Creator: CLAMP
Publisher: TokyoPop
Age Rating: All Ages
Genres: Action, Fantasy
RRP: $9.99
Cardcaptor Sakura v1
Reviewed by Lisa Anderson

Sakura Kinomoto was a typical 4th grader - attended classes, played with friends - until one day things changed. While looking through her father’s library, Sakura stumbled across one special book, the Clow. An enchanted book designed to hold the Clow Cards, a variety of magical creatures were bound in the cards. Opening the book, Sakura found only empty space. Closing the book, she was soon met by Kerberos, the Creature of the Seal. Called Kero for short, he soon explained Sakura’s new mission - to find all the cards and return them to the book. Now Sakura is a Cardcaptor, and with the help of her costume-designer friend, Tomoyo, she is now on a mission to recapture the cards before they can harm the world. To quote Kero, “If the seal is broken, disaster will befall this world!”

Like many people, I’d heard of Cardcaptor Sakura long before ever reading it. I opened the manga already knowing all the characters, as well as having a general idea of the plot. Thankfully, despite knowing so much in advance, the series managed to surprise and entertain me. While the basic idea is one girl capturing a variety of magical creatures, the actual story has far more to it than that.

Subplots abound in Cardcaptor Sakura, on both small and large scales. While not shown constantly, many of Sakura’s classmates have their own stories, from interests to interactions. One example is the growing relationship between two classmates that are childhood friends. While they serve as a good learning example to Sakura for relationships, it also helps give two characters more than a single dimension composed of a few lines.

After a while, I actually started caring more about the background stories. I had more curiosity over the friendships between Sakura, her brother Toya, and Yuki - a classmate of her brother. Another highpoint appeared between Sakura’s father and Tomoyo’s mother in the form of a rivalry dating back before the death of Sakura’s mother. In later volumes, even more stories spring up, connecting the characters in an interesting tangle of history and emotion. For a series that starts out with a costumed Sakura chasing an odd bunny creature, that’s a rather big leap in another direction.

Of course, each Clow Card encounter serves as its own interesting story. An example is when one card appears in the guise of Sakura’s mother, forcing her to come to terms with several big issues. Not all captures are dramatic though. For one card, the biggest challenge comes in the form of observation, along with knowing when to let attention and healing come before assumption and aggression.

As a whole, Cardcaptor Sakura has more depth than a casual look at the story would lead one to believe. While the main plot still focuses on recapturing magical creatures, the lessons behind such encounters gradually becomes more important. At the same time, character history and interaction plays a far more major role than many would expect.

While Cardcaptor Sakura is a well known title, most only know it for its cute side. They see a girl in pretty costumes, using magic phrases to chase down magical Clow Cards. On the one hand it is that, but there is also a more in-depth human side to the story. Much like Magic Knight Rayearth, even a cute story will have its depth and drama. Some victories are easy, some losses difficult. While the battle is important, so is the journey, as well as what is learned along the way.

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