It's winter vacation and Sakura wins a trip to Hong Kong. Kero, skeptic of her luck in lotteries, questions whether she was merely lucky or was she summoned to Hong Kong upon inevitability. As Sakura strolls through Hong Kong's Bird Street, she senses an evil force calling to her. On chasing two strange birds, she is lead to a phantom world where she learns she was actually made to come to Hong Kong by a woman, Madoushi, who apparently wants revenge on Clow Reed. With Syaoran's mother, Yelan's help and the guidance from Clow Reed's voice, she must fight Madoushi and rescue her friends and loved ones, who have been captured.
A disappointing anime is often more upsetting than a bad one. When an acclaimed series receives a movie and other additional material, it's natural to hold high expectations and hope for an experience at least equal to the original. At times brilliant and more often monotonous, the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie is one that unfortunately falls short of these expectations.
Set after the first season, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie takes Sakura to an entirely new environment: Hong Kong. After winning a five-day trip at a local store, Sakura is given the opportunity to travel to a different country for the first time in her life.
Things are not quite so simple, though, and as several foreboding dreams and supernatural phenomenons soon reveal, there is more to her winning the trip than a mere game of luck.
The first twenty minutes are fairly promising, immediately opening with a tense fight for one of the Clow Cards. Hearing a few beloved tracks from the series once again evokes a sense of nostalgia, and the characters quickly show that they are just as endearing as ever. Kero-chan remains his frivolous, gluttonous self, while Touya continues to tease Sakura for amusing results. Some of the best moments are those early on with the characters travelling through Hong Kong and taking in the sights, and the beautiful artwork makes these scenes all the more breathtaking.
Eyecandy is certainly not something that is lacking in this film. Fluid animation, detailed expressions and stunning scenery all set the visuals of Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie to a much higher standard than most animated films. Hong Kong is presented as far more than a busy metropolis, with a diverse set of authentic locales being used to effectively portray the culture. Unfortunately, the moments highlighting the characters' experiences with the city are all too fleeting. Instead we are gifted with a trite and highly predictable story for the remainder of the film.
It's around the point where Sakura finds herself drawn to a shrine that things steadily go downhill. Most notably, Li and Meiling show up from absolutely nowhere. In the exact same area of a massive city, with no prior knowledge that either group would even be there. There's even the cliche of bumping into each other in Meiling's case. How is the viewer supposed to take the movie seriously when it relies on absurd plot conveniences so early on? An explanation may have made the scene less silly, but there is not even that. "What are you doing here?", asks Sakura. A question left unanswered.
The rest of the story focuses on a vengeful spirit who drags Sakura into a conflict that is only tangentially related to her. This represents the main issue with this film-- it doesn't have any relevance to the overarching story. None of the characters are developed aside from a few scenes with Li's mother and Clow Reed's past relationship with the spirit. There's no sense of accomplishment once the conflict is finally resolved, and the only emotional value is during a scene with Sakura relating to the spirit's unrequited love. Unless you are a particularly patient viewer, there's a strong chance that you will find yourself bored with anything beyond the first thirty minutes.
Much of the film takes itself far too seriously and as a result, most of the charm from the TV series is absent here. Dramatic moments were common in the main series, but they were always interspersed with comedy and had relevance to the story. Not here. It is ceaseless drama distinguished by superfluous (though pretty) action scenes and vague, cliched lines about destiny. It just doesn't work.
As for the sound, the voice acting is exceptional and the eclectic soundtrack compliments the setting especially well. Traditional Chinese music is used while the characters traverse through the city, and a palatable mix of jazz and orchestral music plays during the action sequences. The ending song is also quite nice and serves as a satisfying conclusion to a bittersweet story. It's hard to find much fault with the technical aspects of the film.
Despite a variety of complaints, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie is not bad by any means. Compared to most anime movies, and particularly within the mahou shoujo genre, it is still well above average. Fans of the series will most likely find some level of enjoyment here between the disappointment, and at only 80-minutes long it's hard to go wrong with the prospect of more Cardcaptor Sakura.
Still, considering the quality of the main series, decent just isn't enough here.
This is an OK movie, but strangely focuses more on the action than the characters. There is SOME character development, but it's saved for the end. The majority of this movie is spent either running away from, or fighting, the antagonist.
The art, as usual for a CLAMP adaption, is gorgeous. But the dub is AWFUL, and changes the dialogue around completely. Avoid it at all costs.
Quite a while ago I reviewed Cardcaptor Sakura, a magical girl series from Clamp and Madhouse. It was a good anime, albeit not one of the best magical girl series I've looked at. The series has gotten two films. Let's look at the first, made in 1999 and written by Clamp's Ohkawa Nanase.
Our tale opens with Sakura capturing the Arrow card with Syaoran's help, some sidelines commentary from Meiling and Tomoyo filming her the whole time. She and Tomoyo stop by a store to buy school supplies and Sakura wins tickets to Hong Kong through the shopping district's lottery. Kero questions this because she's “weak
at lotteries” whatever the flying Dutchman that means. She decides to take Tomoyo, her brother and Yukito. I should mention that this takes place roughly halfway through the series before she finds out the truth about Yukito. Sakura starts having ominous dreams about being surrounded by water and a mysterious floating figure.
On the downside, the ending of this film is pretty weak. It has some good ideas, in concept, behind it but the execution doesn't work well. There's also Sakura's role in the whole thing. She barely does anything beyond running away and talking. Because that's what everyone wants to see the main hero do. We don't want to see them being competent and showing their strength, that would just be far too obvious. Which is the same reason that Sakura rarely uses a lot of her stronger cards, because it would just be too obvious. Surely, she is a tactical genius.
There are quite a few good aspects to the film. The build up is really well done. The gradual escalation is very effective at creating stakes and tension for the scenario. If it hadn't led to a letdown then these could have been components of an excellent movie.
I will give the film some credit on this aspect, it does give you a strong sense of the character's personalities and the sibling dynamic between Sakura and Touya is really strong. What doesn't work so well are the original characters. You meet Syaoran's four sisters and all they do is fawn over Sakura and Tomoyo before throwing themselves all over Touya and Yukito. Boy are they barking up the wrong tree. They might as well go to Bell Liberty Academy to try to find boyfriends. Either way, they're non-characters who don't serve any real purpose. I'm not even sure why they're here at all, their presence does nothing for the narrative. Then we have our villain who could have been interesting but is just kind of cliché in execution. The same is true for Syaoran's mother. She's a strict parent and mystic master. She just comes across as kind of bland and typical.
The art is pretty similar to the art in the main series. It's decent enough with character designs and backgrounds that work fine. I will say that the action sequences in the film are kind of weak especially since our heroine decides to spend most of them running away from things.
The voice work is done with the same cast as the series proper and they all do well, as they did in the series proper. For the new characters, our main antagonist is voiced by Hayashibara Megumi and she does a superb job. Syaoran's mum is voiced by Inoue Kikuko and she does do a decent job, albeit a bit emotionless of one. The music is well done.
This series certainly doesn't have as much as the series proper. The homo-eroticism between Yukito and Touya is barely present and Tomoyo's creepy cousin crush on Sakura is downplayed as well although it's still pretty obvious.
For all its flaws, this is a good movie. The ending is disappointing and it suffers from some of the same issues as the series proper, but there's a lot of well done stuff leading up to the ending and it is a fun film to watch overall. If you enjoyed Cardcaptor Sakura, you'll probably like the movie too. My final rating is going to be a 7/10. Next week it's finally time for the Gintama review so we'll see how that goes.
Heroes and villains in your favorite anime shows are capable of all kinds of great feats. Manipulating water is a common trait which is incredibly cool to witness. Here's a list of 25 characters that may be chilling out at a poolside near you!