Cardcaptor Sakura has enchanted fans since the beloved CLAMP manga was adapted into an anime series in the late 90s. Sakura's popularity hasn't waned over the past twenty years, with fans continuing to revisit the show's wonderful sense of humor, adorable cast of characters, fun costumes, and a hero you can't help but root for as she fights to seal all 52 of the magical Clow Cards and pass the Final Judgement.
The show's original 70-episode run is highly rated, but there are a handful of episodes that haven't charmed viewers quite as much as the others did. Here are the 10 worst episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura, according to IMDb.
10 "The Special Box" (7.1)
Sakura's most treasured friendship is with her lifelong BFF, Tomoyo, who delights in creating Sakura's fabulous outfits and filming her adventures.
This episode is full of the series' trademark charm but relies heavily on nostalgia as Tomoyo's mother shares fond memories about Sakura's mother before Sakura captures The Shield, which had formed around Tomoyo's memory box. We learn that Tomoyo keeps a pressed bouquet of cherry blossoms from Sakura's parents' wedding and a bunny-shaped eraser Sakura gave her safe in the box, revealing how dearly she regards their friendship.
While it's a lovely episode which reveals more about Sakura's closest relationships, the slow pace and easily captured card removes some of the magic.
9 "Power's Ploy" (7.1)
Like many of the Clow Cards, The Power enjoys using mischief to show off. Completely invisible unless challenged to a show of strength, it uses its invisibility to cause chaos. When the cage doors suddenly swing open, disrupting Sakura's class field trip to the zoo, it's immediately obvious there's a card on the loose.
In a bizarre turn of events, Sakura challenges The Power to tug-of-war, recruiting an elephant to help her defeat the card. Her plan fails, and Syaoran steps in to trick the card into surrendering. It's an odd episode filled with even more peculiar twists than Sakura's usual adventures.
8 "Practice Makes Perfect" (7.1)
This spooky outing is the only time Cardcaptor Sakura ventured into the realm of horror. A mysterious voice can be heard singing in the music classroom at night, sparking rumors of a ghost haunting the school, worrying Sakura. The episode is full of cartoonish frights and jump scares as friends bump into each other in dark corridors and share ghost stories.
In the end, it's revealed that the wonderful singing is the work of The Song card who had heard one of Tomoyo's songs and become enchanted by it. The card is easily sealed, and rumors of ghosts and hauntings are displaced by promises of singing together. While it's a fun episode, it proves that the show's cute nature isn't the best match for terrifying horror.
7 "Ice Breaker" (7.1)
Field trips don't appear to be popular in the IMDb rankings, as this adventure away from the classroom left fans cold. As winter arrives, Sakura and her classmates go ice skating. The roller-skating heroine has never ice-skated before and worries about the trip, but naturally picks it up with a little help from the mysterious math teacher, Ms. Mizuki.
As predicted, a Clow Card shows up to ruin the fun—The Freeze drops the temperature so low that all of Sakura's classmates are frozen apart from Syaoran and their teacher. Despite being filled with good humor, the predictable formula caused this episode to slide through the ratings.
6 "Sakura in Wonderland" (7.1)
Much of CLAMP's work celebrates the magic of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, so it's hardly surprising that Sakura would find herself in an Alice-inspired episode. Having previously worn a Little Alice Costume in episode 24, this adventure sucked Sakura into Wonderland itself as she literally disappeared into the pages of the book. As she moved through this bizarre land, she encountered her friends who resembled characters from the classic book, such as Yukito the White Rabbit, and Syaoran as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
It's an enchanting episode which works well with the series' magical charm, but it's one that doesn't add much to the plot, instead being a clear celebration of CLAMP's love of Alice's adventures.
5 "Sakura's Return to the Past" (7.1)
As the series begins to wind down towards the end of Cardcaptor Sakura's 70-episode run, "Sakura's Return to the Past" (episode 68) drastically slows the momentum. With the Clow Cards transforming into Sakura Cards, Sakura uses The Return to travel back in time to ask Clow Reed about the cards' future. He gives her several cryptic answers, assuring her all will be fine, before returning her to the present and ultimately revealing their friend Eriol is Clow Reed reincarnated.
While this revelation is both shocking and exciting, the slow pace and minimal action made this one of the series' more forgettable entries.
4 "How Sweet It Is" (7.0)
Fans of the Great British Baking Show know that there are few things more dramatic than watching a bake go wrong, but this episode of Cardcaptor Sakura lacks the necessary tension. With The Sweet card causing chaos in Sakura's home economics class and ruining everyone's cakes with too much sugar, Sakura must catch the card before they bake again.
Working with Syaoran, the pair find themselves in flour-coated hijinks as they race against the clock to seal the mischievous card. As usual, Sakura prevails, and the class' bakes turn out excellently—except for poor Meiling who over-mixed her batter.
3 "Calendar of Memories" (7.0)
Sakura's relationship with her great-grandfather Masaki disintegrated following her mother's death. Learning of Masaki's strained relationship with her father—disappointed that his granddaughter married Fujitaka—the young girl decides to make the grieving old man a birthday gift, using her cards to make a special wallet. Her kind gesture leads toward a harmonious reunion, with Masaki and Fujitaka settling their differences. As a thank you, Masaki gifts Sakura with one of her mother's old dresses.
While the sentimental episode shows Sakura's caring, generous nature, and how beloved and missed her mother is, there is no card-capturing excitement to break up the familial drama.
2 "Trouble at Twin Bells" (6.9)
Originally titled "Sakura, Panda, and a Cute Shop," this episode should have all the trimmings required to make an outstandingly adorable Cardcaptor adventure. Sakura and her friends are delighted to learn that a new stuffed doll shop is opening in town and offer to help the owner, Maki Matsumoto, unpack the toys.
They quickly discover the store is cursed with strange happenings when Chiharu's new stuffed panda disappears from her home and reappears in the store, only to discover The Jump is causing the trouble. The adfinal showdown sees The Jump absorb all the stuffed animals and turn into a giant monster. Perhaps this episode was too fluffy, even for Cardcaptor Sakura.
1 "A Wave of Danger" (6.8)
Cardcaptor Sakura saw a handful of filler episodes sneak into the show's line-up. Perhaps the guiltiest of them all was "A Wave of Danger." Centered around Sakura's visit to a water park with her friends, it mostly features cute gags to keep the audience laughing rather than any real plot to add to the overall tale.
Eriol raises the water levels in the park for no apparent reason, nearly drowning one of Sakura's friends. Risking using her magic in public, Sakura uses the transformed The Watery card to save the struggling girl, and the waters return to normal. While funny team-building side-adventures are entertaining, Eriol's baffling motivations make this one an odd and ultimately pointless entry to the series.