Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura

Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 70
Genre: Magical Girl / Slice Of Life
Vintage: 1998

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 01 Feb 2006

Grade: A+

Forget everything you thought you knew about magical girl shows. CLAMP turns the genre inside-out and upside-down and makes something, well… magical.

Plot Summary
Sakura Kinomoto is your average happy-go-lucky fourth grader. She loves gym class and sweets, her best friend Tomoyo idolizes her, her older brother Toya is a meanie, she has a crush on her brother’s best friend Yukito, and her dad is a university professor. One day while cleaning the house, Sakura comes across a strange book in her dad’s library in the basement. Upon opening this book, she finds a deck of cards, and without realizing she’s done anything, the cards fly away. Then, a small yellow creature named Kero, who also rises from within the book, tells Sakura that he is the guardian of the Clow Book. Since she’s let all the Clow Cards go, it is her job to capture them all and return them to the book.

The Review
This may be the most adorable show ever created. With a long 70 episode run, there is plenty of time to construct a detailed and multi-arc story, as well as develop every single main character fully. By halfway through, you feel as if you know these characters, and are going through everything that is happening right with them.

Cardcaptor Sakura may be a magical girl show, but with CLAMP behind the writing desk, they have taken what has become a typically predictable genre and created something that transcends its roots. The basic elements are there: the Reluctant Hero (Sakura) and Animal Mascot Who Grants Magical Powers (Kero, well, sort of… you’ll just have to watch and see!), but that is about all that remains from the typical Magical Girl formula. Cardcaptor Sakura breaks so many ‘rules’ of the genre that it becomes something that stands alone above the rest. To name just a few of the broken rules, there are no Transformation Sequences, so Sakura has no need to hide an alternate identity. She doesn’t use her powers in sight of anyone (almost), but there are others who know of Sakura’s magic in varying degrees. Sakura is also not fighting to save the world, per se. The world won’t cease to exist if she doesn’t find all the Clow Cards, but a different kind of tragedy would befall everyone. There is another major deviation, but to tell that would spoil the story.

Not only is Cardcaptor Sakura a spectacular and unconventional story of a magic quest, but it is also a wonderfully told story of the daily life of Sakura and her friends and family. School field trips, festivals, and vacations through the year are just some of the normal events that we follow along as Sakura finds and captures the cards she set free. These everyday happenings help to connect with the characters even more.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is one of the most adorable shows to ever grace my television set; if you like cute, Cardcaptor Sakura will not disappoint. The show isn’t cavity-inducing, pure-sugar cute, but fuzzy-little-kitten cute. Sakura is the type of character who would make an adorable kid sister or cousin. Her voice actress, Sakura Tange, absolutely nails the part, and with Sakura’s “hoe~!” that she says when she is surprised or scared, her adorableness is sent off the charts.

With a wonderfully complex yet simple story, great artwork and voice work, and believable characters, Cardcaptor Sakura is a winner all around.

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