This recap of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card contains spoilers for Episode 2 “Sakura and the Room with No Exit”
Cardcaptor Sakura‘s fourth season started off with a nostalgic trip down memory lane. “Sakura and the Clear Cards” made up with endearing throwbacks for all that it lacked in action. As I said last week, we did need time to reacquaint ourselves with this universe. Yet, structuring the episode as they did meant a lot would be riding on its second episode, “Sakura and the Room with No Exit.” If Tomoeda didn’t quickly become the small-town-turned-mysterious-and-terrifying-battleground it used to be, Clear Card ran the risk of not making the cut.
But before we get all judgy, let’s dive into the episode and see what we find.
“Sakura and the Room with No Exit”
I want to start off by congratulating CLAMP on sticking to the “Sakura and ___” episode title format. It’s like Friends‘ “The one where ___” and it helps with maintaining that much-needed feeling of continuation.
Last time around, the school setting was mostly neglected to make room for everything else. In Episode 2, our main focus returns to “academics,” if you will. We follow Sakura from her first period, English, to sketching class where we’re reminded of Naoko’s artistic skills, to homeroom period where Sakura and her friends must decide which after-school club to sign up for.
Sakura doesn’t hesitate to rejoin the cheerleading team, while Chiharu and Tomoyo stick to home economics. Tomoyo has proven her mastery of sewing and overall outfit confectionery, but “Sakura and the Room with No Exit” rewards us with Tomoyo’s old sketches of beloved Sakura outfits. As for Chiharu, she has grown to be a master chef, sharing her famous cheesecake recipe with the girls at the beginning of the episode.
Over lunch, Sakura, Tomoyo, and Chiharu meet with the other half of the gang. Yamazaki has no problem choosing a club since he the basketball team recruits him. Chiharu is quick to undercut his “achievement” by stating that he was obviously picked because he’s freakishly tall. As the friends continue to enjoy their meal, Yamazaki finds another opportunity to go off on a nonsensical rant that’s gotten both Sakura and Syaoran heart-eyed intrigued. This time, Chiharu is there to quite literally cut the BS, reminding us of why ChiharuxYamazaki is the best OTP after Sakura and Syaoran.
Who wants to guess what club Naoko’s joining? Theatre, of course. She did write that infamous elementary school play, as Tomoyo is quick to remind Sakura and Syaoran. What play is that, you ask? I’m sure this will look familiar:
Yes, that play. People think they’re progressive now, but back in 2000, Naoko was gender-swapping lead roles in her version of The Sleeping Beauty.
Now, if Cardcaptor Sakura were just a shoujo, it wouldn’t have been half as successful as it was back in its day, right? As fun as the dynamic between the different characters was, the real meat of the show was the immense darkness that existed. The one that kept leaking through the cracks of a picture-perfect childhood setting. Up until this point, Clear Card hasn’t given us much other than confirmation that the storyline is going to follow the lore its original run had established.
Yes, Sakura is having weird dreams with cloaked figures and attacking glass shards. And yes, nobody really knows what’s going on when all her sakura cards turn clear. But, nobody seems worried either. Kero-chan and Yue are just “monitoring the situation” while everything else around Sakura remains unchanged.
One of the greatest pulls of the first run, aside from the mystery surrounding Eriol and the origin of the Clow Cards, was the fact that we knew nothing of Syaoran. We loved his character, but whatever he did off-screen remained a complete enigma. For his return, the plot was making it seem like we had officially gained full access to Syaoran. It’s even fair to say we expected his behavior to become predictable. Instead, the hidden meaning behind all this talk of club joining was to point out the fact that Syaoran hasn’t picked one.
When his friends confront him, Syaoran’s explanation is that he still has “matters to attend to” now that he’s back from Hong Kong. Follow-up questions on the matter are deflected by talk of Mei-Ling and Wei. We discover that Syaoran is possibly living by himself since both Mei-Ling and Wei have stayed behind. On top of that, even though it’s only been two episodes, we have yet to see Syaoran and Sakura interacting beyond a school setting (walks to and from school inclusive).
After school’s dismissed, Tomoyo heads over to the Kinomoto household where she and Sakura attempt to make Chiharu’s famous cheesecake. The result looks amazing (idk about the taste), and the scene serves to remind us (or at least me) of how delicious all the food always looks on this show.
Sakura appears a little disheartened about the fact that she hasn’t heard back from Eriol and that nobody knows what to do about the clear cards. Tomoyo encourages Sakura, convincing her that she’s still strong and resourceful and will manage to figure this thing out. She does add, however, that her only regret was not being there to record Sakura capturing her first card in
20 years months.
Before we get to the action, tea time is interrupted by the arrival of Toya and Yukito. The latter still carries the same housewife attitude, while Toya immediately starts taunting his sister. Nothing much comes of this interaction, except for Kero-chan having to pretend he’s a plushie for much longer than he can handle. Toya, who obviously knows Kero is a living thing, tries to get him to break by mentioning all the tasty food he loves.
Sakura is still nervous around Yukito, and Toya still makes fun of her for having a crush on him. Now, for Toya, it’s all shits and giggles while Sakura is crushing on guys she can’t have. I cannot wait for him to get nasty again once he finds out Syaoran is back in town.
After sharing cheesecakes and heartfelt moments, Sakura and Tomoyo retire to Sakura’s chambers where she’ll get fitted for her new dresses. This moment is both familiar and magical as Sakura’s outfits were what made her card-capturing duties so iconic.
We get to enjoy the magical moment in which Sakura goes from stay-at-home outfit to superhero. Tomoyo’s new creation preserves the emblematic pink hue of sakura petals as well as the signature Daidouji ribbons, half-capes, and bobble hats. The transformation comes at the nick of time, as it often does, for a new clear card finds its way into Sakura’s room.
In a matter of seconds, an empty, square-shaped space replaces Sakura’s bedroom. Save for strange black lines, the surroundings are completely blank. As before, neither Kero-chan nor Sakura feel any energy coming from the card and find that the walls stretch out to avoid their touch. While Kero is busy trying to cannonball into the walls, Sakura and Tomoyo try to figure out what material the room is made out of.
After some deliberation, rubber turns out to be the right answer. Tomoyo adds that this must be what being inside a balloon feels like. The answer to sealing the card becomes clear then: pop the balloon. Thankfully, Tomoyo is carrying her dressing pins, and Sakura prepares for action.
The sealing of the card is quick and painless using the new key Sakura received through a dream in the last episode. Once the room returns to normal, Toya comes in to check what all the ruckus was for. Sakura and Tomoyo come up with a terrible lie as always, and Toya doesn’t press the matter further. “The Siege” card falls into Sakura’s hand.
It’s important to note, at this point, that Clow Cards were ruled by six primary element cards: The Windy, The Earthy, The Watery, The Firey, The Light, and The Dark. Every other card was organized under these and how Sakura could use them or play their power off of each other was clearer.
Thus far, we have two cards: The Siege and The Gale. At first, The Gale would’ve made it seem like Sakura was getting stronger, more attack-based versions of her old cards (The Gale being a violent replacement for The Windy). Yet, The Siege is a strange card even if a combination of original Clow cards could accomplish something similar to it.
By the time the episode ends, they don’t discuss much about the card. The only “clues” we get about the whole clear card situation is that Eriol knew this would happen and is purposefully ignoring Sakura’s e-mails. At the same time, our heroine has another dream with the cloaked figure, but nothing new comes of it.
So, while neither The Gale nor The Seige are compelling cards to start with, the seeds of disconnect between Syaoran, Eriol, and the mystery of the clear cards are being planted. At this pace, I’d guess we’ll be knee-deep in lore and weird shenanigans by the time we hit episode five.
I’ll leave you with the most iconic moment of this episode until I see you again next week:
Sakura and the Room with No Exit
- We got to hear a lot of familiar tracks from the olden day
- Seeing Tomoyo's retro designs
- Sakura back in costume
- Yamazaki x Chiharu
- Eriol being elusive and stressful again
- The setup is starting to lag
- We've barely seen Syaoran