Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ?
There are some visuals this week that really bear paying attention to. Mostly they come in the last quarter of the episode, when the mysterious mage appears for the final time. While it's undoubtedly important that we see beneath the hood at last (and it really isn't a huge surprise to find Akiho under there), what's more interesting are the two images beforehand.
The first worth mentioning can be seen in the screencap: as Sakura looks out the window at the mage, she looks like she's her own clear card, the Sakura card in the truest sense. This is a nice way to symbolize the fact that she's been creating the clear cards with her own special power, but it also reminds us that until she really understands what's going on with both the cards and Akiho, she's just as much a tool for Kaito as the cards are for her. This makes the second important visual carry its own weight as well – the image of Sakura and the mage facing each other against the backdrop of the night sky is very similar to what we saw last week, Sakura and Syaoran against a gorgeous sunset. The moon, particularly the full moon, has a lot of mystical symbolism associated with it across many cultures, but more importantly it carries none of the promise of a sunset. A sunset, although it signals an end, also implies that there will be a new day coming up. A moon illuminates the darkness like a mock sun, reminding us that that new day has not yet come.
Despite this well-presented symbolism, as a final episode, this is kind of lackluster. It is important that we find out that Akiho is not only the mage but also that she's sleep-magicking like some sort of highly advanced somnambulist, because once again it absolves her of any and all attacks on Sakura. Perhaps more important is the fact that Kaito seems much less confident about whatever his scheme is than when he first appeared; now he's clear that Sakura's cards (and possibly her power) won't be all he needs for whatever he's up to. That may be why he's cut Syaoran off from Eriol; either of them could be Kaito's next target rather than just annoyances in his quest for Sakura's magic. By saving all of this plot for the last eight minutes of the episode, however, we're not given a lot of time to process what's going on, and the fact that things then just end with a (gorgeously animated) scene of Sakura running to walk to school with Syaoran does nothing to indicate where the story's headed.
We can, of course, read the manga; it's coming out in English from Kodansha. It also feels safe to assume that there'll be some sort of animated follow-up, be it film, OVA, or sequel TV series. But in the moment, none of those things feel like much of a salve for a season that has been a bit stingy with its plot and struggled a bit to find a balance between the original anime continuity and this one. It also leaves us with more questions than answers in the end – yes, we know who the mysterious mage is, but what's going on with Toya and Syaoran? What's that key Grandpa gave Sakura? Why is Toya sending his thirteen-year-old sister to bed at 7:50 and how many burgers can that one family eat? There are ways to find out, but it is still less than ideal from a storytelling perspective.
And so here we are. This final episode feels very symptomatic of the entire season; it's still entertaining and enjoyable, but a little sparse on the plot. It's been nice to reconnect with Sakura, Tomoyo, and Syaoran, but it hasn't entirely been the fulfilling reunion it could have been. We'll see where things go from here, but if nothing else, this has been a nice trip down memory lane, even if the road wasn't quite as long and winding as we might have hoped.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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