This episode like the Cardcaptor Sakura episodes of the past it aims to emulate is divided into two very clearly seperate parts. The absolutely adorable slice of life section focusing on Sayoran and Sakura’s first date and the second section focused around the battle to seal a card. Despite this divide the episode works quite well. As it is unified by a pure and totally intentional case of nostalgia.
For most of its run Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card has referenced the original series however it has never fully embraced a total remake, until now. Episode 9 Sakura’s Thrilling Aquarium Visit is in many ways a nearly 1:1 remake of Cardcaptor Sakura Episode 3: Sakura’s Heart-Racing First Date. Luckily for fans and new comes alike, the episode stands on its own two feet with or without knowledge of the prior episode. However, let us be frank, why are you watching Clear Card is you have not already seen Card Captor Sakura?
As the Episode opens Sakura is showing off her Clear Cards to Yue in a a video call, however as is normal Yue is as in the dark about their origins as he ever is. Something that quite clearly irritates the Judge, as one of the most powerful magic beings in existence he feels rather useless. Which sucks from a storytelling and visual perspective as Yue is one of the most interesting and visually appealing characters in action.
As the episode goes on Sakura and Sayoran are off to their date, that Sakura asked Li out in the previous episode. Acting their age things start off a little stilted, as both Sakura and Sayoran are rather awkward around each other. Something other patrons notice. The location of the date is the Aquarium to which Sakura points out Sayoran has never been too and it was also the place of her capture of the Watery card.
In the original series the Four Elemental Cards were among the most powerful cards and each episode they appeared was one of the more exciting. With the Watery being Sakura’s first real fight, teasing a return to the location of The Watery was obviously a fun move.
As the episode continues Sayoran reveals his ability to speak English as he speaks to two tourists. They go to another nostalgic area from Episode 3 the Penguin Exhibit - which Sakura (who loves the Pengin) clearly enjoys. However, as Sakura and Sayoran sit down to enjoy their lunch Sakura’s brother shows up unexpectedly. Adding in yet another element from the first series episode.
The lunch is cut short as one of the Aquariums break and Sakura is submerged in water. Acting quickly Toya uses the emergency breaker to drain the water. Though not before Sakura’s foot is caught by a Clear Card in the exact same way that the Watery Card had year a couple years back.
Following this the episode shifts to battle mode. Where I would argue the single best example of combat in Clear Card yet takes place. All including Sayoran in a version of Chinese garb from the last series, I mean we can’t have a nostalgia trip without it can we? Sakura also gets into the action with an outfit that is explicately stated by Tomoyo to be a reference to the time she fought The Watery, yes Clear Card stated in the episode they are remaking Episode 3.
I’ll skip most of the rest of the episode as its almost pure magical combat as I have a rule, action is ALWAYS better watched the read. So just watch the fight as it involves multiple cards including an incredibly fulfilling use of the Gravity Card. Honestly this fight could only have worked in anime form (and it was Anime Original) as it was so kinetic in nature it just would not have worked as well on a manga page. So good work Studio Bones.
Following the capture of The Spiral Card, the episode comes to a close without any major addition to the plot. However that is secondary to the goal of the episode, which exists as a celebration of all things Cardcaptor Sakura. While I hope they do not do this too often, it was a treat to go down memory lane. What does everyone else think? Did you have as much fun with Episode 9 as I did?
Ya... honestly I didn’t find a great way to make a Ship joke in the main write up and in an episode that is basically all about Sakura x Sayoran to the point random people (TWICE!) are pointing it out, it must be done. So here we go Styx - Come Sail Away as honestly the ship is pulling out of harbour. Even Meiling a former Rival is pushing Sayoran along!