Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ?
Into every adaptation some filler, or at least padding, must fall. That's definitely what this episode feels like, although that's just as likely to be the fault of the pacing as anything else. In any event, episode five doesn't quite manage to divide its story elements up as well as it might have, spending too much time on lunches and flower-viewing while barely touching on the new card and those speculative looks Toya keeps giving his sister.
Flower viewing is the major plot point this week, with Sakura and her friends (including new transfer student Akiho) planning to meet up for a picnic beneath the trees. (The lack of black flies in anime must make picnics much nicer.) Naturally, this relies on Sakura and her dad making the lunch, talking about the lunch, and then everyone describing their lunches once they all meet up. While there's not Food Wars levels of description, it does feel like an extended version of the school lunch scenes we've gotten every week before, to the point where it doesn't feel like there's much point to this excursion.
It is interesting, however, that we briefly hear from Rika, the girl from the first series who went to a different middle school, presumably to get rid of that pesky adult teacher/elementary school student romance plot, which wouldn't hold up as well in a kid's anime today. That supposition appears to hold true, since Rika was supposed to go with Sakura and the rest of her old friends on the picnic but is conveniently busy. It's a good way to handle her character – she hasn't been totally written out of the story, which could have been an issue for returning fans, but she also isn't a constant presence. Having her be in contact with her old friends but clearly off living her own life at a new school mirrors what happens when you move up a level in education, giving her disappearance from the main story the feel of the characters all simply moving on.
Meanwhile, Syaoran's character is being handled less well. Not that he and Sakura need to be glued to each other, but at this point I'd think she might want more of his input on these new cards or at least have noticed his conspicuous absences. On the other hand, it seems reasonable that she's still just giddy at his return, plus someone always seems to get in the way when they're having A Moment. (Damn it, Yamazaki!) Five episodes out of a projected twenty-two means that it's probably too early to complain, but I'm still feeling leery of the plans for his character going forward.
The real issue of this episode is the card capture. Not only does no one appear to notice that there's a teenage girl being pulled backwards by some invisible force (and that goes for the hoards of people picnicking in the park, not just Sakura's friends), but the whole thing takes very little time and feels rather anti-climactic. We do get to see that Siege can do more than we initially knew (that transparency thing is a good trick), but there's never a feeling of urgency as Gravitation pulls Sakura toward itself and the capture of the card is rushed. Also, why is its gravitational pull only affecting Sakura? Shouldn't other picnickers be pulled toward the giant old tree as well? Given that other cards have affected general surroundings, this seems oddly specific.
Hopefully this is just a lull in the story and things will even out again next week. The art and music are still spot-on, with some cute ragtime-inspired background music and a fabulous coat for Sakura. It's obvious that someone really thought about what each kid was wearing to the picnic – everyone's got their own clear style, from the frillier outfits Sakura and Tomoyo are wearing to clothes that actual thirteen-year-olds might wear. It's a nice touch and proof that even if the plot lags, we'll at least be able to enjoy simply looking at whatever Clear Card puts on the screen.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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