Cardcaptor Sakura The Movie -

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  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: D
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 86
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura The Movie

By Chris Beveridge     March 05, 2002
Release Date: March 26, 2002

Cardcaptor Sakura The Movie
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Sakura wins a trip to Hong Kong! Or does she? A mysterious force calls out to Sakura in her dreams, and she discovers a dangerous legacy lingering in the alleys of Hong Kong. Thank goodness Sakura can depend upon Li and his family to help her against one of Clow Reed?s long lost enemies!

The Review!
Cardcaptor Sakura the Movie was one of the bigger hits when released in Japan and certainly does what the TV series did best, make you smile practically the whole time and just enjoy the experience. With theatrical quality animation combined with the style of the TV series already lush animation, this is a movie not to miss.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese and in the Dolby Digital 5.1 format. The mixing for this track is exceptionally well done with a great amount of balance between using the discreet channels without overloading them. There's plenty of directionality to each of the speakers with lots of unique sounds going to them. There's a solid level of immersion to be found. Across the forward soundstage there's an excellent level of depth with both the sound effects and with the dialogue.

We listened to this disc in English in its entirety as well, but that was just on a stereo system, so I couldn't compare the mixing to it. The English sounded decent in stereo with no noticeable dropouts or other distortions.

Presented in its original aspect ration of 1.85:1 and anamorphic, our Skyworth player produced a gorgeous image to our TV. While we generally love the look and feel of the TV series, the movie takes advantage of the bigger budget and the ability to mesh the TV style with theatrical style animation. The backgrounds are filled with life here, especially throughout the Hong Kong street sequences. Colors are gorgeous without being oversaturated, cross coloration is non-existent and line shimmering and jaggies are practically nil. The only thing that was a noticeable distraction is that some scenes were a bit heavier on the film grain than most of the movie. There's a large number of scenes in the movie that use water, and being how well water is usually animated in theatrical productions, there's a lot to just drool over here.

Using a clear keepcase, the folks at Pioneer have taken advantage of this and given us a great reversible cover. The main cover is the shot of Sakura in her Chinese outfit set against the backdrop of Hong Kong. The back cover provides a few animation shots and the discs features and production information. Reverse the cover and you've got what was used for the Japanese movie DVD release, including the logo being done in the original Japanese logo. It looks fantastic and is a real solid bonus for fans. The back cover is done in the same design but replicates the same information from the main side. The insert uses the Chinese dress image for its artwork while it folds open to reveal a Dramatis Personnae with an image of each of the characters and their Japanese and English voice actors. The back side lists the chapters for the movie. The first pressing of this release also contains a special "onsert", which is something similar to a mini pencilboard but lighter and slips in front of the front cover. The image is the same as the Chinese dress cover but mixes in some reflective colors similar to the Black Heaven foil cards.

The menus here are something of a mixed bag. While the look of the menus are fine, if you've got a Skyworth player, you're going to be wondering what's going wrong. There's music playing throughout each of the menus, but for some odd reason they've encoded it in uncompressed PCM. And on Skyworth players, you have to manually set the player to play it (and then turn it off to go back to the digital bitstream to hear the movie proper). While a number of Japanese discs are done in PCM, the entire disc is done in PCM, not just bits and parts. This is truly a bizarre choice, and while I suspect it's only going to affect a small segment of people, it's going to cause some problems.

The extras are fairly minimal, but mostly revolve around the theatrical trailers for the movie and the TV spots for it in Japan. There's also the inclusion of the English language trailer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taking place between volume 9 and volume 10 of the TV series, the Cardcaptor Sakura movie opens with Sakura under seige from another Clow Card named Arrow. This is the solid opening sequence that shows off the visual and audio feel of the movie and sets the stage for it to be topped later. There's lots of flying around, lots of directionality with music and with the flying arrows raining down on Sakura.

As we move into the storyline itself, the kids are getting their report cards as it's time for winter break. Sakura's glad she's doing ok in math, Tomoyo rocks as always, Li's doing well enough that he can actually show his mother his report card and Meilin.. well, Meilin's still having a little trouble with her Japanese so she's not exactly happy with her results.

With winter break here, Sakura and Tomoyo head off to their favorite little local shop to pick up a notebook so they can do their homework. Being friendly with the owner, she lets Sakura draw a ball from a prize box. Sakura reaches in, and feels a tug as the balls shift around inside magically and one shoots up into her hand. To the surprise of all three, Sakura has won the grand prize - five days and four nights in Hong Kong!

Sakura's all excited about going, but has to figure out how to get there as her father is going off on a business trip. He helpfully suggests that Toya go and that he brings Yukito and Sakura can bring Tomoyo. Everyone agrees (as it's a happy well balanced family, go figure) and the stage is set for Sakura to head out of country. But there's still a darker side to things working here as Sakura has been having dreams of being in a room full of water with a mysterious woman whose trying to control her.

Once in Hong Kong, we get a lot of fun with seeing everyone sight-see and Toya doing his usual gig as an older brother (such as telling her to not look over the edge of the boat cause a shark will get her, etc). Kero gets all excited to show her the places he remembers, but finds himself stunned to see all these big buildings and the modern look of Hong Kong. The fun doesn't last long though, as when they are all out exploring the sights, Sakura feels the presence of something strong and evil and is drawn to it.

Sakura finds herself drawn to a place similar to her dreams, where the water based woman resides. She's almost mentally shut down and being drawn into the pool to the magical world below when Li shows up and manages to wake her up and draw her out of the spell. Once everyone is reunited, they head off to Li's house, though Meilin isn't happy about this.

This segment is probably one of the more worthwhile segments as we finally get to meet Li's mother. She's the visage of a truly refined Chinese woman, the kind who can instill the proper respect into someone like Li who straightens up like a cadet when she enters the room and obeys everything she says. We also get to meet Li's four older sisters who are rather... unique. Their adoration of both Tomoyo and Sakura is hilarious and even more so when they come across Yukito and Toya.

The movie then moves forward towards various encounters and confrontations with the woman in the water as her past is explained and the mystery begins to unravel. While it's fairly straightforward, as most Sakura stories are, it's the method in which its told that makes it charming and a pleasure to watch. There's little original here, but it's expertly told and with characters you root for continually.

Visually, this movie is done great. There's a greater sense of depth and realism to it that you often find in movies, and it's done only slightly more serious and darker than the TV series. It's probably a bit scarier than the TV series, but our two year old sat through the entire 86 minutes of the movie just enthralled by it all. It made me wonder if she's known Japanese all along.

After we finished watching the movie, we went to explore the disc a bit more. Since we listened to it in Japanese, I realized that Pioneer used alternate angles so we would get the original opening logo and the end credits would be done in the original Japanese. This is really nice, though to get translated credits you need to change the angle button as they're not presented anywhere else. But for us to learn this, we tried listening to the last segment of the movie in English.

I'm sorry, and I know I'm not alone in this and I know I'm not one to usually pick on dubs, but for all that's holy, do not listen to the dub of this movie. Dubs like these are the ones that keep Japanese language fans from giving credit when due that there are good dubs out there. The sheer number of changes in the last 45 seconds of the movie give you the impression that you just watched something completely different. While writing this review, I listened to the whole dub in English with the subtitles on and the number of changes are disturbing. Why change Sakura's grade worries from "passing math class" to "doing poorly in music class". Never mind the number of names changes, but the fact that they refuse to even pronounce Sakura's name properly is practically insulting.

Cardcaptor Sakura the Movie is an exceptional piece of work in a series that brings a lot of enjoyment and smiles to myself and my family. I just have to make the caveat that when I recommend this disc, very highly, I'm only recommending it for the Japanese language side of things. Sakura fans will be very pleased by this release.

English 2.0 Soundtrack,English 5.1 Soundtrack,Japanese 2.0 Soundtrack, Japanese 5.1 Soundtrack,English / Japanese Trailers and Commercials

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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