Back to the beginning, but with everything you’ve learned. It’s like “New Game+”.
Sakura and friends talk at lunch. The main topic of conversation is the missing roll cakes from yesterday’s cooking class. While Sakura and Tomoyo know that they all turned into a giant cake monster, the rest of the class slept through it all. The class did manage to make cakes, but there weren’t enough decorating materials to go around. While thinking about that, Sakura and Akiho blush profusely. Both managed to make charming decorations for their cakes, and the boys they like were touched by the effort. While we saw Akiho’s clock design last episode, we get to see Sakura’s design based on Syaoran’s old outfit.
On the way back from lunch, Sakura has another of her visions, this time while looking at Akiho. The vision pulls her mind away from her body so bad she nearly falls over. Everyone is worried about her, especially Akiho. That night, Akiho has a vision of her own, this time, looking down from a clock. This confirms that she and Sakura are in these visions together, seeing each other. In the meantime, Sakura, Kero, Tomoyo, and Syaoran meet at the Tsukihime Shrine. Sakura detected a card here, and everyone pops up ready to fight. This shrine has a history for the gang, though. Sakura captured The Windy here. After some playful jabs between her and Kero, the Clear Card appears. A giant phoenix with a fiery halo appears, perching on the temple’s torii.
First, Sakura whips out Aqua, and the two elemental birds duke it out with Kamehamehas of intensity sure to make it on the late-night news. Seriously, nobody is seeing this? Is swamp gas a thing in Japan? Anyways, Blaze doubles down on its blast, turning Aqua to steam and sending it back into its pokeball. This calls for a change in tactics. Syaoran tells Sakura to get in close with Flight while he binds the bird. He sends out a bunch of wind spirits with a spell that seems to cost him something, and they wrap up moltres while Sakura turns it into a card.
Elsewhere, Touya studies for college with Yukito. He realizes that Sakura is not in bed. Yukito changes into Yue, and confirms that Sakura is safe, even heading home as they speak. The two talk a bit about Touya’s growing power. He asks what Touya plans to do with that power, but gets no response. Touya is tight-lipped about his intent, but whatever it is, it will be his choice.
The show continues to develop at its signature slow pace. We continue to get closer to the final confrontation between Akiho and Sakura, and finally get to see the visions from Akiho’s side. It seems these visions are growing in frequency and intensity. I would like to know just how bad Akiho’s visions have gotten. She’s talked about falling asleep at strange times, and not just when Snooze konked her out. Has she been in the same state as Sakura, blacking out at random times? Or are these confined to dreams?
This episode also confirms what I said in earlier reviews. These new cards are more powerful, and more combat oriented than the Sakura Cards were. When you have giant birds commanding the forces of nature, all they really have to do is sit on someone to kill them. With those mega blasts available, Sakura is capable of leveling a city, and without breaking a sweat. It’s… terrifying.
I thoroughly enjoyed the work put in by Amanda Lee as Akiho this outing. She’s still the same character, but the way her lines are delivered come across as slightly more confident and comfortable. She has her group of friends now, and she feels secure around them. It comes across in her voice and touches even in places elsewhere in her life. She’s got a bit more substance to her when she talks to Kaito, and not just butterflies. The performance grows, and that’s vital to a believable story.
The animation was pretty solid all the way through, though the brief section with Blaze is the best. There is an effect they use when we transition from reality to Sakura’s vision. It works well, giving the impression that her perceptions are breaking down. Props to Madhouse. They’ve managed their budget rather well, and can still pull out stuff like today’s episode this late in the series. It doesn’t even have to be a special event. They just know the best places to shove good animation so they don’t wear out their funding.
There is so much to this episode that is low-key great. It isn't perfect, but it uses its awesome strategically. I wish more episodes of this series felt like this. I give it eight mega-birds out of ten. Seriously, are the reporters in Tomoeda eternally asleep?