Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ?
I will say this for Tomoyo – whatever her reasons for filming Sakura's entire life, she does realize that what she's doing might not always be welcome in this episode. Since Sakura isn't likely to tell her that, it's good that Tomoyo herself is able to recognize it. That makes Sakura and Syaoran's date at the aquarium much more charming than it would have been if the show had continued to rely on the hoary gag of Tomoyo filming everything Sakura does, and it was a much-needed break on that front.
It's especially relevant to this episode as well. While the date part is adorable, (and damn that card's timing breaking the glass!) it's also largely a rehash of episode three of the original series, at least in the sense that the second half invokes it constantly. This is basically zeroing in on the major issue that Clear Card has been suffering from – it simply doesn't feel new enough. Of course, that makes sense for a children's show that's also relying on the nostalgia of older viewers, but it still makes for slightly disappointing viewing. Getting Syaoran involved to be incredibly helpful at a crucial moment does mix things up, and the reveal that the card is not water-based is also a good change, but there's still a rewarmed feeling to things in general.
That issue aside, there's a fair amount to enjoy here. Sakura and Syaoran's mutual feelings are coming to the fore (largely in a lot of blushing), and even though they haven't quite gathered up the courage to say anything about it, both seem aware that this is a bona fide date and that they'd like to continue in this vein. Syaoran's more conscious of the situation, largely because he's reading Toya's message loud and clear – Sakura's still oblivious to this, possibly because she doesn't see her brother as being over-protective. There's an easy flow of conversation in between blush attacks that makes their relationship feel natural, while we can still also tell that they've been apart for a substantial amount of time. It's sweet, which is always a nice tone to strike.
Things do get stickier when the water tank breaks, largely because there are some glaring plot holes that come with it. Where did all of the other restaurant patrons and staff go? Where are all of the fish that were in the tank? Did they just get flushed out into the river? Why is nobody shivering after that unexpected bath? Okay, that last one is me being picky, but the fact that Syaoran, Sakura, and Toya are suddenly the only people in the café is definitely weird. It's also suspect that the aquarium guard seems totally unaware of Tomoyo's staff showing up outside; you'd think that a group of dangerous-looking women in business suits climbing out of a van would cause a stir.
Fortunately, the fight this week is one of the more interesting ones. Not only does Sakura get an assist from Syaoran, but she's using her new cards particularly well, and the visuals for Flight are beautiful. Spiral itself also has an interesting design – it looks a bit like a Slinky, and it moves with an impressively sinuous quality, even if I think Sakura was trusting it too much when she assumed it would split or choose a direction rather than busting straight through the tank. I'm not entirely sure how she'll be able to use it going forward, but given that other seemingly odd cards like Gravitation and Action have worked out, this should be interesting to see in battle as well.
We get back to Little Miss Suspicious (Akiho) next week, and hopefully that also means that we'll get closer to actual answers about what's going on. Toya, Syaoran, and Yue are concerned (more so than Sakura), and at nearly the halfway point of the series, it's time to reveal some answers. This episode was delightful, but it'd be nice if both the romance plot and the card plot could come together in the next couple of weeks.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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