“When all the cards are gathered together, It is not the end, but rather, the beginning…
The beginning of the end”
It is spring in Tomoeda. Cherry blossoms are in full blossom and the start of middle school is finally here for our magical girl, Sakura Kinomoto. But that’s not all. After a long distance break from each other, Sakura’s beloved Syaoran has just returned to town from Hong Kong.
But just when things seem blissful in Tomoeda, Sakura has a prophetic dream about a mysterious cloaked figure and a demon that threatens Tomoeda. And before she knows it, her Sakura Cards have become blank and powerless!
This is the start of another saga for Cardcaptor Sakura. Along with her friends, Sakura must once again stop strange events from happening and create new cards by using her new magical key. But the real question is — who is the cloaked figure? What do they want from Sakura? Why did her Sakura cards go blank?
For many ’90s kids, Cardcaptor Sakura was one of the earliest anime shows that we were obsessed with when we were kids. Did you know that it has been eighteen years since Cardcaptor Sakura aired? Naturally, many old-school fans are keen to see the next stage of Sakura’s life: the cards, the action, costumes, old and new friendships, and of course, her relationship with Syaoran.
Brought to you by Madhouse Studios, Director Morio Asaka and CLAMP’s Nanase Ohkawa has teamed up again to produce the long-awaited sequel. Not only did the main cast from the original anime reprised their roles, but so did music composer Takayuki Negishi, who brought back nostalgic scores from Cardcaptor Sakura.
When it comes to animation, Clear Card decided to step away from its predecessor. Ditching the ’90s style of dark tones and sketchy style, the animation appears to be much softer in colour and sharpness. But the most obvious distinction is the use of 3D animation in various scenes, especially during Sakura’s dreams and card-sealing sequences. While it is visually spectacular for the first few times, it becomes inconsistently tacky against the rest of the anime. The overall animation simply needed to be upgraded and refined — it didn’t need to be super flashy. And for an anime that is produced eighteen years after its predecessor, we unfortunately expected better from Clear Card.
Even though there is only a one year gap between the end of Cardcaptor Sakura and the beginning of Clear Card, times have certainly changed (*cue touchscreen phones*) and so has our favourite characters.
Instead of watching Sakura panicking on the screen, we now see a young adolescent Sakura confidently taking on the challenges presented to her. Not only is this a sign that Sakura has mentally matured, but it is also a sign that her magic is getting stronger and she is becoming an experienced magician. To see this character development for our charming heroine, we cannot help but gush over how quickly she is growing up before our eyes.
Despite this mushy feeling at the thought of Sakura becoming stronger, we are slightly frustrated at the rapid pace of the card-sealing episodes. In Clear Card, strange events just casually happen, and we sometimes see Sakura sealing two cards within one episode.
While a majority of these cards have similar functions to her old Sakura cards, many of these cards don’t appear to have much purpose or charismatic personality. And also, the capturing of these cards are not supported by a memorable subplot, and as a result, these cards become unmemorable to the audience.
We don’t usually compare but who could forget Sakura catching Watery at the aquarium in Cardcaptor Sakura? Or when Sakura becomes a giant to defeat the dragon created by the Create card?
To be frank, Clear Card‘s storytelling is nowhere near the original series — it lacks adrenalin, and the element of surprise and ongoing suspense is almost non-existent. Adding fuel to the fire, it is disappointing to see the lack of creative versatility in Sakura’s Cardcaptor costumes as well.
Forget about Cardcaptor Sakura: The Clear Card — it should just be renamed to “Cardcaptor Sakura: A Day in the Life of Sakura Kinomoto“. Overall, the Clear Card arc feels like one major throwback with plenty of filler-like moments that compensate for all the little disappointing factors.
Whether it be Tomoyo stalking Sakura and Syaoran’s every move; or Kero eating food to his heart’s content; or Sakura hanging out with her friends …as a viewer, we are highly satisfied.
Just to throw it out there, the Clear Card arc should also be renamed as “Cardcaptor Sakura: The Cutest Couple on Earth feat. Sakura and Syaoran”. From Sakura and Syaoran’s dates to Syaoran comforting Sakura, the audience was born to live for these pure, innocent moments. To be honest, these are the moments that made Clear Card worth-watching, and we would legit watch Clear Card again and again… just for these moments.
As you can see, our attention got swayed by the nostalgia and lovey-dovey moments. However, we must give credit to the story for doing its best to steer our attention back to the core of the story — the Clear Cards. With the introduction of Akiho Shinomoto and Yuna D. Kaito in this sequel, we personally have conflicting thoughts about how these characters contribute to the story.
While Kaito’s character exudes mysteriousness, Akiho’s character is merely a replica of Sakura’s character who offers no unique personality or purpose to the story. For now, that is. As expected of Season 1, the series ended on a cliffhanger that everybody expected. What is Kaito’s agenda? Will Touya and Syaoran unveil their inner thoughts? What misfortune will Sakura encounter down the track?
CARDCAPTOR SAKURA: CLEAR CARD is a nostalgic winner that has the combination of the old and new. To many ’90s fans delight, the sequel perfectly carries on from where the story left off in Cardcaptor Sakura.
But while there are obvious changes tailored to today’s audience, Clear Card is essentially a mirrored replica of Cardcaptor Sakura. How much more destruction can the city of Tomoeda take? When will bad things end for Sakura? Will she ever get her happiness? And most importantly, will this repetitive storytelling formula push fans away from the story?
At the end of the day, nostalgia will always prove to be victorious. And so will Sakura’s cute charm, along with her relationship with Syaoran and her friends. Even if the magic has slightly faltered, fans will always remain loyal to Cardcaptor Sakura no matter what.