Episodes seventeen and eighteen have quite a bit going on in it in regards to additional story setup, but it still lacks a deviation from the norm that, I think, most of us want at this point. We are truly settled into a monster of the week scenario with a useless cast of characters doing very little to back an overpowered little girl who manages to solve all her capturing problems in under a minute. I love this show, but I am also very tired of the monotony it’s bringing. When you think about the past sixteen episodes, well, much really hasn’t happened to advance the basal plot.
Episode seventeen beings with Sakura having another dream in the cog world. She begins shouting and asking for answers, and after asking if the dream is a premonition, the cog world around her falls apart and the area becomes an open sky revealing her city below and a giant dragon being ridden by her hooded rival. This brings together both dreams Sakura has had, though I feel as if she had this dragon dream only a couple times compared to the persistent clock one.
Before the dream ends, Sakura says she knows who is behind the mask, but before we can get her to say anything she awakes on the floor of her bedroom with Kero screaming at her. She still can’t place the exact person from her dream in the real world, and I’m no longer curious about who this is, but instead frustrated because Sakura can’t focus up enough to remember that it’s Akiho. The suspense of the situation was lost long ago before we even knew who the hooded figure was.
Sakura had to get up early to meet her old pal Rika who attends a different middle school. They perform a handoff where Sakura ends up an Alice in Wonderland pop-up book for Akiho. This isn’t foreboding at all, and no danger flags were raised when Sakura ran home to get her missing apron for cooking class.
Even though Sakura left her house early to meet Rika, she ends up being late to school because she had to double back to get supplies, and so Sakura forgot the book for Akiho at home. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until the following episode to see what this book’s appearance does to Sakura and Akiho.
The next scenes take place in cooking class with the chibi sprites taking the main stage to empathize the cook cooperation between the girls. It’s nice to see the extended animation here since it does add to the diversity of the show (even if it’s cute) since the current style had become a little bland and basic animation-wise.
After the cakes are done being made, the girls talk about Momo being at home with Kaito because her scarf was torn. It’s here that we finally see Momo move and talk. Though we aren’t sure of her exact role, yet, she does act similar enough to Kero that I believe she is a guardian beast of some sort. While speaking with Momo, Kaito says they are proceeding toward some of time (nothing is definitive per the usual) as the card collecting continues. Momo will have to keep being a stuffed animal until such time that it’s deem appropriate, I guess.
Back at the school, just as Sakura promises to show Akiho the book from Rika another day, the roll cakes the kids were making all being jumping and dancing around the room. Another card rears it’s head and beings to eat itself, making a giant, silly roll cake that chases Sakura all through the school. It seriously looks like a big roley-poley fish.
Sakura is able to squish the monster cake down to a small ball and seal the Appear card. A card which doesn’t make any sense to have taken control of cakes except in the vaguest sense of the word appear using quite the leap in logic. I understand that this is all supposed to be Alice in Wonderland themed to a point, but this is a big stretch.
Syaoran shows up at the end of the encounter, his old useless self apologizing for not being able to help her out. He may have been affected by her sleep spell, but I find it hard to excuse his ineptitude until now just because he fell asleep once- even Kero has offered more assistance regularly. I just find it silly that Syaoran is even in Japan if he is never going to get his act together.
Later, Akiho recounts her mysterious cake disappearance debacle to Kaito after giving some cute clock cakes. During the entire scene, Kaito really seems genuinely kind and caring to the point where I’m finding it very difficult to see him as a villain. When Akiho asks to see him laugh again, Kaito gets very sad just before the book’s magic puts her to sleep. After Momo mentions the idea that Kaito’s D magic isn’t enough to control the book’s time, I came to the realization that Kaito can’t be a bad guy, even if he ends up playing the part of a villain later. He seems to be more like Eriol, serving as a test for Sakura’s abilities. Speaking of, Kaito states that the new cards are needed for controlling this book. During the scene, we see the clock dream play below Akiho and company, and from this I think we are supposed to understand that the book is the real culprit here- not Kaito, Akiho, or Momo.
Of course, this freedom of blame makes me much less invested. Evil book or evil boy, you pick which is more exciting to watch.
Episode Eighteen begins with Akiho thumbing through the Alice in Wonderland pop-up book at lunch with the girls. It’s a very beautiful book, and Akiho has never seen it before- so we spend some time with it on screen. The girls then move on to talk about Rika, and let me just say that I love how supportive and sweet these kids are. No one is every trying to one-up another person, and though that’s not exactly indicative of reality, I love that these girls are so wholesome and kind.
Everything is fine and dandy until Sakura tells Akiho she can keep the book, then, Sakura loses time. Her vision breaks and she is transported to the cog world again where the entire area seems much brighter than before (though maybe I’m imagining it). She is awoken before tripping down some stairs, having virtually sleep walked her way across the campus. That’s impressive and scary, but I’m concerned about why the vision was triggered in Sakura. Until this point, we could connect Akiho’s book time or sleeping time with Sakura’s visions in a tangental way. This just doesn’t make sense. Why would a vision happen without Akiho present in the dream, and why would it happen upon Akiho’s receipt of an additional book- jealousy?
Back at Akiho’s house, she works hard to find a new place for another Alice book before Kaito appears like ghost behind her. He explains that he was worried about her since she seemed sad after school, and after she explains that Sakura’s was spacing out Akiho sees a vision of the cog world for a second, hearing the clock tick loudly. As she explains this now to Kaito, I got worried he would take out his watch and rewind time, but before anything kind of terrible happened, Akiho’s stomach growled and we moved on to feeing her. Again, I am not sure what is trigging these visions now, and Akiho is suddenly seeing and hearing them, too. We are going off the reservation with the book’s magic now.
Literally with no wind up or reasoning, Sakura, Tomoyo, and Syaoran are at the local shrine to capture a card. Maybe Sakura felt something and came here, maybe they were tipped off by some rumors around school, who knows… it’s not explained and it’s unclear and that’s not good. It’s almost like we are being rushed to a conclusion all of a sudden after meandering around for seventeen-ish episodes.
Episode seventeen teased us with Syaoran’s appearance after that week’s card was captured, but not episode eighteen! Syaoran appears, and he will ruin the battle-plan and, again, offer little-to-no real assistance in the matter. I’m far more invested in how many more ways Syaoran can act shady than Akiho and her book now.
As the kids all joke and have fun at the entrance of the shrine, a giant plume of fire erupts into the sky and becomes a Phoenix. Sakura summons her water bird, but it dies in a whoosh of steam. So, then, the plan becomes Sakura flying up to the fire bird and trying to seal it here. Syaoran is to help from the ground somehow. Sakura flies up the sky, and Syaoran literally pulls the fire bird to the ground…. I’ve already said it, but he ruins the initial plan (for a better one, I admit) and basically makes Sakura fly for no reason. It’s so unnecessary that I didn’t have to think twice about being frustrated with this scene. Regardless, Sakura is able to seal the Blaze card, the first card in a long time that does exactly what it says it does.
After the battle, Sakura asks Syaoran what type of magic he used to bring down the bird, and though he refuses to anything – it totally looks just like Clow card magic, though. I’m not sure if that’s a stylistic choice or more pervasive story choice, but no matter what it is, it’s something Syaoran doesn’t want to tell anyone about.
Back at home with Toya, we have a few scenes with Yue that don’t offer anything more than the last time we saw the boys together; however, this time it’s 60% more sexual.
Episode eighteen felt a little all over the place, almost as if the monster of the week was slapped in the middle of something bigger with a small tidbit of information to attempt to bring everything on course. It’s very rough, and the promise of a conclusion to the story is wearing me very thin.