Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2 – The Sealed Card

July 24, 2004 on 6:23 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | 1 Comment

Four months after the conclusion of the television series, this final foray into Cardcaptor Sakura gives another, even more definite conclusion. It’s always nice to take another crack.

Sakura is in year six now and is a little older and a little wiser. Due to the lack of cards, Tomoyo passes the time by making Sakura fight the CREATE card in different guises, filming them and editing them to music. Yue and Kero-chan are living standard lives, and nothing much happens. Then developers tear down Eriol’s mansion which, being over 100 years old, should probably have been heritage listed. In its place they build an amusement park, and subsequently unleash the 53rd card that Clow Reed had sealed away all those years ago.
Shaoran and Meilin come and visit from Hong Kong and Sakura spends the film trying to answer Shaoran back – and notices her Sakura Cards are missing!

The Sealed Card is a slow film. The first half of it is spent largely on Sakura not talking to Shaoran, and Meilin and Tomoyo scheming to get the two of them together – apparently the unspoken TV finale was too subtle for these twelve year olds. It’s just living from day to day. Still, an interesting philosophical question is raised, Sakura once again shows her love for humanity, and it ends on the perfect note.

One really odd thing about this is that Shaoran smiles all throughout the film: he’s changed completely from his first appearance as a thoroughly unpleasant child. His discovery of humanity has been a high point; what makes him better is that because he’s been completely honest he lives serenely. It’s just nice to watch him, and slightly painful to watch Sakura.
Yukito has some good material and leads in directly on other things he’s said, but there’s not enough screen time shared between himself and Toya. Toya gets to wear a bunny suit and hand out balloons, so it’s okay.
And, as even further proof that someone must love Twin Bells, there’s even a shot of Maki somewhere in the film – she really is quite the enduring character.

There’s another play, this one written by Naoko, and as with all plays performed in Tomoeda, they never get to finish acting it. It’s romantic, with great staging, and naturally Sakura and Shaoran play the romantic leads, in an uncanny parallel to real life! It was very good for a production written, produced and directed for twelve year olds – and also showed Sonomi’s considerable softening.
The final confrontation with the sealed card is handled in a way only Sakura could – and it’s exactly how it should have been settled.

Then it’s over forever.

Also of note is that this film is the only Cardcaptor Sakura property that has an unedited dub. It’s interesting to check out purely for curiosity’s sake: after 70 episodes, the Japanese cast is far too ingrained for this to count for anything. For what it’s worth, this dub shares a great deal of its cast with Digimon, but it feels like it was recorded at a much higher pitch. And Sakura still says “hoeee!” despite speaking English. Wendee Lee’s Kero-chan sounds very much like a young boy.

Included with the feature is the Leave it to Kero-chan! theatrical edition, which is a decidedly odd adventure about Suppie and Kero-chan fighting for love of Takoyaki. It’s presented very much like an old WB/Tex Avery/Disney short (the best actual analog is the Roger Rabbit shorts), and is bright, colourful and repetitive. The highlight was Kero-chan’s sweets song, written by Kero-chan himself, Hisakawa Aya.

Cardcaptor Sakura can’t be any more complete than this. An impressive, twenty DVD saga finally comes to an end with this film: it’s not the best part of the entire thing, but it gives just a little more time with these lovable characters, and that’s good enough.

Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 66 to 70

June 27, 2004 on 9:44 am | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 66 to 70

And it’s a clean sweep to the very end of the series!

Initially there was some worry as to what was happening with Toya. But after one episode, he snapped out of it. I had expected that because as a human, he didn’t lose anything that was vital to his existence. The cementing of his relationship with Yukito, which even Sakura picked up on for once, made for an exciting final run.
Not surprisingly, all five of these episodes were about feelings. Sakura was allowed to mature because Yukito was completely honest with her. This worked incredibly well, because the feelings of honesty made everything that much stronger. That Sakura didn’t have to fear exposing herself, for one, lifted a lot of weight from her shoulders.

On the whole Eriol/Spinel Sun/Ruby Moon thing: it feels that at the start of this series they were trying to go in a different direction, with all three of them standing around in the background at each of the earlier incidents. But they didn’t develop as villains and, as it was admitted towards the end, all along it’s been about Sakura and her friends. Spinel and Ruby therefore seemed to be just red herrings to give an illusion of great evil afoot. Still, their screen time was a little disappointing. Spinel must have got about five scenes in 23 episodes.

It all worked out in the end, and on the way there were some interesting uses of the series’ artwork. Sakura’s journey into the past produced beautiful watercoloured backgrounds, and the increase in magic led to traditionally unwieldly giant visuals.
These characters are nothing like they were seventy episodes ago, and it was great to see them grow. There was no epilogue, but the time that it ended was the most fitting that there could be. Cardcaptor Sakura may have been children’s anime, but it was one of the most well developed, lovingly crafted works that I have seen. It’s true that other magical girl programs have been sophisticated, but none have transcended quite so much as this.
Ironic, considering that Sakura is one of the younger magical girls there is.

Cardcaptor Sakura is something that will live forever in the hearts of its fans, just as the cards lived in the heart of Sakura. It was a disarmingly genuine and heartfelt series, and its ending moment was truly, truly well done, although a slight miscalculation in DVD authoring (it should have faded to black, instead of going to Fruits Candy).

Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 59 to 65

June 26, 2004 on 7:29 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 59 to 65

Cardcaptor Sakura really has proved to be a labour of love. It’s going to be sad to see it go. That can be said of most series, but it’s a very powerful feeling in this one.

The three member team for investigating the “strange occurrences” works well, and a nice side effect of Shaoran admitting to himself that he has feelings for Sakura is that it allows him to develop a friendship with Tomoyo. Again, Tomoyo proves herself as an emotional rock, but one has to wonder if it’s going to cause her sorrow in later life.
This comes up when Meilin returns so that Shaoran can give her a very important message. The way that she takes it is great because she runs a full spectrum of emotions. When they culminate at Tomoyo’s house, it’s very, very strong. It was nice to see her back, and it’s only in her return you realise that she’s been gone for so long. Physically it’s only been 17 episodes, but there was a season between them.
It was nice to see her again, but unless she’s somehow worked into the final events, I don’t think Meilin will return.

It’s also nice to see the MIRROR card again, and again to see Toya treating it like a person and taking care of it. Toya has been at his peak in this season, because of his need to talk to Yukito and the fact that it’s entirely clear that he knows about Kero-chan and everything. Perhaps not the explicit details, but enough. His scene with Yue was one of the most powerful there ever has been. There were true moments of beauty here, because it has been a very distressing time.

One of the funniest inventions of Cardcaptor Sakura as a whole was Yamazaki and his elaborate lies. This has reached another level because of the tag team lies with Eriol. Unrehearsed, yet still in perfect synch. They are truly hilarious scenes, and even Chiharu doesn’t know what to do in the situation. When she’s at a loss with Yamazaki, you know you’re in trouble.
Kero-chan has been in a period of underuse yet again, but this time it is entirely excusable because Sakura has become sufficiently independent to credibly fight for herself. With only five episodes left, it’s uncertain if anything will actually come of Spinel Sun, but the scenes with Eriol in his den have always been fun.

My one hope is that Cardcaptor Sakura will have some kind of epilogue. One wants to know what becomes of these characters when they’re older!

Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 51 to 58

June 23, 2004 on 7:35 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 51 to 58

It takes a while to realise it, but every episode in this season has furthered the plot somewhat. Well, except for The Calendar of Memories, which was one of the best character episodes since those early ones in the first season about Sakura’s mother. In fact, as it progresses it becomes clear that these are the best episodes that Cardcaptor Sakura has ever had.
Of course, the climax of series two was outstanding, but that was a climax. The Sakura card series has consistently thrilled with its exploration of character and ambiguous undertones. Maintaining this high level of quality and suspense has seemingly been effortless.

The episodes don’t even seem to be following much of a formula any more; Eriol causes some mischief sometimes, but the reasons why he does so become ever cloudier. Being who he is, he can’t be evil. He’s troublesome, no doubt. Then, when one of his tricks causes something good to happen to Sakura, it’s even more confusing. The obvious nature of some of his plans, such as the fact that everything that has ever attacked Sakura has been something that he touched on the same day. Of course, as the Cheshire Cat Erriol said, “You and Li are so slow, it’s too easy to play tricks on you”.
On that note, it’s probably a good chance to tackle Eriol’s offsiders: Ruby Moon and Spinel Sun. As Akizuki (Na-ku-ru, as she would have Toya believe), it’s clear that she’s trying to keep Yukito and Toya apart. It’s fortunate that it has already been established that Clow Reed’s belief is “nothing in this world is coincidence”, because otherwise it would be annoying that she pops up every time that Toya says “I … you …” to Yukito. As for Spinel Sun, who’s clearly the Anti-Kero-chan, he’s really too feminine. It’s a big shock to hear him in his big form, because he (especially when voiced by Touma Yumi) is pretty prissy. And come on … instead of the angelic wings of Yue and Kero-chan, they both have butterfly wings.
No wonder “Suppie” doesn’t have a sense of humour.

One of the greatest episodes had nothing to do with Eriol at all, and only a tenuous link to the Sakura Cards. It was the first episode that was about Sakura’s father in such a strong role. The scenes between Nadeshiko’s grandfather and Fujitaka are not quite … heart rending … but there’s a sadness about them. It has reinforced just how much Nadeshiko sacrificed to marry Fujitaka. Her only being 16 when they married, and him being her teacher, they clearly caused an uproar in her family. Of course, now that she’s dead, they regret drifting apart. This episode also featured one of the funniest Kero-chan jokes ever, involving a VCR.

Yukito’s existence is getting more tragic. ‘No matter how much I eat, I never get full …’, he says, standing under a tree. It’s just sad, when you wonder what’s going to happen to him. As for his relationship with Toya, I like that CLAMP in creating gay or pseudo-gay characters don’t use innuendo. Toya cares about Yukito deeply – as Mitsuki told him, he would be in love with someone else when they met again – but there’s no suggestion of anything else. And of course it takes the fun out of the slash writers, because they’ve been given too much to go on.

There was a Shaoran episode in here as well, as the other running theme so far has been about his feelings for Sakura. Once again proving that Tomoyo is the smartest character of them all. When he finally called her Sakura and hugged her out of gratitude for her continued existence, it truly was a moment. Hopefully someday he’ll be able to come clean. Or at least stop denying it to himself.
Other character moments were Yue’s statement that he remembers everything. Acting as he does, it’s hard to believe that he remembers humanity. It would have impaired his judgement, I’d have thought. He had said that the personalities were separate, but he’s the one truly in control. It’s a matter of some concern that should be tackled later on.

Now: Kero-chan’s corner! These included Sakura in Wonderland, with big Kero-chan chasing after her saying “I am not Kero-chan … call me your QUEEN!”. This was followed by his lamentations as to Clow Reed’s treatment of his handsome self, made all the better for Onosaka Masaya’s performance. While I still hold that he and Hisakawa Aya are giving the same performance and that’s what makes it great, I don’t think she could have pulled it off quite the same. Big Kero-chan strikes one as the kind more likely to complain.

Great episodes all around. It’s not one big tease; it’s an adventure in development of plot and character. The series’ evolution has been astounding, and pretty solid evidence to say that magical girl shows shouldn’t always stop at one.

Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 47 to 50

June 21, 2004 on 12:48 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 47 to 50

The third series of Cardcaptor Sakura is like one glorious aftermath. There aren’t any cards left, so the story throws the exciting prospect of Sakura creating her own magic. What is known in the Discworld as “sourcery”.
There is so much that’s exciting about this season. It offers the prospect of Yue and Keroberos on tap – halving Hisakawa Aya’s role, to be sure, but to see both forms work as if they’re the same person, it’s great that they’re extensions of each other. The inverse can be said about Yue – two more different characters (still clearly “cut from the same cloth”) there could never be.

The relationship between Yukito and Toya is one of the most ambiguous as Toya never lets on how much he knows or how much he has told. The highlight of the second season were the scenes that featured Toya, Mizuki and Yukito together, or just those with Mizuki and Yukito. Providing similar results is the new character Akizuki Nakuru, who always turns up just as Toya has something very important to say.
Now, these new characters; they’re quite patently up to no good. Eriol looks bright and promising, with his placid blue eyes wide open. Then people turn their backs and his eyes narrow; pure … not evil … but certainly bad intent!
While it soon becomes apparent who these people are, it’s still unclear quite why they act.

There aren’t any more Clow Cards; and while the excitement of Sakura creating magic is palpable, the means by which she has to are somewhat questionable. Sakura and the Dangerous Piano, for instance. Just what is going on here? Every episode seems to flow into the next, which is very nice indeed, and the lurking characters are doing a good job of lurking. The fighting’s not as arbitrary as it was with some of the Clow Cards; hopefully the writers are aiming to create a veneer of trust amongst the characters, to lead them into increasingly dangerous situations. That’s got to be it.

Despite the uncertainty as to the direction that Cardcaptor Sakura has taken, with Tomoyo clearly being the smartest of all of the characters, the series definitely has more vitality than it had for a long time. The new ED, which is essentially “Tomoyo, Sakura and Kero-chan’s baking adventure” is a marvellous use of colour and the OP (with heavenly vocal by Sakamoto Maaya) has some delicious hints of stuff to come. It’s pure taste.

I no longer have “primary” and “secondary” programs, just an alternating title; so I’m sticking with Cardcaptor Sakura until the end! (with the exception of a series break between this and the second movie).

Cardcaptor Sakura – Episodes 42 to 46

June 14, 2004 on 7:41 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – Episodes 42 to 46

Cardcaptor Sakura season two is the season for which Cardcaptor Sakura was made! Everything about this season – every episode – bore a carefully meted dose of information, drama and development that came to a head for the final judgement. CLAMP brought their best skills to the fore to create the cute apocalypse.

These episodes aren’t “slow”, by any means. The first season, which would go for huge stretches at a time with nothing happening but one question Clow Reed’s sense of humour … that was slow. The plot is there, and you know that it’s there, and it’s quite clear that the door will open.
There are two more Clow cards that can talk – the lesbian pair of light and darkness. Their ability to comfort Sakura is something and reinforces the idea of loyalty between Card and Master. And the reason that Sakura is so strong and attracts so many is revealed: that she can say “zettai daijoubu” (I will definitely be all right) with absolute conviction. The other great thing about this episode is the school’s take on Sleeping Beauty – with Sakura as the prince and Shaoran as the princess. The casting for this is perfect, with the three “unimportant” friends as the three fairies, Yamazaki as the Queen and Meilin as the Evil Witch. She had complained about playing the villain before hand, but she played it to the hilt! Sakura’s fight against the demons was so well orchestrated. I remember how this played out in the manga, with the cute kids working behind the scenes to move the stage about, but the “stage deaths” were marvellous. Sakura’s costume was reminiscent of Tezuka Osamu’s own Princess Knight, so it was a good tribute episode as well as a good revelation of character.
Meilin gets an episode all to herself about her return to Hong Kong. Perhaps this is to kick her out of the way for the sake of the judgement, but it’s the best episode that there has been for the poor character. Her history of liking Shaoran was finally explained, and the reasonable nature of her engagement (it amounts to “until you find a girl you like more, you are betrothed to me!”). It’s a sad goodbye, but you know she’ll be back … and finally she got along with Shaoran. It’s not his fault that he’s such a reserved child.

The final three episodes are entirely to do with the final card and the judgement. There is too much to like about these episodes. Kero-chan’s true form finally manifests itself, and it’s a relief to know that the voice is right. It could have been too serious, but Onosaka Masaya performs as a logical extension of Hisakawa Aya’s Kero-chan. He can take a joke, and he cares about what’s going on without being gruff. It was a small cause of worry, but just the right casting tackled something that could have made the whole thing sink. Similarly, Yue’s casting was a masterstroke. The performance was spot on.
Then the cute apocalypse comes around and it’s just too sad. Everything is revealed, including everyone’s purpose.

What follows is a segment that can easily be seen as a “definite ending” or as a “we’ll be back”. It was a good cap for 46 episodes. It will be interesting to see if the “star” season that follows can live up to this. It may have taken more than 30 episodes to get there, but this judgement arc was pure gold, clearly the reason for which the whole series was made.

Cardcaptor Sakura – Episodes 36 to 41

June 13, 2004 on 9:38 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – Episodes 36 to 41

This is the second season of Cardcaptor Sakura, and it’s a season that lasts only 12 episodes. Everyone of them so far has had something to do with the story at large, so it’s very easy to get excited again. As the first season had progressed, it was losing its charm by giving infuriatingly few hints at what was happening and offering boring episodes about sweets.
Not so here!

The colour is back in Sakura’s cheeks as she receives a watch from her beloved Yukito. When the SNOW card causes her to lose it, she is incredibly angry; to the point of scaring the Hell out of Shaoran and Kero-chan, who can only stand by as she completely destroys the card. This is capped by Mizuki appearing after the sealing, to return Sakura’s watch. Naturally, Shaoran’s suspicion is peaked.
The same sort of thing happens over the next few episodes, with Mizuki being cryptic about everything that’s happening, giving everyone the sense that she knows what’s going to happen; because, of course, she does.

The highlight episode is the DREAM card episode. The dreams of Tomoyo, Shaoran and Sakura are shown. Tomoyo’s dream sheds some much needed light on the character. Her dream involves seeing Sakura in all of the many costumes that Tomoyo so lovingly designed for her. Importantly, Sakura is enjoying wearing the costumes. This makes Tomoyo seem slightly less creepy; she just wants to be appreciated by her dearest friend.
Shaoran’s dream is hilarious because it places himself and Sakura in a romance movie and his true heart is revealed even as he denies what he sees.
Sakura’s dream isn’t about what she wants; it’s what will be. The dream that has been repeated periodically since episode one is the focus; Sakura observes the Tokyo Tower dream from within Tokyo Tower, and comes to understand that everything is okay. This segment also tackled one of the biggest problems with Cardcaptor Sakura: the streets are so sparsely populated most of the time. In Tokyo, the reason is that Sakura was in a dream, and as it was a dream that was trying to tell her something, it had to make sense most of the time. She cottoned on when Kero-chan said “Yo!” to Yukito.

The other good moment was the revelation that Toya knows pretty much what Sakura is doing; the MIRROR card comes into play again and he recognises that it is not Sakura. The MIRROR is a good card because it’s the only card that can talk, so seeing it say something about its lot was definitely interesting. It is also reassuring to know that once they are in her possession they are completely faithful to her and maybe even … love her.

Cardcaptor Sakura returns to form, perhaps stronger than ever before, with these episodes. When the Tokyo Tower confrontation (the judgement, if you will) finally arrives, it will be a true wonder to behold. Of all the scenes in all the episodes, Sakura’s recurring dream is the most beautiful and haunting of them all. When the prophecy is fulfilled, the carnage will be something to look forward to!

Cardcaptor Sakura – The Movie

May 30, 2004 on 3:53 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – The Movie

Cardcaptor Sakura is a film that gives the impression of having been based on the first OP song “Catch You Catch Me”. The story goes as such: School is out for winter, and a greater force causes Sakura to win a trip for four to Hong Kong. Her father can’t go, so he suggests that Toya looks after her and they take Tomoyo and Yukito along as well. Bizarrely, Toya acts as if going to Hong Kong with Sakura is some sort of favour that he’s doing for her and demands recompense.
Sakura has a recurring dream and is lured into a magical world created by a sorceress, who was actually calling for Clow Reed. Along the way she meets Shaoran (in Hong Kong to spend the holiday with his family) and his four genki teenaged sisters and his deathly serious mother.

That’s what happens. Cardcaptor Sakura is a very compact movie, but highly enjoyable nonetheless. Fortunately, Kero-chan extolls the virtue that “nothing in this world happens by coincidence”, so people can’t complain. Although the idea of letting two teenaged boys and two ten year old girls go to Hong Kong by themselves is slightly suspect … there’s a scene when they first get to Hong Kong where Yukito, Toya and Sakura are sitting on a boat together. One has to wonder where Tomoyo is … seeing her sitting alone (well, with Kero-chan) on the other end of the boat with her video camera trained on Sakura is slightly scary.
Thematically, it’s exactly the same as “Catch You Catch Me”; feeling powerful emotions, but never getting the chance to speak them. The ending was particularly sweet. Meeting the Li family was a highlight; four women more unlike Shaoran you’re never likely to see; two girls on the shoulders of Yukito and Toya. The magic must have missed them, because they’re definitely members of the cute brigade. Shaoran’s mother is of the tightlipped but caring variety, and Shaoran is certainly scared of her. He will always, without doubt, do exactly what she says.

The thing about Cardcaptor Sakura is that it doesn’t look significantly different from the television series. The animation might be more fluid, but it was already pretty danged good on television. In fact, this fares slightly worse than the TV series because of the more washed out pallette used for a cinematic production. Still, it’s fairly well beautiful, but not as dramatic a leap as some other TV to film projects.

This is also the only DVD to have both the original Japanese track and the Nelvana produced dub. But the less said about that the better (although you’ve got to love the new “We have amnesia! Isn’t that weird?” ending). Hisakawa Aya does a good job of playing Kero-chan back on old turf, especially the “where are we?!” bit. Hayashibara Megumi is a pretty good angry sorceress, but it would have been nice to see her have a few more lines. The suggestion that evil was afoot in the casting department comes when Mitsuishi Kotono’s Maki cameos as the catalyst of the trip. She’s one of the most frequently recurring guests, slotted in wherever a feasible place can be found for her. And Inoue Kikuko pops up as Shaoran’s mother!
CLAMP love to secure good casts.

Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie was a good movie, largely because it posed the sort of threat that almost never reared its head in the first television series. The idea of consequence was introduced to the narrative flow, which is something very important and hitherto infrequently addressed. It’s attractive and showed some, although perhaps not enough, of Shaoran’s alternate home life.
No matter what it is, it’s far from a boring travelogue; it’s a definite help for Sakura to discover her honesty, and Kero-chan gets a fairly substantial role to play for once. Poor guy’s memory isn’t as good as it used to be, though!

Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 30 to 35

May 28, 2004 on 10:48 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 30 to 35

Why do magical girl programs so often give tantalising hints of continuity and overarcing story just to dash all of our hopes on the rocks? Actually, that’s probably not symptomatic of the genre. It has to be Cardcaptor Sakura itself. Most other things have the “story” happening in the background, no matter how much this week’s monster is at the foreground.
The good thing about these episodes, though, is that Kero-chan is frequently sitting by himself in darkness, uttering a name; vaguely recalling a triangle of Clow Book powers. Yes, the underlying story is interesting, and it is being denied.

As for the episodes themselves … the DASH episode is a fairly standard tale of “earning it for yourself”, but Yamazaki was brilliant. “Let me tell you about cheerleading …” he says, launching into a story. At the end Chiharu says “That’s a lie,” to which he replies “Let me tell you about lies …”.
The episode in which Meilin demands to know where Sakura’s cutter attack is was pretty good, especially Kero-chan’s “Hyoo!” bit. So many wingéd animals, it existed a lot for the cuteness value.
The crowning achievement of nonsense episodes was the CHANGE episode. Shaoran with Osaka accent was priceless! Kumai Motoko got a lot of value out of that performance, and as Tomoyo said, serious Kero-chan and comic Shaoran made for the perfect comedy match up. The TV drama tactics were hilarious and on the whole it got the characters to do things in each others’ bodies that you wouldn’t physically see otherwise. It also makes it harder to see, with every episode, how Kero-chan and Kerberos are one and the same.

Finally it happens, and Shaoran begins to blush in the presence of Sakura. The rudeness, as has been noted, is gone. He’s just uptight and serious now. The way he treats Meilin has softened also, but it does not seem yet that she realises they can’t be together. They both see something in Yukito, still … their Christmas day together is truly awkward.

The hints: the dream, the utterings of “Yue” in the darkness, they’re all so tantalising. If only Cardcaptor Sakura could give us more. Most of the time it’s a good slice of life, but there’s no urgency to it. The cards just appear as they appear; that they pose no real threat themselves is a bit of a worry. We need Yue, whoever he or she may be.

The last two episodes of the first series are the most interesting of this lot; of particular note is the meeting of Mizuki and Yukito, particularly in the light of what she had said to Toya in the Shrine of Memories. The tension was palpable. Mizuki definitely knows more than she lets on. And in the final episode, Kero-chan offers “dai sabisu” (great service) because it’s Christmas. Now that he’s got some of his power back, perhaps he will return to the fore.

Basically Cardcaptor Sakura is enchanting, but the enchantment fades when it distances itself too much from what makes it great. Hopefully in the following 37 episodes, more shall be resolved. After all, Keroberos has to show up, yet!

Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 21 to 29

May 19, 2004 on 12:10 pm | In Cardcaptor Sakura | Comments Off on Cardcaptor Sakura – episodes 21 to 29

Finally the story arc of Cardcaptor Sakura series one begins to manifest. Sometimes.

Meilin and Shaoran have been given great opportunities to develop. Sakura is probably to blame, as she’s incredibly kind. Despite the hostility she has received from both of them, she’s always been completely friendly. They’ve treated her in kind and they all act normally; of course, the normality takes away the wild and outlandish aspects that made Cardcaptor Sakura so enjoyable and hilarious. Fortunately, Tomoyo is as unstable as ever.
At one point the cards started to appear simply as arbitrary elements; however, almost every one of the cards in these episodes had something to do with overall plotting or character development.
Three episodes gave focus to Meilin, and her dedication to Shaoran. Her stubbornness is generally admirable, but she doesn’t realise that sometimes she persists too hard. Gentleness is something that she needs to learn, otherwise she’ll never bake a cake properly.
Kero-chan gets some particularly good scenes and one recurring joke about Meilin that seems distinctly like the Osaka humour. Of course, I could be making that up. Eventually realisation dawns that the new Leave it to Kero-chan is only about 20 seconds long and contains no real insights or anecdotes from everyone’s favourite guardian beast. In fact, the episodes barely feature him as Sakura spends an increasingly large amount of time acting independently and the cards appear at real intervals instead of mysteriously appearing across town. While this is good for her character development, it’s bad that the producer of the series’ best material has to suffer as a result.
The most notable of these episodes are the two that deal with Sakura’s family. Sakura and her kind father featured one of the most moving scenes that the series has offered, when she has caught the card but then had to face the unforeseen consequences; this theme was expanded on in Sakura and Another Sakura, in which Sakura realises that the cards now know she’s out to get them and are indirectly attacking her. Her resolve, which guarantees that she will never be a reluctant heroine, was a marvel. Sakura’s dedication to anyone she cares about, it’s something that changes people. She’s one of the most truly nice characters; oddly, it doesn’t even seem a weakness that she would never do anything bad – even all of those after hours activities and her harbouring an orange winged tiny lion with a taste for sweets comes across as right. At least she’s not eternally genki.

With the introduction of Mizuki, so too is the major story arc introduced. The idea of latent power working as attractors is nice … but the “love” that a ten year old feels is a complete enigma to me. The feel of them “being there” and all the blushing is probably as alien and incomprehensible to the characters as it is to me. Mizuki is mysterious, and kind. Sakura sees her as warm and generous, but Shaoran is wary of her power. The discussion of this in Sakura and the Shrine of Memories (in which Kero-chan goes to the vending machine to buy juice) provided some of the best interplay between those two characters, and the feeling that something is coming makes Cardcaptor Sakura more compelling than the episodic adventures that have been seen previously.
That being said, though, the episode in which they caught the SWEET card was the closest thing to pointless that the series has come; it makes one wonder more than anything else why Clow Read made some of these cards in the first place. Most of them are practical … but a card that makes food unbearably sweet?! Oh well, at least the cooking uniforms were cute, but the story seems like one that the series was past before it had even begun. Shaoran got a nice wordless scene at the end as well.

Cardcaptor Sakura continues to be enjoyable, although not compelling enough to make one want to watch it all night long. It’s against the magical girl ethos of a dark evil, and she has no real rival or enemy to stand against. It’s very much a “realistic” example of the genre that tries to maintain a normal world … with the abnormal CLAMP touches.

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