Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen - Episode 07 Review!!!

Episode 07: “Sakura and a Game of Tag in the Garden” aka Syaoran shows off his magic powers for no reason; Tomoyo masters drone technology; Sakura does air somersaults

We start of the episode with a three-way video-conference between Sakura, Yue, and Kero-chan, taking about capturing the Record Card, except Sakura and Kero-chan are in the same room, as Yue sarcastically points out. I love how Yue is still so sharp-tongued but seems to have opened up a lot more compared to CCS Season 3 days. And it's confirmed that Sakura's red laptop is actually for Kero-chan's use. We learn that Yukito finally joined a club in university, which is really heartwarming because he never joined a club in high school. But I have no idea what a “Recitation Club” is. Maybe it’s like a speech class. Probably more like reciting classical Japanese poems or elocution or something. And it's cute that Touya is buying books for Yukito. It's a pity he didn't join the archery club. I love how Sakura gives Kero-chan a hard time too, saying basically he’s a lazy bum. Kero-chan: "I have a busy schedule too!" And Sakura patiently says, "Yes, yes." How adorable is their dynamic. 

Yue: Get your fat face out of the way.
Tomoyo: I have enough costumes to last you for three more seasons of the Clear Card anime!
Tomoyo: And a high school sequel for the 40th anniversary of CCS as well!
I loved everyone’s outfits this episode, from Sakura’s red dress and yellow star-themed battle costume, to Tomoyo with her hair in two braided buns and rather steampunk-ish outfit with the suspender vest, to Syaoran’s nice, normal, preppy V-neck navy sweater vest with sky-blue button-down shirt outfit and white slacks, the kind of outfit I think I’ve drawn a hundred times on him as a default. Okay, maybe Tanaka Mikai beat him to it.

Sonomi: You look just like your mother! Especially your eyes! Well, only your eyes.

I loved getting a glimpse of all the fantastic battle outfits Tomoyo has prepared for Sakura! We are back at Tomoyo's huge house, and Daidouji Sonomi makes a comeback! Tomoyo really takes after her mother, in terms of passion and energy. But that was a sweet moment when Sonomi tells Sakura she looks more like Nadeshiko than ever, especially her eyes, and it makes Sakura really happy.

Syaoran, the tardy boy.
Syaoran's vision of Sakura, with flowers sprouting around her.

Syaoran makes a sudden appearance at Tomoyo’s house. Apparently he was invited by Tomoyo? And he’s late again. Syaoran used to be so punctual, but he’s always late nowadays. It’s tough having an affair with Eriol behind everyone’s back, I suppose. It was like good old days to have the original group hanging out at Tomoyo’s house. This was a nice change of pace from other more school-centric episodes. Sakura, Tomoyo, Syaoran, and Kero-chan have afternoon tea on a dock in Tomoyo’s huge garden, and Kero-chan takes pictures of the food and new cards to send to Spinel Sun who apparently is not responding either. But Syaoran still does not admit that he’s in secret communication with Eriol. 

Tomoyo: Sakura's newest outfit is my best work to date. Syaoran: Yeah--I mean no! I mean--
Tomoyo: S+S are blushing so cutely. Drone camera action time! Record! Oh ho ho!
I missed Tomyo’s “Oh ho ho” laughter and glad to see it's back. Tomoyo is the boss. She got her mother’s employees to design her a drone to film Sakura in action! One that can be controlled by her smartphone! How kickass is Tomoyo? She even wants to make a waterproof, underwater version. Why am I not surprised that Tomoyo has a labyrinth in her garden?

Let's do a Tarot reading--actually no, it's just Kero-chan's selfie time!
It's a dark force! No, actually, it's just a full shot of Syaoran's nice, preppy outfit of the week, and a backside shot of Tomoyo's cool steampunk outfit.
And this is a gratuitous handsome Syaoran of the week shot with one button loosened.

We finally get to see Syaoran in action, and he’s learned some Tsubasa!Syaoran techniques, releasing his sword from the palm of his hand and surprising Sakura and the others. I was rather ecstatic to hear the good old “Raitei shourei” after all these years. It's also nostalgic to see his ofuda again. And it’s good to see that even if he can’t see, or sense anything, he hasn’t lost his sharp instincts. Quoting Kero-chan: “When did you learn to use a technique like that?”

New technique of the week--actually done first by Tsubasa!Syaoran.
It sparkles now!
Kero-chan: When did you learn new technique like that? Sakura: It is sparkly!
I was glad to see Sakura actually thinking out how to capture the Flight Card, caring about its feelings, not wanting to scare it and desiring to become friends with the force. Like how she stepped between the Flight and Syaoran, because she didn’t want Syaoran to scare the card anymore than necessary. And she didn't want to use other card that might frighten it. It rather reminded of the episode where they catch the Dash Card. Except, back then, Syaoran was a lot more confrontational against Sakura.

Syaoran: You know you missed it! Raitei shourai!
Syaoran apparently can't "feel" the force but still knows which direction it is heading.
Sakura: Wait! It's my friend. Syaoran: Are we doing this again? Seriously?! After all these years?

Also, kudos to Tomoyo for upping her game and capturing all the action shots of Sakura on camera today! As Kero-chan best put it, “Tomoyo’s persistence is really what produces one masterpiece after another.” I love how the group then resumes drinking tea as if nothing had happened. Tomoyo insists on seeing Sakura use the Flight Card, asking Syaoran doesn’t he want to see it and putting him in a pickle. He gives a Syaoran-like, “Yes, I mean I want to know what the new card does,” sort of answer. Poor Syaoran, who still can’t be truthful to himself and always gets played by Tomoyo. Kero-chan really is pushing out the best lines this episode, demanding, “Only the card? What’s wrong with you? If Yue were here, he’d beat up the kid.” I never knew Kero-chan was Team SakuSyao.

Tomoyo lives inside a Nintendo game. Sort of explains how she turned out the way she did.

You are my friend too.
The Flight is pretty much the equivalent to the Fly Card, and I finally get Sakura’s battle costume from the Opening sequence. But today, I really missed Sakura’s old cards as well, because they’ve got such character and personality as well. That’s also why the Flight might be a favorite card to date, because it actually seems to have feelings, and it’s a pretty, clear ribbon, what’s not to like about it. Sakura as she captures the Flight says, “We can be friends now,” which is a very Sakura-like thing to say. All the super-deformed shots were really cute as well.

Tomoyo: Okay, now that we're done with the distractions, let's get back to the main purpose of this episode.
Tomoyo: More filming Sakura in action time again.
Tomoyo: Li-kun, you agree with me, right?
Syaoran: Yes, er, I mean, I want to see the new card in action!
Kero-chan: What's wrong with you, Brat! If Yue were here, you'd be thwacked in the behind by him!

We get to see a lot of pretty shots of Sakura soaring up the sky—I forgot how much I missed the Fly Card. Syaoran waves at a smiling Sakura but then has a morose expression at the end of the episode, making him really suspicious again.

I'm more than a bird, I'm more than a plane, I'm more than just a pretty face.
Kero-chan: It's amazing Tomoyo's drone camera follows you everywhere!
Sakura: Actually, I find it a little bit creepy, but I can't tell Tomoyo that because it will break her heart.
Syaoran: I probably shouldn't tell Sakura I can see her underwear from here, right? 
Teehee Syaoran waved back!
Who knew Syaoran would be the most suspicious character in Clamp-verse since, well, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.

I guess next episode we will finally be introduced to Yuna D. Kaito! I'm excited to see him!
Are you related to Fai D. Flourite?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Belated Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Lunar New Year!

Living Together: Sakura Blow-drying Syaoran's Hair
by wishluv on DeviantArt

This one's a little bit late, but I sketches this for Valentine's Day 2016, I believe, but never finished it. I decided it to color it up for Valentine's Day this year but am slightly late because it's been so busy at work, but luckily now it's Lunar New Year break. It's junior high Sakura and Syaoran from Arc 2 era, when they were living together, which sort of makes me feel nostalgic. I feel like it's been a while since I posted actually completed artwork instead of sketches or chibis!

Happy Valentine's Day 2018 and Happy Lunar New Year!

Music Spotlight:

Cheryl Cole - "Fight For This Love"

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen - Episode 06 Review

It's canon! Syaoran is an excellent pianist. What is he not good at?

“Filler episodes" of CCS are always the best! I don’t even consider them really filler because Ohkawa Nanase-sensei is in charge of script, so I suppose it’s Clamp’s expanded vision of the CCS-verse that they could not include in the manga. We start off with Sakura daydreaming of Syaoran eating Syaoran’s bento the other day at the flower-viewing gathering, then bumping into Akiho to do grocery shopping. We are finally introduced to Akiho’s “Momo-chan,” Kero-chan’s bunny equivalent aka Moonstone from New Trials. I mentioned before that Moonie-chan is probably a mixture between Mokona, Usagi-chan from Wish and more recently Momo-chan.


Meilin: Poor Syaoran's still got it rough.

One of the highlights of this episode was the comeback of Meilin (or at least hearing her over phone). Thank goodness for smartphones so we see Meilin in action. The best part was her banter with Kero-chan, mocking him by eating her peach manju in front of him, teasing Sakura about how she’s always spacing out, but still a bit concerned about how Syaoran’s doing in Japan.  Meilin’s awesome as ever, and she hasn’t lost any of her sass. And she tells Sakura of course Syaoran is enjoying school since “he’s near a certain someone, after all.” Since her introduction Meilin was a bit nagging and overbearing, but she also was very shrewd and observant. I love her little sigh and offhand remark, “I guess Syaoran will still have it rough for a while,” because of how dense Sakura is. And best news, she said she will visit Japan over summer vacation! I also like her nice porcelain tea cup. 

Cutest dad award!
Touya: Gotta show Yuki Sakura's latest masterpiece!
Pretty Nadeshiko with an umbrella!

Even Kinomoto Fujitaka has also become moe-fied—he looked cute huffing and puffing on the hot gratin made by Sakura. Fujitaka is as busy as every with university work and says he might have to spend the night, so I don’t feel so bad I made him so busy in New Trials either. Mischievous Touya points out Sakura’s mistake slicing cucumbers and even takes a photo of it to send to Yukito. Sakura’s premonition of the mysterious cloaked figure is getting more elaborate than ever. So, on top of being in sort of dreamscape, there is clock imagery going on as well. I wonder if the final battlefield is going to be a dream plane rather than Tokyo Tower or the shrine, as was predicted with Yue and Eriol’s appearances. On a side note, I think this was one of the prettiest photo-of-the-day of Nadeshiko to date. I don’t know why, but no matter how many times it’s shown, I always feel giddy when Sakura crosses the bridge and sees Tomoyo waiting for her. The butterfly—I suppose it was meant to be the Record—really reminded me of the Dream Card more than anything else. After class ends, the girls discuss which club Akiho should join. 
Ninja Tomoyo: Li-kun, urgent matters! Assemble at music room ASAP!
Yandere Tomoyo: Akiho, I heard you humming along the other day. Admit it!

The best of this episode is the music room scene. Leave it to Tomoyo to know that Syaoran plays piano. Note, Tomoyo runs like a ninja, arms flying out behind her to chase after Syaoran going into the next door classroom (how did she even notice him) and brings the group to the music room she borrowed for lunch break. Akiho apologizes for butting in and humming along to Tomoyo’s singing during the flower-viewing gathering the other day, being the polite girl she is. Tomoyo and Sakura both tell Akiho they heard her singing along, and everybody encourages Akiho to sing.

Syaoran: Who told you I play the piano? Darn Meilin.
Sakura: Syaoran, you play the piano? I want to hear!

Syaoran: I'm not very good so don't blame me if it sounds bad!

Tomoyo then says she heard that Syaoran is actually very good at the piano and asks him to accompany them. Syaoran is taken aback and demands where she heard this from, and Tomoyo replies, from Meilin. Syaoran looks very troubled and annoyed like good old days. Of course, Sakura is amazed that Syaoran can play the piano, and Syaoran blushes like he used to and being modest as he always was, says he is not very good and not to blame him if they can’t sing along to his accompaniment. Of course, he’s very good (possible better than Eriol?!) and looks very hot playing the piano. Sakura probably asks to herself, why did she have to learn piano from Eriol back when she wanted to record a song for the Clow Cards, when she would have learned from Syaoran all along? Or maybe Syaoran is Eriol’s apprentice after all and learned from the master himself.

Of course I'm the next Lang Lang.
I'm Li Syaoran, what did you expect?
Legit duet off with Tomoyo and Akiho! Who is the winner?
Sakura only has eyes for piano-playing Syaoran.

Tomoyo and Akiho sing a song called “Misty Moonlight” and harmonize beautifully, but truthfully I wasn’t paying attention because I was distracted because Syaoran was playing the piano! They even animated his fingers and all instead of lazy panning out shots. It makes more sense that Rika transferred out because I believe she was the piano player of the group. and we wouldn’t have this precious moment with Syaoran otherwise.

Sakura: Hanyaan! Syaoran's so good at the piano!
Syaoran: I should have shown off my skills in Season 1 if it would impress Sakura so much.

Another part I enjoyed this episode was Syaoran and Tomoyo’s unspoken communicative skills, like Syaoran asking if he could borrow the music room a little longer, and Tomoyo automatically ushering Akiho and Chiharu out of the room. Chiharu’s “hmm” was so funny when Tomoyo says Sakura and Syaoran have something else to do. Chiharu even has the audacity to wink at the two as they close the music room door. Sakura seals the Record Card without much hardship, but it was good to see Syaoran standing by her side and the two cooperating together for the first time in a long time. Also, that portrait of Beethoven making the picture-taking motion with his hand is the creepiest thing I’ve seen in CCS so far!

Syaoran, as observant as ever of Sakura.
The fantastic duo back at it again!
Creepiest Beethoven portrait ever!
Syaoran, you're my ally now, right? You better not betray me!

Then, Syaoran makes the shocking confession that he couldn’t feel anything, and it was nothing like when they were collecting the Clow Cards. And he makes a very troubled expression—so if he’s hiding something from Sakura, that would make him the best actor ever.

Frowning Syaoran is back!
Syaoran also makes this kind of troubled expression when he's worried about Sakura.

There was something about this episode that reminded me of elements of New Trials of CCS more than any other episode so far. I was already alerted that Syaoran might be playing on the piano this episode over by members of the Facebook group, but I didn’t realize we would get a full scene of him accompanying Tomoyo and Akiho on the piano. I loved it the whole scene, from Syaoran being very modest about his skills, to being an awesome pianist, to him being embarrassed at being complimented. Of course Meilin boasted about Syaoran’s talents to Tomoyo and not Sakura. I can die happily, knowing it is canon that Syaoran IS musically talented, no matter how much he sucked at the recorder in elementary school. Music plays such an important part of New Trials, but the reason I made it feature so heavily in the storyline was because I thought it kept up with the spirit of the original series as well. Syaoran is not only good at piano but he can sight read on the spot too—I’m sure he never heard the Japanese song “Misty Moonlight” before. Even Kero-chan during the “Leave it to Kero-chan” segment remarks “Who knew that kid was so good at piano” at the end.” Anyhow, Sakura must have a brother-complex too—Syaoran shares so many similarities with Touya. It was also good to see Syaoran being so expressive again after being pretty inscrutable in the episodes so far. 

Syaoran is still a pushover whenever it comes to Sakura.

Sakura's dream sequences are getting more and more complex.

The other point was the imagery in the dream sequence with the mysterious cloaked figure and the clocks. It reminded me of the Ending Theme 4 I made to NewTrials years back. Also, Tomoyo’s mother’s company making not only toys but smartphones, headphones and other technological equipment apparently. I’m looking forward to a Sonomi-related episode next episode, and Sakura’s new battle costume looks especially cute with all the stars!”