Cardcaptor Sakura – 64 – Mean Slopes

Sakura heads from the pool to the slopes in consecutive episodes, and from the first shot of her in her ski outfit admiring the snowy mountains, you just knew you were in for one hell of a looker of an episode. The vistas are just gorgeous, and really capture the grandeur and crisp chill of the setting.

In a welcome inversion of their usual dynamic, Tomoyo is way better at skiing than Sakura, having done it for years—though Sakura proves to be a quick learner. Syaoran is similarly unsure on his skis, and has to be saved from a tree collision by Eriol, who is not only an expert at skiing, but pairs up with Yamazaki to tell a whopper of a tale about geta sandals being the original skis.

Back at the chalet, when Naoko suggests they tells some scary stories about the mountains, Sakura naturally recoils in fear. Eriol indulges Naoko with a tale about a local yuki-onna freezing everyone she meets. Syaoran can tell Sakura isn’t lovin’ it, and suggests they turn in for the night, as it’s late anyway. Still, while Tomoyo dreams of Sakura, Sakura can’t sleep, still worried about what might be out there.

This leads to perhaps the most romantic scenes yet between Syaoran and Sakura, as they sit together beside the fire, then go outside when it starts to snow. Sakura discovers stuffed bears nearby, and asks about the teddy bear Syaoran made, and whether he’ll give it to Yukito. Syaoran admits to her the bear isn’t meant for Yukito, and that he actually likes someone else…though he’s just not able to tell her who. He couldn’t have asked for a better time…

The next day, Sakura shows she’s improved to the point she can hit the intermediate slopes, and Eriol volunteers to accompany her. However, the weather quickly takes a turn for the worse and the two are caught in a blizzard with the downhill lift out of order.

When an avalanche threatens to level the chalet, it becomes clear to Sakura that she needs to do something Cardcaptory to save the day. She manages to hide from Eriol long enough to summon, convert, and invoke the Time card, but it saps all of her energy, and she collapses before she can invoke Fiery to melt the time-frozen snow away.

The effect of the Time card wears off with her collapse, but Eriol uses his staff to disperse the snow, saving the exhausted Sakura. They return to the chalet as the weather improves, and Eriol hands Sakura off to Syaoran.

When he’s out of earshot, Eriol answers a question Sakura asked before about what he can’t stand: “making her sad like this”. But he claims to have no choice. Is all of this about testing her worthiness as master of the cards? What happens when she converts all of the Clow Cards to Sakura Cards? With only six episodes remaining, we’ll find out soon!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 63 – Waves, Listen to Her!

It’s still winter, but that doesn’t stop Sakura & Co. from donning their swimsuits and hitting up the new state-of-the-art indoor water park. It’s an episode heavy on character count and slice-of-life and light on…well, everything else! But that’s okay; sometimes it’s nice to just kick back and relax at the pool (though I’ll admit to being envious; pools in my city were closed all summer due to you-know-what!).

Like Tomoyo, Syaoran is smitten with Sakura’s swimsuit, but things have gotten to the point where all he can do is stare at her. Naturally, Touya and Yukito have part-time jobs at the park’s restaurant, but this time Nakuru joins them, lending her another opportunity to glom onto Touya, who is otherwise still concerned about Yukito’s tendency to, uh, fade out of existence now and then.

Even Kero-chan manages to smuggle himself into the park in Sakura’s bag and steals her cream soda when she’s not looking, only to get harshly scolded (Sakura even bears a fang, a rare occurrence unless she’s protesting her brother’s teasing). Otherwise everything’s peachy until Eriol summons a  massive wave that threatens to drown Rika (who is still learning to swim from Sakura), among others.

Sakura can’t very well summon her wand and cards out in the open, so she has a clever solution: do it while she’s in a water slide! She conjures and converts Watery to a Sakura Card, who proceeds to make it rain inside the park, which has the effect of lowering the water level, thus rescuing Rika.

In another private corner of the park Nakuru straight up asks Eriol why he insists on “doing cumbersome things” like this; he tells her she’ll find out soon enough. I certainly hope so!

Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 18 (Fin) – No Time To Worry About Getting Lonely

Just when Habara is about to open the Moon Temple, he’s stopped—by the real King of Distortion, in the flesh, inhabiting the body of Tanaka Shirou, who was beside him all along. The King “collaborated” with the late Teratsuki for the purposes of a grand experiment in healing the distortion in peoples’ hearts, by first drawing it out and giving it form.

In Kei’s case, the distortion is Saotome Masami, but it’s her unrequited feelings for Takeda Keiji that caused the distortion. To be more precise, it was the embarrassment from having those feelings, then creating a personality that would uphold the fiction that it didn’t matter, when all that did was bottle up her pain and facilitate the distortion.

But Kei isn’t embarrassed by her feelings anymore, and she’s done running and hiding from them. She is able to walk away from the King, who applauds her effort, and she ends up with Shirou—and Boogiepop—in the control room.

There, Boogiepop deduces that the King of Distortion has been imprecise with his abilities (see: Zooragi) because he was only recently “born” when Shirou came to the Moon Temple that morning. He was born from Shirou’s guilt over not knowing what the late Kamikishirou Naoko, whom he used to date (and who died in the Manticore incident).

Kei can attest to Shirou’s guilt and pain, but not just for not knowing what Naoko thought. Boogiepop antagonizes the King into transporting the three of them into a suspended state several hundred feet above the city, warning him that, like other possibilities that took form in the human world, if he becomes a threat she’ll deal with it.

Kei, ever the disciplinary committee president (AKA “Natural Police“) plays peacemaker, and Boogiepop follows her lead. They don’t want to fight him; they still aren’t even sure he is a threat, just a possible one. But Kei manages to “free” Shirou from the King by getting to the root of his guilt: it’s less about knowing Naoko’s heart and more about his own.

The truth is, Shirou didn’t know how he felt about Naoko, even in the end. She then tells him what she thinks Naoko would say if she were there: “Before you start worrying about other people, you need to take care of yourself!” The King suddenly plummets to the ground, and suddenly Kei is back in the control room with the code to unlock the Temple.

People start waking up and exiting the Temple, all of them with some kind of great weight they once bore having been lifted. It could be said that even though it was cut short sooner than originally desired, the King of Distortion’s experiment was a success. Sakiko bids goodbye to Boogiepop, asking what they’d do if she became an “enemy” (Boogie wouldn’t hold back, natch).

While Keiji is scouring the Temple looking for Touka, he runs into Kei, who tells him she followed someone she was worried about, but that person wasn’t Keiji. With her distortion healed, she can smile and shake hands and remain friends with Keiji without any trouble.

Keiji and Touka eventually reunite, and Touka falls asleep on Keiji’s shoulder as they take the train home. In a dream, or something else, back on that ruined earth of the distant future, Keiji climbs up a hill to meet Boogiepop, who asks “how did you know it was me?”, to which he replies that he wouldn’t mistake “a friend’s face.” Like the King with Shirou, Touka is Boogie’s vessel in the human world, and Keiji is dating Touka. That’s never not going to be an interesting experience.

And that’s all for Boogiepop wa Warawanai, a bizarre, ambitious, and intriguing show that asked big questions and wasn’t afraid to philosophize at great length in between spurts of action. It was a pleasantly offbeat show in the same vein as Sakurada Reset, Subete ga F ni Naru,  or ACCA, other shows that are comfortable and confident spinning dense tapestries of their own quirky reality.