Cardcaptor Sakura The Movie

Cardcaptor Sakura The MovieType: Movie
Genre: Magical Girl / Drama
Vintage: 1999

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 06 Dec 2005

Grade: A

Taking place after the first half of the series, this is an excellent standalone story.

Plot Summary
It is winter break, and Sakura has won a trip to Hong Kong in a shopping district drawing. Something isn’t quite right though… Hong Kong is the home of Clow Reed, and Kero-chan has suspicions that Sakura’s winning of the contest is more than just luck. Sakura has also been having strange dreams. What does it all mean?

The Review
The first couple times I watched this movie, I had not seen the series. I had certainly enjoyed the movie, and knew the basics about the characters and story, so I wasn’t completely lost. The only thing I was missing was general backstory. This time, thanks to Geneon’s Cardcaptor Sakura box sets, I could watch the movie in its proper context… after episode 35, right in the middle of the series, and what a difference it made! Now I knew everything about the characters that happens before the movie, and all the little nuances I had missed before were now part of my knowledge going into the movie. It had already earned a B without seeing the series, now it is an A.

As for the movie itself… it is simply a treat for the eyes (and ears if you’ve got a 5.1 setup). Most of the movie takes place in Hong Kong, and the settings are very realistic, so it feels like you are really there. The soundtrack is lush, with hints of Chinese music to match the Hong Kong setting. We even get to see Sakura and Tomoyo dressed up in Chinese clothes for a short time. With an anime set in China, it adds that extra bit of wonder while watching it. One of the best examples of this foreign setting is a sequence that takes place on a “Bird Street”. Corrugated iron roofs in a narrow alleyway filled with birdcages are something not typically associated with Japan, and a few shots of the busy streets of Hong Kong all add to the cultural touches in the movie.

To make things interesting, Shaoran has managed to find Sakura in Hong Kong, and Meilin runs into Tomoyo… literally. After all, they do live in Hong Kong. We also learn a little bit about Shaoran’s family and their connection to Clow Reed, and meet his mother and four older sisters. Kero-chan may be on to something after all about this trip not being just a contest prize. There is a presence in Hong Kong, a very strong one… and it doesn’t seem to be coming from a Clow Card either…

The Cardcaptor Sakura movie is a great story to unfold in the middle of the series, and builds on everything preceding it to make for an engaging 88 minutes. It also stands on its own, and can be enjoyed even if all you know are the basics of Cardcaptor Sakura. The ending has a bit of a twist… but this is CLAMP, so you know the rules are going to be bent. Absolutely recommended for fans of the series, as well as those new to Cardcaptor Sakura. The movie may turn you on to the series, as it did for me.

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