In Soviet Tomoeda, cake eats you!
Sakura wakes from another of her visions. This time, however, she recognizes the cloaked figure! She tumbles out of bed, phased by the realization. Kero, afraid she hit her head, yells to snap her out of it. She hops to her day, which starts a bit early so she can meet with an old friend. Rika Sasaki, who now goes to a different school than Sakura, meets her at the King Penguin Slide to hand off a bag full of books. Some of them feature pop-ups, but others are just easier to read aloud. That makes them perfect for Sakura’s volunteer work, reading to children at the hospital. The handoff complete, she’s off to school. But wait! She forgot her apron, and her home economics will be teaching how to make roll cakes!
After a panicked dash home, she manages to reach class just in time. Sakura, Akiho, and Tomoyo buddy up to make their cakes, and the task is made easy. The girls make a wide roll and cut it up, then debate on how to decorate their parts of it. Each want to give their roll to someone important to them. Akiho plans to put a clock on it, to represent Kaito’s clock. Sakura knows she’s going to give hers to Syaoran, but making a feng shui board out of icing is a daunting task.
Not like that’s going to matter. All of the roll cakes suddenly come to life, bouncing around the room. This has to be the work of another Clear Card. Sakura huddles into a corner and uses Snooze to put everyone to sleep. Suddenly, the bouncing cakes turn on the only two people who are still awake. All these cute, animal-shaped rolls grow mouths and attack! Sakura and Tomoyo make a run for it, but the monster rolls cannibalize each other to make one giant killer cake. With a bit of Flight to pull him up into the air, and a lot of Spiral to cut away the excess carbs, the evil pastry becomes vulnerable. Sakura pulls the Appear card from him.
After everyone wakes up, and the teacher lets them all start over with their cakes. Akiho finishes hers, and takes it back to Kaito to let him try it. As he calmly bites into it, she tells him all about the odd events in class. It makes him laugh, and that pleases her. Though, admitting it to him makes her insecure. He reassures her that she isn’t strange for saying so. Suddenly, Akiho falls asleep! Momo comes to life as Kaito uses his watch to cast a spell. Something is happening to Akiho, and Kaito is powerless to stop it. Perhaps the Clear Cards are a key to his desperate struggle?
We are finally back on the path of the manga, and I’m actually a bit miffed. The filler arc contained a large amount of foreshadowing and an outright declaration that stuff was up with Momo and Kaito. So here, when the two reveal for the camera that they are working in the shadows, it isn’t very meaningful. Had there been no filler arc, we would have had a more impactful shock from the reveal. Now, it’s just a mass of “yeah, we already knew that.”
Fortunately, the end of the episode hints about Kaito’s motivations. They feel less sinister or manipulative. He genuinely cares for Akiho, and the events she and Sakura are wrapped up in are hurting her. It isn’t entirely a surprise that Kaito isn’t truly villainous. It’s rather rare for CLAMP to develop evil characters for the sake of evil. Instead, they tend to have complex motivations that make them seem dark at first, but they’re really good guys, or simply hurting.
The animation of this episode has more than a few issues. So often, faces got messed up. The chase scene had nothing for us but the choppy animation that was more than a little unclear. Once you see the results, you can tell that one ate all the others. In the middle of the act, though, it’s a muddled mess of a chopily-bouncing cake. A better angle might have made this more clear. What I find strange is that the cinematography at this point is great! It feels as if they had to save their budgets for the later portions of the episode. Their frugality also leaves the cooking portions of the episodes frozen in barely animated chibi form. They’re cute, and remind me of those Cooking Mama video games, but they also look lazy and unpolished.
While this episode was delightful, and continued moving forward with the plot, there are small things that just pile up to keep it from being a "great" episode. I give it seven killer cakes out of ten.