The year 2000 concluded the story of ten-year-old Sakura Kinomoto’s journey to capture the magical and mysterious Clow Cards and seal them back in the book she opened in her basement with the guardian of the cards Cerberus (Kero) guiding her along the way. CLAMP’s delightful Cardcaptor Sakura manga, from which the anime is based on, has enchanted fans all over since its release in 1996. Now almost 18 years later, CLAMP reopens the Clow Book once more in their new manga series Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card with a brand new anime to naturally go with it.
The Clear Card anime debuted in Japan on January 7th with a subbed simulcast exclusively on Crunchyroll every Saturday at 5:00pm PST here in North America. The first episode of Clear Card takes place after the events of the original anime and follows a grown Sakura now attending junior high school. From the first opening scenes, it’s like time hasn’t passed since Cardcaptor Sakura ended. Sakura is still her cheerful and adorable self, Kero is still very much the sweets loving, video game playing guardian we know so well, and Sakura’s best friend Tomoyo still records Sakura’s best hits on her trusty video camera. Life may be a little different since Cardcaptor Sakura, but everything about the anime and characters are still very much rooted in the familiar. Part of this is largely thanks to the same studio who did Cardcaptor Sakura, Madhouse, coming back to do the animation for Clear Card and the original Japanese voice actors also returning to reprise their roles as these now iconic characters.
Clear Card not only starts with Sakura’s first day at a new school, but it also reunites her with her boyfriend Syaoran Li, who is permanently staying in Japan and also attending the same school Sakura goes to. Fans will recall that in both the Cardcaptor Sakura anime and manga, Syaoran goes back to Hong Kong to deal with some personal matters, leaving our cute couple having to maintain a long distance relationship. In the original manga, the story ends with Syaoran and Sakura reuniting at last with Syaoran permanently staying in Japan and at Sakura’s side always. This particular ending never made it into the Cardcaptor Sakura anime, but finally gets animated in Clear Card. Life seems pretty sweet for our beloved heroine, except it’s about to get a lot more challenging again.
After having a prophetic dream one night, Sakura wakes up feeling something isn’t quite right with the Clow Cards. She decides to open the book and discovers the cards she originally captured and sealed in Cardcaptor Sakura have turned clear and lost all its power. The rest of the episode shows Sakura getting a new staff, a new mission, and her first captured card that evolves into a new card when she seals it away.
Clear Card combines everything you love about Cardcaptor Sakura, while giving fans an exciting new journey to follow Sakura on. The anime also has call backs to older episodes from Cardcaptor Sakura, which ties into and continues to build upon the established canon of the series. I haven’t had a chance to read the new Clear Card manga yet, but being a longtime fan of everything Cardcaptor Sakura, diving back into this new series has been exciting and easy to get swept up in the magic once more.
What I always loved about the Cardcaptor Sakura series, which Clear Card looks to be following again, is the overall sweetness and innocence the story and characters have. Aside from the gorgeous animation, Sakura’s world is full of beauty and plenty of lightheartedness. It’s a place where nothing bad ever really happens, at least nothing that can’t be solved with a little help from Sakura’s friends and family. Kero adds a lot of fun and humor, whether it’s snapping photos of all the yummy foods he’s eating to make another guardian animal jealous miles and miles away or his sharp focus in beating an incredibly hard boss in the video game he’s playing. Sakura’s relationships to her friends and family injects the right amount of cuteness and warmth with a generous amount of blushing whenever Sakura and Syaoran have a bit of a romantic moment together, and their friend Tomoyo never being too far away to document it all as it happens.
I never knew how much I needed a sequel to Cardcaptor Sakura until I finished the first episode of Clear Card. It’s like being transported back in time to the days of being a young girl discovering how much I love Japanese anime and the stories being told in the few manga titles that got imported and translated in North America. Clear Card looks really promising and I doubt I have any reason to worry about the sequel not being a worthy followup to Cardcaptor Sakura. If anything, it’ll be as magical and thrilling as Sakura’s first quest as a cardcaptor.
Have you seen Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card? What are your impressions on the anime so far?