Cardcaptor Sakura – 69 – Tsukimine Showdown

This is it: with just one episode left in reserve (presumably for an epilogue), the big clash between Team Eriol and Team Sakura has finally come. After revealing himself, Eriol releases the true forms of Spinel and Ruby, and the trio really play up the Big Bad Villain act.

Eriol shrouds the entire city in darkness, which puts everyone to sleep except for Sakura and Syaoran (though even he’s woozy). If Sakura can’t lift the darkness spell by daybreak, everyone will remain asleep…forever.

The show makes a point to underline the stakes by showing almost every secondary character out cold, including Touya, who has no more magical power, after all. Sakura asks Eriol why he’s doing all this, but Eriol will only tell her if she breaks his spell.

Spinny and Ruby aren’t just arrogant, but also exceedingly powerful, and even when Yue arrives to shield Sakura, both he and Kero have a tough time keeping pace with Eriol’s guardians. The aerial battle between Yue and Ruby in particular is a beautiful action set piece.

Once it’s clear Sakura will have to stop playing defense and do something about the darkness spell, she takes out her cards, notes that eight Clow Cards remain to be converted, and then proceeds to convert six at once. Two “refuse” to change, however: Light and Dark.

Since those cards are most closely tied to her guardians, Kero and Yue tell Sakura to absorb the two of them into her staff. She does so, and her staff becomes longer and grander; Syaoran helps her hold it steady, and relies on his Clow Reed blood help convince the cards to change.

Once both Light and Dark are Sakura Cards, Sakura invokes Light, which proceeds to shatter the darkness and restore the regular sky. Everyone wakes up, safe and sound, and Eriol and his guardians stand down, his mission to help Sakura convert all of his cards now complete. Call it tough love on his part: in order for Sakura to summon the power, he had to create a crisis only she could fix.

When Kero and Yue go chasing after Eriol, Spinny and Ruby, Sakura prepares to follow, but Syaoran holds her up so he can tell her something he’s been wanting to tell her practically all season: he likes her. That’s right; the kid finally got the words out!

Alas, all he gets in response before the credits roll is Sakura’s shocked expression. But as she puts it in the preview for the finale, she once had no idea how she felt about Syaoran…but now she does know.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 65 – The (Near) Disappearance of Tsukishiro Yukito

Sakura is blading home from the grocery store when she spots Touya grabbing Yukito and moves to intervene. That’s when she learns she’s rolled into the middle of a scene being filmed by Touya and Yukito’s class for their school fair.

The director, one Akizuki Nakuru, offers Sakura a role, knowing her cute factor could pay dividends. This elicits a hoeee from both Kinomotos in unison, which I believe is a first! She also gets approval from Eriol to use the old European-style mansion they live in with Spinel.

Tomoyo laments she can’t design Sakura’s costume for the movie, but she does help with hair and makeup, while her Taisho-era garb made her closely resemble a mini-Yuna, especially when she breaks out her wand later. Sakura’s look is a big hit with Nakuru and the high school girls.

That said, Sakura is super-nervous and her movements become super-mechanical as a result. Even so, she’s able to film her scenes to Nakuru’s satisfaction, though we don’t get to watch her performance live, Tomoyo is also filming the “making of” movie.

Sakura ends up finishing before Touya and Yukito, whose final scene takes place on a balcony. Unfortunately Yukito passes out and goes head over heels over the railing. Distressingly, it seems Nakuru AKA Ruby Moon was actually hoping something like this might happen.

Sakura quickly hides behind a bush, summons her wand, and invokes Windy in order to cushion Yukito’s fall, while an uncharacteristically anxious Touya climbs a tree down to him in order to carry him back inside.

Yukito is awake again when Touya decides it’s time to finally say what he’s wanted to say all season, but kept getting interrupted by Nakuru: he knows Yukito isn’t human…but it doesn’t matter. He just doesn’t want him to disappear. With the proverbial snow rabbit out of the bag, Yue reveals himself to Touya for the first time.

Yue tells Touya that Yukito above all didn’t want Touya to find out, but he’s kinda out of options, so he asks Touya if he understands what needs to be done to ensure Yukito (not to mention Yue) don’t disappear. Touya does know: it means giving Yue all of his magical power, which up to this point has allowed him to not only see his mom and others who have passed, but detect when Sakura is in danger.

Even so, Touya doesn’t hesitate, and after the transfer, he’s the one laid up in bed, recovering from the shock of losing all his magic. In exchange, Yue is stronger than ever, something Nakuru was trying to avoid all this time, but ultimately something neither Spinel nor Eriol believe will matter much in the long run.

Sakura feels bad about not having sufficient power for Yue, but he tells her not to cry lest she make her brother sad. So Sakura resolves to be strong and protect her brother now that he’s lost all his power. When she comes home, she learns Kero-chan knew all about Yue’s risk of disappearing, but kept it from Sakura lest it get her down.

But she’s down now anyway. Things have worked out for now, but having come so close to losing Yukito has spurred her to step up her efforts to confess to him. This is somewhat surprising, as her crush on Yukito has been markedly underplayed this season as Syaoran’s crush on her (and many a failed attempt to confess) has been at the forefront. Even so, she’s poised to make her move next week.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 55 – Alice in HOEEE-nderland

From the opening scene in which Sakura narrates a beautiful sequence of illustrations, it’s immediately clear what’s going to go down this week, even if you didn’t watch the preview. Sakura’s totally getting trapped inside Alice in Wonderland by Eriol. Meanwhile Tomoyo proves adept at shit-stirring by noting how nice Sakura and Eriol look together in earshot of Syaoran, forcing another staredown that Sakura notices for the first time.

While everyone is reading at the library, the enchanted leaf Eriol gave Sakura as a bookmark activates, and sure enough, she’s sucked in. It’s interesting to note that while Alice typically wears blue, Sakura is dressed in a pink dress with a heart suit theme. Eriol appears as the Cheshire Cat, but like said cat is more cryptic and mischievous than helpful.

Sakura encounters Yukito the White Rabbit, who transforms into Yue, scoops her up, and drops her in the middle of her brother the Mad Hatter’s tea party. She drinks the tea he makes and finds it delicious, but is too late to realize it’s a potion to make her tiny, an experience she did not enjoy last time it happened.

Once she’s small enough to fit on a flower, she’s confronted by twin Syaorans as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, who curiously enough quiz her on whether and who Syaoran likes. Sakura still thinks Syaoran likes Yukito, but his feelings have since shifted in her direction, hence her being wrong about the one he likes being taller than him.

Ultimately,. Sakura converts Big to grow bigger than Little to shrink back to normal size, and finds herself on a chessboard where Tomoyo AKA Humpty Dumpty is playing against Queen Kerberus. Sakura takes flight, and once she remembers the big leaf in the sky is the portal through which she entered, flies into it and emerges back in the library.

Tomoyo and Syoaran do their best to keep the others in the dark about all the magic stuff going on at their table, and Sakura ends up getting sleepy from creating two more Sakura Cards and falling into Syaoran’s arms. CCS delivers exactly what it said it would—Sakura in Wonderland—and does so with style and with some fun character moments. That said, I wonder if Sakura will remember that the one Syaoran likes isn’t taller than him…

Cardcaptor Sakura – 54 – The Calendar Watchers

Every so often a CCS episode comes around that focuses on the Kinomoto family, a family full of almost impossibly warm, kind, talented, charming overachievers. They are almost always happy and always look out for each other. Touya may seem moody at times and tease his little sister, but he also adores her, and she him. They’re truly an ideal to aspire to.

They’re also an absolute treat to watch whenever they’re in the spotlight, as they are this week. Sakura is given her mother’s calendar, complete with handwritten notes regarding birthdays. There’s Sonomi’s (which just passed), Touya’s (February 29!), her own (April 1!). Seeing her name in her mom’s handwriting brings her closer to her mom.

Sakura discovers another birthday—November 1, which is tomorrow—she hadn’t noticed earlier: that of her mom’s grandfather; her great-grandfather. While she just missed Sonomi’s birthday, Sakura is determined to give him a gift just as her mother did every year.

She’s given more motivation when she learns her great-grandfather and dad only ever met once, and her dad describes himself as “the bad guy who stole his granddaughter”. Sakura won’t take that sitting down; she wants her great-grandfather to know just how happy and we’ll she and everyone else is.

After sewing a handmade gift late into the night and converting Flower to a Sakura Card so she can conjure a bouquet of flowers (the need in her heart was legitimate, so the card cooperated; plus Flower is a mild-mannered card), her dad contacts someone who will be able to make a same-day delivery so the gift arrives in time for the old man’s birthday.

That someone is Tomoyo’s sister, Daidouji Sonomi. While she’s always harbored a one-sided enmity towards the man she still calls sensei, because it’s for Sakura’s sake she’ll gladly deliver the gift to her gramps in time. The next day her dad gets a call, and for a moment my heart sank—will he have to tell Sakura her great-grandfather passed away the day she sent him a gift?

Thankfully, no…this is not usually that kind of show! Great-gramps is fine. He just wanted to meet with his estranged grandson-in-law. Sakura’s dad is shocked to see the old man’s hands shaking and tears forming in his eyes. Through the love he felt from Sakura’s letter and gifts, her great-gramps felt compelled to reach out to her dad in order to thank him for marrying him and apologize for taking so long to meet with him again.

He also has gifts for Touya and Sakura, the latter of which is a blue dress and bonnet no doubt worn by Nadeshiko when she was around Sakura’s age. Just as a larger-than-life fairy-like version of Nadeshiko watched over her dad and great-gramps as they finally formed an emotional connection, she also watches over Sakura’s family from her portrait on the table.

In effect a spiritual sequel to episode 16, Sakura ends up connecting with thebold man she’d actually already met and bonded with while on vacation, but it was never revealed to her that they were actually related, due mostly to her dad’s reluctance to open old wounds. Turns out the greater wound was the distance between them, which Sakura helped heal with her love-infused gifts.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 53 – Tour de Dash

Sakura’s chronic fatigue is such that it’s starting to interfere with her daily life, from staying awake during class to being able to sweep the yard without passing out. Fortunately (from her perspective) there’s kind, refined Eriol to the rescue, helping her complete her outdoor chores before dinner. Little does she know that Eriol is behind all the strange goings-on lately. This time he puts a spell on Touya’s bike, something he notices immediately.

Until now Sakura had been content to convert the Clow Cards to Sakuras as needed, but when she feels the Clow Cards and they’re not warm as usual, she becomes very concerned with their well-being, and decides the best thing to do is to convert them all to Sakuras…at the same time! Somehow she stays awake after the exertion, but the last card she converts, Dash, is released without a clear target, and so panics, dashes outside, and possesses Touya’s bike.

During the a thrilling nighttime rollerblade chase that ensues, Sakura makes sure to keep her promise to Tomoyo and Syaoran to call them if she’s in trouble. Tomoyo’s phone goes to voicemail, but Syaoran is Johnny-on-the-spot, saving Sakura from suffering a serious fall after using Jump fails to catch up to the bike. Syaoran moves to shock the bike with lightning, but Sakura doesn’t want to hurt Dash or make it more riled up than it already is.

Instead, she makes clever use of Loop to let Dash basically run to its heart’s content until it realize it can’t escape Sakura’s embrace. Once she has Dash, she’s able to calm it down enough to return it to card form, having learned a valuable lesson about only invoking cards when she needs them, not willy-nilly!

While she’s encouraged that she’ll eventually be able to convert all of the Clows to Sakuras, it’s not long before she’s once again fallen asleep from using far too much magical power. Tomoyo arrives too late, having been in the bath when her phone rang, and when she tries to salvage the night by filming Sakura’s sleeping face, her camcorder’s battery is dead. Shake it off, Tomo—everyone has the occasional off-night!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 52 – Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Sakura has a problem. Because she’s drawing upon her own source of magical power to use the new Sakura Cards, she is in an almost constant state of fatigue, and a slowly, calmly told story about sheep in class soon puts her to sleep; Syaoran has to grab her before she falls out of her desk. All the while Eriol is watching and grinning his smug grin. Such a prick!

Yukito is suffering similar problems. Since Yue also draws from Sakura’s power, he’s low on energy as well, and Yukito’s overeating isn’t making any difference. Touya can seemingly sense all of this without explicitly bringing it up, and is concerned for his friend, leading to a wall (or rather tree) slam and a near-confession that’s interrupted by Nakuru, who warns Yukito to stay out of her way. What a bitch!

If things keep going this way, Yue fears he’ll disappear altogether, which means his disguise Yukito will disappear with him (Kero doesn’t have the same problem since he draws power from the sun). Still, Kero needs Sakura to stay positive and cheerful if they’re going to get through this. Tomoyo tries to help by providing a new battle costume and devises some new poses for the Sakura Cards. So cute!

Sakura is responding to a call from Syaoran (on the new cell phones issued to them by Tomoyo), who sensed a powerful Clow-like presence at, where else, Penguin Park. They find a large hole where the King Penguin slide should be, and Sakura flies down it to investigate. No one can follow her due to a strong magic barrier, and she’s soon buried in plush sheep!

Going over the cards in her arsenal, Sakura settles on Erase, which I don’t believe she ever used even in Clow form. Once converted to a Sakura Card, it does the trick, but after having to also convert and use Power to put the slide back where it belongs, Sakura is once again out for the count. Eriol is impressed and amused by her performance, but promises even more “fun” down the road. This shit can’t go on!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 51 – Bearing the Brunt

Sakura can’t quite make her homemade teddy bear not look like Kero-chan, so Eriol volunteers to help her fix it. When a delighted Sakura asks what he’d like as thanks for his help, he simply kisses her hand and walks away. Thus begins Eriol’s Fuckin’-with-Sakura Session Number Four: MegaBear.

Teddy Bears are big at Sakura’s school. They’re like Pogs when I was in grade school. The idea has developed that if you give a bear with your name to someone you have feelings for, you’ll be together forever. Syaoran has made his own bear, but while Yukito has classically been the only one to make his heart race, Sakura has lately been having the same effect.

Yue later tells Syaoran that his feelings for Yukito are a result of Yue’s magical power, and that if he searches his heart, he’ll discover the person for whom he has real feelings. That Sakura is still so far from noticing Syaoran’s feelings portends a continuing of their slow-burn romance.

As for Sakura, she’s sure Yukito is the one who should have her bear, even though she may be subject to the same effect as Syaoran. Tomoyo insists on coming along with her new camcorder and dressing Sakura up for the event—a different kind of battle costume, for the battle of love! Only due to some magical mischief committed by Eriol, the bear blows up in Yukito’s face.

As Eriol, Spinel and Ruby observe, the teddy bear grows to the size of a building and attacks Sakura. Yue rescues him from its first strike, but loses his wings and grows weak, leaving Sakura on her own (Syaoran isn’t around this time).

Sakura converts Jump to a Sakura Card in order to evade the bear, but it’s causing a great deal of collateral damage, so she has to separate it from the magical core in its ear, which she can cut off with the converted Sword. The only problem is, Jump isn’t precise enough while Fly requires she ride the wand like a witch’s broom.


Sakura determines that in addition to converting Fly to a Sakura Card, she can modify it so the wings sprout from her back, not the wand, freeing her hands to use Sword to successfully de-ear the bear and return it to its original size. Rather than a card, she recovers a purple talisman bearing the same magical circle she used to capture Clow Cards.

While Sakura seems as far away from discovering the identity of her tormentors as she is from noticing Syaoran’s feelings, Cardcaptor Sakura’s third season is definitely integrating more serialized elements into the quest-of-the-week format that drove most of the first two seasons. Slowly but surely, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.

As they do, in the meantime we have wonderful set-pieces like Tomoyo’s quasi-confession and Syaoran’s romantic realization. And while much of Eriol’s machinations come off as cruel, I’m heartened by the fact Sakura has deftly handled everything he’s thrown at her so far—even as I’m apprehensive that he’ll soon be upping the difficulty level.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 50 – Thread and Thrum

Sakura wakes up early, but seeming a little down. Kero-chan tells her whatever the deal is with the Sakura Cards, she needs to keep her spirits up and stay positive. To that end, she goes to school early to watch Touya and Yukito play soccer. Naturally, they’re a dynamic duo on the pitch—and Akizuki is quick to pounce on Touya and glare at Yukito.

Sak’s friends have noticed she’s seemed not quite her usual cheerful self, so Rika makes her some delicious homemade cookies, and also shows everyone the teddy bear she’s making for Terada-sensei. Syaoran lounges in a tree high above Sakura, about whom he’s worried, when Eriol confronts him about all the nasty looks he’s shot his way. Eriol seems to have plans for Syaoran, deeming him “useful”.

While she seems to have the blessing of her friends, I do wish Terada-sensei would give Rika a tactful yet firm word about not falling in love with an adult when she’s still in fifth damned grade. As for Tomoyo, she holds firm in her position that she’s happy if Sakura’s happy—even if Sakura doesn’t requite her feelings. It’s an incredibly sweet sentiment…but also deeply sad considering how clueless Sakura seems to be!

Sakura’s attempt to make a bear for Yukito hits some snags when she suddenly senses Clow Reed’s presence once more. She meets with Tomoyo where the feeling is most powerful, and calls Syaoran to be by her side as she promised. However, this works against Sakura in this case as Syaoran’s body is being controlled by someone, and it’s making him attack her! A heroic Tomoyo tackle stops Syaoran from slicing Sakura.

This costs Tomoyo her camcorder, but she can buy more cameras. She only has one Sakura! Syaoran manages to regain control long enough to summon the water spirit, which makes visible the puppet threads in which he’s tangled. Sakura quickly releases her wand, converts Sword to a Sakura Card, and slashes the threads with authority, freeing Syaoran.

Having expended considerable magical power, Sakura passes out once more, this time in Syaoran’s arms. This side-effect of using Sakura Cards could prove a decisive liability if shit really hits the fan—say if a second threat appears after she falls asleep battling the first. It seems inevitable Eriol is going to make that scenario happen in the near future, because he seems determined to, in the parlance of our times, fuck Sakura’s shit UP.

And why, do you ask, would he want to do that? Well, the same reason Sakura and Kero-chan sense Clow Reed before something bad goes down: Hiiragizawa Eriol is the reincarnation of Clow Reed. Further, he’s created two guardian equivalents to Kero and Yue in Spinel Sun and Ruby Moon, AKA Akizuki Nakuru. Not only is Nakuru not human, she’s not a “she”, and doesn’t want to date Touya, but eat him!

Clearly, Eriol is testing Sakura’s powers, and while they’re impressive, I’m sure he’s just itching to regain control of the Clow Cards. Hopefully Sakura and her friends can keep that from happening and send Eriol and his minions back to merry old England. But since twenty episodes remain, that’s probably going to take a while!

Stray Observations:

  • Sakura’s all-white and gray battle costume was gorgeous, making it a dreadful shame when Puppet!Syaoran slashes it with his sword.
  • I also want to note this third season’s OP is probably my favorite so far, which isn’t too surprising since it’s anchored by the lovely vocals of one Sakamoto Maaya.
  • It also features my favorite OP Battle Costume, though Sakura seems awfully sleepy throughout the OP…no doubt since using her cards is so tiresome!
  • GROOVY! was the most toe-tapping end theme but the New ED has the best visuals, with a glowed-up Sakura and Tomoyo having an absolute blast baking a cake.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 49 – Beware of Grand Pianos

After ending the rain with her first Sakura Card, poor Sakura is wiped. She can’t even sit up in bed! Thankfully, she doesn’t have a fever, and Sakura assures her dad and brother that she’ll be fine. Touya, who has a sense for magical things without being an active participant in that world, assumes “something has happened” to cause the fatigue.

Sakura misses cupcake-making in home ec, but Tomoyo knows that a visit from her and a bashful Syaoran is just what the doctor ordered, while Syaoran can’t help but stare daggers at an increasingly suspicious Eriol. Similarly, a Yukito suddenly eating far more than usual gets a knowing, not-at-all friendly look from Nakuru, who competes for Touya’s attention by kicking ass at basketball.

When Tomoyo and Syaoran show up with sweets, Sakura is awake, alert, and back to her chipper self, and Syaoran can’t help but blush at her smile and earnest thanks, while Kero is amazed “the kid” was able to make something so tasty. Kero also deduces that Sakura’s fatigue was caused by her instinctively converting the card along with her wand, using a new magic circle in which the star (not the sun or moon) is most prominent.

Kero warns that since Sakura is relying on only her own power (no longer Clow’s) to release and use the cards, it’s going to be tough going. Even worse, he and Yue were stopped in their tracks even in their true forms, something only their master (Sakura) and Clow himself should be able to do.

Back at school while writing a letter to Mizuki-sensei, Sakura hears a lovely tune being played on the piano and discovers it’s Eriol on the ivories. Sakura is heartened and soothed by the music, and when Tomoyo shows up, she suggests Eriol accompany Tomoyo as she sings a new song. While playing, Eriol does…something magical and fishy to the piano.

That evening, while Sakura and Syaoran are walking in the hall wondering what to make of recent events, they hear Tomoyo singing, followed by a scream and a loud noise: the grand piano in the music room has decided to start moving on its own, and it’s gone berserk! Sakura grabs Tomoyo and they run from the pursuing piano, which Syaoran damages but doesn’t destroy with his thunder sword.

Eventually Tomoyo determines the piano is following her voice every time she speaks, which gives Sakura an idea for how to defeat it for good. Assembling on the roof, she asks Tomoyo to sing once more in order to lure the piano to their location. Then she releases the Song card, converts it to a Sakura Card, and uses its ability to copy Tomoyo’s voice to lure the piano off the edge of the roof to its destruction.

All’s well that ends well, but once again Sakura is completely wiped out by the magical exertion, and passes out in Syaoran’s arms. We then pull back from the school to see that our trio of shadowy villains has been watching. The central figure—who let’s be honest, is Eriol—declares that this is going to be “fun”. Sakura passed another one of his tests, but he doesn’t seem the type to keep going easy on her!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 48 – The Rain Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Time was, Sakura could solve pretty much any weird problem that arose in her life by releasing her wand and sealing a Clow Card. But now an unceasing rain pummels Tomoeda Town, and her wand won’t release. Kero needs to confer with Yue, so Sakura asks her brother if Yukito will be over.

To paraphrase Touya, if you cook a tasty dinner, Yukito will come. Meanwhile Eriol, who if I’m honest is looking a lot like the new big bad in disguise, tries to cheer Sakura up with flowers from his home garden and later invites her to his house. Syaoran is understandably concerned, as Eriol is still very much an unknown element.

That pretty much describes Akizuki Nakuru, who while cute, spunky, and flirty with Touya, treats Yukito like an oblivious rival, declaring she’ll just go ahead and “take” Touya, thank you very much. Like Eriol, Nakuru is hiding something…something big.

That night, Yukito is indeed lured to the Kinomoto residence by the promise of a good meal, and when Touya has to go off to a night job and Kero is alone with Yukito, the latter transforms into Yue. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any answers for Sakura or Kero; all he knows is that the rain is being caused by someone with immense magical power.

Yue and Kero accompany Sakura (and Tomoyo) back to Penguin Park, where a whirlpool of rain forms above them that shoots out tendrils of water. The Guardians, apparently outmatched, are paralyzed, and everyone is sucked up into water spouts. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a super-perilous situation, and I was expecting Syaoran to show up with his magic sword. Alas, he’s nowhere to be found.

No, it’s up to Sakura, for whom letting Tomoyo, Kero and Yue drown is not an option. When she remembers what Clow said about stars being the source of her power, Sakura modifies her incantation and successfully summons a new star-topped wand.

Despite this, when she tries to use a Clow Card, nothing happens. This requires her to command the card to change its form into a Sakura Card, at which time she can draw upon its power with her want.

The first Clow Card to be converted to a Sakura Card is Fiery, which Sakura deploys in order to turn the water spouts into steam and free the others—though practically speaking I’m wondering how nobody got singed or scalded!

With a new wand and new card, Sakura is finally able to end the endless rain over Tomoeda. But as a result of her exertions, she suddenly falls asleep, her magical power apparently depleted. Not far away, three ominous figures float in the sky, having observed the battle. The one in the center is impressed with Sakura’s skills so far. That probably means his next “test” for her won’t be so easy!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 47 – The Popsicle Has Been Taken Away

Summer vacation is ending and school is about to start back up, but as Sakura and Kero-chan work overtime to finish all her homework, strange and powerful magical people and beings arrive in Tomoeda Town, no doubt drawn there by her own power and status as master of the Clow Cards.

Syaoran is preparing to return to Hong Kong to give a detailed report on the Clow Cards, and in all his interactions with Sakura you can sense an apprehension about that impending separation.

He’s heartened when Sakura is cheered up by the knowledge they’ll see each other again. But move over Syaoran, there’s a new transfer student in town: Hiiragizawa Eriol, from England.

In Clear Card I know Eriol as one of Sakura’s far-flung allies, but it’s clear from the sound of his aura (as heard by Sakura) that he’s bound to play a far more antagonistic role here, and is clearly intrigued by the power Sakura gives off.

The two of them both get the feeling they’ve met before. Sensing the time isn’t right to leave Sakura, Syaoran decides (likely on the spot) to remain in Japan after all for the forseeable future, and proceeds to blush at Sakura’s genuine expression of relief.

Just as Syaoran possibly has a new rival for Sakura’s heart, so too does Yukito for Touya’s: one Akizuki Nakuru, a cute transfer student in their class who immediately pounces on Touya’s back and steals his popsicle (which he himself stole from Sakura!)

Akizuki makes an immediate impression with her hyperactive playfulness and just a tinge of malice in her glare at Yukito, suggesting she knows who and what he really is.

That night, as a heavy rainstorm very narrowly localized over Tomoeda rages outside, the drawer containing the Clow Card book starts to glow. Sakura is temporarily transported to what I’ll call “Clow space”, the starry expanse where they met at the end of last season.

There Clow’s voice apologizes for the “trouble” Sakura is about to go through, but he knows she’ll be able to endure it. When she returns to regular space, she finds the book’s cover no longer reads Clow…it reads Sakura.

Before she knows it, Sakura is in a new, presumably waterproof battle costume and in front of the camcorder of a very excited (and costume/footage starved) Tomoyo. We catch a glimpse of Eriol in the area, and then the rain starts to form rings and attack Sakura and Tomoyo.

Kero transforms into his giant lion form to protect Tomoyo while Sakura prepares to release her wand…only it won’t release. It doesn’t respond at all. Sakura has lost her powers! That, and the mysterious duo of Eriol and Akizuki, combine for quite an enticing hook for the third season.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 27 – Return By Card

First when she met Kero-chan, then Syaoran, and now Mizuki-sensei: Sakura tends to have strange, cinematic dreams involving the Tokyo Tower after meeting someone with a lot of magical power. These dreams, and the music that accompany them, are always wonderfully otherworldly and striking. This latest one also ends when Sakura wakes up at six in the morning, long before she needs to be at school.

Sakura uses the extra time to take a morning stroll on her blades, and ends up at the Tsukimine shrine, where she encounters Mizuki in her shrine maiden garb. Sakura decides to help her sweep the shrine grounds, and Yukito shows up to help, making it a very good morning for Sakura. Only when she and Mizuki-sensei come to school, Syaoran’s mistrust of the latter remains as strong as ever.

That night, after revealed through her father that Touya and Mizuki indeed knew each other, Sakura heads back to the shrine, where Kero-chan senses a strong Clow Card presence. So does Syaoran, so he joins Sakura in the search. Notably, neither Meiling nor Tomoyo are there. This leads to Sakura and Syaoran having some quality alone time to frankly discuss their mutual love for Yukito…at least until Syaoran is too bashful to continue and runs off.

When he does, however, the previously concealed Return Clow Card makes its move, pulling Sakura into the past using both the magical power of the tree the full moon. Turns out a lot happened under that tree over the years: it’s where Touya first met Kaho, who was a student teacher when he was in eighth grade.

As Sakura observes, the tree was also where Touya confessed his love for Kaho, Kaho returned his feelings, and where they eventually broke up, all of which Kaho handles with a kind of stoic serenity that suggests she knew everything that was going to happen ahead of time…and maybe she did! Eventually Sakura is pulled back to the present. Return’s physical form is revealed, and Sakura seals the card…but this one flies over to Syaoran, and Kero-chan grudingly admits Sakura owes him her thanks.

Just as Return needed an enormous amount of magical power to activate (and even then could only send Sakura to the past), Syaoran expends a great deal of power using Time to bring Sakura back in a timely fashion. Sakura expresses her gratitude by giving Syaoran a big old hug, and when he starts glowing pink, it’s an early sign that he’ll get over his Yukito crush…all in good time. Of course, the question remains: Just what exactly is Mizuki Kaho’s deal? Is she a baddie? Are WE the baddies?

Cardcaptor Sakura – 26 – Oh, the Mazes You’ll Smash!

Sakura oversleeps, has to speed-eat her breakfast and get rolling (or as her dad kindly puts it, “hurry a little”) in order to avoid being late to school! After avoiding several obstacles on her ‘blades, she loses her balance. Fortunately, she’s saved from a fall by a tall redheaded woman in whose striking beauty Sakura finds herself immediately in awe.

While Sakura is puzzled by the woman’s promise they’ll see each other again, that’s cleared up the next day when she’s introduced in her class as Mizuki Kaho, their new substitute math teacher. Syaoran has a similar double take, but not necessarily due to her beauty.

He warns Sakura to be careful around her, as he can sense she possesses ridiculous amounts of magical power. As if to tease him, she sneaks up to tell them not to be too careful around her, otherwise they’ll fall behind on their math studies!

Around this time, everyone at school is talking about the Tsukimine Shrine, where you’re supposed to visit in order to find success in romance. Since that appeals to both Sakura and Meiling, they end up visiting that afternoon, joined by Tomoyo and Syaoran, respectively.

Things take a turn…then another turn, then another turn, then several dead ends when a massive emerald-green labyrinth rises up around the four of them. It doesn’t take long to determine it’s the Clow Card Maze, and it’s another showcase of CCS’s creativity and artistry.

When Sakura tries the obvious Fly, the walls extend over her faster than she can ascend. Those same walls heal immediately when she slices them with SwordMaze then starts upping the difficulty level by transforming into an homage to M.C. Escher’s Relativity, where not only are they lost, but up, down, left or right no longer have meaning!

Meiling gets separated and starts to cry, and when the other three try to go the long way ’round to find her as she counts up, the counting suddenly stops and she’s gone! Meanwhile, it’s past 7PM in the normal world, and Sakura’s dad and brother are worried, leading Touya head out on his bike to find her. Teasing and ribbing aside, he is a good and loving big brother.

Both Sakura and Syaoran end up taking the L on this card, as it’s Mizuki-sensei who ends up reuniting them with Meiling and helping them find a way out. Turns out she’s a shrine maiden at the Tsukimine shrine, and in addition to her immense magical power, her uniquely-shaped hand-held bell is able to smash through the labyrinth walls without any trouble.

Once outside the maze, Sakura manages to seal the card, but it floats over to Mizuki, who made the sealing possible. Still, unlike Syaoran with Time she hands the card back to Sakura, deeming it’s better if she held onto it. Touya arrives, relieved to find Sakura is alright, but also is clearly acquainted with Mizuki, calling her by her first name Kaho.

As everyone heads home, Mizuki calmly recedes back onto the shrine grounds, her elegant figure eventually fading away in the distance…almost like a ghost! She’s definitely Sakura and Tomoyo’s substitute math teacher, she’s also clearly a real person.

All we know is we haven’t seen the last of her. Combining the weirdness of the green maze with the introduction of the first adult character who is fully “in” on Sakura’s magical duties made for some trippily great fun.

P.S. This week Touya again gives Kero-chan a good hard look. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last, but the closeups of Touya and Kero-chan reminded me of a good old Curb Your Enthusiasm lie-detecting Larry staredown:

Having seen Clear Card, I know they continue with this charade for years to come, even though Touya surely must be 80-90% sure by then that Kero-chan is not, in fact, a lifeless plushie. Maybe it’s more about seeing how long he can remain still before a sweat drop forms? ;)