I think I’ll be working on more of these combined episode reviews this season as I’m having trouble keeping up with my studio courses and this blog. Since this is simply a hobby, I don’t ever want to stress over it – at least not too much. So, for the rest of the season, you can look forward to combined episode reviews on all episodes, unless I get a break and I can write more specific episode reviews at the time.
Episode seven is another filler-type staple that only gives us a new (though very, very cool) card, and nothing of news or interest for the series otherwise. However, episode eight throws us back into the fray with a new look at Akiho and her personal life.
Let’s break down seven first. It’s a Tomoyo-centric episode in the beginning where we are following Sakura and Kero to Tomoyo’s mansion for the day. The plan is to test out the record card, though Tomoyo doesn’t miss any opportunity to play dress-up with Sakura.
There’s some lighthearted chatter with Tomoyo’s mother, who knew Sakura’s mother when they were young, then we have some fun information where Tomoyo basically asked her mother’s company to make a small drone just so she can film Sakura better.
When Sakura finally summons the record card, it simply sits there, summoned and useless as she and Kero wonder how it works. However, the team figures out that you when you tell the card where to record, the card snaps to life and creates a 3D hologram of Sakura. It’s a cool card to have on your side, especially as a distraction-type if it can active quickly.
I’m surprised when I see Syaoran arrive because I didn’t think he was even invited over. However, knowing that Sakura is trying to include him in her Clear Card discoveries, this makes total sense. He’s late per the usual, and I’m still thinking it’s for nefarious purposes because I’m just not a stable girl.
During a tea break, Kero does something that made me a little sad. He takes photos of the current Clear Cards and messages them to Spinny, hoping that he will show them to Eriol for Sakura. They are still waiting on a response from the England troupe, and I can’t help but feel so utterly sad that neither Kero or Sakura have heard anything from them. I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to have friends not respond to you after multiple calls and messages over something this important. I wish Eriol would just call her back and lie at this point.
Helping us get over this melancholy feeling, a new card comes to play!
The kids start looking for a mysterious wind that blows through the tea, trying to spot the new card. Syaoran somehow summons a bade from inside his hand, ready to fight the danger. When he spots the faint shadow of the card, he uses magic to electrocute it, causing the card to bolt away. He’s such a violent boy.
Sakura stops him from using more harmful magic and gives chase to the card. After a few minutes of lively tag, Sakura realizes the card is playing with her. Instead of capturing the card by force, she asks if they can be friends and is able to seal the magic after the card bears its crystal heart to her.
This is the Flight card, and I believe that this card is a great example of how different the Clear Cards are from the Clow/Sakura Cards. All of the cards up to this point, except the air card, have been trying to get close to Sakura – not harm her whereas most Clow Cards were relatively destructive. It’s almost as if this magic is attracted to her in some way.
Regardless what the case is, this fly card is really cool. Sakura is able to sprout beautiful ribbon-like wings and fly however she pleases. This is quite possibly the most helpful card she has to date.
Though Sakura is happy with her new friend and magic use, Syaoran looks dour (again, per the usual) on the ground in the face of Sakura’s elation.
These filler-type episodes are cute and fun, but since they offer no substance while showing us the established and unresolved status quo of the current series, I always feel disappointed by the end.
It seems we have spent enough time playing around that the show can advance with the manga again. Episode eight gives us some much needed information about Akiho, and dims my suspicions that she is a knowingly malevolent character. The key word is “dims” because I still don’t trust her.
Sakura and Tomoyo learn the Akiho lives in Eriol’s old home, and the girls are invited over for a day to basically hang out and do whatever fancy kids do- namely having tea and talking abstractly.
Sakura invites Syoaran, but he refuses and I’m actually a little surprised. I’m sure he has the same suspectaions about Akiho that I do, so him not going over is very odd considering everything. However, during the conversation, Sakura is able to ask Syaoran on a date the following weekend. So cute! Though, I hope he doesn’t mess that up by being late or absent like he does so often as of late.
Here’s a fun thing- while Sakura is finishing cheer practice you can hear Tomoyo and Akiho singing int he background and it sounds like dying cats.
Later, in her room, Sakura is hit with another vision. It’s the same as the previous one, featuring the robed person, clocks, and gears. Nothing new happens here, but it does serve as a quick reminder for what happens later when we are with Akiho. It’s a nice reminder since the last time we saw that vision was a couple weeks back.
Now that we have all our information, let’s go to the treasure trove that is Akiho’s home.
We first learn that Yuna D. Kaito is the name of the exceedingly handsome man that Akiho has been talking about this entire time- it’s her manservant. I can see why Akiho would have some strong feelings for this boy, but I wonder how much of that love she feels is a confusion between sexual and platonic love.
The girls speak a little about Eriol as Kaito pours them tea, and he pulls out a pocket watch with a VERY familiar watchface. If Akiho is a secret cardcaptor, like what one half of my brain is thinking, Kaito may the Yue or Ruby to Akiho. However, Akiho grows a little sour when Kaito mentions waiting on her is his job. It seems she wants him to help her because he wants to, but can’t understand that no one would want to serve tea to a child all their life. Even if that child is as adorable as Akiho. Again- it’s that idea of sexual and platonic love she is confusing.
Following this are more red flags. Akiho mentions that she came to Japan because there was a book she wanted. At this point, I freaked out thinking it was the Clow Card book (hint: it’s not), but I also got worried because I assumed she arrived in Japan due to her parent’s work. It’s strange that this would be a personal move on her part, as a child, for just one book. Maybe it’s nothing, but I wonder now if there is a darker side to Akiho where she is just a little controlling, possibly misguided into an “evil” nature.
Sakura asks Akiho to go get the book so they can see it, and she and Tomoyo run off to capture a card they had sensed earlier. Here, we have a different transformation and collection scene- again, a little strange considering the new information being received and location we are in. I think the card being found here in Akiho’s home helps gives my theory that the cards are attracted to Sakura a little credence, too.
It’s all making me terribly uneasy and worried for Sakura’s wellbeing, even though I think this change was a simply a visual choice on the creator team for episode variance.
The Lucid card is captured, and it’s some sort of cloaking card. Just as this scene ends, Akiho appears with her mysterious book, coated in the same gears from Sakura’s dreams. However, Sakura isn’t able to place the gears as those from her dreams, so maybe she can’t remember anything vividly for too long about he dreams, or maybe the book is causing some sort of dissonance.
The book is in some unknown, crazy looking language that Akiho has apparently taught herself to read without a cipher. Yes, this is where I apparently draw the line in this fiction. I think it’s wholly unbelievable that this kid, or anyone on the planet, would be able to understand what is in this book. You cannot translate or understand language without a cipher, which is why we needed the Rosetta Stone to understand a few old languages. If you don’t have a cipher, you’re just guessing. Or. Akiho is using some sort of magical ability to read the book, or she is from the land where this language is used.
Anyway! Akiho tells us that this story is called Alice in Clockland, a spin off book of the Alice series not written by Lewis Carroll. The kids comment on how cool the book is before leaving the library for more beverages. After they leave, the book beings to glow and emit the same sounds as in Sakura’s dream.
Going off this information, where Akiho loves this book, Alice in Clockland, it’s possible that Akiho sees herself as an Alice character. She has a rabbit charm that helps solidify this idea, though I wonder if she really is Alice. Akiho could be seeing herself as Alice, but everything we’ve up to this point makes me see Sakura as Alice. The fact that Sakura is curious, friendly, and moldable makes her very much the Alice-type that we would expect, plus all the Clear Cards are attracted to her. Add in the giant dragon, which we can choose to think of as a Jabberwocky (from a separate Carroll poem often merged into Alice in Wonderland lore) and the time association (huge idea in the Alice stories) in later dreams- Sakura is a full-blown Alice analogy.
I think it would be simple to say that if Sakura is Alice, Akiho is the Red Queen. However, if it’s that easy, I’ll be disappointed. I have only a cursory knowledge of of the Alice stories, but there are a few more adversaries we can use that would be more interesting than the Red Queen, an overused villain in the Alice homage/adaptation manga/anime in my opinion.
Just before we close out for the week, Ruby is seen yelling at Spinny about refusing to go to Japan to help Sakura. Eriol interrupts, stating that they cannot do anything to help their friends, and that even if they were in Japan- they would be unable to help them. It’s possible that this is the issue Syaoran is struggling with so much: being there, but wholly unable to help.
I didn’t know that this Clear Card arc would be centering around an Alice in Wonderland-type story. I’m not sure how I feel about the trajectory now because I’m really over this trope. CLAMP is a few years late to the idea, but here’s hoping we can get some cool contact out of it all.