With the qualifying race over, the pilots need to draw their starting positions from a lottery. Because of her amazing luck, Sakura gets the number one ball, meaning that she’s at the head of the pack for the Dragonfly Race. At the after-race party, Syaoran gets acquainted with the Ryuuoh of this world. He first introduces himself as Little Puppy, but then uses his real name since this Ryuuoh doesn’t seem to understand. Afterwards, the group is approached by several thuggish-looking guys. With his eyes closed, Syaoran defeats all of them by himself. Shougo then makes his entrance, along with Imonoyama Nokoru, Takamura Suou, and Ijyuin Akira. Fye recognizes that Nokoru and Shougo are two of the other racers who made it past the qualifying round. Shougo starts to explain who they are, but Nokoru interrupts him by declaring that Sakura is a beautiful young lady who’s definitely innocent.
Nokoru and Shougo end up taking Syaoran and company to Tomoyo. The two are actually helping Tomoyo in her investigation and they all came to the same conclusion Syaoran reached – the culprit to the engine problems last time is someone in the qualifying group. Tomoyo says that her company will definitely find the culprit, but warns them to be careful in the race. Kurogane senses that she’s hiding something from them and indeed there is one more thing Tomoyo has on her mind: what Sakura will be wearing for the race. Sakura hadn’t thought about it yet, so Tomoyo offers to make her and Mokona their own costumes. Sakura and Tomoyo then decide to refer to each other as “Tomoyo-chan” and “Sakura-chan.” The next day, Syaoran pays a visit to Ryuuoh’s garage and sees the “Ryuuga.” Syaoran ends up borrowing a special electro-magnetic wave sensor.
By the time the race arrives, Tomoyo’s finished Sakura’s costume. She requests that Sakura not be so formal and not use honorifics when talking to her. Everyone then takes their positions in their respective dragonflies. Though she started first, Sakura quickly falls behind the main group. Kurogane and Fye pull ahead and navigate their way to the first checkpoint, where they have to get a badge from a special ball. The ball opens up when their ships get near, allowing them to each grab a badge. Several more racers pass the checkpoint and get their badges, but when Syaoran and Sakura approach, the sensor that Syaoran borrowed detects something. The base of the stand that the ball is on suddenly explodes, tipping stand over. Syaoran and Sakura race under it and both manage to grab a badge (though Sakura needed Mokona’s help).
The next checkpoint is at the end of the Dragon Tube. As Kurogane soon finds out, the tube sways left and right, making it harder for the pilots to navigate through. A mysterious figure at an unknown location activates a trap that constricts a part of the tube until it explodes, sending Fye and another racer flying outward. Fye is ok, but his dragonfly is done for and he’s out of the race. Syaoran and Sakura proceed through the tube and Syaoran goes ahead. He goes neck and neck with Ryuuoh’s dragonfly in the next canyon, but an explosion above sends rocks falling down towards them. One rock hits the Ryuuga’s wing and causes it to careen out of control. Thinking quickly, Syaoran uses his own ship to try to break the Ryuuga’s fall. Sakura is yells Syaoran’s name after seeing the ensuing explosion from the collision.
That was an entire volume’s worth of material in one episode, but it didn’t feel that rushed. I had suspected that the entire race, which took seven chapters of the manga to get through, could be done in one episode because it’s mostly fast-paced racing and low on the dialogue. And that’s pretty much what happened, for the first part of the race anyway. Compared to the manga, there were too many changes to list, but as usual, the overall story stayed the same. The scene I wished they hadn’t omitted is the one from chapter 75 where she clings onto his shirt after she falls asleep. But I guess I’m a sucker for SyaoranxSakura scenes.
I noticed that the bad guy who is responsible for all the explosions seems to be the same one from back in episode 15. It’s a little ironic that they decided to add him into the anime (he had a brief and unimportant cameo in Piffle in the manga) considering who the bad guy really is.
Well as the preview shows, Syaoran and Ryuuoh survived the explosion just fine. Next week should conclude the Dragonfly race, and maybe even the rest of this arc.