Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Series Review: He’s Just Never Going To Get It

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Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Overview:

In Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun, Sakura Chiyo has a crush on Nozaki but when she tries to confess she mistakenly tells him she is his fan. To her surprise he gives her an autograph. It isn’t until later she realises that Nozaki is actually a famous shoujo manga artist and she’s just been recruited as an assistant.

Surrounded by a cast of zany characters this show follows Sakura’s quest to get Nozaki’s attention and Nozaki’s ongoing search for manga inspiration.

Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Review:

Previously, Nozaki landed himself a place on the list of boring title characters. The guy is seriously dull as an individual having almost no variation in his expression or tone at any point and essentially just being the rock around which all the other characters interact in this anime.

However, just because I find the title character a little bit lacking doesn’t mean this isn’t a fun anime. The support cast for Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun are phenomenal and even Nozaki and Sakura’s interactions stay pretty fun even if they are repetitive with her making puppy dog eyes at him and Nozaki completely missing the point.

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However, the show seems to acknowledge that its set up isn’t very original and often links the events in the character’s lives to the events Nozaki is using as inspiration in his manga. The reversal of gender roles from characters in reality to the manga works well as a point of humour with the Mikoshiba (Mikorin) being the unknowing model for the heroine of the manga he assists Nozaki to produce.

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Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun also seems to understand that a little goes a long way.

As a main character, Mikoshiba would annoy me. However, in the support role and with Sakura and Nozaki’s fairly deadpan reactions to his silliness, he works quite well at injecting some needed colour and energy into the series and doesn’t overstay his welcome.



The same is true of the rest of the cast who slowly get introduced as the story goes on. When on the search for a Prince type character, Mikoshiba introduces Sakura and Nozaki to Kashima, star of the drama department and super annoying human being to the director even as it is clear he has quite the crush on her. Their antics deliver physical humour and liven up the screen with short bursts of action.

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When looking for a side story, Sakura introduces Nozaki to Seo, a classmate where the gap between her angelic voice and her personality couldn’t be wider. Through a series of events that could only happen in a manga or an anime, Seo ends up on a date with Wakamatsu, a stressed out guy who can only sleep when listening to a tape of Seo’s voice even though Seo is actually the cause of his stress.

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For a comedy anime that really is just a series of set ups and punch lines and repetition of its core jokes over and over, Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun manages to keep things fresh enough through the slow introduction of new cast members and comedic elements, and through its overall set up of Nozaki being a manga artist which allows for discussions about the nature of some of the set ups which gives them slightly more impact.

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While this one isn’t going to win my heart over for best anime ever or anything like that, it is a pleasant watch and while it might be a bit silly it never crosses a line into just ridiculous. The support cast each have their charming and annoying points but because of the range of characters the focus never lingers to long on any one of them and overall it is quite an enjoyable viewing experience.

I’d love to know your thoughts on it is you’ve given it a watch.


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Karandi James


Breaking Down The Magical Girl Genre – Going Their Own Way

Alright, if you missed part one or part two, definitely check them out first and then let’s talk about magical girls.

Let’s wrap up this mini-series of posts (though I am definitely going to revisit the subject matter at some point because really nowhere near enough has been said).

What about the exceptions within the magical girl genre.

And why no magical boys (or not really the same kind of magical)?

While there are a few modern exceptions, I actually want to look at a more classic ‘magical girl’ that kind of does things her own way, and that’s Sakura from Card Captor. And already I hear people saying she defines magical girl, what do you mean she’s an exception?

Cardcaptor Sakura gives us a non-transforming magical girl but still kind of tells the same story.

True, she becomes a Card Captor after Kero recruits her to recapture the cards she let loose and it was more or less her destiny to release the cards in the first place and she fights an array of silly villains while wearing fairly ridiculous outfits using a magical wand to summon cards to fight for her, so it all seems fairly normal for the magical girl genre.

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However, there are a few distinctions.

Firstly, while her friends are most definitely dragged into the magical encounters Sakura has after becoming a Card Captor, with the exception of Syaoran Li, most of her friends do not have any power and don’t end up joining her back-up group.

In fact, Sakura pretty much fights solo for most of the series, occasionally assisted/hindered by Li and offered moral support by her best friend Tomoyo. Furthermore, Tomoyo doesn’t end up being the victim of the week every other episode, unlike Molly (the magic free friend of Sailor Moon).

The focus is heavy on school life rather than being a magical girl.

Secondly, Sakura doesn’t transform into a magical girl. She always has her magic powers whether she’s in her school uniform or one of Tomoyo’s creations. Every single ridiculous outfit Sakura ends up in she changes into willingly (or at least because her best friend is trying to help in her own way and Sakura doesn’t want to hurt her feelings).

So no magical girl outfit (and this right here could throw Card Captor’s right out of the genre entirely given how important transformation sequences are in other shows).

Sakura in one of her many outfits - a magical girl with a whole wardrobe.
I will admit, the outfits are pretty cute.

Thirdly, Sakura defeats the escaped cards and then uses them to fight and capture other cards. These villains have no grand plan to take over the world. They’re magic cards that have escaped and are running wild. Mostly they aren’t working together or plotting anything.

So no gloating villain sneering about how they will beat them next time. Instead, this is a fetch quest that got out of hand but serves as the background for Sakura’s growth as a human (even as her increased stash of cards makes her stronger).

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The last point I want to make is that Syaoran is both a rival and a love interest. He battles with Sakura to be the Card Captor, though eventually is forced to bow out of the fight which is when he takes on a far more traditional role. This is a refreshing role for a male character in a magical girl genre because he has his own strengths and agenda outside of saving the girl so she can save the world.


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I’d love to know your favourite exception in the magical girl genre so please share below.

Onto the lack of an equivalent magical boys genre. While there are definitely anime boys out there with magic (think Fairy Tail etc) these aren’t magical boy anime. Generally they are actions or dramas. They are fast paced and usually full of a large number of characters who the protagonists can fight with and support.

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Of course, Grey is brilliant as an ice-magic user but can you imagine is someone asked him to spin around and transform?

Of course, if magical boys was a thing you would have to wonder who the audience would be? As Cute High Earth Defence shows, just putting boys in silly outfits and making them go through the motions of a magical girl anime isn’t exactly compelling viewing, and even if they played it straight it would be hard to take it seriously.

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As stated in part 2, a large part of the magical girl genre is about imparting messages about qualities that the audience should admire and work toward. These messages are already presented by male characters in shonen anime and a range of other avenues.

One could almost argue that the magical girl genre exists only to fill the void that existed for strong female characters who fight villains. They used magic as a way to overcome the traditional stereotype of weaker female and then gave the protagonists admirable personality traits (even if these only developed throughout the series).

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So do magical girl series still have a place for modern audiences when there are now plenty of other shows and media that present stronger females?

Definitely. This is a genre that filled a gap but also carved out its own niche and will continue to develop and grow with the modern audience. The success of shows like Madoka Magica clearly show that there is still a large market for the magical girl, even if she has evolved a bit from the shiny and sparkly days when all she had to do was spin around occasionally and wave a wand.

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That concludes this run of magical girl posts and I know I’ve barely touched the surface. Feel free to leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions below.


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Karandi James


Bunny Girl Is Simple, It’s Complicated, It’s Like Life

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode Review title

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Review

There was an almost moment when I thought that maybe this is the episode where I wasn’t in love with Rascal Does Not Dream With Bunny Girl Senpai. And I will admit, even stepping back, this episode feels a bit rougher, less polished, and a little bit less together than previous entries. The two episode arcs of the mid-season haven’t felt quite as fleshed out despite dealing with some fairly heavy issues, and this most recent one dealing with Nodoka and Mai definitely feels either stretched too long without doing much, or conversely too short without long enough to delve into some of the issues mentioned and ultimately glanced past.

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You can tell instantly it isn’t Mai, brilliant right?

However, as I said in the post title, things here are both simple and complicated, just like life. And it all gets a little bit messy and while the situation of the body swap, or appearance change, or whatever it was is resolved, their emotional drama doesn’t just vaporise the instant they come to terms with their situation. So while from a narrative point of view this was a lot less satisfying than some of the earlier arcs, from an emotional point of view, there’s a lot going on here that should be celebrated.

Not to mention, this episode of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai gave me one of my loudest laugh out loud moments this season when  Mai smacked Sakuta. Now, there have been plenty of moments in this series where slapping Sakuta was probably justified. Here though, Sakuta is literally the innocent bystander. Her reason for taking her anger at Nodoka out on him? She literally cannot slap herself because Mai, or at least Nodoka in Mai’s body, has a job the next day and can’t show up looking like she’s been slapped.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Sakuta got slapped

Normally I find the girl-slaps-guy (either innocent guy or even guy who accidentally fell prey to the usual anime tropes and ended up walking into the bathroom or whatever) kind of tired and problematic for a number of reasons and it seldom comes across as funny. Occasionally it ends up a little bit satisfying when the character getting slapped deserves it, but mostly I’m left wondering why include it at all. 

That wasn’t the case here as it just hit the perfect note at the perfect moment and I genuinely couldn’t keep myself from laughing, to the point where I had to pause the episode because I couldn’t read the subs. Yes, I am aware my sense of humour is a little odd sometimes and that it is inconsistent in when it finds things funny.

Bunny Girl Senpa- Kaede proves while she's best sister

The other moment I really loved about this episode was Kaede presenting herself in her uniform to Sakuta. While this didn’t get a lot of play during the episode, they seem to be setting the scene for Kaede and Sakuta to deal with their family situation, something that has been mentioned but ignored for the duration so far. This set up going on in the background of the Mai and Nodoka story was pure gold and honestly it took a bit away from the main plot line of the episode because I was more interested in learning more about that.

Still, any episode that can make me actually appreciate an idol performance like this, is worth noting just for that.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Mai in idol performance

But in case it feels like I’m implying the Mai and Nodoka plot line wasn’t worth the time, I think I should reiterate, that Bunny Girl Senpai knows how to write a scene. Nodoka might be in Mai’s body but her argument with Sakuta when he tries to leave early and ends with Nodoka telling him to go die was perfect. Despite being in Mai’s body and looking like Mai, that dialogue was definitely not Mai. It looked bizarre coming from a character that looked like Mai. 

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Nodoka tells Sakuta to die.

All the way through the episode, even when the girls were talking, whether they were in their own appearance or not, the dialogue was distinct enough to carry the characters and make you believe that they had in fact switch places. So Bunny Girl Senpai hasn’t lost its touch, and now it’s just a matter of three more episodes. If it can land those, this will definitely be up there in the runnings for my favourite anime of the year.

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RASCAL DOES NOT DREAM OF BUNNY GIRL SENPAI 1/4 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: MAI SAKURAJIMA BUNNY VER.
RASCAL DOES NOT DREAM OF BUNNY GIRL SENPAI 1/4 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: MAI SAKURAJIMA BUNNY VER.

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Series Review: Characters We Love, Magic That Thrills, And A Plot Totally Unfinished

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As a child and teen of the 90’s I grew up with Cardcaptor in my life, and even with the terrible English dub and the butchered theme song this anime was close to my heart. How does the reboot/sequel of 2018 match up to nostalgia’s fierce hold?

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Review:

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing sometimes. As much as I believe Cardcaptor Sakura is a must watch magical girl series, even I have to admit that when I look at it episode by episode, the original is no longer really to my taste as an anime watcher these days. For every truly brilliant moment in the series, it offers a lot of banal day to day activities of cute girls and their friends just going about their lives. And how many times did we watch Sakura prepare her roller blades for school?

What that means is, a lot of the criticisms I have of the new Clear Card series, aren’t really all that valid. Because Clear Card is a genuine successor to the original. The technology is updated with the kids now having smart phones and the equivalent of a go-pro, but this really is a direct follow up of that original series. And in that sense, it could be counted as a success, though I have to wonder if a few opportunities weren’t missed here.

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In 22 episodes, we see Sakura capture a fair number of cards. However, most of these captures take less than a quarter of the episode they appear in. Some of them lasting mere moments before we’re back to cooking, or eating lunch, or flower viewing, or talking, or brushing hair, or any of the hundreds of ‘filler’ activities Cardcaptor finds for the heroine to do. And I get that for those who love the slice of life feel of Sakura living her daily life that there is a real appeal here because the group of friends are always charming and at least it is clear what Sakura is seeking to protect. And yet, for me, these are the moments that are tolerated as a setting, a background and a motive, while waiting for the actual ‘meat’ of the series. And the meat here is very lean.

Part of the problem comes from an as yet unresolved story. We still have so many questions about what is going on and what significance certain things have (such as a gift Sakura receives in the second last episode), and that means that what little there is of the story about magic is completely unfinished. It makes it hard to evaluate the story on its merits when it is served out in tiny increments inbetween activities that don’t really appeal and then the final act is completely absent. The only thing I can really say is that the plot was probably the most disappointing aspect of this anime.

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Even if it had finished, essentially this feels like a third iteration of a story we’ve seen and enjoyed more when those of us who are fans of the original were actually the target audience and when anime options were a little harder to come by. Oh no, the cards have all turned clear and now Sakura has to capture weird powers again to make Clear Cards. How odd. How bizarre. How identical to the capturing of the Clow Cards and then the transition into Sakura Cards.

Speaking of, doesn’t it feel like a step back for her to not have Sakura Cards now?

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However, with so much down time in the plot, it did give the audience ample opportunity to appreciate how much prettier the visuals were this time around. So much attention given to falling flower petals, gusts of wind, and girls’ hair. Don’t get me wrong, it is gorgeous, particularly the magical aspects of the show, but really some of the attention to the aesthetics could have been given to the pacing and story-line and I’d have been doubly impressed.

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The other part of the anime that does shine quite brightly are the characters. Admittedly, they work better when you have nostalgia working in their favour. During Clear Card they do not develop or have any kind of noticeable growth. But if you enjoyed where they ended up at the end of previous seasons, spending some time with Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, Toya, and the short cameo by anime original Meilin is actually pretty fun. And probably the stand out moments of Clear Card are getting to see Sakura and Syaoran in a relationship. Not learning who they are or finding out about the other, but just in an actual relationship. Now if they could just learn to communicate and not keep secrets from one another we’d make anime history.

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New comers to the cast are adequate though their roles become obvious fairly quickly and like the plot in general, not quite enough time is given to developing these. The end result is that you feel like these are great characters who’ve been more or less abandoned by the script and left to their own devices and you feel just a little bit sorry for them. They had so much potential to be memorable and interesting characters but never quite get beyond their introductions. At least Kaito looks fantastic.

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But what it comes down to is that Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card tries to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to appeal to the nostalgia factor and the fans of old. The call backs to the original series and the parallels in many of the stories certainly scream that they want us to recapture the magic of our youth. Whether it is the upside down penguin or the date at the aquarium, the memories are there but the problem is it just makes me want to go and watch the original rather than continue along with this.

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At the same time, the anime seems to have wanted to reach out to new viewers but it doesn’t offer them anything really to go on. Sakura is who she is because of everything we’ve seen her go through. And as mentioned before, none of the characters really learn anything or grow during this season. So for new viewers you are seeing an already fully developed character go through the motions of her daily life and for the most part it isn’t very compelling. If there was a decent enough threat or villain, you can get away with it. Not ever story needs to be an origin or coming into power story. But if you have an already developed hero you have to give the audience something to anticipate and in this case the only thing that could be is Sakura learning something as she would strive to overcome this latest challenge, and yet there’s nothing. She simply goes about her business and collects the cards when she needs to.

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It makes it difficult to recommend this series. While I didn’t dislike it, looking back I wonder if my time would have been better spent on a retro viewing of the original series as I still haven’t actually reviewed it and I’d probably have enjoyed that more. As cool as Syaoran is in his handful of scenes that he gets, I don’t know that it provides enough mileage to make up for everything else this series seems to lack.

But I’ll turn it over to the readers and ask you how you felt about Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card.

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Karandi James

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 22: It’s a Final Episode, Let’s Spend Half Of It At School

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Quite literally there is nothing final about this final episode. Other than the reveal that the cloaked figure is in fact, well the person we all knew it was, nothing is revealed and nothing is actually finalised. And yet, that is the end of this season with no announcement for when a follow up might occur.

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Anime that don’t end are a dime a dozen, but Cardcaptor had previously given us some fairly epic endings even when the story was ongoing. Clear Card throws that trend to the wayside leaving us completely without satisfaction. Unless you are satisfied by watching yet another lunch with friends, some pensive musing, and then a fight sequence that gets time reversed out of existence.

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Of all the things that could have happened in this final episode, leaving me feeling like we were totally cheated out of an ending wasn’t one of them. I hadn’t expected everything to be tied up neatly knowing there was no chance of that after last week, but I expected something more than this. Instead Eriol is still out of contact, Syaoran still hasn’t actually had a conversation with Sakura or substance, Kuro and Yue are keeping secrets from Sakura, we still don’t know what Toya is up to, and other than the villain wanting to activate some taboo magic (something we already knew) nothing is confirmed in this episode at all.

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Considering they froze time on this image, I’m thinking they could have made it a little bit prettier. 

I guess we get a pretty light show at least.

Anyway, series review will be up next week and maybe we’ll find out if there’s more of this to come.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 21: Only One Episode Left

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With a 22 episode count (according to MAL), this is the second last episode. And while it certainly seems things have gotten climactic, there seems to be far too much left for this to all fit into one more episode.

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The villain has been established, and help from Eriol firmly cut off. We’ve done the standard steps leading up to a final confrontation with the protagonist holding something the villain wants. And while we still don’t know exactly why he wants the cards or why he wants to use the thing he stole from the magicians, we all know it is clearly tied to Akiho and that it is likely he’ll turn out to not be that bad a guy after all. Besides, it has been a firmly established truth that villains don’t make good tea (there’s a compelling argument for you).

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Meanwhile, this episode finally answers the question of whether Sakura’s father has a clue what his children get up to and it does it in a slightly adorable way. In fact, its so cute the conversation between the father and Toya, that you almost forget that Sakura’s father decided his daughter could handle whatever it was when she was in grade four and left her to her own devices. There’s parenting with style for you. While it might have worked out due to the magic of sweet protagonist plot armour, there are so many ways this approach could have backfired.

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We also get a super adorable moment with Sakura and Syaoran. And that by itself could make this whole season worth watching because who hasn’t wanted to see Syaoran with butterfly wings?

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 20: Getting Closer

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While Sakura goes to meet someone from the past, the rest of the gang get together to figure out what is going on in the present. Things are looking grim (or exciting depending on your perspective).

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This week Sakura is about to go on a date with Syaoran when a phone call gives her an unexpected interruption in the form of her great-grand-father wanting a meeting to give her something (which the giving her something doesn’t actually happen this episode unless the tea was the prize). However, while visiting Sakura wanders into her mother’s old room and uses Record to look back at the room’s past. What I don’t get is why every image had her mother in it given the room would have been empty more often than having her in it (maybe the card was editing out the boring bits).

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Meanwhile, the guardians are getting together because there are plots afoot and it is almost time for the reveal of the season so everyone needs to be super ambiguous with their words. It is pretty standard Cardcaptor without a capture this week, and yet it is fairly solid set-up for a final hurrah.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 19: Down Time With Story Time

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After things really heated up last week, this week brings us a more relaxed episode of our favourite card-capturing heroine as she goes to read to children. You could almost forget about the magic in this episode except for one discussion right at the end.

Cardcaptor19c.JPGWhile this episode brings some cute moments between Sakura and her friends and Sakura and Syaoran, let’s call it what it is; this is a lull. The quiet space before things get really climatic. The down time for the characters. And honestly it isn’t thrilling unless you were desperate to hear a story about a fox buying mittens.

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I’d almost say this was an entirely skippable episode except for one minor use of a card right at the end of the episode where Sakura inadvertently reveals something about her magic to Kero. She doesn’t notice a thing but it sends him flying to Yue and it seems like a fair set-up for the end of the season. However, twenty minutes for that reveal is probably a little much.

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The other highlight of course is Syaoran’s phone conversation where his sister’s are listening in. We don’t get much of Syaoran interacting with his family so it was a nice interlude. Not to mention, Syaoran and Sakura early in this episode are at their adorable best as she emotionally manipulates him into assisting with the reading. Still, not a lot going on this episode.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 18: Things Are Getting Hot

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Things are heating up in the Cardcaptor anime and not just because Sakura is fighting a fire based card in this episode. So many plot points seem on the edge of being revealed and everything seems read to come together.

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I wonder how he managed to make this line seem so ominous?

Sakura’s school friends are starting to question the disappearing cake decorations, Kaito is being even more mysterious and yet seemingly slightly sinister, Toya is confronting Yue, and Syaoran is definitely hiding something not so great from Sakura; yep it looks like we’re getting close to a season ending for Cardcaptor Sakura. And if previous seasons are anything to go by I doubt we’ll be disappointed by the end result.

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If anything, the biggest negative of this new series has been that it hasn’t really done anything new. A lot of the events have parallels in the previous stories and while visually this has had a fantastic upgrade fro 1990’s Sakura, from a plot point of view it hasn’t done much and the main cast (Sakura, Syaoran, etc) have already done their growing up and overcome a lot of their issues. What that means is there’s been limited character development as they haven’t had the steep learning curves they faced early on.

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Still, it is very hard to watch Syaoran and Sakura team up to take down a giant fire bird and not be impressed. And any scene with Toya and Yuki/Yue is pretty awesome. As such, episode 18 was great to watch even if I’m still wondering if this returning series was actually necessary.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 17: The Convenience of the Sleep Card

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While Sakura always had a few favourite cards that she relied upon, this second part of Clear Card seems to be fairly heavy handed with the sleep card. How many times can classmates doze off before they start asking questions even in anime land?

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While the sleep card is probably a better option than pretending to have a sick stomach every time Sakura needs to get out of class, I have to wonder why people aren’t starting to wonder what is up given they are losing time and roll cakes in the interim. Still, Sakura isn’t the first school aged hero who has faced the challenge of not getting busted by her friends and the narrative needing to make said friends really dumb to keep them from finding out the heroine’s secret.

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By the way, if you think I’m using a lot of screen-caps of Kaito, you would be right. Given most of the other characters are returning characters and other than Sakura and Syaoran I’m not all that interested in them, Kaito is kind of the one new character to Clear Card who I am finding pretty fascinating even as it seems his plot line is going to be pretty predictable. We’ll see given we’re starting to close in on the end of this season as to whether they do something interesting with him or not.

Still, another fun episode of friendship, cooking and card-capturing.

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