Meiling returns for a brief visit, but strange things are afoot.
For a while now, Meiling Li has promised to visit in the summer. Surprise! She’s here now! Everyone seems to assume she’s going to stay with her cousin Syaoran. However, she has an alternative agenda. She’s gonna stay with Sakura, and chat the night away. The two make gyoza together and talk over cookies. Most of the conversation ends up being about Sakura’s blooming relationship with Syaoran. A major issue is that there is something weighing heavily on his mind, but Sakura doesn’t want to pressure him into telling her. Meiling seems to accept this, but not heartily. Before they go to bed, however, Sakura starts hallucinating. She sees cat ears and a tail pop out of Meiling. Assuming it’s from lack of sleep, the two pull out the futon and go to bed.
However, that isn’t all that goes on in this episode. Touya is across town at Yukito’s house, studying. Yuki takes this opportunity to push his friend into talking about the hints Touya has been leaving that his powers have returned. He even transforms into Yue to convince him. Touya is keeping this close to his chest but promises Yuki is going to know eventually.
As the episode comes to a close, we take a look at Akiho, reading her untranslatable book. In this portion, a girl sprouts cat ears and… a tail…
Well, the new credit sequences confirm it all, Momo is a living being like Kero and Spinel. If the character relationships are the same in these credits, however, It is possible that the gang of Akiho, Keito, and Momo aren’t antagonists like we were expecting them. We see Momo not only having a pleasant time with the other mascots but even acting as a mediator between them. The ending of the episode also cements the relationship between Akiho’s book and the clear cards. The book seems to narrate all the actions taken by the cards. We also get to see that the clock references from Sakura’s previous dreams aren’t just pointing at the book, but Kaito’s pocket watch, which seems to have great importance as Akiho reads her book. We are still given the implication that he knows what is going on, while Akiho does not.
So, with all this relationship stuff and intrigue, this has to be an interesting episode, right? Nope. This is a really calm episode, but nothing comes of it. In the end, it feels like this episode and the next were intended to be watched together as a double feature. This builds the action up to what is coming in the next episode, and everything happens there. Unfortunately, that leaves this episode a slog to get through. They talk about nothing, make gyoza, eat gyoza, talk about nothing. When your tiny asides with other characters carry more plot and mystery than the rest of the episode, you are focused on the wrong thing.
Yes, this series is heavily about Sakura’s relationship with Syaoran. It is the beating heart that tethers Sakura to the real world and prevents her from being a magical girl 24/7 when trouble is about. Problem is, the show (and this episode especially) is agonizingly slow about it. Twelve episodes got us one fouled-up date between them and a whole bunch of spoiled bento. There isn’t enough here to keep things exciting. Then you give us today’s episode. Meiling is definitely trying to get Sakura to woman up and get things moving, but the two lovebirds are mired in so much awkward that the episode just flops.
Still, the animators found stuff to do while all this talking was happening. The whole episode was clean. I may have spotted one frame during the cheerleading routine where things went wrong with Sakura’s face. Otherwise, the episode was flawless. Late in the episode, we see Kaito serving the tea. The animators did an excellent job of showing us the water fill the pot, and all the leaves floating around. It’s a tiny thing, but they gave it attention.
There was lots of great expression from Monica Rial (Sakura) and Trina Nishimura (Meiling), especially early on. My only qualm is a minor one. There are several points where Meiling speaks Chinese. Unfortunately, Nishimura mangled the pronunciation of pretty much everything. It was only two places where this occurs, but in the longer quote at the end, it gets even worse. Meiling sounds like an English-speaker who has been handed a script to read, only to find they don’t know what the heck it says.
The episode wasn't bad, and I'm pretty sure it's necessary for what is coming, but it was just so... bleh. I give it six gyoza out of ten.