Her normal role is that of playing defence, but when the going gets tough, the shrine maidens get supernatural, and Iwato is about to unleash the full extent of her powers upon her unsuspecting opponents.
While some may usher their abilities in quietly, the extent of Iwato's influence soon becomes clear, as first one then another tile set seems to vanish from the board for the other players, leaving them with no tiles of that kind either in their hand or discarded while Iwato hogs them all - a turn of affairs which leads to consecutive hands and nobody else too sure what to do about it.
However, with Iwato "stuck" in her offensive mode, perhaps Himematsu's Suehara has the answer thanks to her time spent engaged in three-player mahjong, and lo and behold she comes back to win a hand of her own... albeit with a little help from one Saki Miyanaga. With the limits of Iwato's power now apparent, it's suddenly Saki's time to shine as she steps into the limelight and practically obliterates her opponents, showing some variety to her ability to create rinshan kaihou hands as well as proving that there's more to her arsenal than this trick alone. We leave the episode with Kiyosumi back in the lead, but can they make it stick with only a few hands left to play?
It's taken a bloody long time to get there, but for all of my (still valid, in my opinion) criticisms of The Nationals I can't deny that watching Saki coming into her own and demolishing all before her remains thrilling to watch no matter how inevitable it might be. Admittedly, this week's episode still struggles to really make its tension stick, compensating with its feel-good factor of finally having our leading girl take the limelight in a satisfying fashion. Hopefully the climax to this particular match can build on this to at least make for a memorable end to the series.. assuming, that is, that the final instalment is spent with the cast in the bath. Again.