There’s isn’t a ton of forward movement with this episode and the card encounter is little lackluster, but my most closely held belief about the direction of the series is shot down. We are treated to a new character whom I’m hoping will provide the light Sakura needs to get out of her magical card rut and start solving some of these mysteries.
The episode picks up after Sakura’s fall the previous night. Toya notices she isn’t feeling too well, but he is able to cheer her up before school starts. There isn’t any mention of what happened after Sakura fainted, but I have to assume it was a brief period of unconsciousness before she moved on an took her bath.
Sakura attends school as normal, and we are graced with a new student: Akiho Shinomoto. Though my first instincts tell me that this is the robed figure, because I can’t trust anybody in this show anymore, Sakura holds no such reservations and becomes fast friends with Akiho. Sakura invites Akiho to lunch, and the new girl quickly hits it off with the rest of the group.
We learn that Akiho was in Hong Kong (suspicious) right before she moved to Japan, and before that she had travelled around Europe. Syaoran is just as suspicious as I am of Akiho, so I suppose Syoaran is out of my line of sight for the robed person.
Sakura later points out that she and Akiho have smilier last names (and the blocking in the show demonstrates their hair similarity), so it could be that Akiho is a parallel Sakura in some way. Or, it could be that I am just on edge and wanting answers for the clear card mystery.
Just as the day is going well, without incident, the trees in the school courtyard up and start to leave. Tomoyo dresses Sakura into an adorable Korean-style costume and the girls skip class to take another card.
This is possibly the silliest thing I’ve even seen a card do. It’s difficult to not laugh considering the beauty of the rest of the show. The blocky tree movements feel out of place, and I do wonder if we could have done the scenes a little different.
Sakura uses a combination of the Siege and Aqua cards to trap and seal the magic that was forcing the trees to move. Her newly captured friend is the Action card, and it’s really just some rudimentary animation magic.
Following the encounter, Sakura and Kero bring the card to Yue to check out. I’m thinking they have been doing this to each card they’ve caught so far. Yue states that he doesn’t sense any magic in the cards still, but the staff is able to unlock whatever magic they hold. It’s possible, considering we are already toying with the idea of alternate world when theorizing about the robed person, that the Clear Card magic is another world’s card magic. That could explain why Yue and Kero are unable to sense the magic in the cards, though it’s obviously there. I also wonder if Sakura isn’t sealing former cards, but raw magic, much in the same way Clow Reed did years and year ago. These are some interesting ideas to consider.
The end of the episode features Sakura and Syaoran wrapping up a conversation where Sakura offers to make Syaoran his lunches. It’s all very cute until Syaoran calls Eriol. Though my initial suspicions of Syaoran are cleared, I’m left wondering what is going on as my previous predictions about Syaoran are reset and proven, for the most part, completely unfounded. Syaoran reports to Eriol that the new transfer student didn’t emit any magic, and that Yue and Kero haven’t noticed anything awry. The whole conversation gives you the feeling and implication that Syaoran is on call for Eriol, and Syaoran even says he is ready for when the time comes.
Honestly, the last few minutes threw almost every guess I had out the window, and I have no idea what to think about this fated time Eriol and Syaoran have talked about. I’m glad we aren’t demonizing Syaoran, and I’m glad the path of predictability has been shattered, but man- I’m going to cry if I don’t find out who this robed person is soon.