|“||Let's go to the nationals and play with Nodoka!||”|
—Ako Atarashi, to Shizuno Takakamo
|Japanese name:||新子 憧|
|Family:||Nozomi Atarashi (sister)|
|School:|| Achiga Girls' Academy|
Adamine Middle School
|Grade:||First-year high school|
|Debut:||Saki Achiga-hen, Chapter 1|
|Voiced by:||Nao Touyama|
Ako Atarashi is a first year at Achiga Girls' School, and a protagonist in the spinoff manga, Saki Achiga Hen episode of side A. She is an elementary-school friend of Shizuno Takakamo and Nodoka Haramura, but went to a different middle school so she could play mahjong. In the Achiga childrens mahjong club, she was the second best player before it disbanded. She is the younger sister of former Achiga mahjong player Nozomi Atarashi. In middle school, Ako managed to finish in the top 16 of her prefecture in an individual tournament.
Ako has long brown hair with two long pigtails on the side and brownish red eyes. She wears the standard Achiga Girls uniform with knee-high socks.
As a child, her appearance looked a lot like Yuuki Kataoka's current appearance.
Ako is much like Shizuno in that she is cheerful but more logical compared to Shizuno. She also wants to hang out with her friends as much as possible and have fun playing mahjong with them like the last time.. She is not afraid to be blunt (telling Kuro that it was her fault for losing 40,000 points in the quarterfinals) but also comforts her friends when necessary (following up by saying that they just had to win back those points).
According to Harue Akado, Ako is a cunning individual
Despite her upfront and confident bravado, she revealed to Yuu that she was scared before playing in the semifinals, who comforted her accordingly.
Playing Style / Abilities
Sukoya Kokaji notes that Ako's specialty is recognizing when calling tiles will help her complete her hand faster. She often does this when she has the opportunity to form an open yaku, very frequently getting either sanshoku doujun or ikkitsuukan and increasing the value of her hands with other easy han such as tanyao or dora. This makes her a faster player than other players who wait for more expensive hands like Sera Eguchi.
Izumi Nijou notes that Ako has a particularly beautiful sense of flow, and likes how as soon as she calls tiles, she accelerates her attack. Ako herself claims that she doesn't lose at high speeds, and is very good at forming quick hands to prevent other players from completing theirs.
Introduction ArcShe is first seen waiting for Shizuno Takakamo at the bus stop, and was the one to recognize Nodoka arrived. After a brief exchange, they become friends. We then see the girls racing—Shizuno is winning, and Ako is not far behind. She then says Nodoka is probably the weakest girl around, learns she likes mahjong, and decides to take her to the Achiga club room. After greeting the younger students and the teacher, Harue Akado, they have a match. When Nodoka wins, Ako says she shouldn't feel proud since the girl who's coming is the club's best player. Kuro Matsumi then arrives, and they play again. Nearing the end of the match, Nodoka notices she hasn't seen any red dora. She explains it wasn't even possible; she hasn't seen any because Kuro hasn't yet shown her hand to which all the dora have gathered. After a few more matches, the girls walk home together; they then express their desire to keep being together and have fun.
Sometime later Nodoka and Shizuno talk about how they want to enter Achiga, but Ako says she going to enter Ada's middle school because of her desire to play mahjong and promise that they will see each other outside of school. As they enter the club room they learn that Harue has been scouted and is going to leave so they throw her a farewell party. Ako later appears in her last year of middle school recieving a call from Shizuno about Nodoka winning the middle school championship. After a brief conversation, Ako says to herself that if Achiga were to go to the nationals that she want to be apart of it. We next see her burst into the Achiga mahjong room and tell Kuro and Shizuno that she is going to join them. Some time later Ako and Kuro wait for the arrival of Shizuno so Kuro can show them the canidate for the fourth member of the club. They then enter Kuro's home to be introduced to the new candidate Yuu Matsumi, Kuro's sister. She then explains to Shizuno that they know Yuu because they use to take the same bus and that she is sensitive to the cold. After they invite her to join she accepts.
A few days later eveyone gathers to try and find the final member of the team. When Yuu suggests Arata Sagimori, Ako and Shizuno have no memories of her. The next day when the new members are introduced, Arata aks Ako about her uniform and she tells her that she's going to Ada's middle school but will be joining Achiga in the spring. During the winter Harue apears at the mahjong club with Nozomi and asks whats going on. She informs her that the mahjong clubs goal is to go to the nationals but is confused when Harue asks to join them. When she joins Ako says that having someone with nationals experence would help them greatly.
Preparation ArcWith the start of the semester, she and the others gather to offically start the mahjong club. When Harue says that winning the tournament would be an impossible task, Ako agreed saying that since Bansei is in their prefecture it would indeed be impossible. But in order to up their skill level the team was trained by Harue for the next two months. One night after training Shizuno and Ako ran into her friend who had gone to Bansei High. When she explained the reason she chose to go to Achiga instead of Bansei, her friend told her that they could never beat Bansei but Ako told her while that was true a year ago they now have a brilliant coach, then they were picked up by said coach. At the start of the prefectural tournament, she and the rest were a bit nervous thanks to there being so many people and in their first match having to face Bansei High. But thanks to their training, Bansei was no match.Achiga girls ended up winning the whole tournament.
A few days after the tournament, Shizuno came running in the club holding a newspaper. Shizuno then exictedly informed Ako (who already knew) and Kuro that Kiyosumi had won their prefectural tournament. When Harue returned, the club decided that in order to prepare for the nationals they would face some of the clubs that finished second in their prefectural tournament and Ryuumonbuchi was selected to be their first opponent. During the match between Shizuno and Koromo Amae, Ako was stunned that Koromo had over three haitei raoyue. After a few weeks Achiga had beaten all their opponents except for Ryuumonbuchi and together they held a training camp to further their skills and at the end of that they headed for the nationals. Stoping at a rest stop before Tokyo, Shizuno, Ako, and Kuro noticed a girl had fainted and rushed to help her along with her friend. After some conversation with the girls, it was revealed after they left that they were from Senriyama the forth seeded school in the tournament.
National Tournament Arc
The Achiga Mahjong team later arrives in Tokyo for the Nationals. As the group made their way for the ticket-drawing, Saki Miyanaga unexpectedly walks past them, inadvertently causing Kuro and Harue to cringe in her presence. The next day after Kuro awakens Shizuno and Ako, the team gathers to discuss the bracket and watch video of their opponents matches. On the second day of the tournament Achiga's first round match begins. Ako's match wasn't shown but Achiga advanced to the second round.
During the vanguard match of the second round, she was reminded as to why Kuro doesn't discard the dora. After the match she wanted to go to support her but Yuu stopped her. When Yuu returned, Ako congratulated her and playfully chided Kuro when she blamed herself for the point difference. However she told her that it was because she was playing Senriyama's ace and now they just have to get the points back.
At the start of her match she recognised Sera Eguchi because of her energy and that she was the teams ace last year. During the match Ako started of quickly gaining three straight victories with small hands, but Sera came back with a big hand. Throughout the match the two battled back and forth with Sera gaining more points in the end.
We see her again commenting on Shizuno's match. Achiga would go on to place second and advance to the final eight. Afterwards the team celebrated but was brought back to reality when Harue told them that even though they advanced they were beaten by 90,000 pts and that Shiraitodai is next for them as well. She then left for a meeting. Yuu went along with the others to get some ramen when they overheard Harue and Toshi Kumakura talking about Harue being a pro again. After arguing about what they heard they ran into Momoko Touyoko and Satomi Kanbara.
Kanbara takes the team to the place where Tsuruga was staying and introduced them to Yumi Kajiki. After hearing their story, Yumi agrees to help them and gets Kanbara to pick up Mihoko Fukuji, Nagano's best individual player. When they are done playing Kanbara takes them to their hotel. The next day she and Achiga meet up with Kei Arakawa, who was the only person who agreed to play them. However Kei called some of her friends over and they all played against Achiga. While going home Shizuno wonders if Nodoka won her match, but Arata and Ako tell her its better to not know. Back in the hotel, Ako is seen taking a bath and talking to Shizuno before she rushes out. When she hears Shizuno calling for her, she opens her eyes and is giving a shock at Shizuno's weird appearance. After listening to her tell about Harue, she notes that she is staying although not just for them.
Final Eight Arc
Before the matches begin, she is present to wish Kuro good luck. Before half-time, Ako notices that Teru Miyanaga had overlooked one of Kuro's tile and surmises that this may be a weak point. At half-time Ako and the rest go meet Kuro for encouragement. She then tells Kuro about this potential hand restriction Teru might have before the girl leaves to finish the match. Later she is shown celebrating Kuro's winning hand to end her match. Ako, together with all of Achiga go to the entrance to see Toki Onjouji off to the hospital.
On the way back, they run into Nodoka. After Shizuno talks to her and walks off, Ako wonders if she was really okay with just that. Shizu says it's okay, because they're definitely going to make it to the finals. In the waiting room, she wishes Yuu good luck. When Harue pulls out a mahjong table and tells Kuro to come with her, Ako is confused as to why they're getting out a mahjong table. After the explanation she is taken aback by Harue planning for the finals. She along with Shizuno and Arata then explained to Kuro what exactly transpired during her match, causing her to cry.After taking care of her appearance and being told Sera will be stronger than last time, Ako is seen greeting Yuu in the halls. She then praises Yuu and says the won't lose either. Ako then proceeds to hug Yuu and tells her that she is warming her and its her reward for doing well, even though it's a lie. She says that she actually wants Yuu's good luck (and boobs). Yuu says that it's alright then, and hugs Ako tighter; Ako thanks her, and says she's not shaking anymore.
Before the match begins she and Sera glare at each other, despite greeting each other with pleasantries. The match starts off with Sera winning big a few times before Ako remembers that Takami Shibuya is at the table and decides to stop the dealer's repeat. At half-time she walks back to the waiting room and hen asks Harue about Takami and she tells her that she is playing as they had feared. She then talks to Shizuno about her strategy going forward. Back into the match however, she ignores her strategy and wins with a tsumo. On her dealer's repeat, she wins again, directly on Takami, though she wonders if it's really okay to keep winning during her dealer turn. The match then goes back and forth between Sera and Ako until Senriyama jumps back into second place with a haneman tsumo during Ako's dealership. After Ako wins one more (putting Achiga back in second) and thinks about Takami, the girl hits a yakuman tsumo and puts an end to the match.
Just as Ako is about to leave, Sera then converses with her and she tells Sera that she was unlucky to be the last dealer. Sera then tells her that if Takami was the last dealer it would've been much worse and Ako then realizes that that means Takami would've gotten more yakuman hands. Sera then hugs her and says that she wants to play again. She then shrugs off Sera and tells her that she wants to play again too but was kind of scared of the hug because of what a tomboy Sera is (in her mind she thought the hug felt nice).
Back in the waiting room she tells Arata good luck before her match. She is later shown watching Arata's match when Harue calls Shizuno over to warm up. She then sits down as well saying she wants to go at her at second speed. Before Shizuno has a chance to leave, Ako grabs her and explains that she should wear the school uniform for the match. They then switch clothes. When Arata comes back from her match, Ako and the others greet her. During halftime at the captains match, she goes and greets Shizuno telling her not to fall asleep. She then hands her a drink and tells her that Harue said that the match was going well. Ako then says one more game but Shizuno corrects her by saying eleven more games. She is later seen playing Kuro. Later she mentions to Kuro that Shizuno always loved mountains and that she never got lost out there. After Shizuno's win she is shown celebrating together with the rest of the girls. When Shizuno tells her that her jersey is still warm from her, Ako is embarrassed and they are shown chasing each other around. As the go to visit the finals stage, she wonders if Shizuno's power can now break Kuro's dora control power. After Harue has an encounter with Sukoya Kokaji, she grabs Shizuno's hand and they leave together.
Ako appears with the rest of Achiga celebrating their recent victory before Harue tells them to go to sleep. She then tells Harue that she just recked the mood in a flash. When she found out Harue was going out for the night, Ako asks if she going out to have some fun while they sleep.
She later appears in Achiga's hotel during Nodoka's match. Here she discusses with Yuu the individual data for Nodoka. She notes that during team or online play, Nodoka will fold if things get to dangerous but in individual play, she stays on the offensive but does fold like usual if she has the lead. Near sundown, Ako says that it is still hot outside and that Nodoka's match is probably over by now. Later, Shizu is by herself and Ako asks what is wrong. She tells Ako to look at a flipped bracket and says it looks like a mountain and on the top of the mountain they'll be able to play Nodoka's school.
- Ako looks similar to Yuuki when she was little, causing the reporter to mistake Ako as Yuuki during an interview with Nodoka.
- Ako is Achiga's only current player to have played competitive mahjong in middle school, making it to the top 16 players in her prefecture.
- This is reflected when Uta Mihirogi said that Ako's their most skilled player.