It begins as Sakura Kinomoto's having a strange dream where she stands on a rooftop, looking upon Tokyo Tower during a full moon, brandishing a staff. Just as she leaps off...
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...She wakes up with the alarm, just as she receives the call for breakfast. A First Person Voiceover occurs as she gets ready for a typical school-day where she introduces herself, her brother, her father and her mother (deceased). Almost as soon as she begins her breakfast Touya, her brother, prepares to set-off for high school, prompting her to start bolting her food. Once she's donned her rollerblading gear she departs at significant speed so as to join Touya on the way to school, even though she finds him most annoying. It soon becomes apparent why when they meet Touya's classmate, Yukito Tsukishiro; Sakura's eyes bulge with hearts at the sight of him. The journey goes by all to quickly but Yukito leaves her with a parting gift, which is commented on by Sakura's closest friend, Tomoyo Daidouji.
As they switch their outdoor shoes with indoor footwear Tomoyo continues to remark on how well Sakura and Yukito seem to play off one another, bemoaning the fact she couldn't catch it on tape. During a Literature class, Sakura's mind drifts to what her dream was, and the presence of something like a cuddly toy in it, which she subconsciously doodles in her notebook. Once again Tomoyo picks up on this and discretely asks about it, however their teacher requests Sakura take over the reading of the assigned story but Tomoyo gives her a hint about where to read from. Later on, during a rehearsal of the school's cheerleading squad, Sakura's still mulling over the dream, reminding herself to talk to Tomoyo about it. In the middle of a baton toss her perception of it morphs into the staff she saw in that dream, which leads to it landing on her forehead to the bemusement of two of her friends.
Sakura is the first to return to the Kinomoto household where she finds a notice on their whiteboard rota that her father will be rather late getting back. Just as she's about to have a quick snack she hears a strange noise coming from the basement that alarms her as no one else is meant to be in the house. She comes to the conclusion that she'll have to investigate to determine whether someone's broken in before making an emergency call. Slowly and steadily she makes her way along the contours of the bookcases in the basement until she reaches the end, finding no sign at all of anyone having gained unauthorised entry. Just as she's about to go back she picks up on something out of the ordinary and turns back to find that one book appears to be glowing, which fades just as she's about to take it off the shelf. Her curiosity leads her to actually look at the cover and is shocked as she remembers this from the initial part of her dream; with her hands firmly grasping this book the lock springs loose apparently of its own accord. As she checks what's inside she finds a deck of cards, similar to tarot cards. The first one she picks up has kanji she can't appear to decipher but, lower down, she finds something written in English. She tries to sound out the key word but has to make two attempts before she pronounces it correctly.
Suddenly a mighty whirlwind fills the basement, fluttering book pages and scattering the remaining cards to the winds. Once the wind dies down Sakura is completely stumped by this event when the book cover glows even more brightly than before, startling her all the more as a shape emerges. As it floats in mid-air it suddenly greets her, appearing to be some form of ambulatory cuddly toy. Sakura's bewilderment causes it real agitation and promptly announces itself as being Cerberus, the Guardian of the Seal. He affirms that his role is to keep the Clow cards secure, until he finds they've all gone and breaks down in despair. Sakura looks at the card she picked up and hands it to him inquiringly, whereupon he immediately brightens up and then asks about the others. Sakura slowly explains just what happened with a nervous laugh that gets him going before he realises just what she said, they've escaped.
We next find Sakura having dinner with Touya that she quickly ploughs through and clears up before grabbing some dessert which she takes upstairs, explaining she'll have it while doing her homework. In her bedroom she asks Cerberus how his search is going, prompting a negative answer although he smiles at the sight of her dessert. He explains to her that these cards are actually magical entities brought into being by one of the most powerful sorcerers in history, Clow Reed, who created the book she found to keep them under control and made him for the purpose of maintaining a watch over the book's seal. With the cards loose potentially dangerous chaos could sweep across the entire world, so they must be brought back to the book. Sakura reacts with shock when he tells her that this can only be achieved if she takes an active role in the pursuit, affirming that as a pre-teen she cannot possibly take on such a heavy responsibility. He reminds her that her curiosity set the cards loose but she retorts that he was meant to keep the seal locked, which leads to him that he dozed off... thirty years previous. He explains that, for her to have opened the book, she must have access to magic and, upon learning her name, summons the key from within the seal which transforms into the staff that she saw in her dream. Hesitantly Sakura follows his instruction to grab it, whereupon he proudly declares her the Cardcaptor! And starts scoffing the dessert.
Later on Sakura's ready to go to bed but Cerberus is bouncing on it. She insists that she's not Cardcaptor material but he makes the point that as she set them loose she must be the one to repair the damage, but she makes it clear to him that if he hadn't fallen asleep they wouldn't have been able to get out. Just then a strong wind rushes in through the window and, as Sakura attempts to close it, Cerberus points out a huge bird as being another Clow card. He announces it's time for her to take action as the Cardcaptor.
The great wind produced by this card starts making windows crack as Sakura sallies forth with her rollerblade gear on, but with no time to change out of her night attire as Cerberus affirms that, as the Cardcaptor, she should be able to take on a card regardless of her clothing. The card's wind blows her off her feet, which makes Cerberus use his own power of flight to catch her. With some prompting Sakura summons the Sealing Staff but cannot fathom how to deal with this card, leading her to make a rapid withdrawal to avoid the card's aggressive action. Cerberus insists she find a way to make it subjugate despite her anxiety, leading to her performing a stunt against a cliff wall to launch herself onto its back. Cerberus calls out to her a couple of times but the only thing she does is use the power of the one card that remained, the Windy, to pin this card, the Fly, down. Once steady in front of the downed card she makes a declaration for the Fly to return to its dormant card form, bringing it under her authority.
When Cerberus congratulates her all she has to say is that she felt her life was on the line during the confrontation. He decides that she should explore just what command of the cards could bring and prompts her to summon Fly's power for her own use. She's amazed by the result of her flying upon the Sealing Staff in a manner akin to how one would expect a witch to fly on a broom. Cerberus mentions that with her as the Cardcaptor they could make some great memories, but she has yet to accept the role.
This episode contains examples of:
- Big "WHAT?!": Sakura's response when Cerberus tricks her into accepting the wand.
- Crazy Enough to Work: When Fly chases her and Cerberus, Sakura gets an idea to jump on Fly's back. While clinging tightly, she manages to get Windy to bind the card.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Sakura hates that her brother calls her a monster because she stomps around a lot.
- Good Parents: Fujitaka, definitely, but Nadeshiko's presented in the same light.
- It's Pronounced "Tro-PAY": We are introduced to [Sa-ku-ra], [Keh-ro-beh-ros] and the [K-low] cards.
- Missing Mom: Nadeshiko. The kitchen has a shrine to her, where the family leaves flowers and offerings for her.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Sakura when she hears a strange noise in the house, when her father and brother are away from home.
- Cerberus when he realizes that all the cards are missing, except for Windy.
- Refusal of the Call: Sakura tries, but Cerberus tells her that by accepting the wand she has to seal all the cards. She's still hesitant by the end, even though she sees how much fun flying is.
- Stalker with a Crush: Tomoyo's tendancy to photograph and film Sakura at every opportunity comes across as this.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Sakura releases all the cards by accident by reading aloud Windy's name in English. Cerberus tries to use this to get her help in retrieving them.
- Wing Ding Eyes: Sakura gets hearts in her eyes when she sees Yukito.