Sunday, April 22, 2018

Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen: Episode 15 Review!

“Sakura’s Nostalgic Viewing Party” aka "Hair Stylist Sakura meets Thespian Syaoran"

I had to dance a little jig, Meilin’s visit didn’t end with last episode, and she’s staying till at least next week! Some might call this a “filler episode” as well, and it probably is more so than any other episode to date, since most of it was flashbacks to the Nadeshiko Festival play, but it wasn’t just a mere recounting, but rather, further never-seen behind-the-scenes of the rehearsal and actual play, and also enabling a smooth transition fitting in Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Wand, to fit into canon with the Clear Card Arc. I really appreciate the anime staff taking the time to do this, because I get so frustrated when sequels ignore the facts of its prequels, but I guess it’s the perks of having the same director, Morio Asaka, and scriptwriter, Nanase Ohkawa, and studio, Madhouse, who have shown the same respect to the source material that fans would demand. I haven’t rewatched Movie 2 in ages—I’ve actually rewatched Movie 1 more often, though Movie 2 is very special in my heart. I probably never really rewatched Movie 2 again in its entirety in years, because for me, it marked “The End” of Card Captor Sakura, the last time I thought I was going to ever see Sakura and crew animated, a befitting ending of my favorite series ever, through a fantastic feature film. Boy did I not know what I was going to get, with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, with the manga, anime, OVA, movie, sequels, and now, Clear Card Arc. After the emotional train-wreck that Episode 14 was, I welcomed the lighter tone and slower pace of this one. The animation last week was feature film quality, so compared to then, the in-between artwork was a little off, but I don't mind since I'm sure the budget was used make the last episode extra beautiful and cinematic!   

Akiho: Ladida, today, I'm going to be the heroine of the day. Hair perfect.

Akiho: Kaito-san, when do I get to graduate to a big-girl plate?
Tray breakfast: Kaito either thinks of Akiho is toddler, or he's the laziest butler in the world and doesn't want to do extra dishes.
Kaito: I'm a great magician with the title of "D." As if I have time to be babysitting some kid.

We start the morning with Shinomoto Akiho, who sleeps with her “Alice in Clock Land” book by her nightstand. Akiho over breakfast with Yuna D. Kaito shares her dream about Alice and her friends turning into animals. Kaito wonders what kind of animal Akiho would turn into, and correctly guesses a bunny (usagi). So, Alice is indeed Sakura, which would make Akiho a spectator or observer at the moment. I wonder if she also saw “The Hug.” 

Princess Meilin: Servant, don't pull my hair!
Meilin: I was going for Daenerys Targaryen, but this will have to do with Sakura's clumsy fingers.
And to my utter delight, we’re back in Sakura’s house, and Meilin’s still around! Girl, how many days are you staying in Japan, and more importantly, mooching off of the Kinomoto house? I’m sure Syaoran’s gotten enough food for you at his place now. Oh wait, but he doesn’t have any furnishing except in his room. I actually thought Meilin was Tomoyo for a second, because she is wearing her hair down again, and Sakura’s trying out a half-up braided do for Meilin, referencing a fashion magazine. Last week, Tomoyo was wearing a Chinese-styled outfit, this week Meilin's wearing a Tomoyo-inspired one. Kero-chan is busy gaming. Sakura is nervous on how she did with Meilin’s hair, and Meilin, always stingy with compliments, says it “passes” but actually looks really pleased. Meilin again comments to Sakura, “I bet if you grow your hair out, you can braid it yourself!” Meilin, are you giving Sakura some hints that Syaoran actually likes long hair? Meilin asks Sakura if she always had the same hair, and Sakura shares that her father Fujitaka always cuts her hair for her. I think she forgot that Yukito has cut her hair before. Yukito cuts Touya’s hair, and Touya cuts Fujitaka’s hair, forming a virtuous circle. Nobody lets Sakura cut their hair though. (Run, Syaoran, run!”) 

Meilin: Sakura, haven't you thought about growing out your hair? Guys are crazy about long hair, you know, like mine.

Meilin is shocked that Sakura doesn’t get her hair cut at a salon. Meilin declares she always gets her hair cut at a salon, being the chic city girl trendsetter she is, but that Syaoran’s mother always cut Syaoran’s hair when he was little. Apparently, it is dangerous for a magic user to expose their neck to a blade they are strong enough. Oh my gosh, am I reading too much into the lines as a fanfiction writer, but Meilin’s insinuating that Syaoran’s mother was scared of assassination attempts on Syaoran’s life when he was little. I’m going to cry a little bit. I actually thought Meilin was going to say something about cutting the hair impairing magic powers or strength, like Samson and Delilah. It’s so like Syaoran that he hated going to the salon, so Wei cut his hair for him. But Meilin wonders who’s going to cut Syaoran’s hair now. I’m not sure you guys have noticed how high-maintenance Syaoran’s hairstyle actually is, because he has the long bangs, but his bottom half is buzz-cut, which would require probably weekly shaving/clipping. I would love to have a cute scene in the future of Sakura cutting Syaoran’s hair, but being the fashionista he is, I’m sure he wouldn’t trust her with it. I think he’d rather go to Yukito, Fujitaka, or even Touya, in that that order, than risk Sakura giving his a bald-spot with her clumsy razor-wielding skills. Well, he probably will do a better job cutting his own hair, as is. 

Meilin: Gurl, what do you mean you've never been to a hair salon? No wonder you had the same hairstyle all your life!
Meilin: Have you heard of "Shingeki no Kyojin"? Think about where the Titan's weak point is. Blade to the back of the neck. Sakura: Hoe, so I'm an Ogre (Sakuzilla), and Syaoran's a Titan?

Sakura worries about Syaoran again, after the other day inside the Fantasy aka Attack of the Animals, and Meilin points out that he already sent a message. Sakura is too polite too call, worried he’s still sleeping or something. Meilin shrewdly points out that written words don’t convey if he’s really okay. I’m glad that both girls have acknowledged that what Syaoran says and shows on the outside differs from what he’s really thinking and feeling. This sort of layered nuance to characters is what makes Card Captor Sakura such a strong mahou shoujo series, in its own league compared to kiddie magical girl shows, and which is why I think it resonates with such a wide audience, male and female, along with adults and younger viewers. Meilin is such a breath of fresh air, because compared to other characters who are so polite and respectful, she says what she thinks and is blunt. She suggests Sakura just calls Syaoran, and then goes ahead and calls him herself! She asks if he’s eaten breakfast, and we only hear her side of the conversation. But from her response, “you won’t get better if you don’t eat,” it’s obvious he hasn’t eaten. My poor Syaoran, not only is he living in an unfurnished house, but he’s not even taking proper care of his meals. I think his fancy bentos at school are all just for show so his friends don’t worry, and he just starves himself at home. Then, he seems to ask Meilin about Sakura, and Meilin tells him to just tell Sakura himself, and Meilin hands over her smartphone with a red case to Sakura. I actually have almost the exact red cover case that Meilin has at the moment. 

Matchmaker Meilin: "You can't tell if someone's okay through a text message, huh."
Meilin: Gurl, why don't you just call the boy?
Meilin: Fine, I'll call him!
Sakura: No, what if he's face-timing with Eriol?

Sakura: To ask or not to ask about "The Hug" last time.
I don’t know why but everything Syaoran seems to tell Sakura (besides in Episode 14) seems to be a lie, and he says he’s awake and making breakfast for himself. Sakura tells him to eat well and not push himself too hard. Not that he’ll listen to her. But he says he isn’t. Then asks if Meilin isn’t causing trouble, that she likes taking care of other people, but that people get the wrong idea because of how she talks. (Yes, we do know that!) I love when the cousins speak of each other so endearingly. Syaoran apologizes that he can’t make it to Tomoyo’s place because he’s busy (doing what I wonder). And Meilin lets the two hang up, rather than take the call back. Gosh, Meilin gaming with Kero-chan is so cute. It makes me wonder where she picked up gaming. Hmm… Kai, I’m looking at you.

I wonder who Syaoran is spending his Sunday with, other than me. I mean, his cousin who flew all the way from Hong Kong to visit him. Isn't that disrespectful?
Syaoran, Meilin's been staying at my place for three weeks now and is treating me as a servant!
Sakura: And I think Meilin's trying got train Kero-chan to become her chauffeur!

Sakura, Meilin, and Akiho head over to Tomoyo’s house for a screening party, Meilin and Akiho chat in English, and Sakura gets befuddled. Meilin says to Sakura how come she doesn’t even know basic middle school English. Sakura remarks both their pronunciation is so good Meilin remarks that Sakura should get Syaoran or Akiho to teach her. Mind you, Yukana’s pronunciation was slightly better than Akiho’s seiyuu, Suzuki Minori’s. Akiho promises to teach Sakura. 

Akiho: I had the weirdest dream about you and Syaoran last night.
Akiho: You were embracing each other in a land where the Earth and Moon can be seen. It was so romantic!
Meilin: Twiddledee and Twiddledum. OMG Akiho's a closet pervert.

At the Daidouji estate, Tomoyo has a hanging red rose garden too. Maybe inspired from Eriol. Sonomi glomps Sakura at the front door. Sonomi had all her schedule rescheduled to see Sakura that day. Super polite Meilin returns as she greets Tomoyo’s mother. And Meilin even picks up Kero-chan’s telepathic signals from the bag to put aside some afternoon tea snacks for him. Meilin’s always been kickass and awesome, but can we just mention how fabulous she’s been in Clear Card Arc so far? Can she just transfer back to Tomoeda? Sonomi skipping off and singing “afternoon tea” in English is the cutest thing ever this episode. And also, after the crazy outfits last week, namely Sakura’s harem pants, I absolutely love everyone’s outfits this episode, from Sakura’s Bohemian-style orange blouse with the white and yellow flowery lace trimmings on the bottom, paired with her puffy chick-yellow shorts and white thigh-high socks with red garter belts, to Tomoyo wearing her hair tied up in a Chunhyang-esque style, with a pale lavender pinafore. But Meilin’s wins best outfits of the week, with her half-down braided style kudos to Sakura and her sky-blue dress with a pleated skirt and sailor-style collar, knee socks, and tan ankle boots.  

Akiho: Adults exist in the series!
Meilin: Hold up, they don't like you like I love you. "Lemonade" a Visual Album by Beyonce.
Yandere-Tomoyo: Today, you are going to watch all my movies of you, Sakura. Ohhoho.

Tomoyo debuts her movie screening room, where she mostly views her video clips of Sakura. You know, I’ve always wondered if I ever overdid it with some of my interpretations of characters in New Trials of Card Captor Sakura, but I realized, nope, I did not. If anything, the Clear Card versions are even more outrageous! Anyhow, the girls sip on lemonade and view the Tomoeda Nadeshiko Festival play that Sakura’s class put on when they were in sixth grade in the super large-screen VIP-style movie theater, complete with luxurious red leather chairs. Tomoyo controls the screen with her smartphone remote control. Sakura is totally dismayed when she learns what Tomoyo’s screening. Meilin’s commentaries to Akiho during the play screening are so precious, from her remarks that Tomoyo made all the costumes, that Syaoran and she were back from Hong Kong over summer break, even complimenting her own acting, Meilin-style. I love Meilin’s remarks on how Syaoran had protested playing the prince, how his acting has improved so much, and listen to this, how he played a princess before (Sleeping Beauty in fifth grade) and how awful he was! I swear this entire scene, replacing Akiho with Miho, could just straight be out of New Trials or something. I loved it! Akiho wants to see the Sleeping Beauty recording. I want Syaoran in the room when she does.

"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Syaoran: I learned all my lines and choreography in one day. Am I actually an acting genius?
Sakura: I don't think so. Don't you remember "Sleeping Beauty" last year?
Sakura-hime 1: When this movie ends, Clamp's going to put us in this epic, gory tragedy called "Tsubasa Rservoir Chronicle."

We see new scenes from the masquerade ball from the “Beautiful Romance” play, I guess from audience perspective, but the footage cuts out in the middle because of an earthquake back then. No worries, Tomoyo has edited together some clips from the rehearsal! Sakura is blushing the whole time watching. Meilin remarks Syaoran had to learn all the lines and dance steps in one day (since Yamazaki hurt his arm). I loved seeing flashbacks to the rehearsal in the classroom, and our cute little Sakura in pigtails and her elementary school summer uniform again! Syaoran is seen practicing the dance steps with Chiharu, poison-tongued Meilin remarks watching, “Sucks doesn’t he?” Tomoyo interjects he improved quickly.

Pigitail Sakura = Best Sakura.
Yamazaki: Little do these common folk know that I am faking an injury so Syaoran can be prince.
Syaoran: One-two-three, thank goodness my mother forced me to take ballroom dancing as a child.
Note how Tomoyo is multi-tasking getting Meilin to hold the fabric while she's sewing--see all the costumes scattered around her, plus, she has a camcorder pointed at S+S. And, we are watching from another angle, so there is another camera also recording from behind them!
It’s cute that Chiharu was Syaoran’s dance coach back then—she had a double sense of duty since it was Yamazaki-kun who was inconveniencing Syaoran (though I’m sure he was in on it,) and then I also remembered she’s in cheerleading, so that’s why she’s so rhythmic and good at teaching the steps! It’s also very realistic how Sakura was wearing her lace-up red ballet slippers even during rehearsal! Good to practice the shoes you will perform in! Sakura steps on Syaoran’s toes and apologizes saying he was moving too fast and to try again slower. The two gaze into each other’s eyes, are lost in their own wonderland, get the steps right, and earn a classroom-wide applause much to their embarrassment.

Naoko: I hope Sakura doesn't step on Syaoran's toes.
Syaoran: Ouch, Sakura stepped on my toes.
Syaoran: Are you sure you're the cheerleading club captain?
Tomoyo: I've got to send this clip to Syaoran's sisters!

Back to present, Akiho is impressed at how hard they practiced so heart, Tomoyo remarks it’s heartwarming, and Meilin added, “Especially because the two are such serious people!” I love how Meilin points out that Syaoran is such a serious kid. Best comment from Meilin: “Daidouji-san, how many cameras did you have set up, anyway?”

Syaoran: My poor toes.
Tomoyo: When we're in junior high, I'm going to produce a play based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," starring Sakura and Syaoran, "Star-Crossed."
Syaoran: Sakura, I just had a very ominous feeling about our future.
Clueless Akiho: I want to see the end of the play!

Akiho says she would have liked to have seen the play to the end, Tomoyo astutely remarks, “Li-kun is in Japan now, and she would love to see Sakura and Syaoran acting again so she can film them, plus Naoko is in the theater club, so we can make it happen!” I absolutely love how Sakura, who usually gets pushed around by Tomoyo, interjects that Tomoyo had a solo at the festival and Akiho echoes she’d like to see that! Tomoyo immediately mellows out and says, “I did, but it wasn’t that interesting.” Oh modest Tomoyo!

Tomoyo: The stars are aligned. Li-kun is back from Hong Kong, Naoko is in the Theater Club, and that means, we are surely going to have a new school play starring S+S.
Sakura: You guys know that Tomoyo had an awesome solo in the Nadeshiko Festival, right?
Akiho: I want to listen. (So I can size up my rival's true skills).
Real star of the show: Tomoyo!
Yandere-Tomoyo: "Not interested."

I knew Tomoyo was the Big Boss, for an earthquake happens, interrupting the screening. Sakura puts Akiho to sleep with the Snooze. We have a Public Safety Announcement moment, where Tomoyo tells Meilin and sleeping Akiho to stay underneath a table to say safe during the earthquake. Then she wuips out her camcorder and runs off excited. Sonomi and the bodyguards gather in one place, Sakura puts all of them to sleep. And Sakura puts Tomoyo in her place for a second time, and tells her to stay put because it’s dangerous. Yandere-Tomoyo puts a suction action camera on Kero-chan’s head and remarks, “Of course, so you can do your job without worrying about me.” Any moment now, Tomoyo’s going to go over to the dark side.  

Meilin: Wait, wasn't the new girl the new enemy? Kero-chan: Oh boy, you're behind news.
Tomoyo's PSA of the day: Stay underneath the table during an earthquake!
Meilin: Tomoyo, but you're the person in most danger all the time!
Yandere-Tomoyo: "..."
Tomoyo: I'm counting on you, Kero-chan. Put your life on the line to capture the thrilling, action-packed moments of Sakura sealing the card! If you don't...

This is the first time we actually ended an episode with a proper cliff-hanger, aka had a multi-episode arc. I don't mind that today is a Syaoran-free episode, since I was kind of expecting it since last episode was a Syaoran-centric one. And we got a phone conversation and plenty of flashbacks of sixth-grader Syaoran as well, plus Meilin's commentaries, so I didn't even have time to miss him. But I will definitely miss him if he doesn't make a prominent appearance next episode, which he is bound to do anyway whenever Meilin wracks havoc. Suspicious Syaoran was home today, though it’s the weekend. Even if Syaoran stole the Sakura Cards’ powers, and also is setting the dark forces—I mean the new Clear Cards—on Sakura, it is likely in her best interest, to protect her from the new threat that the British magical society, or the evil Kaito-san and whatever accomplices he has, pose to her. I don’t think there is ever any question of Syaoran’s good intentions in Clear Card Arc, just on some of his methods. We’re probably going to get a Season 2, anyway, so I’m not too worried about wrapping things up in next couple weeks, though I will be sad if we have to wait another year, or two, for the new season to give time for the manga to advance. This episode doesn’t clear up why Eriol, aka Clow Reed’s, mansion is up again and Akiho’s living in it. But I’ve sort of ignored that fact as well while I’ve been writing New Trials, so it’s not really a problem to me to just gloss over this detail and leave it to supernatural explanations.

Sakura: What do you mean, cut?
Tomoyo: See, I told you we spent too much time on my uninteresting solo. We ran out of time for the week before you got into any actual action!

I think we might get some Meilin action time next week! And is Sakura doing a martial arts pose at the end with Meilin in the preview? Who taught Sakura martial arts?