I will dispense with the uncomfortable delaying tactics often used when one is about to say something unwelcome, save for the perhaps rather obvious build up to what might be interpreted as a desperate plea for mercy upon my somewhat suspiciously sincere person, and say that this episode summary will not be up to the usual standards of the former ones, and admit with all celerity that this is entirely my fault for not actually having anything to say about this episode.
I could give a variety of excuses for this. For one thing, there is a distressing lack of Tomoyo, and thus I am unable to dole out the CHECK!Points as freely as I used to, since we cannot bask in the presence of Our Slightly Creepy Goddess if she is not there to bask in. Also, no Clow Cards are captured in this episode, to the great disappointment of any wannabe mentions of the violations of physics as enacted by the MAGIC of the Clow Card du jour.
Instead, episode 16 of Card Captor Sakura, "Sakura and the Rainbow of Memories", deals with nothing much in particular in terms of action or character development, choosing instead to focus on a certain aspect of character backstory. It's a quiet, touching little episode, the perfect way to relax after a long day in the Real World.
But there's very little to say about it.
And so I must ask for the indulgence of any and all readers to bear with me until we get to an episode where I can once again release my full, if still rather meagre, capabilities of commentary, without feeling guilty about making fun of something which the series treats with respect, or descending too far into the depths of 4chan-induced memetic parody.
Mind you, before I can do that, I do need to figure out where the rest of my DVDs went. I know where they are in theory, but they're all messed up in order, thanks to a hasty job trying to rearrange my bookshelves into some ironic semblance oforder. The books and DVDs are already three deep; I think I need more shelves.
We begin the episode with the Kinomoto family plus one Bishounen on a trip to a summer vacation home, conveniently vacated by acquaintances who decided to go overseas this time. I remember when Kalium took me on a road trip during summer vacation around Michigan, where we saw the sights at Lansing and also got lost in the middle of what looked like cornfields. Also, he tried to convince me to buy a rock. But I digress.
Upon reaching their destination, which is pretty much a structure that would bring to mind the terms "rustic" and "cozy" and "logs", Sakura bounces around being enthusiastic about the place. I have to admit that I'm trying to think of the correct term for a log-built house, and failing, so I'll just label it as the vacation house.
I've stayed in primarily wooden buildings before, and while I understand the romantic notions of living closer to nature for the average city-bred person, I have yet to encounter a wooden building which had not ended up being infested by termites, which detracts from the romance a fair bit.
Sakura bounds up the stairs to her bedroom, and flops down onto her bed with her bag under her, resulting in squished Kero-chan. She apologizes profusely to him for that, and he decides to forgive her if she brings him some dessert later. There's a bit of discussion about how Kero-chan doesn't actually need to eat for nutrition, but eats simply because he's greedy.
I have to mention all this because apart from a couple more brief cameos barely worth any mention, this is all you'll be seeing of Kero-chan, and certainly the only Kero-chan screenshot I felt was worth taking. I don't even know why he's here anyway; it's not like he can flit out the window and Be One With Nature when the other Kinomotos are around, and even if he could, I'm not sure what the point is.
Fresh air, possibly. Or maybe Sakura's company, provided she's not around other people. Mind you, considering the fight they had last episode…
I may be biased, of course. In my experience, there's only so much of Nature the average city-dweller can take alone before being at a loss for something to do. I mean, being with someone else who knows all about Nature is obviously a plus, but Kero-chan doesn't have that luxury, and I don't think he's the sort to place a higher value on dozing closer to Nature, considering his forty-year nap in a basement.
CHECK!Point: Sakura goes for a walk, and lets herself enjoy Nature. Yes, I know I just lambasted this very thing in the previous paragraph, but I do think that before one gets Too Much of Nature, one should still try to enjoy it while one can. It's a delicate balance, often demarcated by how many bug bites one can stand.
I also have to mention that Sakura in her dress, hat, and stalk of something vaguely Typha latifolia, looks like the somewhat media-influenced view of the well-mannered perennially cheerful country manor girl, which Sakura more or less fits anyway, except for the country manor part.
Speaking of country manors, Sakura presently encounters one.
Owned by a kindly-looking old man who looks a fair bit younger than he technically should be, to those who know how this story goes.
The old man invites Sakura for tea and sweets, and Sakura accepts. It's all looking very Victorian now, which is possibly an intentional subtlety, since Sakura does describe all this to Kero-chan as being like Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, although without the surreality.
The old man introduces Sakura to his late granddaughter's room, which is very, well, girly, for lack of a better word. It has plenty of frills and dolls, and considering that CCS has treated the subject of death incredibly respectfully for what is technically a children's anime, I will leave it at that.
That night, the Kinomoto family celebrates being Close To Nature by burning various bits of it in a barbeque, or to be precise, yakiniku. You know, it's fairly well-known how unhealthy barbeques are, both in the preparation and the consumption, but dammit, they taste good.
Mind you, Yukito does display some stunning eating skills when he manages to grab meat straight off the griddle and into his mouth in less than a second. Anyone who has tried something like this will generally discover the joys of either a burned tongue or Salmonella.
CHECK!Point: Touya's teasing of Sakura always seems a lot less nasty that it sounds on the surface. I'm not sure whether it's because I know that it's Touya's way of expressing his sibling love, or because of some other subtle hint.
CHECK!Point: This is Tomoyo's one and only appearance in this episode, and I will give it the CHECK!Point it deserves. Sakura calls her to wish her luck on her choir recital (the reason why Tomoyo could not come along on this trip), and Tomoyo has to make do with watching Sakura's adventures (from the Jump card episode, episode 5, actually) on a great big projection screen.
… I suppose that's one way of making do.
The next day, the Kinomoto family gravitate towards whatever they feel like doing in times of relaxation. Here, we see Fujitaka working on… something. I'm going to be charitable and assume that he's finishing up whatever he had to put on hold to drive his family out here, rather than merely being a workaholic. Then again, when I whip out my laptop and start hammering away at the keys, chances are I've just been struck by some form of writing inspiration, and I'm just about on the far side of workaholism as one can get without expending actual energy on procrascination.
I'm assuming that there's no wireless connectivity out here. Few things are as dangerous to getting work done as a browser and unrestricted Internet access. (Curse you, Wikipedia.)
Sakura bounds out of the house on her way to the old man's mansion, and Fujitaka presents her with his home-made cookies, for said old man. This is mildly important, at least for the purpose of this episode.
I took this screenshot to illustrate how big the place is. Remember that despite all the rural countryside of the setting, this is still relatively land-scarce Japan.
I'm not sure if the old man has any full-time servants around, since absence of proof is not proof of absence, but we see nothing of them. One wonders how the place manages to keep at least somewhat clean, without the use of dust sheets all over the place.
CHECK!Point: Sakura learns to play tennis. Note that she has somehow procured a tennis outfit, which fits her reasonably well. There's a probable explanation for this, which I might elaborate on later.
Tennis is oddly one of the few sports I'm willing to spectate (admittedly not actually at the stadium, where I can seldom see anything), along with football. It's also one of the very few sports I am actually slightly competent at, although I've never been able to serve, since I have problems trying to coordinate myself to hit something above my head. Various tennis coaches have told me that with my height, it's kind of a pity that I can't take advantage of it for the serve.
Later, when taking a break from tennis, Sakura remembers about the cookies, and rushes off and back with them. The conversation then turns significantly to the nature and personality of Sakura's father, and Sakura goes on her usual spiel about how utterly amazing he is.
Yes, this should be familiar to those keeping track.
Meanwhile, Touya and Yukito are lying under a tree and in a hammock respectively. Some very vague hints are dropped about the identity of the old man, but in true CLAMP fashion, none of it is elaborated upon.
CHECK!Point: The old man gives Sakura a dress previously worn by his late granddaughter, surprisingly still in good shape. I suppose some fashions are charmingly classical no matter which time period they're actually from.
Since the Kinomoto family are leaving the next day, Sakura frets over thinking of some way to thank the old man for all his hospitality. Remembering the picture of a rainbow in his granddaughter's room (and conveniently not knowing the name of said granddaughter), Sakura decides to present him with exactly that.
I'm not sure, but I can't remember any other time the Rain card is used in the series. In fact, I have the sneaking suspicion that the use of the Rain card, or indeed any weather-based card, might well mess up weather patterns in the area, or in some area. Butterfly effect and all that.
But, well, MAGIC.
A short summer shower results in a rainbow. I have to wonder what rationalization might be given for Sakura's apparent precognition about the presence of the rainbow, or whether it can be passed off as a meteorological coincidence.
Technically a rainbow can be easily achieved via anything which creates minute water droplets in the air for the optical illusion, such as a mister or a garden hose, but I suppose this works better in a mythological sense.
CHECK!Point: And the identity of the old man's granddaughter, and from there the old man himself, is revealed to be a younger version of Nadeshiko Kinomoto, at the time Amamiya. The old man is Masaki Amamiya, Sakura's great-grandfather.
Which means that he is also Sonomi's grandfather, and the mysterious presence Sakura was wondering about around the mansion was Sonomi Daidouji trying to keep out of sight. One wonders if Tomoyo knows that her mother is where her best friend is at the moment; I would argue so, being that Sakura did manage to obtain a tennis outfit her size fairly quickly, and Sonomi can obviously get her measurements from the person who knows them best.
I can just about imagine the conversations between Sonomi and Tomoyo on this subject, conceivably filled with the "ohohoho~" of plotting. Presumably Fujitaka (and Touya) knew that Masaki Amamiya would be present here (considering that it's his house), but Sonomi would be an extra.
This episode's Kero-chan ni Omakase deals with Sakura's Sealing Wand. Some attention is granted towards its MAGICal ability to alter its size from a small little key to a rather large staff when Sakura lays hands on it, and I swear that I am trying with all my very being not to make a thoroughly inappropriate joke about this.