|Format||Anime (TV), Anime (Movie), Manga|
|Episode Length||25 Minutes|
|# of Episodes||70; 2 Movies|
|# of Volumes (manga)||12 volumes over 2 'series'|
Sum it up in a Sentence
Sakura Kinomoto is appointed Card Captor by the Guardian of the Seal, Kerberos, when she accidentally opens the magical book of Clow Cards and scatters them to the four winds.
CCS was released in North America originally by Nelvana as "Cardcaptors", edited and changed similar to Sailor Moon.
Ten-year-old fourth grader Sakura Kinomoto opens a mysterious book in her father's study and accidentally releases the magical Clow Cards. Created by the half-English half-Chinese sorcerer Clow Reed, the Clow Cards were sealed within the Clow Book upon his death and represent a combination of magic from Clow's mixed heritage. Each card has its own personality and characteristics and can assume alternate forms when activated.
Keroberus, the guardian Beast of the Seal, awakens and emerges from the book's cover. Upon learning the cards are gone, he tells Sakura that she must have special powers, and that is now her responsibility to retrieve the missing cards. As she finds the cards, she must battle its magical personification and defeat it in order to seal it away. Cerberus acts as her guide and mentor throughout the quest, while her classmate and best friend Tomoyo Daidouji films her exploits and provides her with costumes, insisting that she must "wear special clothes for special occasions." Her older brother Toya Kinomoto watches over his sister while pretending that he is unaware of what is going on.
As the series progresses, a rival in the form of Syaoran Li appears. A descendant of the late Clow Reed, creator of the Clow Cards' and their guardians, Syaoran travels to Japan from Hong Kong to recapture the cards, but finds his goal complicated as he comes to respect Sakura and begins aiding her instead. Once Sakura has captured all of the cards, she must undergo the Final Judgement.
If You Liked This, You Might Like...
- Princess Tutu
- Shugo Chara
- Angelic Layer
- Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
If you want to blame one show for the rise of moé, this is the show to blame.
Cardcaptor Sakura was one of the commercial juggernauts of the late 90s - the number of figures, collectibles, videos and what have you produced around Sakura are virtually unrivaled in the world of "magical girls". Nanoha is perhaps the only real contender, and her show was clearly inspired by what CCS did and accomplished. CCS was the first franchise to notice what kind of demographic, beyond young girls, was willing to spend money on this kind of show - and the merchandise accommodated their deep pockets accordingly. This led to the show gaining dozens of imitators, and you can more broadly say that the "moé malaise" that seems to stifle creativity in the industry today springs from the success of CCS and the endless attempts to tap into the otaku market that spent so very much on Sakura... and made her into the "Lolicon Queen", with more Rule 34 images of her produced than nearly any other heroine in anime.
This is all too bad, because the show didn't become famous on the back of a marketably adorable heroine alone. CCS may fundamentally be pre-teen fluff - it makes no real pretensions to any truly deep meanings or complex readings - but it is quite good pre-teen fluff. All of the characters are likable without being obnoxious, the writing often makes clever use of the "monster of the week" format in the form of the cards (which are more like concepts than actual monsters, leading to memorable set-pieces like figuring out how to fight time itself), the production values of the anime are pretty high for a late-90s show (and conversely, the manga is illustrated with all the artistry - and floral flourishes - one would expect of CLAMP), the music, as noted below, is superb (although the first theme song is likely to drive you to madness) and Sakura herself makes for an excellent role-model for pretty much any young girl, anywhere, any time; she's athletic without being cruel, keen-minded without being haughty, and unflappably courageous. It never rises to the same level of artistry that shows like Cowboy Bebop or Legend of the Galactic Heroes do - the target audience was completely different, after all - but it is a perfectly enjoyable fantasy romp and a pitch-perfect example of how to put together a magical girl show.
Which, again, makes it so regrettable that so much of the show's legacy is tied up in the moé phenomenon and what CCS ended up spawning. It's still worth watching if all you want is something relatively light and fluffy, and the recommendation comes double if you're looking for a show to show to a pre-teen girl (insert comment about horrible ADTRW pedophiles here) - even over a decade after its release, very few shows on either side of the Pacific have matched Cardcaptor Sakura in terms of providing a role model for young girls and a show that demographic would enjoy. Just watch out for that other demographic, eh?
Going into CCS, I didn't know what all the fuss was about. Everyone hailed this series as a classic, and I didn't see the appeal. Certainly, it is a hard series to sell on someone, given that it is about a magical girl (in a sense) and that it's very episodic for a majority of the series. It also doesn't hit a high point until about the halfway point. Well, after watching more of the series I got to liking the characters a lot, and viewed the 'card of the week' as a necessary buildup to the first climax of the series. CCS is a fun series to watch, and has a ton of character development leading up to an amazing ending. Sakura seems immature at the beginning of the series, and the show seems childish at first, but it develops into something great. It's one of those shows that you really appreciate after you've finished it. It's a staple of the magical girl genre, and I recommend the anime over the manga for its extended plotline and good filler, as well as good animation and an outstanding soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. This series truly is a classic and the staple of the magical girl genre behind Sailor Moon. Good luck getting hold of the R1 DVDs though--a complete set on eBay will probably cost you $400+.