Cardcaptor Sakura – 59 – Use Your Words!

Now that Sakura has converted a bunch of Clow Cards to Sakura Cards, her magic has increased and she’s a lot less fatigued by the effort. To Tomoyo that not only means she’s more powerful, but also more “beautiful, elegant, and dignified”. Sakura can nervously laugh off Tomoyo’s exuberant praise all she wants, it doesn’t change the fact that Tomoyo is right, and that her love for Sakura is pure and unceasing.

We and Tomoyo also get to witness Sakura curb-stomping her opponent in one-on-one basketball. Eriol initially does the same to Syaoran by rejecting his shot and draining from way downtown, but is then magnanimous enough to help Syaoran focus enough to nail a jumper. Yukito then spots Eriol and transforms into Yue, who recognizes him as Clow in disguise. Clow being Clow, he knocks Yue out and transforms him back into Yukito. Clearly he doesn’t want his secret out quite yet.

After school we find Syaoran at Tomoyo’s house, and Tomoyo is happy to give Syaoran advice, well aware that he’s got feelings for her. Tomoyo doesn’t consider Syaoran a rival for Sakura’s heart—in her mind, anyone who didn’t love Sakura would be a fool! Instead, Sakura’s happiness is paramount.

If Syaoran can make her Sakura happy, that frees Tomoyo to continue observe and record that happiness, which in turn makes her happy. It’s the kind of love and admiration that make Tomoyo such a strong, unique, and beautiful character, but at the same time…a teensy bit sad. Tomoyo also knows that Sakura is denser than a brick made of diamonds, and won’t know Syaoran likes her unless he tells her upfront.

His first attempt to do so, when Sakura emerges in a new battle costume, is interrupted when both of them sense Clow’s presence. It leads them to the school, where a basketball that moves on its own. They give chase, but the layout of the school becomes a warped labyrinth, and Sakura and Syaoran are separated from Tomoyo.

Sakura starts to cry, having voiced her concern for Tomoyo’s safety during her magical missions earlier that day at school. Syaoran snaps her out of it, urging Sakura to instead think of a means to get back to Tomoyo. Also notable throughout the episode is that Sakura now calls Syaoran “Syaoran” instead of “Li” following their agreement in the elevator.

Thanks to Syaoran—and Tomoyo singing to indicate her location—Sakura thinks up a plan that doesn’t involve possibly getting stuck between the walls (as is the risk of the Through card). Instead, she summons and converts Shadow, and clearly commands it to help her find Tomoyo.

Since Syaoran and Kero switched on every light in the school, the shadow is able to lead them to Tomoyo, whom Sakura gives a big hug upon their reunion. Worried Tomoyo was scared about being alone, Tomoyo tells her she was never scared, because she knew Sakura would find her.

Tomoyo’s only regret is that she wasn’t able to record Sakura at her most heroic and wonderful, whereupon Kero-chan volunteers to be her consolatory subject, striking some poses for the camera. Little does he know this gives “the kid” another opportunity alone with Sakura to tell her he likes her.

Alas, Syaoran hesitates too long, and the moment is lost when Kero-chan grabs Sakura for more footage. Will he ever explicitly tell Sakura “I like you?” I’m not sure. With eleven episodes remaining, there’s certainly time for it to happen. Then again, maybe Tomoyo will be proven wrong, and Sakura will indeed realize Syaoran’s feelings without words.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 58 – Within the Bubble

Whether you consider it testing Sakura or just plain fucking with her, Eriol keeps up his little secret game this week. Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, Kerberus and Yue all show up at Penguin Park when Clow’s presence is felt, but they can’t find anything out of the ordinary and it starts to rain, they all go home.

Eriol’s “trial-of-the-week” this time involves blocking either Kerberos or Yue from transforming back into their disguises. While nobody is in any immediate danger, it’s certainly a hassle to have to hide them from those she believes not to be in the know (namely Touya). More distressing to her is the prospect of Yue never being able to become Yukito again, as she considers them two distinct people she cares about in equal measure.

But again, this isn’t a particularly pressing matter except insomuch as it will be tough to keep what is essentially a winged lion and cultish-looking winged dude in her room indefinitely. So she tries to catch some shuteye, hopeful the guardians be able to change back the next morning. Alas, the situation doesn’t change, and on top of it all Sakura has a Sunday full of house chores to perform.

She puts Kerberos to work doing what he can with his beefy paws; he’s ironically far more useful in a house in his plushie form! When he gets fed up with Yue simply standing around not helping (and Sakura not insisting he help, thus spoiling him just like Clow used to), Kerberos prepares to toss a bag of flour at him, only to himself become covered with it. Sakura takes him into the bath and he suggests she convert and use Bubble to wash him, as Clow once did.

Upon returning to the kitchen, Sakura finds that Yue has helped out after all by cleaning up the flour mess. She broaches the topic of Clow and Yue’s particular devotion to him, noting the look in his eyes when he speaks about him is similar to how her dad looks when talking about her mom.

Suddenly it dawns on Sakura to convert and use the Shield card on her guardians. Eriol’s magic is repelled by the shield, enabling them to finally change back to their disguises. And since Yukito is at Sakura’s house, he might as well stay for dinner!

All’s well that ends well, but Kero-chan is thoroughly unnerved about the possibility of someone with Clow’s power out there unchecked. Whether it’s Kero, Yue, Syaoran, or Sakura, I’m certain someone will manage to connect the strange incidents and Eriol…but with twelve episodes left, a few more trials are likely…in the cards.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 57 – Going Up…

This will probably go down in the annals of CCS as a landmark episode in the development of Sakura x Syaoran. Specifically, the latter’s feelings for the former begin to boil over to such an extent that he can no longer lie or obfuscate to himself about what she means to him.

While he occasionally asks either out loud while alone or in his thoughts something along the lines of “What’s wrong with me?”, much of his realization comes wordlessly as he watches Sakura both close up and from afar, be it during class, gym, music, or recess.

When Sakura invites Syaoran to join her, Tomoyo and Eriol at a teddy bear exhibit, he’s reminded of the bear he made but has yet to give to anyone. As he wrestles with his feelings after school he bumps into Yukito, who can quickly tell that Syaoran cares for Sakura very much, even if he won’t admit it.

Try as he might to shake off or run away from his feelings, they’re there, and they’re only growing the more time he spends with her. In fact, when he hears her voice on the answering machine (she had to leave two separate messages thanks to her tripping on Kero-chan’s video games), he listens to her a second time, just to hear her lovely voice.

Syaoran decides to play it cool the next day when the four of them hang out, keeping his hands behind his head most of the time as he watches Sakura having fun. The sequence is one of two montages that place Sakura and Syaoran in interesting visual framing devices decorated with autumn leaves signifying change on the horizon.

However, when Eriol brings up Syaoran’s homemade bear and Sakura asks if he’s given it to anyone, he becomes embarrassed again and runs off. Sakura chases him down as he enters the elevator, but then, as seemingly both another test for Sakura and a chance for Syaoran to be alone with her, Eriol locks them in the elevator.

After a period of awkward silence in the dark, Sakura starts to cry, so Syaoran cheers her up with a flame taliasman. She lays out her handkerchief and invites him to sit beside her so they’ll be more comfortable.

But then Eriol activates the next stage of the test, which involves the walls of the elevator falling away and Sakura plummeting down a deep, dark pit. Panicking, Syaoran calls out to Sakura using her first name for the first time.

Sakura rises up out of the darkness, having converted and used the Float card, and Syaoran simply gathers her into a hug, overcome with relief and joy she’s okay. Eriol ends his spell, the elevator returns to working order, and Sakura and Syaoran are rejoined by Tomoyo and Eriol.

That evening, Syaoran gets another call from Sakura thanking him for being with her during the elevator incident, as well as expressing how happy she was to hear him call her Sakura. In exchange, Syaoran gives her the okay to call him by his first name.

This is a big deal! Syaoran has finally stopped running and accepted that Sakura is special to him. It’s another crucial step towards a Clear Card future in which they’re officially a couple.

Cardcaptor Sakura – 56 – Kero-chan v Suppie: Dawn of Plushtice

In a tale of two teams, Kero-chan is excited about Sakura’s upcoming bazaar, because it means a good deal of tasty sweets will be on hand, while Spinel Sun is far less enthusiastic, as Eriol hints that “something” happens when he eats sweets. Spinel is as calm and subdued as Kero-chan (not to mention Nakuru) is brash and excitable. His voice is very soothing, without a hint of a dialect.

The day of the bazaar arrives, and Sakura is cute as always in her handmade outfit (a Tomoyo original, natch). Tomoyo is nearby with her camera, Eriol beats Syaoran to complimenting Sakura, Yamazaki goes off on a string of rambling lies, Rika has a nice moment with Terada-sensei, and Touya tries to fight off Nakuru as Yukito eats a lot. Pretty standard CCS stuff, really.

What this episode offers that is unique and thus more compelling is the first meeting of Spinel and Kero-chan, though due to Spinel’s ability to completely mask his magic, Kero-chan doesn’t quite know what to make of the guy, but in any case doesn’t consider “Suppie” a threat…especially when he learns his name is “Suppie”.

We then learn why Spinel avoids sweets: they make him drunk, alternating between happy, goofy, crying, and vacuuming up all of the sweets in the school with no regard for whether he or Kero-chan are seen by witnesses. Spinel’s seiyu makes the necessary changes in their delivery for a convincing transformation.

Kero-chan decides to go to Sakura and implores her to convert Sleep and cast it in order to prevent exposure. Sakura is confused, but does so, and Kero eventually finds Spinel, who is now started “vomiting” his red laser beam. Kero counters with his fire breath and Spinel flees, essentially framing Kero-chan for the sweet-stealing spree, which Sakura assumes was his fault.

It was a close call for Spinel, but he was saved by Kero’s cluelessness. It’s also somewhat frustrating that Sakura and Kero still have no idea they’re being targeted by Eriol, Spinel and Ruby, and this episode failed to move that needle.

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 – 46 – Love Not Lest Ye Be Loved

Yue is in no mood for delays; he’s going to judge Sakura right here and now: she’ll either subdue him with her mastery of the cards, or she’ll lose and catastrophe will be unleashed. There’s just one problem: Sakura has no intention of fighting someone who just a few minutes ago was Yukito, a boy she deeply cares for. We learn Yukito never had any knowledge that he was really Yue, which only adds to Sakura’s reluctance to fight.

The thing is, Yue doesn’t care if Sakura cared about Yukito. If she won’t fight, then he’ll mop the floor with her, just like he did Syaoran. And holy crap does Sakura ever receive by far the worst beating of the entire series, getting tossed around like a ragdoll before being ensnared in the vines of the Wood card she herself summoned. The fact she doesn’t even know that Wood is controlled by the Moon (i.e. Yue) irritates him even more as he passes his final judgment: Sakura loses.

The catastrophe that shall occur due to her failure? Everyone in the world will forget about the person they love or care about most. Kero-chan was right: it isn’t a “world-ending” kind of apocalypse. After she’s completely enveloped in vines, Sakura wakes up in bed, and there’s even the Cardcaptor Sakura doll on her headboard.

She has her normal morning routine, but Yukito vanishes when she spots him, while Tomoyo and Syaoran are no longer warm or friendly, but mere acquaintances. Same with Chiharu and Yamazaki…and Rika doesn’t even like that teacher she likes!

Having had adequate time to take in this horrifying bad future (or at least the equivalent of such from her perspective), Sakura runs to Yukito’s gran’s house, only to find it abandoned and in poor repair. She breaks down in tears in the bamboo forest, but then something happens: she starts hearing the voices of everyone she loves, first calling her name, then singing the song Tomoyo sang (and which Song copied).

Then she hears Mizuki’s bell clang, and she bursts out of the vine prison, waking from her helldream and returning to Tokyo Tower. Turns out the bell was also furnished by Clow Reed and used by Mizuki to give the Cardcaptor one—and only one—last chance against Yue.

This time, Sakura uses her own magical power to draw not from the Sun or the Moon, but her own personal stars, and a new wand is forged that allows her to summon Windy—the first Clow Card she ever captured—and restrain Yue without him being able to counter.

Sakura tells Yue what he never thought he’d hear, that she understands now how much Clow Reed meant to him, and why he never wanted another master after Reed died. However, Sakura isn’t offering to become Yue’s master or a replacement for Reed; she wants them to be friends, plain and simple, making the world better together.

Yue thus judges Sakura to be the winner of their little duel, and she has a brief stop up in the stars to meet with Clow Reed, who is grateful Sakura was able to locate and follow the path of “necessities disguised as coincidences” he had set out—her own way.

After that, Sakura returns to the shrine grounds and is reunited with Tomoyo and Syaoran, taking both of a surprised Syaoran’s hands and dancing with him in pure unadulterated joy.

Kero and Yue acknowledge that due to her youth, Sakura isn’t quite ready for their true forms full-time, so they agree to return to their disguises for the time being. That means Kero-chan is back to being a pint-sized plushie, while Yue returns to the form of Tsukishiro Yukito.

Sakura’s adorable dance with Syaoran, paired with her far more understated reaction to Yukito’s return seems to signal the start of a transition from her feelings for Yukito/Yue—whom she knows will always love Clow above all—to Syaoran, who is, well, an actual human being.

And that does it for the grand Clow Card arc and the second season of Cardcaptor Sakura! My stars, has this show been a balm in these times. While this finale wasn’t my absolute favorite of the series (that might be “Sakura’s Dizzy Fever Day”) it definitely makes the top five, merely by dint of its vital story, cinematic scope and utterly gorgeous animation. On to season three!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 45 – Here Comes the Judge

In a further departure from the usual formula, there’s no set up this week, we jump right back into the action. It figures that the last Clow Card to be captured is the most ornery: Earthy. Huge fissures and massive stone towers threaten to destroy the city, and it’s all Sakura can do to weave and dodge.

After an unsuccessful use of Watery, Kero gives her the hint that offensive magic won’t work. Then Sakura notices that while lots of roads and buildings are being ruined, the trees aren’t being touched. So she summons Wood to hold the Leviathan-like Earthy’s main body in place.

Sakura seals the card, and the biggest, most pulse-poundingly impressive battle yet comes to close. To Sakura’s shock, the receipt of the final card has another effect: it restores Kerberos’ true form. Sakura doesn’t recognize him at first until he responds with his trademark dialect, only in a lower register, and she can’t help but remark that he’s looking “rather cool.” He certainly is!

To celebrate the capturing of all the Clow Cards, Tomoyo summons her costume van and dresses Sakura up, and even gets Syaoran into his ceremonial robes. Sakura’s costume is notably the one in her dreams. Then Sakura learns from Syaoran that Yue is one of the two guardians along with Kero who Clow Reed created to protect the cards. And just when it seemed Mizuki would transform into Yue…Yukito does instead!

While I knew Yukito was Yue’s vessel from the much later Clear Card, Mizuki had been so effective a red herring I came to wonder whether she’d be revealed as Yue’s vessel prior to Yukito. Instead she’s just a particularly powerful moon-oriented magic user, which combined with Yue concealing his magic within Yukito meant he was right under their noses the whole time.

While Kero serves as the selector of the one to command the cards, Yue is the final arbiter of the Cardcaptor’s worthiness. The trial is simple: use the Clow Cards to defeat him. Since Syaoran captured a handful of cards, he is the first to undergo “final judgment”—and Yue proceeds to mop the floor with him.

He’s sent back to the others dazed but more or less fine, and Sakura is transported to that now iconic spot of her dreams, with Tokyo Tower looming in the near distance and Yue standing on its red steel beams. Sakura realizes this is exactly like the dream, that it was a prophetic dream, and that THIS IS IT.

Either Sakura can defeat Yue with the Clow Cards she’s collected—Yue confiscated all of Syaoran’s—or the “Catastrophe” Kero warned about will occur. Even if I didn’t know everything would work out, all my money would be on Sakura. Poised on the biggest, highest-pressure stage in her eleven years life, she won’t shrink from the task before her.