victory more quickly while everyone else is scrambling to assemble even a semi-decent hand.

So you have a character who wins by giving herself a large advantage at the start, and who aims to win early, versus a character who stifles opponents’ progress throughout the game and wins by dragging them down. If you look at those power sets, it would appear that Awai has the advantage as she can get to tenpai at the very start, and win well before Koromo gets to the last tile. However, this also means that Awai’s negative influence on her opponents’ starting hands affects Koromo less because she generally aims for Haitei anyway (though neither of them have to use their powers). The impression I get from them is the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object, and it all hinges on whether or not Koromo’s ability to prevent hands from forming affects someone already in tenpai. Other factors that might contribute to how this plays out are that Awai doesn’t win off of her kans but simply uses them to bolster her hand in big ways, as well as what appears to be a limitation of Awai in that she can’t use her powers simultaneously while Koromo can. I suspect that the degree to which one character’s abilities outrank the other’s will have to do with Koromo’s tendency to be influenced by phases of the moon.

I’m aware how ridiculous this all sounds, and at the end of the day Saki abilities don’t actually make sense. However, I do think this confrontation is likely to happen as Saki continues, so I remain hopeful towards seeing it happen in the actual story.