‘Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card’ Anime Review, Part 1

Growing up, I was surrounded by people who loved Sailor Moon. I felt like the old-one-out, mostly because I had only watched the first season, and while I loved seeing a group of badass girl teens and tweens kick demon ass by moonlight, I just wasn’t into the series. But Cardcaptor Sakura—that was a different story.

I first saw the series when it aired—English dubbed—on Saturday mornings (RIP Kids WB) titled as Cardcaptors back in the early 2000s. I immediately fell in love with the anime and started reading the manga too. Fast forward to 2016 when I found out that Cardcaptor Sakura would return with a sequel manga series Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card from its manga studio CLAMP. And shortly after, the manga series was adapted to an anime by Madhouse Studios.

Note: This review contains spoilers from the first half of this season, episodes 1 to 11. If you are not caught up with the anime, stop reading now. Instead, go watch the episodes (subbed) on Funimation, Otaku Stream, or Crunchyroll.

CCS Clear Card Arc - 2
Credit: CLAMP, NHK BS Premium Network

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card premiered back in January with its original voice actors. Kunihiko Hamada replaced Kumiko Takahashi as the character designer from the original series. Funimation, Otaku Stream, and Crunchyroll has been adding new episodes to stream on their websites every Sunday. This series takes us back to Tomoeda, where our favorite ordinary magic girl Sakura is now a middle school student. Syaoran is back in Japan from his time home in Hong Kong and he joins Sakura at Tomoeda Middle School. Life is normal—as normal for a magic tween girl with a talking plush as it can be—until Sakura has a dream of a cloaked figure and then her Star Cards become blank and powerless and mysterious forces, that only Sakura can sense, appear in Tomoeda, so Sakura must capture them. These mysterious forces are the Clear Cards.

Everything about this anime sequel is nostalgic of its predecessor. Even the opening and closing segments with Kero-chan pulled at my heartstrings. Tomoyo makes new costumes again and her (cute but probably not-so-healthy IRL) obsession with capturing Sakura in action, again, makes you laugh. Kero still eats sweets, plays video games with Spinel, and pretends to be a regular plush toy around strangers and Sakura’s family. Toya, Sakura’s older brother, is now in college but continues to work at various part-time jobs where he can run into Sakura and co. Yukito is also still around and his true form, Yue, still communicates with Kero when needed. Most of Sakura’s classmates are with her at the middle school, and now, as part of the typical Cardcaptor Sakura story formula, we have a new exchange student in the mix: Akiho Shinomoto, a timid and soft-spoken girl who has traveled the world and has moved to Japan with her guardian and caretaker Yuna D. Kaito.

CCS Clear Card Arc - 4
Credit: CLAMP, NHK BS Premium Network

And since some time has passed in the story, we see our characters using the everyday tech products we use—laptops and smartphones. I bring this up because the original was created in the late ‘90s and early 2000s so the most “technological” product we saw back then on the show was the pink customized cell phones that Tomoyo’s mother’s company made. Now, we see Tomoyo embrace drones to film Sakura in action. It’s also nice to see Sakura communicate via video chat with her friends abroad: Eriol and Kaho in England and Meiling in Hong Kong.

I have watched the first 11 episodes of the series, and here are my thoughts:

  • This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the origin of the story, but because some of the Clear cards have the same powers as the original Clow/Star cards, those episodes felt like regurgitation of the original. For example, the Gale card mimics the Windy card; the Aqua card mimics the Watery card; the Flight card mimics the Fly card; the Snooze card mimics the Sleep; and the Labyrinth card mimics the Maze card.
  • On the other hand, there are some cool Clear Cards with new powers. For example, the Record card is a flying camera that takes photos of its subject and presents it in a hologram-like format. The Siege card is a giant flexible rubber box that contains its subjects. The Lucid card is what Harry Potter fans would call the invisible cloak-copycat.
  • I enjoy seeing Sakura and Syaoran date. They don’t get a lot of alone time together and when they do, it’s endearing to see their relationship come this far. Episode 9 is my favorite episode to date, because we get to see these two together, not just on a date but also in action for a card capture.
  • Maybe this is because I watched Cardcaptor Sakura as a kid and now I am 25 years old, but I just realized how naïve and slow Sakura can be. Sometimes, I just want to put my hands on Sakura’s shoulders and yell out the obvious to her, which is something I’m sure Syaoran would do.
  • Who is the cloaked figure in Sakura’s dreams? My guess is Akiho’s guardian and caretaker Yuna D. Kaito is involved. Is he the figure? He might be too tall, given that the figure was almost the same height as Sakura and Yuna is much taller.
CCS Clear Card Arc - 3
Credit: CLAMP, NHK BS Premium Network

Having watched the first 11 episodes, here is what I wish we can see more of:

  • Kero and Yue in action with Sakura! Kero’s true beast form is BADASS and Yue’s moon powers are dope. Also, I’m a bit biased here because I have always had a huge crush on Yue, LOL.
  • I’d like to see more animosity between characters, especially with Sakura. In Cardcaptor Sakura, Meiling’s arrival created tension and that tension led to character development (at least for Meiling). I’d like to see some tension with Yuna D. Kaito, since he is the one who Syaoran, Eriol, and Kaho are suspicious of.

Disclaimer: I have not read the manga series, so I do not know how this season will continue and end and if the anime series will reflect the manga series. Here are my thoughts on how I think the season will continue: I think Sakura will come to a head with the mysterious cloaked figure in real life, which will lead to a confrontation. She’ll have to face off against this enemy and she may not have enough power to do so, so somehow another ally—one we already know but may not necessarily be active on the show as we see it—would come help her. In the past, Sakura has always had the help of her friends and allies. In “The Final Judgement” episodes, Clow Reed gave her a second chance via Kaho’s ancient bell gong to defeat Yue, which led her to be deemed the title of Master of the Clow Cards. In the original series finale, Sakura needed Kero and Yue’s powers to be combined with her Star staff to defeat Eriol’s spell of eternal slumber and darkness. Whichever way the season ends, I’m still excited to watch the story play out.

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card will continue to air the rest this season. What are your thoughts about the anime or manga series? Let us know!

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