Ah ~ Cardcaptor Sakura. The first anime that I ever had the awesome fortune to watch, and the heavenly gifted bounty I received which sparked the interest of watching anime into my heart and blood. Yes, when thinking of this anime, most of the Bangladeshis around my age will think of the glorious time when they used to tune into Cartoon Network’s recently launched Toonami to watch this show like the true anime addicts they were turning out to be. In other words, this anime is the root of all evil. Yes, I am kidding. Cardcaptor Sakura is, was and always will be a great show to me and everyone who has watched it at the time I have. Of course, I am not going to write a review on something I watched when I was a kid. I recently have downloaded all the episodes, including some of the horribly edited dubbed ones (the ones which were aired in Toonami) and the two movies the series brought to the fandom. I will be trying my best to review on this wonderfully ancient (old, to say the least) anime.
Genre: Magical Girl (typical Shoujo genre), Romance
Written by: CLAMP
Cute ain't she?
Sakura Kinomoto is a normal everyday Japanese girl, with one of the best functional family I have seen anywhere, which consists of her ever lovable father, Fujitaka Kinomoto, and her rude but caring big brother Touya Kinomoto. No, Sakura doesn’t have a mother, though every time, it is shown that Sakura and Touya loved their mother, Nadeshiko Kinomoto, very much, and always greets her whenever they see her picture in the dining table, pictures which their father, Fujitaka, frequently changes with new ones, showing that he too, loved his wife extremely much.
The anime begins with Sakura having a strange dream, where she sees herself in the monumental Tokyo Tower, with numerous mystically designed cards scattering in the air, while a winged yellow plush toy floated around her. To her utter surprise however, after spending a normal day at school and returning home, she comes across a strangely patterned book in her dad’s basement library. Her dad being an archaeology professor and all, strange and ancient books were bound to be at his library, but there was something different about the book Sakura had just stumbled across, which she herself discovers, as, the book automatically responds to her presence, opening the lock which hid the book’s contents. Sakura realizes that the book was hollow, and in that empty space were a deck of cards, and soon afterwards, the first card, which read ‘Windy’ activated, all the other cards scattered, and escaped the house, spreading themselves all across the little town in which she lived. Not giving the poor girl a rest from the sudden series of surprising events, the ‘Beast of the Seal’ AKA Kerberos AKA Kero appears from the book, and after realizing that Sakura was responsible for setting the cards free, gives her the job and the title of ‘Cardcaptor’, which is to, as the name suggests, capture the escaped cards.
However, the cards were no ordinary cards. They each possess different magical powers, and each of the 53 cards have will of their own, and actually contain a physical body when not trapped inside the cards they were made to dwell in. Speaking about making them, the creator of these cards was a powerful magician named Clow Reed, thus giving the cards the names of ‘Clow Cards’. As Sakura’s best friend Tomoyo Daidouji gets let in on the secret, thus begins the glorious, fun and ultimately, very interesting search for the magical Clow Cards. A few episodes into the show, a new main character is introduced, a descendant of Clow Reed and a boy aged around the same as Sakura, named Syaoran Li, declares him to be the true master of the Clow Cards. Even though he originally intends to compete with Sakura, he ultimately ends up helping her in the end of almost every episode, thus developing a special feeling of affection towards her.
The anime, as I have said before, is the first anime I have ever watched so seemingly, I would have nothing bad to say about it. Unfortunately though, I would like to point out some rather uninteresting and disturbing points of this show.
Give the original Japanese Subbed version a watch, and in a few episodes, you will realize some absurd cases of crushes. Let’s see now. Sakura has a crush on her big brother’s best friend, Yukito. Sure, the age gap might not bother a lot of people, but that is the only sane case of crush you will see here. Tomoyo, Sakura’s best friend and her regular clothes designer and camerawoman, doesn’t only like her as a friend, but literally loves her. Homosexuality doesn’t even end there. Syaoran Li, despite being younger and the same gender, also has a crush on the aforementioned Yukito. Yukito himself too, is in love with his best friend, Touya, Sakura’s big brother, and guess what, Touya loves Yukito the same way. Yeah, I only addressed the major relationships of this show, as there are a lot of minor characters with similar age-gap or ‘same gender love’ syndrome. Makes me think if CLAMP itself is cracked or not, but then again, after seeing the immense mind screwing it has done to its other series, I nod my head and just try to accept it. It is CLAMP, after all.
Oh yes, as a side note, the Cartoon Network English Dub has removed any instances of any relationships whatsoever in the show, showing only small hints of Sakura and Syaoran liking each other. Even though a sigh of relief naturally occurs due to no more ‘homosexuality’ existing, the plot is ultimately left in a black hole, and without watching the original Japanese one, no one can really understand what is going on. Yes, relationships are VERY important in this show; perhaps more important than the show itself.
Middle right - Yukito Tsukishiro
Bottom right - Syaoran Li
Furthest left - Tomoyo Daidouji
Most middle - Sakura Kinomoto
The five characters which make up the most bizarre love triangle known to mankind.
Magical spirits stored inside cards which can be summoned anytime to grant the user power to do anything the chosen card is made to do? This is a concept which has been loved by me since my childhood, and has worked as a tremendous inspiration for me when I grew up and started writing fantasy novels. Some might say that the concept is not as good as to deserve a full mark, but travel back in time, when this was the first anime to be aired in Bangladesh, and watch the show. At that time, no one had the idea to even think of something so tremendous and the impact of the concept this show has given blew everyone’s minds. I basically grew up respecting other anime and shows because of the sheer thrill Cardcaptor Sakura had taught me to get from watching TV. I might sound like a little kid when saying all this, but keep in mind that the first time I did watch this show; I really was a little kid. The phrase ‘old is gold’ strangely comes into mind at the moment.
I am not saying the plot was bad; it was just not that good as it could have been. Sure, the anime at that time were the generic monster-of-the-day type shows, where the main characters bashed that episode’s monster with whatever new powers he/she had or unlocked. All the seasons of Cardcaptor Sakura have the same generic plot, and at one point of time, no matter how entertaining it is, the audience would seem to want more. Most of the cards Sakura capture though, and in later seasons, most of the troubles she undergoes, she solves them with a volley of quick thinking and resourcefulness. This certainly is one of the upside of the plot, and would have scored lower in my rating if not Sakura managed to liven up the episodes with her impressive abilities. Another upside is that instead of showing Sakura handling magical situations all the time, parts of lives of the ones close to her are also shown, and the anime displays how beautifully Sakura often deals with everyone’s and her own problems, if they arise.
The characters of Cardcaptor Sakura are amazing, and very much so. Especially with the likes of Sakura, Tomoyo and Syaoran, you would find yourself being a fan of any one of the characters, and if not, then Sakura and Sakura only. Sakura is, in one word, cute. There is not one episode of this anime where by seeing Sakura, you could resist saying or thinking of the word ‘kawaii’. Also, there is a lot of room for characterization from what I thought, and even Sakura’s classmates, being the very minor characters as they are, are given considerable screen time. Some cards, unlike a few ones, however, are never used by Sakura after their capture and never leave the audience with the idea of that card’s true extent of power.
When talking about the character designs, however, oh boy, they are quite something alright! In each and every one of the fights or adventures Sakura goes to, she wears a new costume everyday, courtesy of her best friend Tomoyo. That’s right. She never wears a battle costume twice. Even her school uniforms seem to change for every season and every field trip, and her house clothes too, though most of them have been showed more than one time, are pretty and attractive none the less. I guess I wouldn’t understand fashion much anyways, being a guy and all, but if any girl were to watch it, I am sure they would comment on how adorable each and every one of Sakura’s dresses look. Real life example of such a comment would include my elder sister, who has watched the English Dub with me in Cartoon Network years ago, and despite not being an anime fan herself, she loved it. I am sure this is the perfect anime for any Shoujo anime lover to watch, let it for the cute dresses or not.
She is VERY fashionable indeed.
OVERALL RATING 8/10
A perfect whole number average of 8: Amazing, like the show itself.
Cardcaptor Sakura, even though the name of the anime suggests that the show is about Sakura capturing the Clow Cards, but that is not necessarily the case. As CLAMP has done a good job on not only focusing on Sakura’s magical side of life, but her romantic side as well, along with a few other characters too. I have seen a lot of people who believe Sakura and Syaoran to be the best anime couple ever, and while not necessarily arguing with them, I have to say that Cardcaptor Sakura never only officially showed these two as a true couple until the last second of the second movie. That’s right. CLAMP had to make two seasons (three if you count according to the openings) and two movies to finally create the aforementioned ‘best anime couple ever’. I am sorry; the scene wasn’t even in the movie, but in the poster that came after the cliffhanger of an ending the second movie gave us!
Oh, and not to burst the bubbles of the fans of this sweet couple, do remember that before these two got together, they were both after the same guy! Yes, I shudder myself thinking that too. This served as a cause of insomnia for many of my restless nights!
This is the final scene of the entire series. Yay for love! :D
In the end, I have to say that Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the most epic anime out there, and definitely an iconic anime when it comes to the Shoujo category. Yes, I recommend it a watch if you haven’t seen it already, and if you have seen it, then consider yourself lucky to be able to witness the show which has changed a lot of Bangladeshi lives!
Thank you for reading. Good night.