Episode 20 of Card Captor Sakura, "Transfer Student vs. Sakura", introduces probably the most popular anime-original character in CCS, Li Meiling, voiced by one Yukana Nogami, before she decided to change her listed name to simply Yukana, and voiced notables as Teletha Testarossa (Full Metal Panic), Reinforce Zwei (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS), and Honoka Yukishiro/Cure White (Pretty Cure). This does mean that whenever Meiling opens her mouth, I suddenly hear traces of Rein Zwei in there somewhere.
It makes for some odd mental images.
Not many Tomoyo screenshots this time, but plenty of Meiling ones, since this is her primary debut episode (not counting the cameo in the previous). Also, plenty of comedically super-deformed facial expressions, keeping the overall feel of the episode light-hearted, despite the Kung Fu Action going on.
I don't have a great deal to say in this summary, because it's fifteen minutes to midnight on Friday, and I just managed to eke out enough time this week to write this entry. I'm looping Ievann Polkka to keep awake; tomorrow I shall no longer be sane.
Sakura starts the first day of the new school term with great enthusiasm, certainly more than I've seen any other schoolkids do, ever. She mentions how much fun it is to see all her friends again, to the point where she actually gets up in time to hold a pleasant conversation with Kero-chan, quite uncharacteristically.
In a bit of a continuity nod towards the previous episode, Kero-chan reminds Sakura to return Syaoran the T-shirt he lent her after they all fell into the river. In the previous episode. Which is why Sakura has Syaoran's T-shirt. Which actually belongs to oh gods I want to go to sleep but no, I must press on.
Touya makes a crack about how it's probably going to rain, since Sakura got up in time this morning.
CHECK!Point: Sakura's reaction is predictable.
Along the way to school, joined by Bishounen Yukito, the trio discuss recent newsworthy events, such as the mysterious girl who stalks the night beating up martial artists, albeit without any marriage clauses. Touya makes another crack about how he thought that it was Sakura, since Sakura is, after all, a monster.
CHECK!Point: Sakura's reaction is, again, predictable.
I seem to be CHECK!Pointing a lot of Sakura's Angry Faces. I think it's the super-deformed look that makes it.
I'm going to need a second opinion on this little bit of continuity weirdness. Here, Sakura greets her classmates, Generic Girl A and Generic Girl B, who may be secretly a crime-fighting duo of magical girls called Generic White and Generic Black, team name Pretty Generic, but probably they're just nameless extras. Note the relative position of the girls.
Here, note the position of the girls in the middle background.
Tomoyo (Tomoyo-chan love!) greets Sakura, and they speculate on Syaoran's fate after the entrance of the mysterious girl in Chinese clothes who punted them out of the house.
CHECK!Point: I think this is one of the very few times Tomoyo gets nonplussed.
Back to the present time, Terada-sensei enters, announces homeroom, and fails to be creepy towards Rika. (There's always next time.) Instead, he attempts to introduce a new student to the class, name of Li Meiling.
Syaoran is perturbed by this news.
Meiling announces to one and all that Syaoran is her betrothed, which raises a predictable expression of awe from the rest of the class. Syaoran's protests get drowned out by Meiling's vehement proclamations.
During lunch, Meiling somehow produces, from out of nowhere, a tall lunchbox filled with Chinese cuisine, which she feeds to Syaoran. Rolling right over his objections, she guesses (accurately) that the one who has prevented Syaoran from capturing all the Clow Cards must be Sakura.
CHECK!Point: If looks could kill.
Meiling declares her intention to thoroughly humiliate Sakura, complete with Evil Laugh. The earliest opportunity for this is, of course, gym class after lunch. I'm assuming that it's at least a few hours after lunch, health reasons considered.
Syaoran gets to sigh a lot in this episode. This particular gesture, and probably the mood, should be very, very familiar to us.
Sakura and Meiling go through the Everything You Can Do I Can Do Better routine, with Sakura one-upping Meiling at every turn inadvertantly. Meiling's purpose here is clearly and blatantly to make Sakura jealous, but Sakura is such an innocent that she's just completely confused by all this hostility.
That night, Sakura prepares for dinner, and gives Yukito a perfectly straight line on which to appear, which he dutifully says. I've always said that humourous timing is rare and precious enough that if someone, unintentionally or otherwise, utters an impeccable setup, it is your duty to at least take a swing at it.
During dinner (steak), the conversation turns to the mysterious attacks on martial artists in Penguin Park. A mention is made about the attacker's weird clothes, and Sakura gets a sneaking suspicion.
Nobody is surprised at this turn of events.
Today's battle costume looks very poofy, and not quite suited for a high-powered martial arts battle. I suppose while Tomoyo could have given Sakura a (stereotypically) Chinese Kung Fu Outfit, the series creators had someone else in mind for that.
Enter The Dragon Meiling. It's not visible here, but the outfit she wears has a very short skirt, which makes me wonder how these traditional outfits were supposed to be designed.
Meiling leaps down from the street lamp she was perched on. I have to wonder how she managed to get up there in the first place, without Sakura and Tomoyo noticing; I suppose that she could have made her way there earlier, and climbed up the street lamp quietly, all to create a Dramatic Entrance. Good thing for her she picked the right street lamp.
Meiling is introduced to Kero-chan, pint-sized Guardian of the Clow. The label this time is "bath sponge"; there will be a test later. (No, not really.)
Suddenly! From the water! The Fight card! Like MAGIC! Especially considering that there was no reason whatsoever for the Fight to hide underwater when it could just as easily ambush its victims from the forest.
Tomoyo mentions that the Fight's clothes don't look so weird. It is probably a sign of being around the concept of spandex-clad superheroes far too much (via City of Heroes and Champions) that it took me a while to realize that such clothes are probably not wearable on most occasions. If nothing else, she has the flared coattails (or whatever they're supposed to be called) which CoH players have been clamouring for.
The Fight promptly challenges Meiling to a duel she won no, DK, you are not allowed to use obscure CoH injokes on an anime blog.
There's actually some neat moves in here, leading me to suspect that they upped the animation budget for this episode a smidgen.
Meiling slams the Fight into one of the concrete pilings with a kick, and struts around cockily for a while. Then the Fight get back into the action, and succeeds on a trip attack.
Leading to Action Star Syaoran's Big Damn Heroes moment.
He kicks the Fight into the river, and scolds Meiling for going off alone. It is Revealed that Meiling has no magical powers, which isn't really that big of a deal, considering, yanno, Batman and the Justice League.
And then the Fight erupts from the trees from the other direction to kick Syaoran in the face. How it got from point A to point B without crossing the intervening space is probably yet another instance of MAGIC.
Meiling and the Fight spar for a bit more, with the Fight quickly gaining the upper hand. Tomoyo gives this episode's Crucial Hint, which is that this is somehow like the case of the Power card, which Sakura then uses.
CHECK!Point: Determined Sakura looks like she's ready to unleash a Divine Buster any moment now.
Rolling her 30d6 of Luck dice, Sakura manages to club Fight on the head just in time for a dramatic tableau.
With the card captured, Meiling swears undying vengeance upon Sakura.
She clings to Syaoran, showing that she probably has far more insight than her behaviour led us to believe. Not that we're supposed to know about this at the moment, of course.
This episode's Kero-chan ni Omakase has Kero-chan going over Sakura's battle costume, without bothering with a Kero-chan Check segment.
And with that, I'm going to bed.