Cardcaptor Sakura Vol. #01 (of 18) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, February 09, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000



What They Say
Curiosity is part of any 10-year-old’s life, but Sakura just broke the seal on a magical book and released all of the mischievous spirits imprisoned on the cards inside! Kero, the Guardian of the Clow Cards is horrified to find all of the cards gone and tells Sakura she must become the Cardcaptor and retrieve the spirits before they work their mischief in the world…

Contains Episodes:
#1. Sakura And The Mysterious Magic Book
#2. Sakura's Wonderful Friend
#3. Sakura's Heart-Racing First Date
#4. Sakura's Tiring Sunday

The Review!
When Card Captor Sakura was first announced as being licensed in North America by Nelvana, there was both cheers of joy and yells of disgust.

Nelvana had been previously known for mostly sugary 80's productions such as My Little Pony, Carebears and others in a similar vein. How would they handle their first anime? And with it being aimed at young girls, how would they alter and market it?

Nelvana, under a deluge of emails at that time, handled themselves well and took a lot of suggestions to heart (as well as a lot of criticism, having seen copies of some of those emails I'm almost ashamed to call myself a fan of this series if other fans acted like this). The most common request was that regardless of the changes that were going to be made, this show needed to be released subtitled and uncut. And on DVD of course. With almost every mention of this, it appears that Pioneer was the ones they were told to go with.

Well, they did. We've got uncut subtitled Card Captor Sakura on DVD from Pioneer.

Audio:
With only one audio track on here, it sounds solid. The catchy opening song and the ambient music throughout come across quite well. We didn't detect any distortion or dropouts throughout the episodes and overall had no issues with this track. Solid stuff all the way around.

Video:
For the most part, this is a pretty good looking transfer. The design of the show is overall very colorful and bright, though with plenty of darker moments thrown in as well as some night time sequences. Colors look very good (though I've heard a few occasions that the region 1 release is darker than the original Japanese release) with no indications of smearing or color bleeding. There's a few areas of slight pixellation, which get jacked up a bit by some rainbowing around things such as characters hair and a few outfits. Overall, these are very minor quibbles and didn't adversely affect my enjoyment of this show at all.

Packaging:
It's cute! It's colorful! It's Sakura! The cover is probably one of the best ways to start off the series with its bright cheerful colors and the slightly subdued look of the title character looking off to the side. The back cover is pretty decent with its summary and thankfully includes the episode numbers as well as their titles. The insert is also pretty nice looking with another image of Sakura.

Menus:
Much like the show and the packaging, it's cute, colorful and bright! The menus are pretty simple, with only a few options on the main menu and most of the others in the extras menu, which is where they curiously placed the "Subtitles Off" selection. Access times are very fast and things look pretty good all around here.

Extras:
Though a bit on the weak side, the extra that always makes my day is here. The non-credit opening is great to have and gives you the chance to see all the animation uncluttered and to pick up on details one might have otherwise missed. The Kids WB opening goes to show just how different the two are and what kind of market they were shooting for. The character introduction is a little weak as it only deals with one character, but it may be because other characters would contain some spoilers too early.

Content:
From a lot of different people I'd talked with prior to the shows release, I'd heard mostly how sugary sweet it is and how you've got to be able to have a high level of tolerance for that kind of thing. Not counting the hack job that is the dubbed Cardcaptors, I hadn't seen all that many really sweet kids shows over the years.

And make no doubt about it, it's definitely a show aimed at young girls. But don't see that and dismiss it. If you've been watching anime for any amount of time, you should know better by now. While the show does indeed have many sweet moments, it's also very well written, beautifully animated and simply put, wonderfully done.

The show revolves around the young girl named Sakura Kinomoto. Her life is somewhat the kind you'll find in many different genres of anime. She's your bright and cheerful youngster, she has an older brother who taunts her (though she does strike back at him just as well) and a somewhat young looking father who is a college professor.. Her mother died some time before, so it's just the three of them.

Sakura also has a friend in Tomoyo, a slightly off looking character whose almost always smiling and really really likes taking pictures of Sakura. This part becomes really important later on.

While cleaning, she stumbles onto a book entitled "Clow Cards" in the rather sizeable library her father has at home. She pulls it out, noticing the interesting and scary looking beast on the cover as well as the apparent lock on it. The lock suddenly breaks, and she's able to pull out the cards inside. The cards, all very interesting looking as I'll attest to having an actual set of them myself, are similar to tarot cards. She reads off the title of the first one, Windy.

Whoosh! All the cards fly out of her hands and out into the city. This also awakens the guardian in the book, Kero! This slightly rough around the edges cutesy guardian with an Osaka accent (Hey, I slept there for 30 years, some of it seeped in!) insists that Sakura become a Cardcaptor and retrieve all the cards.

From there the show does follow the standard formula of Sakura and friends hanging out, weird stuff happens and she saves the day using her new magical powers. It is all done very well though and with some interesting twists along the way. One of the more amusing ones is with her friend Tomoyo, who decides that Sakura needs a new outfit for every encounter as well as insisting that she videos all of the adventures.

The animation throughout these four episodes is definitely above average not only for a TV series but for a younger children's TV series. There's just so much great stuff to take in and adore. There's also the big plus of having Sakura in different outfits all the time as opposed to wearing the same clothes over and over and over. While small elements overall, they do help to elevate the show.

Card Captor Sakura in its original language and unedited is highly recommended. With so many dark shows and mecha shows populating the releases these days, having something that's fun to watch and addictive as heck is great to have.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Non-Credit Opening,Kids WB Opening,Character Introduction

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cardcaptor Sakura