|“||It helped me.||”|
—Sawaya's explanation for her general luck and mahjong abilities.
|Japanese name:||狮子原 爽|
|School:||Usuzan High School|
|Grade:||Third-year high school|
|Debut:||Saki, round 101|
|Main skill/ability:||Use of various abilities related to Ainu mythology|
Sawaya Shishihara is a third year student at Usuzan High School. It is her plan to make Yukiko Maya into an idol that will surpass Hayari Mizuhara. According to Yuan and Chikako, Sawaya went missing when she was little. Two days later she appeared covered in red seawater and only saying "It helped me." Since that day, no matter what accident or trouble she was in, Sawaya would be safe and say "it helped me."
Sawaya has medium length red hair tied into a side ponytail and wears the standard Usuzan uniform with a backwards tie.
Sawaya has been shown to be a bit on the less serious-side, quickly changing between being sad that Chikako left to asking Yuan if she finished Maya's outfit, and she even wears her school`s tie backwards. She often quotes writers and historians incorrectly (Yukiko often corrects her) or quotes them irrelevantly. She is also very understanding, and quick to try and cheer up her teammates after they lost a lot of points.
However, when her match began, she has shown to be very serious and determined, quickly analysing her situation and deciding which of her abilities to use. Similarly to Hisa, she analyzes all of the players from opposing schools and gives her teammates tips and advice to help play against them.
Playing Style / Abilities
It is noted by Hiroko Funakubo that Sawaya Shishihara is beyond the regular high school ace level and is leagues above already impressive players such as Mairu Shirouzu. Besides her abilities, Sawaya can also calculate point differences succinctly, and realize that it's better to struggle a bit in the Finals than to not go all out and not even make it to the Finals. Due to the point difference, she also plays cautiously.
Sawaya's abilities seem to be related to Ainu mythology (a native religion of Japan) as she is seen using five colored clouds and the abilities of Ainu Gods called Kamuy.
At the start of a hand she can summon up to five different coloured clouds (the clouds arrive based on when she last used them), and decide which one to use. She has only been seen using the red and white clouds, and she used the black and yellow clouds in the quarterfinals. These clouds are related to a tale of an Ainu God who descended from the sky on five different colored clouds. Presumably, no one else can see these clouds, and each cloud has a different ability. Once used, a cloud cannot be used again until it comes back to Sawaya at a later point. The black and yellow clouds took two days to regenerate.
- The red cloud makes only Sawaya draw honor tiles. Kyouko Suehara theorized that it can be used in a reverse fashion to make only the other three players to draw honors. Sawaya used it to form a concealed Dai San Gen tenpai.
- The white cloud appears to give Sawaya many bamboo tiles however, it is unknown if it is specifically for bamboo tiles or if it can be used for any one suit. It was used to form a concealed chinitsu.
- The effects of the other three clouds are unknown.
The Kamuy include both ones that hamper her opponents, and ones that support her hand. Kamuy either take much longer to recharge or require her to be at home; in any case, she could only use each Kamuy once during the tournament. As an upside, some of them can last for multiple hands and she may use multiple in conjunction with each other. So far, Sawaya has been shown using the power of five Kamuy:
- Pakoro Kamuy: the Ainu God of disease and lifespan, makes her opponent only draw Sawaya's winning tiles. This can backfire if the opponent plays defensively and makes use of those tiles. She used this Kamuy against Kyouko in the hope that she'd deal in into her Daisangen hand. Its effect lasted for one hand.
- Akkoro Kamuy: a glowing-red octopus god who resides in Funka Bay in Hokkaido, which "dyes red" the discard pond and the tile walls - including the dead-wall - with red manzu tiles. Sawaya used this to win with a kazoe-yakuman (a closed honitsu with riichi, tsumo, chun and one dora, three ura-dora and three kan ura-dora - totalling seven dora). Its effect lasted for one hand.
- Hoyau Kamuy: a winged, serpentine God with a sharp pointed snout, who protects Sawaya from the interference of the other players by negating their abilities. This stopped Saki and Nelly from stopping her from using Akkoro, but helped the ability-less Kyouko as well. Its effect lasted for five hands.
- Huri Kamuy: a bird deity whom attracts guest wind tiles to Sawaya. She used this to form a honroutou+honitsu hand. Its effect lasted for one hand.
- Pawchi Kamuy: the Ainu god of lust, which has a direct effect on a player's body, causing them to feel sexual pleasure. Sawaya does not like the idea of using it during a game as it directly affects her opponent's body rather than their tiles, but used it on Nelly after the game at the latter's request. This Kamuy is the reason Hayari Mizuhara was so afraid of playing against Usuzan.
Final Eight Arc
After Naruka Motouchi enters the waiting room and apologizes for her match, Sawaya quotes Saint Paul's second letter to Corinth and tells her to be brave. When Chikako Himori gets ready to leave for her match, Sawaya tells her that they are all counting on her and seemed sad as she left. She then turns and asks Yuan Iwadate if she had finished with Yukiko Maya clothes. After seeing the clothes, Sawaya says that they'll turn Yukiko into the next Hayari Mizuhara and take Hayari down a notch. Before Yuan's match, she makes some potty humor and is interrupted by Yukiko before finishing. After Yuan returns and apologizes, Sawaya says that its okay and sometimes things happen that way. Yukiko then asks Yuan to change her and Sawaya gets excited.
Sawaya appears in Yukiko's flashback. Here she is shown getting groceries with her teammates when Yukiko fell on her face. After they help her out, she invites Yukiko to the mahjong room where they play cards. Yukiko then asks where are the mahjong tiles and Sawaya tells her that they have been sold. After Yukiko says she has a table they could have, Sawaya and Naruka decide to use the stroller cart at Chikako's home. Later the club is playing a game and Sawaya asks Yukiko how she became her classmates lackey. She then hands her a mahjong magazine and says that they should make Yukiko the next mahjong idol and then proceeds to give her a make over. While alone with Chika, she tells her the mahjong table falls apart once a week like she did during her freshman year. She then makes Chika fix the machine and says that it'll have to hold together until after the prefectural tournament.
After the tournament she says that it was a close one and that since the win they have more funding and should have better practices until the nationals. Yuan then enters with a mahjong magazine and gets super excited.
When Megan Davin nearly wins off of Maya, she says that it was close and that she was on to something about Megan. She then tells the others that Megan likes to do karagiri when she's in tenpai. After Yukiko's match, the others reaffirms that the road to making Yukiko stand out is now completed. Sawaya says that it was accomplished along time ago when they won the regionals. She then says that now that they are here, they can be greedy and that she probably won't beat the other captains but she's going to have fun.
In the second hand of the semifinals, Sawaya assess her current situation: if she gains approximately 48000 points (39000 from Himematsu and 9000 from Kiyosumi), she can take second place and advance to the finals. However, she doesn't expect things to go that smoothly. Even so, she decides to use her ability, knowing that going all out and advancing would still make the Finals rough on her (but thinks going to the Finals is better than not).
By the second row of discards, no one has discarded a single honour tile, while Sawaya has collected many honour tiles. Kyouko Suehara attempts to speed up by calling tiles, but Sawaya ends up in tenpai for a Dai San Gen while Kyouko is in iishanten. In order to be cautious, Sawaya also places a curse of Kyouko, forcing her to draw all of Sawaya's waits. Kyouko declares a kan with both of Sawaya's waits (and thus is only able to discard the 1 tile in her hand), but Sawaya changes waits and wonders whether Kyouko will draw her wait first or draw it herself. Nelly Virsaladze interrupts Sawaya's train of thought by saying it's too late: she declares a kan and wins with a rinshan kaihou.Afterwards, Sawaya deals into Kyouko's 1000 point hand but then uses the white cloud on her own dealership which causes her hand to fill with souzu tiles. Deciding it's best to declare riichi, Shishihara then hopes Kyouko will deal in to her hand but she folds. However, Sawaya then wins on her next turn with a riichi-ippatsu and a closed chinitsu and gains 8000 points from each of her opponents.
During the resultant bonus hand, Sawaya points out that she won't be able to win by not thinking or praying to the Kamuy whenever she wants as timing is important too. She then summons Hoyau Kamuy to shield her from the interference of her opponents and then summons Akkoro Kamuy which causes her hand to fill with many manzu tiles and a chun triplet. She then declares a concealed kan and declares riichi. Shishihara then wonders if any of the others have noticed that there are a lot of unneeded manzu tiles in the discard pool and that the frightening thing about Akkoro is that it not only causes the discards to be "dyed red" but it also dyes the walls too and she then draws a dora tile and declares a win (riichi, tsumo, honitsu, chun set) before revealing the ura-dora and kan-ura dora in the dead wall are both 7 man giving her an additional six dora causing her hand value to sky-rocket to 48, 300 points, placing Usuzan in second place and causing Himematsu and Kiyosumi to fall to third and last place respectively. Sawaya then remembers that thanks to her abilities, people thought she was creepy. It was only Yuan and Chika who treated her normally and could enjoy things because of that. However Kyouko Suehara suddenly wins unexpectedly against Sawaya. Sawaya says that she nearly wasted a cloud and using them is difficult. As Kyouko keeps winning, she notes that her clouds can't keep up with the quick hands and that if she knew Kyouko was so quick she would've done things different. Her powers soon leave her and Kyouko continues to dominate until halftime.
For much of the second half, Kyouko and Saki Miyanaga control the match and Usuzan soon falls into last place. When she gets her turn as dealer, she summons Huri Kamuy whom attracks wind hands other than her seat wind. However Saki pulls out the win with her signature move. Sawaya is amazed that Saki won and notes that Rishan Kaihou is a beautiful name for a yaku. When Saki wins again, she notices flowers behind Saki and says " Look at the lilies in the field. They toil not. Nor do they spin. Even Solomon in all his glory...could not compare to petals like these!" As Nelly starts to win big, she says that finally her black cloud came back and that she is now the dealer so now she should aim for consecutive wins. However, Nelly wins big two more times to end the match and eliminate Usuzan.
After the game, Nelly approaches Sawaya and asks if she is still hiding something. Sawaya says yes and the reason she kept it hidden was because it has a direct effect on the body and feels wrong to use. Nelly then insists on her trying out the ability despite Sawaya's protests. She finally gives in and uses herr Pawci Kamuy causing Nelly extreme pleasure and her begging for it to stop.
While finally making it to the waiting room, Sawaya says sorry that she couldn't win. Chikako then asks her if she brought "that" and she says she brought all that could come. Sawaya then says they could be useful for things outside of matches and would like to gather the ones that left her but it would be difficult before the match tomorrow.
National Championship Arc
The night before the tournament the girls get together to discuss their opponents. Sawaya warns that the Shindouji captain and vice captain are interconnected in some ways. They come to the conclusion to try and stop Mairu Shirouzu from winning at all costs.