Twenty years later and Cardcaptor Sakura is back with a new anime. What to expect from the adaptation was an open question for fans, even with the prologue OVA being quite well received by fans due to its impressive visuals and keeping with the tone of the original series. Luckily, there was no need to worry. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card in its first official outing of the new series has managed to recapture the spirit of the original in almost every way.
I one described the new manga as a love letter to the fans, this is the same. It is clear Studio Madhouse has gone the extra mile with this adaption and are looking to treat it with the respect the series deserves. It is not hyperbole to state Clear Card is easily the best Carcaptor Sakura has ever looked. With gorgeous visuals in almost every key scene lovingly animated, while managing to keep the distinctiveness of CLAMPs art intact.
From a technical perspective I was quite impressed by this episode. While it is clear their will be a drop in quality in the coming weeks I doubt it will effect the enjoyment too much for fans as the bar has been set high as is. It would take a calamitous drop in art quality to make this series look anything but pretty.
On the substance of the series, it is quite clear Clear Card is embracing its status as a sequel fully. If you are not familiar with the original there is little chance you will be able to follow the plot of the story even in episode one. As key characters are introduced with background information presented, including key characters like Yue (pronounced Yu-Eh) and Eriol.
The episode also does a good job in setting up the setting and timeline of the series. As Sakura is entering Middle School making her twelve currently, along for the ride is her best friend
Maidison sorry bad memories coming to the surface there, Tomoyo and three other secondary characters from school.
Conspicuously absent is Rika, who’s main subplot involved the decidedly creepy to western fans implied relationship with her much older teacher. Though a common trope in shoujo manga, it was always a little weird for Western fans. I am personally glad CLAMP decided to jettison the element entirely with this story.
Moving on the story starts mostly at how the last ended. Eriol and Mizuki-Sensei is in London with his allies, the Kinomoto household is largely as it was, while Tomoyo is as eccentric in her adoration for Sakura as ever. In short life is peaceful, since Sakura was deemed the ultimate master of the Cards by Eriol.
The biggest change regarding the status quo of the series is Sayoran Li has returned from Hong Kong to be with Sakura permanently. Returning the teddy bear she made for him to remember her by. Now going to the same high school as Sakura, though he was put in a separate class.
From this point the main plot progresses as Sakura talks to Eriol over the phone, the reincarnation of Clow Reed makes a reference to Sakura’s dreams. She thinks it is regarding Sayoran, however based on future events its clear it is not. As she dreams of a mysterious hooded figure and the Sakura Cards turning clear and then shattering.
She wakes in a panic and checks the cards to find, they indeed have become clear. Beginning the new Clear Card Arc of the story. She then proceeds to ask all her allies for help including Yue who is not able to help, but worries all the same. She then tries to contact Eriol who’s memories from Clow Reed would be obviously useful, however he is unable to be reached. Further deepening the audiences suspicions regarding his involvement.
As the episode progresses the masked person returns to Sakura in her dreams and attacks her with pieces of the shattered Sakura Cards from before. Managing to catch them, the pieces of the Sakura Cards form in a bright light and become a new staff her “Staff of Dreams”, seemingly separate from her prior Star Staff.
The masked figure then out of nowhere shatters the dreamscape and a Dragon (yes a bloody Dragon) seemingly out of X/1999 appears. Following this Sakura awakens, to find the key she formed in her dream materialized to the real world.
As she is going to school the following day a mysterious wind seemingly attacks her. However both herself and Kero can’t sense any magical power despite the fact its quite clear the Wind is acting on its own. Trying to use the new staff her incantation from her Star Staff fails, however she awakens the new staff with a new incantation and manages to seal this new card. The Gale Card, a card that is neither a Sakura Card nor a Clow Card from before. The episode ends here, making this episode basically a perfect adaptation of the first two chapters of the manga. I also enjoyed the fact like in the original series the first card she captors is a Wind card.
As the episode comes to a close there is a few questions that hangs in my head bother inside and outside the story. The first is how will the story deal with the changes the anime made at the end of the original series. Where in the manga Eriol is only half of Clow Reeds power, the other half residing in Sakura’s father - effectively making her a daughter of Clow Reed like her analogue is in Tsubasa. While in the anime this link between the two characters is not present.
The other questions are more basic then that in who are all the new characters and is this masked figure a true antagonist or not. As Cardcaptor Sakura has never had in its history a true antagonist, only obstacles placed before Sakura to facilitate her growth. There is also the open question of how/if the series will tie into the greater CLAMP mythos of which Cardcaptor Sakura along with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic is one of the key stories.
All around I am quite excited for Cardcaptor Sakura to return to television screens and to see a CLAMP manga get a new adaptation. It is looking like the property is once again in good hands with Studio Madhouse. As such I hope you all return next week as I continue to watch and write about Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card! Let me know what you guys thought in the comments and let me know your thoughts.
You can watch Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation which will provide a Simuldub