Catching You and Me: Card Captor Sakura - Anime Jinsei

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Catching You and Me: Card Captor Sakura

Once in a while, I come across a manga or anime for girls that I can actually tolerate, even like. One of them is Card Captor Sakura. 



Generally speaking, I'm more into fascinating, riveting, psychological thriller anime shows that makes you think rather than those tissue-drenching, high shrieking, rot-your-teeth sweet ones for girls. Dunno why, really. Maybe I'm just weird. Or maybe it's just the cutesiness and fluffiness and — oh gawd, the pinkness! — in shoujo (girl) stories that repel me.

But this is very broadly speaking. Once in a while, I come across a manga or anime for girls that I can actually tolerate, even like. One of them is Card Captor Sakura. Why do I rank this series way up there in the hierarchy of good stuff?

sakura kinomoto of cardcaptor sakura

The Creators

"Return from where thou came from!" - Sakura 

Card Captor Sakura was created by the acclaimed CLAMP team (Angelic Layer, Chobits, Magic Knight Rayearth, X/1999). It was first serialized in the girl's monthly magazine, Nakayoshi, in June 1996. 

A 70-episode TV animation series was aired during 1998-2000 in Japan. The first movie premiered in the summer of 1999 and a second movie was released in theaters on July 2000 in Japan. 

From the moment the series came out, it was already a hit. To young fans, it was a fusion of SailorMoon's girliness and Pok√©mon's cuteness — a tested formula for a hit series.

And let's face it, the name CLAMP alone can make any manga-reader and anime-lover perk up with interest. The group has made a name synonymous with great series — visually and technically. 

The group just has this flair for the beautiful and the wonderful. They also know what fans crave and give it to them — gorgeous characters, super deformed versions of gorgeous characters, easily remembered shout-outs (Ho-e!), and many more. 

Plus, like anything Japanese, CLAMP's style gives so much emphasis to detail that you can't help but love their series. Their stories also dare to skirt the edge of what many in society may term as taboo but they always remember to put in values that are important to all of us courage, beauty, family, friends, and most importantly, love.

The Story

"Release!" - Sakura

And love is a major theme in Card Captor Sakura. In the manga, the story starts out with Sakura having already become the Card Captor and having a few Clow Cards. The anime, however, begins with Sakura stumbling upon a book entitled The Clow, becoming the Card Captor and capturing her first Clow Card. 

Both the first episode of the anime and the first chapter of the manga are similar, though, in the fact that the Card that is the subject of the story is The Fly.

For purposes of clarity, let's start from the very beginning. Nine-year-old Sakura Kinomoto, one day, finds The Clow in her father's library. It's a large book with a gold lion on the front cover. 

As Sakura holds it in her hands, it begins to glow and the seal suddenly snaps open. A magical wind whips around Sakura and the book begins to spout out cards all over the place, most of which escapes out of the window into the town.

When everything settles down a tiny, mouse-like creature with wings emerges from The Clow's cover. He introduces himself as Cerberus (Keroberos), guardian of the Clow Cards. When he realizes that the book is empty, Cerberus immediately blames Sakura, not really caring that he was sleeping on the job. 

He orders Sakura to capture all of the escaped Clow Cards and gives her the Key that can catch the Clow Cards. The Key can grow to staff-size and can also be used to tap the powers of previously captured Clow Cards!

Sakura is, at first, reluctant to become the Card Captor. She's only nine, what could she do? But Cerberus, whom she nicknames Kero-chan, informs her that if she fails in capturing the Clow Cards, there will be a big catastrophe. 

The cards can take the form of various objects, and some of them are very powerful and can cause immense damage to their surroundings.

Sakura finally agrees. She accepts the thrills and chills of other magical girls — balancing her studies with her other work, keeping her secret from her family and friends, finding out ways to be with her crush, etc. 

Young as she is, Sakura accomplishes all these successfully.

However, one little girl can't do this humongous job alone. Her best friend eventually finds out and Tomoyo Daidouji is thrilled at Sakura's superheroine role. She instantly appoints herself as the official costume designer and videographer of Sakura's exploits. 

Being the only child of an extremely rich parent, Tomoyo also provides Sakura with an arsenal of cell phones, mini-computers, etc to help her in her quest.

And so Sakura battles it out with supernatural forces that were created by a magician who died thousands of years ago.

Of course, like in any CLAMP series, complications arise week after week or chapter after chapter. 

Sakura gets a rival by the name of Shaoran Li. Shaoran is a transfer student from Hong Kong who becomes Sakura and Tomoyo's classmate. He is a descendant of Clow whose mission is to capture all the Cards. He views Sakura as a rival not just for the title of master of the Cards but also for the heart of Yukito Tsukishiro, Sakura's long-time crush.

As time goes by, however, the two kids learn to trust each other and work together for the greater good. Shaoran also begins to have feelings for Sakura, which rockets the fluff factor sky-high. But the angst that every CLAMP series exhibits, manages to balance this sweetness to a bearable level. 

This happy-sweet-sad feeling crosses over even to the two movies this series has produced. In the first movie, Sakura wins a trip to Hong Kong for the winter vacation. Her father gives her his approval and she manages to persuade her brother, Touya, to go with her. Yukito, Tomoyo, and Kero-chan tag along too. But even before her journey, Sakura has dreams of a woman beckoning her. 

When she lands in Hong Kong, not only does she find out what the dreams mean but also just how many weird sisters Shaoran has. 

Sakura and Shaoran's relationship blossoms in this movie, but it doesn't deepen until the next one.

In the second movie entitled The Sealed Card, Sakura's life has now become relatively quieter being the new mistress of all 52 cards. Her only problem is her relationship — or lack thereof— with Shaoran. The boy has returned from Hong Kong and Sakura is determined to tell him her feelings once and for all. 

There's just one pressing problem: the Sakura cards are vanishing, one after the other. 

The Sealed Card, the 53rd Clow Card Sakura never knew of, has awakened. She must capture this card before the world is destroyed completely. But she can only do it if she sacrifices her most important feeling. 

This movie turns up the angst a notch higher as the series' characters grow up. Sakura has to choose between saving the world and following her heart. How can you not angst about that crappy choice? 

But everyone knows that there will always be a happy ending in this show. This is, after all, a show for young girls... and rabid fangirls of all ages.

The Characters

 "Monster!" - Touya

As a friend once said, Card Captor Sakura has Touya, what more could you want? What more indeed? The characters practically scream eye-candy and fan-service. They are not only fashionable and cool, but they also have great moves and talents that are just enviable.

Let's start with Sakura Kinomoto. She's nine, athletic, a great cook, and she's got a loving family. She's kind, bubbly, energetic, and intuitive. But she's also prone to self-doubt, helplessness, fear, and angst because, after all, she's only human. 

Her brother may call her a monster but for other people, she's the cutest girl in the world! 

Cerberus (Keroberos) spends half of the series as a mouse-like creature that has to pretend to be a stuffed toy whenever in public or when Touya comes snooping in. He may be a magical creature but he's a video game addict as well. 

He starts out as a lousy guardian, sleeping on the job, but he would gladly die for Sakura if the need arises. And when he transforms into his true form, that of a golden being with gigantic wings, whoa!

Next up is Tomoyo Daidoji who is rich and sweet, a very rare combination indeed. She's very sweet, level-headed, and courageous — nothing scares her. She also has a great singing voice. 

Despite all her wealth and her age, her greatest pleasure is making dresses for Sakura and videotaping her best friend.

Shaoran Li aka Shaolan Li or Xiao Lan Li (depends on what style you want to use). He's a great martial artist and an all-around athlete. He likes math. He's a descendant of the original master of the Clow Cards and has inherited quite a lot of magical techniques. And he likes math. 

Shaoran also has a crush on Yukito Tsukishiro and hates Touya. He likes math. He blushes easily, especially when he's near Yukito, or, during the latter part of the series, Sakura. Oh, and he likes math.

Touya Kinomoto, fondly called To-ya by his best friend (Yukito) is tall, dark, and handsome (all the fangirls swoon!). Like any big brother, he reserves the right to torture Sakura by teasing her and calling her names. But should anyone else pick on her little sister, there will be hell to pay. 

He's overprotective of Sakura and is even willing to face off with a kid half his age (Shaoran) for daring to insult his precious sibling. Touya also works several odd jobs ranging from being a waiter to a mascot selling balloons. He also has an innate ability to see ghosts and see through the disguises of spirits.

Fujitaka Kinomoto is Sakura and Touya's dad who looks like their older brother. He teaches archeology in a local university. His favorite hobby is cooking for his family when he's not in an archaeological site or in one of the numerous conferences he is invited to. 

He's very kind and wise and is totally devoted to his family. His wife, Nadesico, died when Sakura was only three but he still puts out a new picture of her so the whole world could feel her presence every day.

Yukito Tsukishiro is Touya's best friend and the most important person in Touya's life besides his family. Kero-chan calls him Snow Bunny and Touya calls him plain Yuki. 

Yukito is the epitome of the friendly, cute, and infinitely kind and intelligent guy fangirls would love to have as a boyfriend. These fangirls would have to have huge amounts of money though because Yukito has a bottomless pit for a stomach. 

He is also not real, being the alternate form of Yue, the other guardian of the Clow Cards. 

Yue was created to test whether the new owner of the Cards was worthy of the title. He is the moon to Cerberus' sun personality so he can be quite cold and taciturn. 

He may seem uncaring most of the time but he still cares for Sakura and Yukito. His loyalty, however, is still with Clow Reed.

Eriol Hiragizawa is a transfer student from England who is actually the reincarnation of Clow Reed. Together with his new assistants, Ruby Moon and Spinel Sun, he tests Sakura and forces her to truly claim and transform the Clow Cards into the Sakura Cards. 

When Yue finds out his true identity, the guardian's loyalty wavers but Eriol manages to convince him that he should devote his entire being to the new owner of the Cards.

The Music

"Oh catch you, catch me, zettai!"

One true measure of a hit show is its music. When fans all over the world sing the songs without even understanding one word of the lyrics, then you've got a winner. Card Captor Sakura is proof of this. 

C'mon, admit it, "Catch You, Catch Me" is a very, er, catchy song. And all the other cute songs in this series would make you sing or hum (even dance!) in various places and conventions. 

The Merchandise

"Sakura-chan, so cute!" 

Being a series about collecting cards, it's only logical that one of the greatest joy a true fan can have is also collecting the real version of all the Clow Cards. Even more than that, there is a variety of toys (stuffed Kero-chans being a favorite), artbooks, key chains, and other goodies to choose and collect. Again, it's truly a fan girl's dream. 

So, why peg Card Captor Sakura as one of the best, if not THE best Magical-girl show ever? Simple. Because it's captured your heart and mine. 

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