Nineteen opens with the story of a young fox and his mother who is fearful of humans, stating that if the young fox shows his true hand when asking for mittens, the humans will cage him. If you want to read into this story, you can draw some parallels with Akiho being the young fox. Though, as the show continues, I feel like we aren’t supposed to attribute this book to Akiho at all, and it’s instead a vehicle for skidding the entire show to a halt.
Who knew that wishing that for a deviation from the monster-of-the-week narration would lead to the most standstill episode of the series yet?
As it turns out, the book Sakura was reading is one she plans to read in front of some grade-schoolers for a program she is helping Yuki with. She goads Akiho, Tomoyo, and Syaoran to join her with Syaoran outright refusing until they decide he can just play piano. It’s pretty uncomfortable when Syaoran keeps resisting the invite, but since none of the other characters notice- I don’t think the terrible unease is intentional. I felt like Syaoran was avoiding going out and being with friends for some deep, dark reason that has to do with the new cards, but I guess he’s just super shy.
There’s a very useless section of the show devoted to Syaoran calling Wei (his butler) and asking him to compose a song to accompany the book. The entire scene only shows us that Syaoran has a gaggle of worried sisters, nothing more or less. I feel like we are supposed to be melancholy, but it just fails and continues far too long. This segment is far better served in manga than in anime, so let’s just etch this up as another unneeded, boring Segway in the throes of the season.
We later see Akiho becoming needlessly worried about damaging a mass-produced children’s book, not wanting to write notes in it to help her read the book. It’s silly, but a little cute.
This scene branches us into where we are going to spend most of the rest of the episode: a children’s care facility. I am not sure if it’s a hospital or a daycare or what, but nurses work or have worked on the premises. It’s some vague location where children are read to.
After Yuki finishes his set, the girls read their story. Every word. It’s not a compilation or a montage; the girls read us the entire story. I truly cannot intimate more how much of a waste this entire section of the episode is. If you happen to be reading this, looking for an episode to skip in the series, this is it. You’ve found it!
Focusing on the fact that the story telling here falls apart in a big way doesn’t serve anyone any good here, but just know that wasting so much screen time on reading us a story and showing how two middle schoolers have poor classroom management skills isn’t a way to advance the plot.
Just as the episode ends, Sakura attempts to show Kero what happened at the book reading using the Record card. However, we actually end of seeing an older rooms with lots of kids are caretakers… the same caretakers who were in some background photos earlier in the episode.
Seemingly not understanding what happened, Sakura turns off the simulation in disappointment and Kero acts like he didn’t see the weird room. He leaves to talk with Yue in a rush, Sakura more confused and concerned that ever, and we learn that Sakura’s magic has grown so much that she now has this latent ability to read into the past.
That’s all we get, and it’s terribly frustrating. This show has been moving at such a snail pace that an even more slow and time-watse-y episode is almost enough to make me want to drop the show entirely. I can’t believe we made it through an entire 25 minutes only to learn that Sakura is a little stronger because she can record the past. All attempts at adding character information fail since no depth is attempted, and we are just given more of the same over and over. I’m so disheartened at the moment that I have no hope that Clear Card will ever pick up and be a great sequel.
Surprisingly enough, or maybe no so, episode twenty also spends far too much time meandering around plot progression. No amount of love for Sakura’s grandfather can bring back the hurt I feel for having my time wasted for over half an episode.
We begin with the understanding that Sakura and Syaoran have a date scheduled, and Kero is supposed to help Yuki clean his home during that date. However, the plans change a bit when Sakura receives a call from Tomoyo’s mother stating that her father has something to give Sakura before he leaves the country. Instead of rescheduling the date with Syaoran, the grandfather allows the kids to come together to his home in the county. No doubt a way for him to meet Syaoran and attempt some small repenting for treating Sakura’s father so terribly in the past.
There’s a considerable about of time spent between the kids and Grandpa that feels longer than it actually is before Sakura leaves the group to go find more tea. Syaoran then is asked some questions about Sakura and the grandfather learns that Syaoran is a good boy, just like his late daughter’s husband is.
Most importantly, at this time in the episode I am screaming in my notes wondering why we are talking about all this again. It offers nothing to the current trajectory, and it only serves as a reminder that the grandfather exists… until Sakura gets into his home. I believe the buildup to Sakura’s discovery of her mother’s room is far too slow and unneeded when the entire action could have had quite a bit cut out.
Sakura’s journey continues inside the house as she searches for someone to help her get tea. Unable to find help in the first hallway she entered, she goes upstairs- sound logic, Sakura-Chan. She finds her mother’s old bedroom and wanders around it in a very cute, melancholic scene before using her record card to play memories of the past. As it turns out, Sakura does know what she is doing here with that card.
I’m first stricken with the reminder of how much Sakura’s mother looks like Akiho, though it may just be an art coincidence. If we do jump down that rabbit hole, Akiho being Sakura’s reincarnated mother could explain why both Sakura and Toya’s magic has been growing recently. Personally, I think that this would be the way to go with the story since a random girl just doesn’t sit right with CLAMP’s interwoven, familial story-method in the Cardcaptor series.
Our happiness skids to a halt when Sakura’s child mother turns to Sakura and says “No more, if you go any further, you will not be able to come back” before the rooms falls away and Sakura is in the clock world again.
At the same time, we see Akiho spacing out as she reads her book. Between the girls, the dream evolves and repeats itself (as it always does) with Sakura saying she knows who the robed person is but never actually saying anything.
Sakura then wakes up in her grandfather’s arms with Syaoran terribly worried beside them, and it looks like Sakura is terribly worn out from her magic usage.
Momo talks to Kaito and says that the girls are bringing to sync up as the power of the dream grows, though the progression is sooner than they had been expecting. No surprisingly, Kaito doesn’t mind the speediness, but mentions the acceleration of magic has caused Sakura’s protectors to finally make their moves.
The very end of the episode features Eriol summoning Yue and Kero, ready to finally these boys everything that is going on with Sakura and the Clear Cards.
Out of two episodes of programming, we got roughy ten minutes of plot-related content which really just sucks. The biggest problem with Clear Card is that the card catching and plot are not properly balanced with the filler and general slow-life information like it was in the old show. The progression of the story right now is very much how a manga should read, not an anime should play.
Here’s to my continual hope that each plot promise will yield a more solid episode next time; however, I’m beginning to wonder if I should just just drop out of the show since the show is scheduled to end in two episodes, I am doubting any real resolution.