Post Reply CATALOG SPOTLIGHT: Cardcaptor Sakura
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Posted 10/8/14 , edited 10/23/14
by Eclipsed_Oblivion

In the 1990s, an entire generation of anime fans was created with the international broadcasts of classic works like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and for many, Cardcaptor Sakura. Not only is Cardcaptor Sakura beloved by many, but it is widely regarded as a critical anime in the magical girl genre. The series smashes magical girl conventions to stand as unique within the genre, and this envelops the series in a kind of realism uncommon for magical girl series. Most of all, while Cardcaptor Sakura is cutesy and obviously aimed at young girls, it also transcends its target audience and can easily be enjoyed by anyone of any age.

The titular character, Sakura Kinomoto, is a ten-year-old schoolgirl living an ordinary life, but after discovering a mysterious book in her father's office, she accidentally undoes its seal and unleashes magical cards called Clow Cards into the world! With help from Kero, the Guardian of the Seal, Sakura must retrieve all the cards before disaster engulfs the planet. For a series nearly two decades old, Cardcaptor Sakura has extremely high quality animation nearly on par with today, but it also has that hand-drawn quality most anime can no longer capture.

Part of what makes Cardcaptor Sakura such a lasting critical work is its breaking down of magical girl conventions. Cardcaptor Sakura has absolutely no transformation sequences because Sakura herself has no set magical girl outfit. Whether she is dressed in her regular clothing or a battle costume her friend made her, Sakura is always in a different outfit, and this makes for visually unique sequences every episode. Sakura doesn’t have any special attacks or weapons either; the sole result of her magical ability is being able to use the Clow Cards, so the only tools she has are already captured Clow Cards and strategy. This prevents both reusable attack scenes and any predictability concerning how Sakura will capture each card. In fact, Cardcaptor Sakura’s story is not so much about capturing the Clow Cards, but about the characters instead. While most magical girl shows focus on fighting evil, Cardcaptor Sakura takes the focus away from Sakura being a magical girl and instead develops her as a regular girl that happens to be tasked with finding magical cards.

As a result of this focus, Cardcaptor Sakura is a lot more grounded in reality than usual for its genre. Its story is episodic and simple, often serving just as context in which the characters interact, and this develops a lasting attachment between the audience and the series. The characters are realistic enough to be comparable to people in our own lives, and they eventually contribute massively to the plot. As well, unlike many magical girl series, the characters actually look and act their age. This leads to plenty of comedy easy to identify with, such as when Sakura does something embarrassing in front of her crush. Particularly noteworthy is how Cardcaptor Sakura fully incorporates traditionally taboo subjects, such as student-teacher relationships, homosexuality, and even teen pregnancy, into its story, but not for shock value; these subjects are treated as the everyday happenings that they are, and this makes Cardcaptor Sakura feel like it could be another facet of our world.

Its realistic quality aside, what truly makes Cardcaptor Sakura such an enduring series is how it so easily transcends its target audience. From its cutesy opening alone, it's obvious that the series is aimed at young girls, yet the series has attracted a wide fan base. This is partially due to Cardcaptor Sakura's plethora of characters ranging from young children to senior citizens, which allows everyone to relate to the characters, whether from current experiences or nostalgia. As well, as Sakura is framed as an ordinary girl in an ordinary world, she truly seems like an average girl at first. She is gullible, clumsy, and easily scared, but she is also incredibly responsible, and seeing her develop throughout the series into a strong heroine is quite captivating. She and other characters experience true love, deep loss, everyday struggles, and having to grow up, and these are universal themes all people experience.

Considered a critical work within anime, Cardcaptor Sakura still lives up to that label. The series destroys magical girl conventions to become recognizable as unique within its genre, and it has a sense of reality stronger than in most magical girl series, which allows it to ensnare people of all ages and genders. Altogether, Cardcaptor Sakura is a series truly able to capture the essence of life, and it is that quality that keeps the series inside our hearts even today.
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31 / F / Wisconsin
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Posted 10/18/14
This is a great summary! I've been watching this series for the first time since Crunchyroll added it - on episode 41 & loving it. I'm really surprised to prefer this series to Sailor Moon, but here I am.
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Posted 10/18/14
I felt in love with her when I was 10 years old. Yes, I felt in love with an anime girl.
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Posted 10/19/14
I wish it was available for us UK and Europe folk.
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47 / M / Memphis, TN
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Posted 10/20/14
70 episodes is a lot for me, but it sounds like it might be worth it. I'll try it out.
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24 / F
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Posted 10/20/14
This was and still is the BEST series EVER!!!
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29 / F
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Posted 10/21/14
I really love Sakura;) I've been watching it since 10 years now.
It eases my stress and burden...
I love her dresses...I want to design one;)
Nice summary;)
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25 / F
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Posted 10/22/14
I love sakura. I want to watch again
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26 / M
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Posted 10/22/14
I <3 Cardcaptor Sakura!
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19 / F
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Posted 10/26/14
OMG OMG I loooooove Cardcaptor Sakura!!!! <3 <3 This was the very first manga I ever read back when I was ten years old, and embarked on my journey as an otaku :3 So Cardcaptor Sakura holds a very special place in my heart. And I will always always have a huge crush on Toya-kun
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F / San Francisco
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Posted 11/3/14 , edited 11/3/14
Gonna let you in on a little secret. There actually was reusable animation during the attack sequences. When Sakura summons her first wand, the animators actually made cels of Sakura, nude, during the summoning. The idea was to simply make a clothing layer, and then put that on top of nude Sakura for reuse throughout the series. It's not really know if these nude cels were ever used. I haven't seen any collector with just a dress layer. I have something similar to this from the second movie, where Sakura is nude and her purple witch dress is on a separate layer.

But in addition to this, Windy's summoning was a bank animation. Because Windy was used so often, the sequence of her being released was reused.
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38 / M / Fort Worth Texas
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Posted 11/7/14
Well seventy episodes plus the 2 movies. And all but the second movie is out on Blu-ray now.
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35 / M
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Posted 11/7/14
CCS is awesome. Highly underrated, and kind of lost it feels to newer fans.
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