Things are getting grim for Sakura, so let’s get our sports on!
Ahiko wakes up to morning tea and breakfast, made with love by Kaito. Though she slept okay, she’d been having a recurring dream. She’s standing up high, looking down at someone. She wants something from the person… This sounds familiar. Sakura, in the meantime, wakes up late. Fortunately, her father is already home, cooking breakfast. Actually, it seems just about everyone is running behind. And today of all days! It’s the school’s ball-sports tournament, and everybody’s gonna play! Even Sakura puts down her pom-poms to lay down some Space Jam. Only Tomoyo looks like she’s not having fun. Students can’t bring cameras to the sports field. However, they can put the portable camera on Kero, and he can play cameraman for her. After Sakura finishes her B-Ball game, she heads over to watch Ahiko and Syaoran in their badminton match. It’s exciting, and the two fight to a stalemate. The only thing stopping them is a sudden hailstorm. Everyone rushes inside, except for Sakura. She senses the presence of a clear card! Problem is, she can’t get close to the card without a face full of hail. Without any fire-based cards in her arsenal, she has no way to catch it.
And that’s why you have a Syaoran! Using his elemental magic, he summons a ring of fire around the card, preventing it from throwing hail. With the Hail card now in hand, Sakura begins to notice Syaoran acting funny. That spell seems to have taken more out of him than he wants to admit to her. That night, things take a turn for the sinister. Toya hasn’t been home in a long time, and Kero has been sleeping more and more. In Sakura’s dream vision, Akiho’s mage form nearly takes hold of the Key, and attacks Sakura with a giant serpent. As we return to the waking world, we find Akiho lurking outside Sakura’s house!
So, at the point where most shows end, this one decides to lay its cards on the table and get the story moving. Now that it’s almost confirmed that Akiho is the mysterious mage, we are left wondering just how she’s coming into play. It seems that Kaito is aware of the meaning of her dreams, but she isn’t. Perhaps he is the giant snake, using her as a puppet to lure out Sakura and consume her powers? We know he has Moon magic, same as Syaoran and Yue. Does he play the same role, or is he something entirely different? With the more offensive cards, Sakura and Syaoran are armed for bear. Perhaps this season is going to end with a true battle. The ending may be a bit further off than we thought, though, as new episode titles continue to be revealed. We may even be looking ahead to a 24 episode season!
The episode’s primary premise is pretty meaningless, though. There really isn’t much of a point to all the sports except to get everyone outside. Since this card only appears in the anime, I’m guessing this is a filler episode. If that’s true, it’s well designed. It amps up the tension towards the end, which makes up for how slow things have been as of late.
The episode is technically fine. The animation is solid, though nothing special. They look to have used CG to animate the hail, which is a smart enough move, given how they form and melt as they fly. The animation during the sports sequences attends to the details properly, and the cinematography is exciting. What really shines here is the music, with a jazzy sax pumping life into the mix. I really enjoyed it. I never really noticed anything as far as the voice acting went. It wasn’t all that bad, but didn’t capture my attention.
So, while it may have been middle-of-the-road in a technical sense, the content of the episode made it worth watching. I'm ready for the show to move on to the new story arc, so let's get going! I give this episode eight hailstones out of ten.