Cardcaptors Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cardcaptors

Cardcaptors Vol. #2

    January 30, 2001
Release Date: January 30, 2001


Cardcaptors Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Trouble from Hong Kong! Sakura versus the Power, the Sword and the Fight Cards! While she continues to learn to capture The Clow Cards, Li continues to criticize and challenge Sakura.
As if that wasn’t hard enough, Meilin Rae arrives from Hong Kong with her sights set on Li and ready to fight for his attention. Sakura just wants to capture The Clow Cards, but just try telling that to Meilin!

The Review!
Cardcaptors is another shining example of a North American company thinking they could have written a story much better than the original creators. Despite that, and despite some mean-spiritedness in this chopped-up version of Cardcaptor Sakura, it remains a decent show, compared to what else is available on TV.

Audio:
English is the only track available, so this is a review of the dubbed and cut version. The sound in this series is quite nice. The background music is energetic and comes through well on the bass, a rarity in kid's shows. The transfer is also excellent, with no major glitches. Even the dub is fairly good (except for some pronunciation issues and Kero sounding a bit obnoxious). The only detractors are the intro song- a rehash of several other Saturday mornings cartoons- and some weird moments where the background music doesn't seem to fit the action, though this may be a result of my having seen the original series already. The intro song is a major problem, though. It tries to re-tell the entire story of how Sakura became a Cardcaptor, because Nelvana felt that the seven episodes that covered this topic were not necessary. More on that later.

Video:
The animation is the real treat here. The colors are sharp and the lines flow beautifully, with very little distortion and few SD scenes. The night scenes contain deep, smooth blues and blacks, and the pale colors don't blur against these backgrounds. The digital transfer is great. Even the cut scenes don't cause any blips in the flow of the story, probably because most scene changes are cuts anyway, rather than fades.

Packaging:
The front cover is a decent montage of Sakura, Kero, Li, and the fight card. The back cover is very nice, featuring Sakura, Rita, Meilin, and a couple of random scenes. The text is easy to read except when you get to the fine print at the bottom. The insert contains a picture of Meilin laughing with SD versions of Madison, Sakura, and Kero panicking and cheesy lightning behind them. The episodes and chapter breaks are clearly labeled. The disk itself is silver with "Cardcaptors", Kero, and a barely visible Sakura in costume. Overall, it looks good.

Menus:
The main menu is a picture of Li and Sakura. It's very simple, with options for playing the show, jumping to a scene, and extras. The extras menu is equally simple. Navigation was very easy.

Extras:
The only real extras are a character description of Meilin and the original series' ending song. Unfortunately, the ending song was not one I have ever liked much, but at least it's there.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I could cry.

Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if they had merely cut the show for length. Or even if they had cut scenes that might have been suggestive of certain relationships. But to change the basic story and many of the major characters was a bit too much for me.

However, after taking a good look at the other cartoons available on American TV right now, it didn't seem quite so bad.

Sakura is a fairly ordinary fourth grader with some athletic ability and a good heart. Her best friend Madison (evil twin of the Japanese Tomoyo) is a snotty rich kid who likes teasing Sakura and talking about Li behind his back. Li is an exchange student from Hong Kong who competes with Sakura to capture the Clow Cards, cards with mystical powers and a mind of their own (which Sakura accidentally let free in the never-seen episode 1). Kero, the stuffed-animal guardian of the cards, is helping Sakura re-capture them. Sakura has an older brother who teases her, and his best friend Julian is her first crush.

The episodes are structured a bit oddly, with a "Coming up in today's episode" section before the intro song, and a "Card of the day" instead of an ending song. So the first thing we see when the show starts is a rapid collection of moments basically telling us what's going to happen next, namely that someone is going to turn the giant penguin in the park upside down, everyone will go to the zoo, and Sakura will capture the card.

The story itself is a bit better. Sakura's class goes on a field trip to the zoo. As they a taking pictures of the animals, they hear a strange booming sound, and several animals escape their cages. People start panicking and running away, so of course Sakura and Madison run toward the noise. Once there, they find nothing but giant holes in the ground. As usual, Kero has to try to remember which card could possibly do that.... This episode is about teamwork and even shows Li doing a little something to help out, though he makes sure Sakura never finds out about it. It's a cute but not particularly thrilling card-of-the-day episode.

Episode five (the second one on this disk) gets much better. Sakura, worried about Li's presence and her own problems learning to be a Cardcaptor, invites Madison and Rita over to her house to unwind a bit. Unfortunately, a card appears and forces Sakura to fight one of her friends. Li shows up to save Sakura, but she won't let him. Why? Because this is her friend he's fighting!

Unfortunately, this episode just isn't as good in the altered version. The original contained several references to hero-worship and possible crushes that Sakura's classmates had on older people, so all of that material was cut, along with most of the emotional impact of the story.

For a list of cuts and changes, click here.

Episode 6 is the focus of the entire disk. Li's friend Meilin appears one morning and joins Sakura's class. She quickly lets Sakura know that Li is off-limits and that she doesn't think Sakura has a right to be a Cardcaptor. The two begin competing over everything from gym class to capturing the Fight card. This episode continues Li's confusion over what side he should choose and would make more sense if seen directly after episode 4. But, of course, all of the episodes are out of the original order, so don't be surprised to see character development waffle.

If you can, I highly recommend getting a copy of the original series, rather than the cut version. Even though the original is only released in a subtitled version, you get more episodes per DVD and a longer running time on each, all the while not missing critical moments in the story just because they didn't fit Nelvana's re-written script.

Features
English Language,Closed captioning,Original Ending,Character Introduction

Review Equipment
25" Samsung Stereo TV, code-free Pioneer 333, Sony STR-SE391 receiver, Sony speakers, and the cables that came with the set.

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