Sakura Kinomoto is your garden-variety ten-year-old fourth grader, until one day, she stumbles upon a mysterious book containing a set of cards. Unfortunately, she has little time to divine what the cards mean because she accidentally stirs up a magical gust of wind and unintentionally scatters the cards all over the world. Suddenly awakened from the book, the Beast of the Seal, Keroberos (nicknamed Kero-chan), tells Sakura that she has released the mystical Clow Cards created by the sorcerer Clow Reed. The Cards are no ordinary playthings. Each of them possesses incredible powers, and because they like acting independently, Clow sealed all the Cards within a book. Now that the Cards are set free, they pose a grave danger upon the world, and it is up to Sakura to prevent the Cards from causing a catastrophe!
Appointing Sakura the title of "the Cardcaptor" and granting her the Sealed Key, Keroberos tasks her with finding and recapturing all the Cards. Alongside her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji, and with Kero-chan's guidance, Sakura must learn to balance her new secret duty with the everyday troubles of a young girl involving love, family, and school, all while she takes flight on her magical adventures as Sakura the Cardcaptor.
Cardcaptor Sakura is perhaps the best mahou shoujo anime produced. It's more than just a classic or a title that's influential. It's an example of a series that was not afraid to take risks and defy common conventions of the genre in order to maximize quality. And while Cardcaptor Sakura may seem like a standard mahou shoujo anime at first glance, there is a lot more depth here than a cursory glance might reveal.
The premise itself is fairly typical for a mahou shoujo anime. A happy-go-lucky girl suddenly comes across magical power and begins her quest alongside a cute lion-like caricature serving as her
guardian and mentor. Sakura's role as the chief protagonist is to capture the fifty-three magical cards of Clow Reed, each inhabiting a unique power that inconveniences Sakura and the people around her in some way. Some of these cards are immensely powerful, including the ability to manipulate time and dreams, while others are fairly weak or trivial in comparison and encompass smaller abilities like creating flowers or making objects float. After Sakura fights against the power behind the card and then seals it away it becomes a part of her possession that she can then use at will.
At least, this is how the story first seems.
The series is largely changed and complicated with the introduction of the deuteragonist in the eighth episode. Syaoran Li, a boy from Hong Kong, suddenly transfers into Sakura's class and disturbs the situation by antagonizing Sakura and competing for the Clow Cards. This relationship serves as the basis for the central theme of the series as their feelings and relationship change and develop immensely, from rivals to friends and finally to lovers. This is a very gradual change and it's paced well enough that it feels completely natural, a change you might not even notice without retrospect. You contempt Li when he's first introduced and by the end you grow to enjoy his presence almost as much as Sakura herself.
Shoujo series are a bit infamous for their overly-idealized and sudden romances but Cardcaptor Sakura is again an exception. There is certainly idealizing, sparkles and bubbles, but the depth is there. The feelings between Sakura and Li naturally grow and evolve over the course of the series, with no contrived events used to advance their relationship. There is not even a confession by the end of the 70-episode run, yet there is no need for one as the anime has already communicated how strongly the two feel for each other. Character interaction and body language are used to express this-- not conveniences followed by dramatic outcomes. The end result is one of the most natural and endearing romances in anime. As a mahou shoujo it is good, but as a romance it is excellent.
Cardcaptor Sakura is mainly a lighthearted and fun series. Most of the entertainment revolves around Sakura and her interaction with the characters, most notably her guardian Keroberos (endearingly shortened by Sakura to Kero-chan) and her closest friend Tomoyo who often goes along with her to the scene of each card to record footage on her camcorder. Other important characters include Sakura's beleaguering older brother Toya and the object of her affections, Yukito, a friend of Toya whom she holds a large crush towards. Still, the series does eventually take a more serious turn in the second half after the initial card collection draws to a close. Some characters reveal hidden sides that will surprise the audience and certain side characters develop and become integral to the story. At no point does the show ever feel too silly or too serious; it's a perfect blend of the two.
Interestingly, there are several elements that deviate from the conventions of most mahou shoujo anime. There isn't a traditional transformation sequence in the anime nor one unique outfit that Sakura wears when using magic. Instead she wears normal clothing like a regular girl, or rather whatever silly costume her friend Tomoyo decides to dress her up in before the event. This adds a lot of variety to the action sequences and gives the audience a small something to look forward to each episode.
Despite its young demographic and reputation as a family-friendly anime, there are also some surprisingly taboo topics that are covered in the anime. There's the forbidden love between teacher and student and homosexual feelings between two important characters. The anime does not use any of these elements as shock value, though, simply presenting them as-is with no moral connotation. 'Love' is the main theme of CCS and the amount of detail put into the relationships of even periphery character is certainly commendable.
On the other hand, the music here is nothing short of stunning. Some of the songs that play in the series, such as the first opening and the track used when capturing a card, are classics that will stick in your head and be remembered fondly for a very long time. More than simply enhance the experience, these tracks are a large part of what makes the anime what it is. The soundtrack is by far one of most defining and important aspects of the series, and perhaps one of the best in anime.
That being said, Cardcaptor Sakura is definitely not without flaws.
One of the largest complaints can be put on the rather long length of the anime. At 70 episodes it can certainly drag on at some parts in the story. While CLAMP carefully tried to make each episode as engaging and interesting as possible, it’s only natural that some episodes are weaker than others and that some events can become a bit predictable at times. Luckily, this mostly changes in the second half of the anime where the story expands and takes a mostly different direction where more emphasis is put on the characters’ relationships. As fun as each episode is, I can’t help but feel like it would have benefited from a shorter episode count in order for the story to flow better. A 50-episode story would have been a perfect fit, neither too long nor too short.
It should also be mentioned that the changes between the original Japanese version and the English localized "Cardcaptors" are very drastic, and certainly not in a good way. Music and names of the characters are changed, episodes are flipped and mixed together in an odd and sometimes incoherent order, and important backgrounds and plot elements are minimized or removed completely. While certainly not unwatchable, it’s a very toned down and poor imitation of a fantastic anime. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice by watching any version except the original Japanese one.
In a genre where conventions and inspiration form the crux of most stories, Cardcaptor Sakura is a brilliant title that breathes new life into the genre and anime as a whole. While not quite flawless, this is a classic that has acceded its spot as one of the most influential and quality anime titles in recent times. It’s a consistently high-quality, entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking anime that has more than earned its widespread acclaim and influence. This is a title that shows that there is indeed a correlation in storytelling between creativity and quality.
Cardcaptor Sakura has certainly earned its place in history.
Cardcaptor Sakura is a classic. It is one of those anime that everyone could enjoy, regardless of age and gender. While being a typical magical girl anime, the plot is actually intertwined with lots of comedy and romance. There's not a lot of drama (yet), except maybe recurring goofs and difficulties that each characters face. However, that is the true magic of Cardcaptor Sakura. It has such a high enjoyment value that you will often forget that you are watching someone capturing cards, but rather, live through the experiences of a not-so-typical elementary girl whose life was changed in many ways by the cards she
will make her own.
The first and second season, in my opinion, is not most impressive plot-wise. It is pretty much very episodic, with recurring goofs such as Sakura's battle costumes, Tomoyo with her camcorder, Toya always showing up at the right (or wrong) times, Sakura trying to win over Yukito, Kero looking up at the sky saying "Yue" like he's heartbroken, and Syaoran once again tries to compete with Sakura. The impressive part of the first season is its comedy and action, because it was just amazing. For a magical girl anime, the action was just there. Every scene, suspense, effort, luck, desperation, success, it was there. When Sakura is not capturing cards (she approximately captures one per episode), she enters an environment with heartfelt friendship and goes through life very joyfully and often humorously. Even though the only plot is to "capture them all," Cardcaptor Sakura such a variety of enjoyment that you will find yourself staying glued to the screen.
The season offers a change of pace as Sakura embarks on a brand new adventure, meeting a mysterious new rival. This is where the plot starts to change, as the cards are no longer the main emphasis of the plot. It is clear that while the cards changed her destiny (in capturing the cards), it also affected her daily life as well. The third season explores how the cards created a new path for Sakura in friendship and romance. This part of the plot is present in the first two seasons, but it became the main focus of season three. Personally, this is when Cardcaptor Sakura won me over. Until then it was just a very addicting and enjoyable show. Season three gave meaning to the cards and provides a few dramatic moments that fortifies the underlying themes and symbolisms the series tries to convey.
If you are new to Cardcaptor Sakura, then you might not realize that it was made in 1998. For its time, the art was amazingly amazing. From the opening sequence, you can point out minor details such as the movement of Sakura's costume in the wind and the animation of her hair was just so realistic. Voice acting was awesome (and cute), and facial expressions were especially awesome. And then, there are the action scenes themselves. When the cards are released/captured, there's a "wow" moment that you don't expect to see in a typical magical girl series. Even though the action isn't very technical with cool names and gadgets, it features everything from flying, sword fighting, evocations of the elements, and last but not least, Sakura. One thing that cannot be expressed enough is how cute Sakura is portrayed. That may sound stupid, but it's one of the main attractions of the show.
Not only are the opening and ending sequences catchy, the background music was incredible, simply incredible. From the opening scene featuring Sakura on top of a tower, the music was engaging in every aspect. Then it smoothly makes a transition to everyday music when Sakura introduces herself, and finally to the suspenseful and catchy battle theme that everyone loves. One of the main complains about the dub (Cardcaptors) was that the music was changed. The original music was excellent, and it fits the situation it is for very well.
For an anime like this it's tough to be perfect character-wise, but which anime masters character portrayal, right? The anime focuses the most on Sakura, Kero, Tomoyo, Syaoran, and Meilin, as expected, since they're the main characters. Of course Toya and some other characters I don't want to spoil have their roles also, but mostly it centers on the elementary students (and Kero). While a good deal of the supporting characters were developed, it is done mostly through inferences and vague symbolism. In a way this is good, because it gives Cardcaptor Sakura a deeper meaning if you see it, but if you don't, it's still a very enjoyable anime with minor plot holes. So in short, Cardcaptor Sakura is mainly an anime of character development and emotional maturation, and it mostly succeeded, for the main characters only.
From what I said above, this category would definitely have to be a 10/10. In fact, it has one of the best re-watching values of all the anime I've watched. The first time you go through the anime, it's just plain enjoyable. The second time, you tend to pick up symbolism and motifs from here and there. That "ah hah" moment where everything clicks makes the series even more enjoyable, because it connects its episodic attribute to the main plot more closely. Cardcaptor Sakura just enjoyable no matter how you look at it.
An interesting character in Cardcaptor Sakura is Meilin. She is a filler character, meaning, she is not in the original manga. However, her roles are clearly defined and becomes one of the major plot-driven characters at the end of the anime, as well as being a very consistent character. One example is how I regard an episode that dedicated to her as one of the best, even though it is a filler. The addition of Meilin is not for the detriment of the plot, and I applaud the excellent direction it took to incorporate such a character.
Another factor that might affect some viewers is how everything is in rōmaji or English. At the opening sequence, Sakura's name tag says SAKURA, the cards are in English, even how Sakura says them is in English. There's just a lot of convenient things here for English watchers, something curious but gladly accepted.
If you watch this anime, then watch out for some controversial topics. The first one is homosexuality, which is present plainly in one relationship, and very vaguely implied in a couple of others. It would certainly bring up some questions for younger viewers, but in the end, the anime explains it in a very fitting and safe way. Still, it could be a concern but it shouldn't stop you from watching it. It's safe to say that yuri/yaoi isn't a main component of the plot.
Another controversy is incest, the legal kind (in Japan). While a non-Japanese audience might be a bit uncomfortable of a first cousins relationship, it is best to keep in mind that in Japan, it is completely normal. There's no weird things like brother/sister, mother/son, or stuff like that, so don't worry.
And there's a third kind of relationship explored in the anime, which is an innocent student-teacher crush. The anime never really goes anywhere with it, but it's nice just to mention that it's there. The one important thing to keep in mind is that all these three types of relationships do not affect the enjoyment of the series in any way. Relationships, after all, are part of the main plot, and they should be treated in an adult manner.
Lastly, although it's something that not many cares, there is death. Throughout the series, no one really died, but the motif of death, angels, and the afterlife appears frequently. It's listed as a controversy due to the assumed target audience (young females), but in the end, death is one of the aspects that gives more meaning to the plot.
As much as I don't want to bash Cardcaptors, I feel that it is relevant. If you watch Cardcaptors, then my ratings do not apply. These ratings only apply to the Japanese subbed version, as well as what I think is the best version. Get this one if you can!
I can't bring myself to give this anime a ten just because it carries no major revelations or any of the sort. You can argue that the ending is pretty dramatic, kind of, but the main purpose of the anime is to let the audience sit back, relax, and enjoy. Of course I am being harsh because I want something out of every anime I watch, but for Cardcaptor Sakura, enjoyment alone is enough to get it to a 9. Once in a while, it's good to just watch a series and and enjoy it wholeheartedly.
Card Captor Sakura is an anime based on CLAMP's manga of the same name. It is a about a girl with magical powers name Sakura, who strives to retrive a set of magic cards that she accidentally sets free.
Story: The anime is "episodic" in nature, usually consisting of single episode stories that most often serve to develop the characters and their relationships with one another, as well as Sakura coming in contact and attempting to "capture" one of the lost cards. Being a long series however, it can begin to feel very repetitive after only a short period of time. Although I think the overall
concept of the story is good, I feel as though it could have been executed better, with more emphasis placed on the cards. In some episodes the cards have a very little role, sometimes being captured very quickly. A few times a card doesn't even show up at all.
Animation: The animation is good overall, a few scenes are reused at times, but I have no major qualms.
Sound: Like with the animation, the sound was done well. There are a few songs I liked, and a few that I didn't. The voice acting was done well, with voices that suited the characters nicely.
Character: I really felt that the characters were developed nicely throughtout the story. The Love triangle involving Sakura, Yukito and Li developed and resolved itself in the end, giving a feeling of closure after so long. The develop of characters and their relationships felt very natural to me as well. Their actions rarely, if ever, felt forced or out of character.
Enjoyment: If you are a fan of shojo or "magical girl" anime, and can stand a little bit of repetitivness, I would say that Card Captor Sakura is a must see for you. I personally enjoyed it thoroughly despite a few lulls hear and there.
I should clarify that and say, if the Monogatari series were one series and not multiple series, they might beat out Cardcaptor Sakura, but as single series go, this one for me is the best.
Cardcaptor Sakura wins me over not because it has the highest quality story or characters, or sound or even animation. Haibane Renmei has it beat on all those counts. Except plot maybe, but stuff like Death Note has it bear there. It is the best because it is seventy episodes long and the quality stays pretty darn amazing for
the whole seventy episodes.
Fifth grade girl Sakura comes home one day, finds magic book in her father's basement library, opens book, magic cards fly out and hide themselves all over town. Kero, guardian of the cards, kind of a teddy bear with wings, explains to Sakura: magic cards aren't necessarily evil, but they are powerful and have a sick sense of humor which they inherited from their creator. Prophesy says they will bring about a catastrophe if ever released. Only a person born with magic powers could open the book, so Kero declared Sakura the Cardcaptor, has her take a magic oath and charges her with the duty of retrieving the cards.
I can't go into this too much without spoilers. I will say that Sakura is not the most interesting character. Not by a long shot. I keep thinking I'm going to find her annoying every time I watch it, but she always comes off as sympathetic and very likable, though not with a particularly interesting personality. A lot like Indiana Jones or James Bond in that way.
It's characters like her best friend Tomoyo who really pick up the slack in a way. Sakura can maintain your sympathies and she has the strength of character to advance the story, do what has to be done, but characters like Tomoyo are the ones you'll end up quoting and being really interested in. A lot of new characters are introduced over the course of the seventy episode series, most of them with their own recurring side plots and secrets and sometimes very intricate back-stories.
Really understanding characters like Sakura's father takes a lot of attention to detail. Particularly in her father's case, a lot of it is in how little we actually know about him in contrast with how much we know about Sakura's dead mother. And he's not the only one this is true for. There is a lot of back story to be read out in the subtlies of what goes onin this series. A lot to be learned about for instance Clow Reed who created the cards, just by looking at how his cards act.
I don't normally say anything about a series' art because I'm seldom impressed. A series can be just fine with bad art or horrible music, just look at Crest of the Stars. They failed on both count and I still gave them a nine.
But Cardcaptor Sakura is one of those special series. Actually, this is fairly standard CLAMP animation, but standard CLAMP still beats out best of the line Sunrise stuff any day of the week. I cannot believe how well this twenty-year-old anime still holds up in the visual department.
If I had to use one word to characterize it it would be whispy. The hair the magic effects the outfit designs, the action, its all very wispy and wind themed. Rather than being angular like a lot of anime at this time or particularly round like some older anime, they seem to have found a nice middle ground by turning a lot of things sleek. Of course this means nobody has a butt, however, it really works.
Its a seventy episode anime, they take shortcuts constantly, but when the tome comes the action is always fluid and beautiful.
I got into Cardcaptors, the bastardized American version, when I was in elementary school and bought my first DVD of Cardcaptor Sakura when I was something like twelve years old. I have to say, it changed my idea of how fantasy could operate in a story.
More than ten years later, the animation, story, characters, even the music hold up miraculously well. I start watching it again terrified that it won't be as good, and then I can't put it down. It still has the power to suck me in. And not just me, anyone who passes by while I'm watching it gets sucked onto the sofa for at least five episodes.
I showed this to a friend of mine in middle school and he got addicted right away. We would watch new episodes together over the phone by synching our computers. I remember I mentioned this series to a girl I liked once and she immediately grabbed me by the arms, looked me in the eyes and said "You know That Sakura and [guy she likes] spend the rest of their lives together and live happily ever after, right? Right?" And then she begged me to lend her the second movie. She hadn't seen it, she had no idea who ends up together.
If you can't stand stories about little girls who have crushes on pretty boys, then you'll have a hard time. But if you're cool with that, sit down on the sofa buddy, and get ready to be there for a while. I wholeheartedly recommend it.