Boogiepop Phantom

May 31, 2004 on 6:33 pm | In Boogiepop Phantom | Comments Off on Boogiepop Phantom

The internet and mobile phones have changed the way that society, and conversely anime, work on a large scale. Frequently the technology in modern anime is far better (and certainly more practical) than the futuristic anime of twenty years past.
serial experiments lain was one of the first anime to really take on the idea that we really are all connected. In Boogiepop Phantom, this is more of a subtext, but it manipulates the ideas on a wider scale. The understatement makes it special.
This is anime that is horrific in that it seems to detail every little (or big) quirk that faces the modern Japanese teenager. The suicides, murders, mental problems and general disappearances make it a very scary anime to watch indeed. Of course, horror is purely relative, so Boogiepop Phantom might wash over distinctly differently with different people.

Five years ago, there was a spate of serial killings. One month prior to the events of Boogiepop Phantom, there was an explosion of light pouring into the sky. Thereafter, weird things began to happen to people. Someone called Boogiepop is said to have appeared unto people and caused their disappearance.
Boogiepop Phantom is the ultimate in puzzle anime. Everything fits together seamlessly despite each episode at first appearing unrelated. As the episodes progress, more and more things seem relevant until the entire thing is revealed. As such, Boogiepop Phantom rewards an attentive memory; the first few episodes take scenes from each other to create the tapestry, but at times you have to press yourself to see where they draw from. Around the five episode point (aptly titled “Interlude”), the connectivity is greater, but you should not look for it lest you want your head to snap. It’s not that it’s hard to follow, it’s just that it’s a break in the much needed concentration to go with this series.

Based on a book series, Boogiepop Phantom gives the impression (only if you read the notes that come with it) that it rewards readers of the books. This anime has been retooled to stand by itself, but there are cameos by important characters from the books that you wouldn’t notice if you hadn’t been told or didn’t know of their existence beforehand. It’s just something that gives a feel that there’s even deeper to travel.

Characterisation is generally strong, with almost every episode taking on a new main character. Not all of them can be sympathetic, and in fact the first episode’s character appears to be the least consequential of them all. Given the varying subject matters, different characters have stronger emotional impact, and one of them has nothing going for him at all.
The recurring characters are the strongest, although there are three who are revealed to be central to the plot – and only one of them has had a substantial, or memorable role. Despite its amazing structure, the series may have worked better had some more attention been paid to these three throughout. Of course, the possibility is that increasing amounts of information can be gleaned through repeat viewings, but Boogiepop Phantom is not the sort of anime that you would want to return to in a hurry, although it is true that it is incredibly compelling. It’s just that the constant suicide themes (it’s far too easy for a teenager to kill themself) and general delusions make it heavy anime.

The colour scheme is impressive in that it’s barely there. The early episodes are pretty much told in shades of brown and grey. In the later episodes there’s a bit more variety, but it’s not until the final episode that you can actually recall seeing a blue sky. While that is remarkable, sadly the character designs are all fairly similar and it’s occasionally difficult to remember which character is which and means what to whom in a cast as large as this one, particularly when they make appearances as brief as they tend to do.
Also, the OP is one of the greatest ever heard, and is not the sort that you’d expect to hear from the series, but still fits it well. Boogiepop Phantom has spawned several image albums, so it’s clearly rich with inspiration.

Boogiepop Phantom is gripping anime that is frequently uncomfortable to watch, dependent on the individual’s taste. Despite its sometimes disturbing themes, it’s definitely worthwhile. It’s not something that should be detailed; you have to find its feel on your own.

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!

Golden Boy

May 29, 2004 on 6:12 pm | In Golden Boy | 1 Comment

Oe Kintaro, twenty-five years old. Tokyo University Department of Law drop out. However, he withdrew from school because he had mastered the entire curriculum.
Since then, he has been changing jobs numerous times, learning about life. Riding his favourite bike, Crescent Moon, he keeps on moving. And perhaps someday he might save Japan, or even the world.

Ecchi comedy with a heart of gold! That’s what this is. Funnier things in all the land were not likely to be seen … at least not with as many breasts as this anime has to boast. In each of the six episodes, Kintaro takes on a new job. From a software developer to an animation runner, Kintaro learns all sorts of new things in the pursuit of knowledge and beautiful women clearly far beyond his grasp.
The story sets itself up for episodic formula, but it rises above that. The recurring jokes are of the variety of “Oh no!”, not “Not this again.” One of the best episodes involves Kintaro protecting the girl instead of chasing her. The plots lend themselves to fun, but the great thing about Golden Boy is that the characters are all fairly realistic and the stories make complete sense.

Kintaro frequently entertains the idea of sex with his employers, but above all he wants to do a great job. He can learn anything quickly and then apply the knowledge. But because of his frequent flights of fantasy and being caught more than once caressing toilets, everyone thinks he’s stupid. Perhaps, in fact, he is the smartest man ever to have lived! At any rate, he’s full of surprises. The women, although prone to violence, are never really the shrews so common in modern anime “romance”. Kintaro’s ability to breeze through their lives and show them what they’ve been missing out on is admirable.
The way that things change is just great, and something very important happens in each episode. The kindness of Kintaro, not always evident to the women, shines through at the right junctures. A man who can learn computer programming on a keyboard he made out of paper is a force to be reckoned with.
It would be wrong to spoil the concepts of each episode, but the final episode – about anime – is of special note. It’s a love letter to an industry which is, nine years after the fact, now gone. Cel animation pretty much isn’t done anymore. The insights into the way anime production used to work, and the genuine passion of the staff, made for a great episode. The digital revolution just doesn’t have that romance about it, but Golden Boy did allow for that way to be paved.
That episode just proves what a labour of love some of the better projects have been. Essentially, Golden Boy makes one proud to be an anime fan, even when the characters are debating the finer points of breast illustration.

Character designs and key animation are by Kawamoto Toshihiro, who went on to do the same for Cowboy Bebop. His chief job in the Golden Boy project was to design sexy women and a hell of a lot of hilariously stupid faces for Kintaro to pull. He succeeded admirably, although the OP was perhaps too good. The serious nature of a man getting ready to bike out into the world does not match the happy mood that Kintaro is permanently in, but everything featured in the program is right on the money. Episode five is the one to watch if you want to see the closest you’ll ever get to seeing Faye Valentine doing naughty things (with motorcycles, no less. Motorcycles!).

The ED song, Study A Go! Go! captures Kintaro’s attitude perfectly … although the idea of studying being fun seems fairly alien to me. But this song, by the Golden Girls (not those Golden Girls) themselves is fun and sincere. Otherwise the music is good, but not memorable.

The women are voiced by some pretty high profile seiyuu, including Inoue Kikuko acting against type as the swimming instructor of “the savannah”. Kintaro himself is voiced by Iwata Mitsuo, who got his big break as Akira‘s Kaneda, of all things. His ability to balance his passion with … well … his passion is marvellous.

Golden Boy, despite Kintaro’s disconcerting obsession with sado-masochism, is a joy to watch. It’s not just titillating and funny; it’s also very warm hearted. As special an anime as you’re ever going to find about a master of all trades who makes women the world over fall in love with him … after beating him up a bit first. Top rate anime with ecchi to boot, Golden Boy is a great title from ADV’s “sunny” OVA catalogue.

Miyuki-chan in Wonderland + Miyuki-chan in Mirrorland

May 29, 2004 on 4:48 pm | In Miyuki-chan in Wonderland | Comments Off on Miyuki-chan in Wonderland + Miyuki-chan in Mirrorland

Is it possible to make a story any less lucid than Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland? The answer is yes; all you need to do is replace all of the characters with lesbians and ignore cause and effect.
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland doesn’t have a story. Events that occurred in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are repeated here, but with fewer clothes and more fondling.

Miyuki falls into a hole formed by a bunny girl on a skateboard, and then she meets mad hatters in bikinis, a Cheshire Catgirl, an S&M Queen of Hearts and so on. When she’s pulled into the Mirrorland by her reflection, she plays strip chess and all sorts of things.
There’s no direction to these two “adventures”, Miyuki literally falls from one situation to another with no rhyme, reason, or ending.

The incongruity of the story is funny, the CLAMP designs are cute … but there’s no story, and there’s one other thing to it: the music sucks. For 29 minutes, the same loop of music plays. It’s maddening.
There’s some pretty good voice talent here, but most of the seiyuu are lucky if they get more than one line out. Also the endings are totally unsatisfactory and the ED (which is quite nice) seems to be longer and more substantial than the whole OVA put together.

Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is the definition of “light entertainment” … but it’s less likely to entertain than it is to slowly remove your brain. It’s good to get on the cheap ($8US is a good going rate …), but it’s unlikely that you’ll watch it more than once. And the cutest bunnies of them all are only to be seen on the cover.

̩X-Driver Рepisodes 4 to 6

May 29, 2004 on 10:12 am | In ̩X-Driver | Comments Off on ̩X-Driver Рepisodes 4 to 6

And so éX-Driver comes to a close and the seiyuu are upset.

Rei, an éX-Rider (see, she rides a motorcycle) drops by in the fourth episode. Apparently she used to work with this division, but she left to pursue the opportunity to ride freely. Oh, how she laments being perfect. Then she reveals that she’s one of those girls with no sense of modesty and does all of these perverted things with Soichi which end with bloody noses. This episode would have been better if the fan service was nicer. Rei’s cleavage wasn’t really cleavage at all! But Soichi’s awkwardness was funny and Lisa’s jealousy was just plain weird.
The organisation of this future is called into question when it is revealed that there was no course of action in case two cars went out of control simultaneously.

Then the final two episodes are, as expected, the “story”. A man who knew Chief Munakata has been monitoring the éX-Drivers and, together with his merry band of cosplayers (who look suspiciously like Alex from A Clockwork Orange and a redheaded version of Hellsing‘s Arucard), takes them on with their dirty driving tactics. The desperation! The sheer human drama!
It’s pretty good drama, even if it isn’t the most special. It’s nice to see the characters acting together and Soichi and Lisa coming to some sort of agreement. There’s a cool action sequence which is akin to a samurai sword fight (that is, the “run you through” face off) between cars. However, there’s a sequence which is about five minutes of driving action with no dialogue. For those who aren’t fiercely interested in cars, it’s too easy to tune out at this point.
Also there’s a character whose involvement is something like this.
“I have to fix the computer system!”
“Were you anywhere in the first three episodes?”
“… I can’t remember.”

Still, éX-Driver was a nice production which was impressively pulled off with no CG, which is surprising for something from 2000. It’s enjoyable, and it’s a stern warning against designing cars that are literally uncontrollable.
Car otaku, rejoice! That which can only be attained by product placement is ripe for the taking in éX-Driver!

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!

Princess Nine – episodes 22 to 26

May 26, 2004 on 12:10 pm | In Princess Nine | Comments Off on Princess Nine – episodes 22 to 26

I haven’t cried that much since the end of Fruits Basket. That’s really all I want to say, but I don’t think I can get away with it.

The unimportant stuff first. Yuki episode: I can’t believe her parents were such bastards. Through these few episodes, Izumi wavered in her attitude until she closed the book and became strong again. Damn, she took everyone for a ride during that series. It was so good to just see her acting plain nice for once, without the facade.

Then the first match in the preliminaries finally comes, and the girls play against one of the dirtiest schools in organised baseball. Their tricks, and the way that the girls retaliate, were marvellous, although at times it was a little underanimated. Sometimes if they just say “Wow! That was a marvellous trick!” without actually showing it, one feels a little cheated. At least that makes sense to someone who knows baseball well, unlike episode four, wherein the “Somehow we managed to get out of that sticky situation” tactic is used. Generally, the shock moves coming out of clouds of dust worked.
With only three episodes left, the rest of the season is played out in montages; however, it works and doesn’t feel as rushed as it might have done. Director Mochizuki proved himself to be more than competent after all. Unfortunately, for having come this far, Ryo has forgotten her love of the game. ‘I want to pitch until my mind goes blank’, she says. This sort of dispassionate action is just plain sad.

Then romance comes up again and works exactly like it always does in anime; misunderstanding and unspoken oaths. Fortunately the whole series hadn’t been made up of that so it had some impact, and closure was given for one character.

The final game is not actually Koshien, as might have been expected, but it’s something just as good. It’s not a sad last lot of episodes; the tears are of exhilaration, joy, relief and love for the journey that has been left behind.
Princess Nine was a rare beauty that enthralled all throughout; its sense of properness could instil a love of baseball in even the coldest of hearts.

̩X-Driver Рepisodes 1 to 3

May 24, 2004 on 12:54 pm | In ̩X-Driver | Comments Off on ̩X-Driver Рepisodes 1 to 3

Back to jolly OVA series!

Some time in the future, where man lives in cities boasting domed buildings, cars are controlled by Artificial Intelligence. Because no one saw fit to install a manual or remote override in their AI system, sometimes the cars simply don’t stop driving. A team of the only three people actually licenced to drive, all of them high school students, chase down these rampaging cars and … disable their sensors, effectively shutting their system down.
Now why would AI cars have no overrides? Why would their AI go off the rails? If Fujishima Kosuke throws his love of mechanics at us, do we care about the motivation of crazy cars? No, we don’t. Not when the cars are this nice or the girls this cute.

éX-Driver is a six episode OVA that’s far more character than story oriented. The characters aren’t even messed up, they’re just comically flawed. It’s just niceness. Lisa is the hot-headed, unstudious type and Lorna is the quiet, silent laughter type. The new recruit, Soichi, is one of those child prodigies. So the only three people actually licensed to drive in this new future are three who would be too young to be allowed to drive. It’s cool, though.

These three episodes show Lisa’s dreams, Lisa’s lack of booksmarts, and then a television program about the éX-Drivers. The host of that program is a refreshing change; he’s big and famous, but he’s not too arrogant in the way that it usually goes: character meets idol, finds out idol is sod, gives idol comeuppance. No, he gets inspired by the teamwork and even makes a moral message, touched as he is by their car driving abilities.

The cast is made up of reliable old salts, the designs are the eternally attractive work of Fujishima Kosuke, the music is … there … narrative scenes even occur during the ED sequence. éX-Driver is solidly enjoyable anime. It’s nice but not in the “inoffensive” sense of the word.

It’s hard to say, because there isn’t really a lot to éX-Driver. It’s an enjoyable something, but it’s hard to say just what that something is. It’s funny, but it’s not a comedy, and there’s no real drama. The point is that it’s not nothing, as some of the truly execrable anime is.
Looks like the second half might have some sort of terrorist plot involved, that should be interesting.

Princess Nine – episodes 17 to 21

May 20, 2004 on 8:52 pm | In Princess Nine | Comments Off on Princess Nine – episodes 17 to 21

The potential cliffhanger of episode 16 was realised in episode 17, with all the hardhitting emotion that one could hope for. Izumi through this reveals herself to be the self-denying girl that we all knew she was, but later on her mother helped her to realise that she should be more open and perhaps less arrogant. The romantic advances that she makes aren’t subtle at all and the responses that she gets are adamantly in the negative; in fact, the advice that she gets makes little sense and her hatred seems only to be fuelled by it. The internal dilemmas of Izumi make her one of the more interesting characters. Then, as it turns out, one of the most despicable.
Even the dreams were handled well: metaphorically and whatnot, also containing the series’ only panty shot so far, simply because it was unavoidable. Ryo probably didn’t come to her conclusion in her sleep, but it was a nice way of showing it.

In fact, this set of four was all about honesty, or about revelation of true feelings. Then there was the fifth episode, in which Ryo decides just to blatantly lie so as not to hurt … who, exactly? The only one who can benefit from such an action is the only one who deserves not to.
All of the other characters are becoming better and more open, particularly Yoko – everyone comes to understand what is most important to them.

The romance episode arrives at last. Ryo realises that her feelings are actually there, Hikaru gets to feel feelings of her own (which means that the nerdy best friend character won’t miss out!). The problem, then, with this romance is how it affects Izumi. Up until then she had just been rude and blunt, while being unable to voice her feelings in a tactful manner. Now she has become cruel, manipulative, petty and vindictive. Ryo needs to grow a backbone when it comes to Izumi. She shouldn’t allow herself to be steamrolled!
Romance took a while to arrive, but it came in a truly acidic form.
Also, Kido, the notoriously drunk coach who isn’t happy unless he comes to work with a hangover, tries to give up alcohol for love (without being asked). The feeling is palpable.

However, it’s at around this camp point that you realise there are only five episodes left and they haven’t actually played an official game yet. It’s possible that the season will be played as a whirlwind montage, contrary to the generally detailed episodes that have been seen so far. It seems more likely that the team will fall short of Koshien; which, while it was a nice dream, even Chairman Himuro only expected the team to get there within three years. I can’t really imagine a series like Princess Nine disappointing at the last, so what conclusion there will be is something to really anticipate.

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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