Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Anime Review: Cardcaptor Sakura (re-watch)

And this is the last week of double anime updates, just wanted to get these two Clamp series before school started (and, just to give you guys an idea of how delayed that Clamp School Detectives review was, since then the Year of Clamp stream has watched all of CCS, Angelic Layer, and X, they're starting Chobits this week, that's a lot of Clamp). This is my second time watching the series all the way through and the anime has a bit of a special place in my heart since the first time I watched it, I think the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I realized that without effort I had picked up some Japanese vocabulary and figured out that I was more of an audio learner than I thought (instead of all visual) and that's why I was having such a hard time learning Latin, no one spoke it! I've heard plenty of people say over the years that the best stories are the ones that teach you something about yourself, not sure if they meant the saying quite like that though. 

Cardcaptor Sakura 

Summary: One day 10 year old Sakura Kinomoto hears a strange noise coming from the basement of her house and, when she goes to investigate, tracks down the sound to one of her father's old books, opens it, and accidentally releases a deck of magical cards which had been sealed for decades. After that the guardian of the book, who had been sleeping on the job, bestows upon her the title of "cardcaptor" and tasks her with recapturing all of the cards while they cause mischief in her small town. It's a big job but she has friends, and rivals, who'll help out and all the while she also begins to learn about the history behind the cards and their creator and how that "accident" might not have been one after all. 

The Good: This is one of the lightest magical girl shows out there and I remember seeing some trailers for it on tv when I was around nine or ten and wanting to try out the show, it vanished right after I became aware of it, and I think I would have enjoyed it immensely at that age for the same reasons I do now. Sakura really grows as a character, from a likable, and understandable, bit of a scaredy-cat to a confident girl who can handle any problem she has to face and between the mixture of fun and fantasy I would have really enjoyed it. It certainly helps that Shaoran also grows a lot through the series (Tomoyo doesn't really but her own feelings and convictions are explained as the series goes along and shows that she really was mature from the outset), actually a lot of the side characters seem to either grow or are explained as the show goes on, and even with all the filler there never seems to be a dull moment. It's cute and even though it does have some darker moments they're age appropriate so I wouldn't worry showing a nine year old this show for them. 

The Bad: While I didn't mind it the first time I saw the show, the filler did begin to bother me a little bit towards the middle of the show (it is a twelve volume series stretched to 70 episodes after all). Once the show gets past it's first arc it gets better however, I thought that a lot of the later filler episodes were fairly adorable actually, but after seeing the show in it's entirety once I didn't feel the need to see all of those parts again. And, even though the show is a very faithful adaptation overall, they did cut out one subplot which leads to the most heartwarming moments of the manga which always leaves me rather sad*. Also, some of the relationships are definitely kind of iffy in this one, I'm looking at that Rika and Terada one the most (there are two other student-teacher relationships but both of those are a bit different and the manga gave me the impression that the age gap in the last one isn't quite what it seems). I have no idea how I would have viewed any of these relationships as a kid, well I probably would have started picking up on Tomoyo's crush but not fully realized it, but I think even all of that is far enough into the background that it shouldn't be a concern for showing to appropriately aged children.  

The Audio: The show has three lovely opening (although I'll admit I'm biased towards the third one because of the lyrics) and two endings, neither of which I liked as well as the openings, and all of them are quite catchy. The show also has a number of insert songs (which I believe were actually insert songs, songs sung by the voice actors as the characters) throughout which are also quite cute and the lyrics usually made sense as well. Since the English dub of the show is terrible I watched the Japanese version and by now it's gotten to be fun to spot some of the same voice actors in the various Clamp shows (Megumi Ogata has made a few, wildly different, appearances so far) and all of the various kid characters manage to sound young and not in a "this is an adult voice actress doing a cute voice" kind of way^.

The Visuals: This is another show which was made in the 90s and later got remastered and looks absolutely fantastic. The colors pop, the lines are crisp, from the comparison screenshots I saw it looks like a lot of small lines (which pop up when you view a video but weren't drawn onto the actual cell, anyone know the technical term for them?) are gone and I'm sure that if those Japanese BRs had English subtitles on them that a number of hardcore fans would have imported them. It's always fantastic to find that a show has actually aged well and makes me rather jealous that the US doesn't get all of these great looking remasters.

It's no secret that the anime has been out of print in the US for years but, what some people don't know yet, is that it recently got relicensed in Australia (to be released in two sets) and sometime down the road I'll be sure to pick up a copy of that. I have no idea if the DVDs will be made using the remastered material, I certainly hope so, but it doesn't really matter since I love this show so much that I'll certainly take advantage of acquiring it cheaply and legally (even if I have to import it from another hemisphere).

*for those who wish to know, spoilers for the end of both versions, the anime hints at it but the manga confirms that Clow Reed never died, in the manga he instead spilt himself in two with the intention of halving his burdening magical powers that way but failed. One half was Eriol, with all the magic and all the memories, and the other half was a young Fujitaka, Sakura's father (thus technically making her an even closer blood relative to Clow Reed, Kero even comments at one point, I think in the manga only, previous to this revelation that she and her brother have a much closer magical signature to Clow's than even Shaoran's which he thought was strange). So Clow's wish is actually for Sakura to also split his magic in two, which she is able to successfully do since she is now stronger than he was, and her father gets some magic and is able to see Nadeshiko floating around and has a very touching reunion with her, all of which was completely cut from the anime and makes me sad (and wordy apparently).
^Although the first time I realized that the major love triangle in the series, Sakura-Shaoran-Yuki involved three female actresses I did have a bit of a giggle fit.

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