Mei becomes the king of Cartado.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
Mei has made a new Tarka friend called Dodo, and he’s invited her to the exclusive Cartado festival, beloved by Cartado aficionados from all across the kingdom! Though it turns out that Mei’s invitation wasn’t exactly that hard to obtain, she still has a great time at the festival, even becoming the Cartado king when she finds an irregularly large card. Sure, they may have to burn the cards at the end, but it was still a wonderful tradition to take part in.
From the moment I saw the title of this week’s episode, Secret Cartado Festival!, I was excited. An entire episode about my favorite lovable little nerdy goofball? Yes, please! Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the in-depth look into Mei that I was hoping for. While the episode is a lot of fun and definitely gives Mei more screen time than the show usually does, we don’t really learn anything new about Mei or get to know her any better.
When the episode started out with Mei bringing home news that she’d been invited to the famously secret Cartado festival for the first time, it looked like the episode might be going for an angle where Mei gets fed up with her friends stealing her spotlight. They instantly bond with Dodo, her cute Tarka friend, and in one of the funniest lines of the episode, Mei exclaims: “Freakin’ extroverts! Took me literally months to do that.” Oh my goodness, poor Mei. This expectation was only cemented when Yusha, Seira, and Fie butted their way into accompanying Mei and Dodo to the secret Tarka village where the Cartado festival was taking place. Fie can even understand Dodo’s speech thanks to her animalistic, primal instincts or something! Everything was pointing to an episode where Mei and her friends have a fight. But then it never happened. In an interesting turn of events, Mei is able to accept her friends’ intrusions quickly and even lets them help her hunt down a legendary Cartado card when the time comes for the Cartado King challenge. This choice limits the amount of conflict in this episode, so there weren’t necessarily a whole lot of stakes involved. But it did make for a more relaxed 22-minutes that showed off the bond the team has together.
This episode didn’t have much action, but it did deliver heaps of cuteness. The Tarka people are absolutely adorable: everything from their cute outfits to their friendly nature to their lovely singing voices. The Cartado festival commenced with a silly little song, but gosh, was it catchy! The backstory about Cartado cards growing on actual trees instead of being manufactured by humans was weird but added to the magical atmosphere of Tarka village. The ending with them all singing about, but Mei crying at the same time because of the burning cards before her was the perfect way to finish the episode off.
The English dub this week was really excellent, mainly because Mei had a lot more lines than usual and Trina Nishimura just kills it. She gives Mei the perfect amount of adorable, geeky awkwardness. “The world of Cartado is full of wonder, but let’s be real… that fire is still a waste.” The rest of the main cast was good as always, and I loved the cute little noises the Tarka people made. The cherry on top? They dubbed the song! (Hah.)
Secret Cartado Festival! may not expand on Mei’s character in any significant way, but it was still a fun showcase of her nerdy passion for Cartado. Even without winning the title of Cartado King, Mei would have been satisfied by a fun outing to her dream festival with her friends tagging along beside her. But she did win, and that makes it even better!