Fourteen-year-old Sakura starts junior high school along her friends, including Syaoran, who had just returned to Tomoeda. After having a dream with a mysterious cloaked figure, all of Sakura's cards turn blank and are rendered powerless, thus she starts her quest to find out what is wrong. In doing so, Sakura and her allies discover and capture new transparent cards using a new key.
'The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.'
Nostalgia, while is a strong tool to make a sequel successful with high ratings, is not enough if you are banking only… and only on it.
The act of watching the sequel of a beloved show itself brings on enough nostalgia. The older audiences feel happy inside, thinking of good old days when the original show used to air and how they enjoyed it and talked about it with their friends; or enjoyed the show alone while cuddling up with their house pet,
and parents moved around doing daily chores, smiling secretly at their kids’ lit-up faces.
Your etc. is part of that older generation audience, and is a huge admirer of CCS. And precisely that is the reason Clear Card-hen has disappointed me. Big time.
Regarding Story and Character, I am going to be in rant-mode now, please bear with me.
Yes, of course I shall compare this to the original saga. The original saga was not simply about a girl who can do magic and plays around with cards. It had decently paced narrative with immense character development, surprisingly good exploration of love, gender identity, sacrifice, family and most importantly, efficient magical world-building without expanding it in an out-of-control manner, in only 70 episodes.
On the contrary, Clear Card-hen has a pace that certainly reminds you of all the bad fillers of shounen animes, the SOL way! Even after 16 episodes, the story reaches nowhere, taking quite a test of patience. When a season is only 22 episodes long, this is certainly not the ideal way to advance a narrative. The new narrative has such limited amount of new elements - only introducing new characters does not imply the story will immediately feel new. While there were SOL-ish elements in CCS, this sequel has stretched that into “I-will-read-a-WHOLE-story-to-kids-and-use-up-an-episode” level.
Why are the episodes consuming so much time by revisiting the same locations to catch similar cards? Was a new location so hard to design? No. The answer is, “remember, we had <done this and this> here? Now we are here, doing <placeholder for similar this and this>, so lovely memory… etc etc”.
In a dynamic medium like Anime, if one does not follow the audio-visual rule “show, don’t tell”, then it quickly becomes a boring tale. The lunchtime banter among friends or “remember that?” between Sakura and Kero / Tomoyo/ ANYONE added surprisingly little to the actual story.
This show does not give detailed attention to an important factor like character development, given the fact that it takes place some years later. What happened to the MC? Mind that, Sakura is fourteen now. But her behaviour still does not feel like older than that of CCS. Her “Oyeeeehhhhh”, the frequency of which is much more than her younger years (how??) and endlessly thanking and praising Akiho-chan, while are very cute for the first couple of times, quickly become repetitive aspects of her behaviour. Sakura can do better.
The only possible answer to this is that Madhouse is trying to grab the attention of the new younger audiences of Japan and around the world, for whom this sweetness of Sakura is new. But while nostalgia is the trump card, it is surprising to see Sakura herself not maturing with time. Even Anime-only Meilin has come a long way, she does not behave as she used to. Syaoran, while having frustratingly less dialogs except in the last three episodes, has grown up from that brat-y type of CCS.
As for the other characters, well, we come to know very little about the old characters and even less about the new characters, rather than seeing them saying endless thank you to each other and praising each other. Meanwhile, Syaoran boy keeps saying just “yeah” to everyone.
Romance of Syaoran and Sakura certainly took a backseat, which it shouldn’t have, after all those build-ups in CCS series and the movies. Interaction of Touya and Yue, while remained interesting, was SO short that I am sure many viewers were left feeling unfulfilled. A tease? Okay. But Touya’s secret power, which he will unleash whenever he feels right, serves no purpose in this season except being all words.
Akiho is a puppet and is painfully and repetitively so. Had the season been longer, we could have dived deeper into her and Kaito’s backstory, but the conscious decision of the director and animators to keep everything as the material for the next season is hardly the right way to keep the audience interested throughout.
The OP1 “CLEAR” and the ED2 are my favourites. Background sound is not as adorably cheesy as CCS, but not exceptional either.
The art is beautiful and the animation feels refreshing. It’s 2018, and it’s Madhouse, so of course! This is a good update.
I was elated as the show started, and was quite forgiving in the beginning. It was great to see Sakura and others again! But then, I grew tired of waiting for the big reveals, new magic by new characters, new power of old characters and so on. Nope. It never really took off.
To me, Clear Card-hen has clearly gone overboard with nostalgia and the SOL trend. Only the last two episodes are comparatively decent ones. The season leaves everything so open-ended that one is bound to feel cheated by the brains behind this show; ‘okay, so you simply want me to watch another season, you never had any intention to make it a concise, self-sufficient narrative’.
Will I watch the next seasons? Yes, I will. But this “hen” needs to step up the game. Else it is nothing more than an okay-kind nostalgia-fest than being the true successor of arguably the most interesting magical girl show.
Most people have a member of the big three, Evangelion, Sword Art, or some other action show as their gateway anime. Me? It was Cardcaptor Sakura. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that a sequel to the show that I have since left behind in the back of my memory was being made in the modern day. And indeed, it was quite the nostalgia trip.
Our story brings us back to Kinomoto Sakura, who has since aged four years from the time of the original Cardcaptor series and is now entering middle school. While her life seems to have returned to as normal
as a fourteen year old's life can be when you're dealing with magical cards created from magic from both sides of the world, a strange dream snaps her into a vision involving clear crystals and a looming threat. Upon waking up, she finds that the Clow Cards have turned clear, and a new key has appeared in her hands. From here, she encounters a new card different in appearance to the Clow cards, setting her off on a journey and task very similar to the one she did years ago.
Clear Card is more or less the same as what the original Cardcaptor was back in its heyday: an episodic show where each episode had our protagonist encounter a new card in her daily life where she must capture it in order to stop it from causing more harm, all the while an overarching plot happens in the background and becomes the penultimate thing that the series leads up to. It's what Madhouse and the members of CLAMP did when the original was being made, and it's the same story here.
As such, the show can really be simplified to being 'more Sakura'. But saying that wouldn't give the show as much credit as it should. Because the characters themselves have matured, it feels like the topics that the characters touch up upon have also matured as well. Things like Syaoron and Sakura's relationship take more of a forefront as the two learn more how to be in a relationship (which honestly caught me off-guard), and the mystery of the 'Clear Cards' and the 'Clear Mage' (as I call them) start to take more of a forefront in the series early on rather than have them be things in the background waiting towards the end.
I will say that despite these things, the show does still deviate from the 'overarching' stuff in order to do more of the happy go lucky slice of life aspects that the original Cardcaptor was known for, but considering how much more involved the series is with its plot and mystery by comparison, devoting almost its entire second half to being build-up, it's something I can look over.
Overall, Clear-hen is a definitely taking what the original was and giving it a new, shinier coat of paint with more involved story elements. Pacing is a tad slow in the beginning, but is otherwise a fun ride to go on, especially if you were a fan of CLAMP's original. I will say however that the series is not complete. My guess is that sometime down the line, they'll do a season 2 and it will serve as the finale for the Clear Card arc. When that happens, I don't know, but I hope they do cap off the plot cause Madhouse has got to learn how to make season 2s.
+ Very true to the original with an interesting arc
+ Improves upon the original
+ More involved story/character moments
- Kind of slow in the beginning
Kinomoto Sakura is the same, cheerful, ditzy, airheaded girl that we knew from the original. Aged up four years. Much of Sakura's personality and attitudes towards the series is to protect those that are near to her, and that remains steadfast throughout the entire show. Though my memory of specifics for her from years past are hazy at best, a lot of what I find about Sakura this time around is the fact that she really seems to come out on her own. Many of the card captures feel technical with the strategy on how she goes about them, and from her interactions with Syaoron in particular feels like she has grown to become more of a multi-faceted character that's worth investing into, even more than what I would regard that fans of the series have already become accustomed to.
Syaoron Li by a similar margin, gains similar growth to his significant other, but in a way that irks me from a storytelling perspective. He comes back from Hong Kong and attends the same school as Sakura, helps to blossom their relationship even more beyond just a lovey dovey trope, into a real, actual relationship involving confining and seeking comfort from the other during harder or struggling times. Which is something I never expected from a magical girl show, but is very welcome anyway. My problem with Syaoron however is how secretive the show pushes him to be. He hides away for a good chunk of the series doing some things behind the scenes, but we never really get to know what that is. It's a cheap way of building suspense and it's annoying considering how often the show plays the pronoun game or uses vague terminology in order to create tension.
The last character worth mentioning is a new addition to the cast, Shinomoto Akiho. Akiho first appears as a new student accompanied by her butler, Kaito, who cares and watches over her in place of her parents. Much of Akiho's story doesn't appear until the second half, and until then, is treated more as one of Sakura's friends who gradually gets used to the new neighborhood and town. Personally I don't really see her as much of an interesting character despite the importance to the plot that she holds, since most of what we know about her so far is vague flavor text for buildup.
Supporting cast is largely the same as the original. You have Sakura's school friends, Tomoyo and her obsession with dressing her second cousin like a doll, Keroberos and his shenanigans, Sakura's family, Eriol, Yue, all of whom add into the vague mystery of the series, and Meiling who until watching Clear Card did not realize she was an anime original character. (It's been like fifteen years, so cut me a break.) Overall, the side cast is still solid, with much of the latter ones mentioned getting devoted time in the spotlight for plot development.
+ Sakura and Syaoron become better characters
- Secrecy of characters are very annoying
All you need to know is the fact that Madhouse kept Clamp's style, and brought the work that they did from the original into the new age. Yep. That's about it. More or less what you're getting when watching this show in terms of visuals is an updated version of the style you're already used to, featuring lighter, less saturated colors, and very good consistency in quality and effects. Really there isn't much to say beyond that. The style of Cardcaptor is iconic of the late 90's and still remains unique to this day. So more than anything, the art is a nostalgia trip, and a very good one at that.
Both "Clear" by Maaya Sakamoto and Kiyono Yasuno's "Rocket Beat" are cheerful, upbeat songs for the show's OP that bring forth Carcaptor's cheerful and magical demeanor as a hallmark of the magical girl genre. Personally I find 'Clear' to be the better of the two because it to me is catchier than its counterpart. But that's just my opinion. Objectively I regard both songs as being very fitting of Cardcaptor as a whole.
In contrast, we have "Jewelry" by Saori Hayami and Minori Suzuki's "Rewind", which inversely, I think that Rewind is the better ED. Despite being a fan of Saori Hayami, Rewind has a consistent aspect of having a 'tick tock' beat about it that makes it unique whereas Jewelry just has just its beginning to make itself stand out.
It's been about fifteen years since I was first introduced to Cardcaptor Sakura, and anime as a whole. The show has a special place in my heart like all gateway anime do, so watching Clear Card was one of the biggest nostalgia trips I've ever had. I like how they built up on the original series, yet made it friendly enough for new audiences to jump in without TOO much drawback, though there will be some missing details which I think is always a given.
I think my favorite part of the series is the fact that despite the show having only progressed four years in-universe, shit like the Nintendo switch, smartphones, and other modern devices are in the show despite the fact that during the original Cardcaptor, they had early 2000's technology. It just amuses me how there's such a large jump in technological advances when in-universe, they shouldn't have been this fast.
All in all, Clear Card I would primarily suggest for those who really want a nostalgia trip and are fans of the Cardcaptor series. It's somewhat unwelcome to newcomers, but still manages to be a good series regardless. Personally, I had a great time with this blast from the past, and I hope that they do complete the story in animated form someday, otherwise it'd be a bit of an injustice to the original series. That, and I would really like to have a conclusion. I think we can all agree on that one.
I've both watched the first series and movies, and read the manga (the final volume). Like other anime I've been watching at the time, this show helped keep my spirits up during some dark times in my life.
Madhouse and CLAMP have come a long way since the original CCS 20 years ago. Madhouse re-entered my radar with Hanayamata a few years ago, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and the animation and production quality there belied their struggles in the early 2010s. Likewise I haven't really kept up with CLAMP since the early episodes of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, a series I just couldn't keep up
with like I could with CCS.
Then the preview episode, "Sakura and the Two Bears" came out. Sure, there were a handful of shortcuts ("stick figure" like kids), but overall this was a "reboot" from the final episode of the series, modeled rather faithfully after the final chapter of the original manga, but with a more understated coloring compared to the first series' saturated coloring. "Oh... could this be?" I wondered. Yup, new anime confirmed with Madhouse as the production house. This is a welcome reunion in my book.
Possible spoiler: At first I thought this was manga canon, but... well, yes and no. The preview is straight from the final chapter of the (edit) manga, but in the series proper there are shots from the anime series finale, as well as references to the 2nd film in dialogue. It's entirely possible we're looking at parallel universes here (which appears to have been a fascination of CLAMP's since Tsubasa Chronicle, and it's a tempting pitfall for any fantasy or sci-fi writer). I think if they're careful, CLAMP could have a badass show/manga that not only delivers a great story in its own right, but resolves the differences between manga and anime, or, even better, preserves both and brings them together somehow. It really seems to me that they enjoyed what Madhouse did by expanding the manga into a 70-episode hit kids' anime series and 2 films, and they wanted to bring that expanded world into the manga as well (not sure if they actually talk about content exclusively from the anime in the manga, this is more intuition than anything).
The first cour (12 episodes or so) feels like a tribute to the fans of the first series. From the opening animation, to Maaya Sakamoto singing, to the continued use of the first series' soundtrack and voice cast, to familiar scenes here and there, the callbacks to series 1 are legion. Having watched the first series, it was fun looking at all the ways the production staff drew from series 1, and I think this was absolutely the right thing to do. We are picking up right where the first manga left off, so it makes sense to start with the familiar and have fun with it.
Clear Card repeats the tried and true episodic formula from before, but with new dangers, new cards, a new key, and a new twist. The slow pace might be a turn-off for those who demand faster-paced storytelling, but remember, this is a sequel to a 70-episode production where the first arc was almost an entire year's worth of anime. Not only this, it's a kid's show that's heavily character-driven-- if you move the plot too quickly, you will leave the younger viewers in the dust, characters won't develop organically, and it simply will be too jarring a difference in a world where fans pick apart everything in a sequel with an electron microscope.
Visually, the more understated coloring lends itself to brighter, more dramatic action, and a less "cartoony" look. The coloring reminds me of Honey and Clover in a good way, and their experience with particle systems/effects from Hanayamata (and probably other works) serve them well here.
As I mentioned, the soundtrack is largely the same, but there are some new additions, like the battle theme, transformation/release theme, and the capture theme. Honestly, this is a good (if economical) choice to me. Even though the older synth tracks might sound dated now, they've held up well. Rocket Beat is a fantastic OP, even if it's not something I'll put in my car playlist; Clear by Sakamoto is all right, but I think Platina is much better (because Yoko Kanno). The ED in the second cour features Akiho's voice actress, and she's a good voice to listen to while the mascots play out a funny scene; while she doesn't play a voice role, Saori Hayami sings the first ED. She's pleasant to the ears, and yet, again, I wouldn't put Jewelry in my playlist.
I suppose if there's one gripe I would throw at this, it's that the gang seem like elementary school kids but with different uniforms and a different school. This is partly due to the character design and the voice acting/direction. I know it's a kid's show and you don't really want to be discussing the birds and bees here, but it kinda makes it seem as though people go from dwarves to giants as they reach high school age. Not a deal-breaker for me, and the suspense element does help convey the passage of time.
SPOILER: I'd thought they would wrap up the entire arc in this series, but that didn't happen. I actually think they're fixing for a film, if not season 2. I think the kind of showdown that's brewing is too small for 22 or even 44 minutes of television. There's a possible contradiction between manga and the finale, so I desperately hope that (a) Madhouse does NOT fall into the same trap that sank Rozen Maiden and a few other series (i.e. rushing ahead of the manga), and that (b) CLAMP does NOT rage quit or completely wreck the world with their fascination of alternate universes.
Been almost 17 years since the original series graced us and LA watched it not knowing it was anime, now Cardcaptor Sakura finally got it's sequel and LA was hyped let alone what new adventures Sakura would go up to, for what it's worth, Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen was a good sequel that expanded on Sakura's magical world...just with a few upsets.
Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen leaves off directly after the Sealed Card movie & the first season with Sakura now entering middle school with a cloaked figure appears in her dreams and Sakura's cards turns blank however she now collects the new "Clear" cards with
a new key to "secure" them all...but who is the cloaked figure and what's up with the new cards?
So by the synopsis itself, it has the same notion of collecting "new cards" much like the original series but with some mystery elements thrown in, mainly the mysterious cloaked figure. The "new cards" however is something like the upgraded versions of Sakura's and Clow Cards but the "upgrade" does signify Sakura's development as a character as well as her entering middle school, but it also signifies Sakura's romantic development to Syoran even further with this as well to a certain extent. With this, Sakura's tactical prowess has been greatly improved this season using her new cards to great efficiency as she collects more and more and LA wasn't expecting some cards to not be used (like some from the original series) but Clear Card-hen DOES implement these new cards quite well.
On speaking of Syoran, Syoran greatly develops as a character mainly on steeling his resolve in helping Sakura and not getting her hurt in a ways and though both Sakura and Syoran are "twice shy" in terms of romantic relationship, well to be honest they are 14 years old so LA kinda gets the twice shy thing but nonetheless Syoran and Sakura develops together both in a slight romantic sense as well as partners in the new threat they face.
We also have some new characters in Clear Card-hen and the only thing to note of if not going into spoilers would be of Akiho Shinomoto voiced by Minori Suzuki, who quickly becomes friends with Sakura who is VERY similar to Sakura as well and yes Akiho is a MAJOR part of the plot but again spoilers but nonetheless since Akiho and the new characters have significance in the plot, they are implemented well into the plot if only because of their importance in the plot and aren't one-off characters.
So, LA does have some small gripes in this season and that some of the episodes are fillery to say the least especially with some of the cards just dedicated to getting cards and sometimes rushed in some cases where Sakura gains one right after the other, but LA will defend the "filler" episodes as at least those episodes some sprinkle in subtle hints to the mystery at hand as well as slowly develop Sakura, Syoran or Akiho in many cases. ALOT of people might be angry at this season at how slow the pacing this season is and LA says yes this season is slow paced BUT LA will say it's at least consistent it's slow paced nature and it keeps to it for the most part and LA will say that is kinda how this season wanted to be and LA won't fault the season for that. The next thing would be of Sakura's denseness of the situation she is in and though to be honest many of the other characters KEEP her in the dark thus makes Sakura's denseness justified and "for the plot" but Sakura as a character goes with the flow either way to make people happy at the expense of her own, so yeah LA can kinda see why the characters keep her in the dark either way add in the new threat this season complied to this makes it even more justified, though Sakura isn't just dense and that's it as again, Sakura's tactical prowess is nothing to laugh about let alone she knows something is up and sometimes is close to it, but she just doesn't get into the bigger picture and likes to focus on the threat at hand instead to protect everyone. Lastly would be of the new cards which are pretty much "upgraded cards" of the Clow Cards just with similar but different names attached to them, they do have a metaphorically meaning like LA said at the start of the review, but it makes many of the cards Sakura secures to be ALMOST copy and pasted from the original series ALMOST as Clear Card-hen gives securing these new cards with a new twist OR trying something new to it all which kinda makes it worth it.
In terms of animation, once again done by MADHOUSE, well the animation is like a modernized, yet beautiful rendition of the original series' animation yeah LA knows it's almost 2 decades difference and the original series has it's own notable animation for it's time but nonetheless Clear Card-hen's animation is beautiful to say the least right down the each frame, from the solid updated character designs, beautiful backgrounds (and oddly this season, it was fixated on food porn for some reason) and great battle animations. LA really didn't see any sense of derpiness in ANY of the episodes either and the comedic moments don't count as they used intentional chibi animation for comedic effect, soo either way the level of dedication the animation had gone into this season by MADHOUSE was amazing.
Voice acting, well the original cast is back so the voice cast is utterly amazing but the MVP easily goes to Sakura Tange...as Sakura having reprised her role after 17 years and still having the same inflictions as her first major role is AMAZING. LA would say the same thing to Aya Hisakawa, Junko Iwao and Motoko Kumai respectively as Kero, Tomoyo Daidouji and Syoran. New cast members like Minori Suzuki and Natsuki Hanae as Akiho and Yuna D. Kaito was great additions to the cast and for Minori Suzuki mingling with Sakura Tange, Junko Iwao and Motoko Kumai, well she had great chemistry with them especially Sakura Tange!. In all, the voice cast with the new and old was GREAT, LA loved this voice cast.
The finale though gave Sakura something about Akiho but with how it ended, at least I think Sakura is in the loop even after the events. Unfortunately, Clear Card-hen still has MANY plot threads left after the ending from Kaito and Akiho themselves and how it all adds up, Touya's growing power and his deal into all this, Sakura's power and what that has to do with Kaito and Akiho, just none of these are answered by the end of it. Be it if it's the manga itself or Clear Card-hen could only adapt what it could but still I will say this is probably the biggest detriment to the season soo far.
Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen was a nostalgic blast to the past to an anime series that hold a dear place in LA's heart as one of LA's favourite animes of all time and though Clear Card-hen was a long time coming LA was happy with this season of Cardcaptor Sakura from both it's strengths and weaknesses. Clear Card-hen had it's many upsets from it's fillery moments, same as the first verse with the new cards and it's slow paced nature but they were remedied by it's mystery elements, subtle hints, the new card metaphors and character/romance/plot developments progressing with it's new major plotline it had going for it. Clear Card-hen obviously learns and brings in the flaws from the original series more than half the screentime the original series (remember it had SEVENTY episodes compared to the 22 of Clear Card-hen) had such as learning from the formula and giving it a twist to getting the new cards and adding in the mystery element into the mix this time (though the original series did it to near the last 1/3 of the series but still LA sees Clear Card-hen doing it better) but since the formula has a new twist, it IS still the same formula of collecting the same but upgraded cards and fillery moments the original series had and though that is a detriment it's something LA can't fault this season for as it's slow paced nature makes those 22 episodes worth it for what it had, the one thing I can fault is the non-conclusive ending it gave itself and we don't even know if there is gonna be another season out or OVA's might finish it, but where it is now, the finale and how it ended is the biggest black mark on this season.
However with all that, Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card-hen was one of LA's favourite animes of Winter 2018 because of "nostalgia" but LA genuinely did enjoy watching the series and having nostalgia of the original series as this season adds to it by referencing it as well. Now does this season beat out the original series, well no, it falls off the mark if only little, maybe because it's just a strong nostalgia keeps LA from giving Clear Card-hen the original series' place but still Clear Card-hen is a good sequel to the original series and though this season has it's flaws, many are remedied by this season's strong elements of the series in making every episode worth it (well everything besides the ending), be it the plot, animation, character development and voice acting, but Clear Card-hen definitely SECURED LA's place one of LA's favourite anime of Winter 2018 and a good sequel to the original series.