Great Pretender – 11 – Mr. Nice Guy

After the high-rolling glitz and glamour of LaLaLand and Singapore, Great Pretender’s newest destination of Nice feels downright quaint … and that’s not a bad thing! Makoto may have followed Laurent and Cynthia to France, but he’s determined to walk away from con artistry and make an honest living at one of Nice’s not-so-famed sushi restaurants.

Unfortunately both his philosophy towards sushi and the language barrier prove to be dual challenges. On the bright side, his boarding house is cheap, has great food, and the owner’s daughter is quite lovely. But when a hoity-toity Englishman samples Makoto’s boss’ sushi and absolutely eviscerates him with withering criticism, the boss is ready to throw in the towel and return to China.

Another blow comes when Makoto gradually learns that his lovely hosts will soon sell their boarding house due to debts owed by the owner’s wife. Soon to be out of a job and a home, what’s Makoto to do? Run a con, obviously! Specifically, he intends to sell an intriguing little painting hanging on the wall for a sum sufficient to help the father-daughter duo pay off the debt and keep the house.

While it’s technically a con, Makoto’s justifications for re-re-breaking bad are twofold: one, it’s to help people out—he’s a Nice guy in Nice, after all—and two, the target is the hoity-toity Englishman who insulted his sushi boss. So he calls in Cynthia, Abby, and Sudou—though pointedly keeps Laurent out of it. Maybe my favorite part of the episode is his quiet, understated reunion and quasi-date with Abby. The two have clearly become closer since their little skydive!

Since this is Makoto’s show, Cynthia lets him run it, but the moment she sees the Englishman she calls for everyone to pull out. After all, the guy is none other than Coleman … James Coleman, Art Appraiser par excellence. Trying to fool him is a fool’s errand. Makoto doesn’t abort, however, and to Abby’s surprise Coleman is happy to buy the seemingly worthless painting for twenty-five thousand Euros.

Turns out the joke was on Makoto: the painting was a genuing Montoya, and a rare lost one at that which Coleman had apparently been looking for for years. He bought it for 25 thousand, but it’s really worth over 20 million—something Makoto’s landlord and daughter learn on the news.

But while they still got twenty thousand (Makoto didn’t keep any for himself, the other five split between Abby and Sudou), it still doesn’t sit right with Makoto that they were the ones taken for a ride. Despite not taking any of the cut, Cynthia is also outraged, and when she gets drunk enough, she decides that their next move is to get the painting back!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 20 – A New Challenger Has Appeared!

Everybody Loves Sakura, right? Why wouldn’t they? Easy: if you thought she was trying to steal your fiancee! That’s where we’re at with Syaoran’s cousin, Meiling, who transfers not just to his school, but his very class and immediately shoots daggers at Sakura at every turn. Syaoran, meanwhile, just looks exhausted and defeated.

It’s clear Sakura isn’t used to people not liking her (again, why wouldn’t they?) but let’s get real: she is a bit of a goody two-shoes, so I’ll admit to finding Meiling’s ruthless single-mindedness refreshing. It doesn’t matter whether Sakura thinks she’s in the fight of her life for Syaoran’s heart, that’s what Meiling believes, so she’s going to do everything she can to defeat her.

Sakura is just happy that the new trimester has started, her dad made her a yummy bento, and then prepares a steak feast with Yukito joining her fam. During dinner she learns more details about a serial assaulter who is targeting martial artists by challenging them to fights and then winning. My first thought is that it was Meiling taking her frustrations out on unwitting bystanders, but it’s a Clow Card.

That means Tomoyo is on the scene with a new pink battle costume for Sakura and a fully-charged camcorder. The card, Fight, is one of the cooler-looking designs, but Sakura isn’t sure what to do since she doesn’t know any martial arts. Enter Meiling in her battle costume, who decides to take Fight on all by herself. At the start of the fight, Meiling makes it look easy, and the strikes, kicks, and dodges are all beautifully animated.

Eventually, however, Fight ups her game and Meiling has to be bailed out by Syaoran, who is furious she stole the compass to locate the card and fight it by herself. You see, unlike most members of the Li clan, Meiling has no magical powers, so she can’t detect Clow Cards without help. Turns out even Syaoran isn’t a match for Fight; I was certain this was one card the Lis were going to collect running away.

What Sakura lacks in martial arts knowledge, she makes up for by releasing Power after Tomoyo suggests it. The result is that while she flails about in a far less graceful and controlled way than the Lis, it’s the punch her staff packs that matters, and it only takes one well-placed blow to the head to knock Fight out cold, netting her another useful offensive card.

Meiling is extremely frustrated to have lost this round with her new rival, but she clings to Syaoran to make clear that she won’t have green-eyed hussies stealing her fiancee. Sakura ends the episode with an exasperated HOEEE, clearly preferring if everyone simply got along, while Tomoyo notes that the relationship chart has gotten a bit more complicated.

I, for one, really like Meiling; she had a hell of an entrance and can’t wait to see more of her!