The episode opens with Sakura, Meiling and Kero eating waking up an eating a delicious breakfast together. It looks like some kind of rice porridge? It’s Meiling’s recipe, whatever it is. And there’s chicken meat balls on the side too! (yummm ~ )
As Meiling and Sakura get ready to meet their friends at a local shrine, Syaoran is busy using his magic to create…. well it looks like a shiny marble. What does it do? It’s too soon to know.
Sakura and Meiling make it to the shrine, but Syaoran’s late so they’re not the last ones to arrive. As predicted, everyone loves Sakura’s new hairstyle (and even I have to admit it makes Sakura look slightly older). Sakura and her friends walk through the Tsukimine Market located at the front of the shrine, and they describe for Akiho some of the other activities one can do at a shrine, since Akiho has never been to a Japanese shrine before.
Sakura wishes out loud that their group had been able to go to the zoo as well, and Akiho reassures her that they’ll go next time. This train of thought leads Sakura to remembering the cat ears and tail on Meiling the night before, and she wonders what animals their other friends would be if the same thing happened to them. Hmm… nudge nudge
As they’re shopping, Sakura notices that Meiling’s cat features have returned, but they vanish moments later Syaoran finally arrives and he notices Sakura’s new hairstyle but doesn’t say anything. When their groups takes a break for lunch under some cherry blossom trees, Sakura notices that their friends have all sprouted different animal ears of their own. There’s a bunny (Akiho), Tomoyo (a ram), and a dog (Chiharu) amongst others. But Syaoran doesn’t have animal ears, and I assume that this is because he has strong magical powers like Sakura. What could be causing this though??
Suddenly the world begins to swirl around Sakura, and moments later she appears to be on another world entirely. Earth and the Moon hang high in the purple sky, and the grasslands around her are a dark green. In the field ahead of Sakura and Kero (who had also been transported because he’d been hiding in Sakura’s bag) are Sakura’s friends, who are behaving like wild animals. As more time passes, Kero notices that they are become more like animals and less like humans. If Sakura doesn’t hurry up they might turn into animals permanently!
Sakura and Kero chase after their friends, and the sky overhead suddenly turns very dark and stormy. Sakura’s friends run towards a giant tree in the middle of the field, but it is struck by lightning and catches on fire. As Sakura’s friends hide under the burning tree, it starts to fall over on them!
Then suddenly everything stops. Frozen completely. Sakura has no idea what’s going on, but then Syaoran appears. Dun dun dun duuuun! It looks like the little “marble” he’d created at the beginning of the episode is what he used to halt time.
The two embrace, and Syaoran makes the connection that Sakura’s fear is what’s driving this scenario. Obviously a card is at work here, but even though Sakura and Syaoran don’t know which one it is, getting Sakura calm enough so she can think clearly about what to do is key.
Syaoran asks Sakura to picture their friends as humans back in the real world because only then will she be able to best this unknown card. As Syaoran’s time-freezing ability finally wears off, Sakura wishes hard and together they, Kero and their friends are transported back home.
In a small wooded area near the shrine, Sakura awakens to see a shining orb in front of her. She quickly seals the card, and it’s revealed to be… Mirage. Weird, I was thinking it’d be something like “Wish”, but I guess Mirage makes sense. Especially since it was feeding on Sakura’s fear and using that to change the reality around her.
By the time Sakura and Syaoran catch up with everyone again, Syaoran’s really exhausted. Sakura leaves to go get him some water and Tomoyo goes with her. As they walk together, Sakura explains about what happened with the Mirage card. Sakura shows Tomoyo and Kero her new card and resolves to become stronger so that if situations like this happen again she will be better prepared to handle them.
Back at the shrine, Meiling and Syaoran have a little chat about Syaoran’s tendency to push himself too hard when training, and Meiling teases him about calling Sakura by her first name.
This was a cute episode – I really liked seeing all of the animals Sakura’s friends were turning into. Akiho-chan is especially cute as a bunny. ;3 I was a little surprised that Sakura just blurted out seeing the animal appendages to Syaoran in front of all their friends, because while he took her seriously and was trying to think of what could be causing the effect, everyone else was giving Sakura a look like Girl, wtf are you smoking???
It’s been suggested that I keep an eye on Meiling, so I assume she’ll become part of the main cast for the rest of this season. Is she going to help Sakura seal the final clear card? Does her family’s ties to Clow Reed have anything to do with the clear cards? I’m curious and intrigued and a little confused all at once, but I am excited to see what happens in the rest of the season.
Oh, and the quality of the animation was MUCH better this episode. Whew!