Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura

IMG_1766.JPGSakura Kinomoto is a ten-year-old girl who accidentally releases a set of magical cards – the Clow Cards –from a book created by and named after Clow Reed, the strongest sorcerer to have ever lived. The cards’ guardian, Cerberus, also emerges from the book and chooses Sakura as the person that has to retrieve the Clow Cards. Each card has its own unique ability and can assume alternate forms until discovered. Sakura must fight the card before sealing it away again. With Cerberus as her guide, her best friend Tomoyo and Clow’s descendant Syaoran Li, Sakura works to master the Clow Cards and bring order to the city of Tomoeda.

Cardcaptor Sakura is every young girl’s fantasy: finding out that you’re destined for something great, discovering that you have magical abilities and that you have a cute mascot character as your guardian. Between going to school and doing homework, you’re capturing cards and saving the world – with your best friend cheering you on and making you awesome costumes.

IMG_1762.JPGThe plot of this manga doesn’t really differentiate from this too much, but that doesn’t make things repetitive. Set in modern-day Japan, Sakura moves about the city in which she lives, visiting lots of different places, capturing the Clow Cards and learning more about Clow Reed’s legacy. The more cards she gathers, the closer she comes to the realisation of her powers and the people that surround her.

The pace of this story is surprisingly fast – so fast that the anime adaptation had to more than double the amount of Clow Cards Sakura had to collect, because she collects them in such a swift and timely manner in the original manga! Every time she seals a card, she receives the ability to use that card in combat against future cards, such as the ability to fly, to scale tall buildings, to create illusions and a measure of control over natural elements such as wind, earth, fire, light and dark. When she finally collects them all, Sakura finds herself having to face a final test in order to become a true master of the cards. Though the quickness does tend to take the edge off of the suspense element, it does mean that the plot never feels like it’s been dragged out unnecessarily and, for a young magical girl manga, the action scenes are quite gripping.

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The relationships are also surprisingly well-developed. There are very subtle nuances to them that grow alongside the story and it was very interesting to watch them progress and see how they become integral to the plot. The connection between Sakura and Syaoran, Sakura and Tomoyo and the touching relationship between Toya and Yukito are very well dealt with – seeming to be maturely-handled whilst still remaining realistic (the main cast is mainly comprised of ten-year-olds, after all). There is also a lot of background information into the history of Clow Reed, the Clow Cards and the cards’ guardians, which is threaded into the main story in a way that doesn’t hamper the pace at all.

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Just like Chobits and xxxHolicCardcaptor Sakura is a CLAMP manga, and have to say that I am a big fan of their illustrations. The artwork in this story is just gorgeous, and I bought the omnibus editions online partly because of the featured full-colour illustrations. The detail which goes into drawing the characters, their facial features, hair and clothing is something that can bee seen in every single panel. Even without reading the story, the drawings are just captivatingly beautiful to look at – especially in important scenes. Towards the end, there is a scene where Sakura grows wings, and it gave me pause. It stretched over two pages and, as well as having impact on the story, it was memorable. That’s what I felt after finishing this story – that I had read something truly memorable.

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This manga is a very wholesome and satisfying read. It’s very well-balanced throughout, excellent pacing with some truly breathtaking illustrations. The characters made me feel like I was revisiting my childhood whilst the plot developments kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s no wonder that Cardcaptor Sakura is a magical girl classic.