Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

img_5663.jpgSakura had managed to capture all of the Clow Cards which could bring disaster to the world and turned them into her own Sakura Cards. Now it’s spring. With cherry trees in full blossom, Sakura is just entering middle school. Her beloved Syaoran has returned from Hong Kong, and Sakura was thrilled to be going to school with him again. But one night, something strange happens to her Cards… On top of that, strange things keep happening in Tomoeda. Guided by the Key she encountered in her dream, Sakura starts collecting Cards again. And then, a new girl transfers into her class…

I’m pleased that we finally have a Cardcaptor Sakura series that I’m able to stream legally in the UK. I’ve been a fan for the longest time and it’s so frustrating when you can’t enjoy an anime that is said to be one of the classic magical girl stories. I managed to get my hands on the omnibus CLAMP manga some years ago and just fell in love with the story, so when I saw Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card was available to watch for the Winter 2018 season, it was added to my queue immediately.

Things seems to be going well for Sakura. She’s in middle school now and still surrounded by plenty of friends and Syaoran has come back from Hong Kong. When she Sakura Cards completely vanish, Sakura is perplexed. As a Cardcaptor, she must set out to reclaim all of the clear cards that are making an appearance in Tomoeda. She’s having strange dreams that feature a mysterious figure and, whilst she’s doing her best to collect these new cards, she finds it strange that neither Syaoran or Yue can feel any magic from then, like the other cards. At least she has Tomoyo make her great costumes and film her in action and Cereberus is still there as her guide/protector/mascot/stuffed toy.

What is noticeable about Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is how the pace has really slowed down. We have long, meandering scenes of Sakura and her brother eating breakfast, Sakura and friends talkin in-depth about what food they’ve brought to a picnic and plenty of cameos from an references to past characters that have moved away but are still somewhat present in Sakura’s life. And after all this, if there’s time, Sakura manages to grab a card in three minutes before the end of the episode. Since my first anime experience of Cardcaptor Sakura was a 90s dub, infamous for its butchered edits to make the story more action-packed and what they thought a young Western audience wanted to see, I believe I’m used to a very different style to the original material. But I don’t consider this to be a bad thing as there’s plenty more on offer: the blissfully young shoujo premise, Kero-chan’s off-the-wall antics, the mystery behind the cards and the damn cute costumes for Sakura that Tomoyo always seems to have on her person.

Sakura and Syaoran’s relationship is still very young and innocent. He supposedly returned from Hong Kong for her, says all these romantic things to her, and this girl is totally dense. If her friends hint at the possibility of there being anything between them, Sakura just makes an aggravatingly vapid noise and stares dumbly until they sigh and move on. I’d like Clear Card to maybe take advantage of its slower pace to give our heroine the opportunity to examine the feelings she has for Syaoran – y’know, take a break from all the cuteness and get a little bit more real for a second. This arc is meant to be two seasons long (22 episodes), so there’s still the potential for this to happen, even though I wouldn’t really put money on it.

And then there’s the mystery of the new transfer student Akiho Shinomoto (because there’s always something mysterious about a new transfer student in anime). She seems nice enough, and Sakura befriends her, but can it be a coincidence that she’s moved into Eriol’s old house and that her family name is so similar to Sakura’s? Probably not, so I’m hoping for a bit of a revelation surrounding this one – perhaps something to give the story a bit of a shot in the arm for the middle of the arc.

Despite the initial adjustments to my expectations, I’m finding Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card to be a good watch. It’s quintessential magical viewing, which I can’t help but adore, but maintains a leisurely pace that some might not be used to, considering the genre and more recent anime titles being more action-packed and dramatic. Guess it foes to show that magical girls can have a work/life balance after all!