Cardcaptor Sakura Vol. #16 (of 18) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, July 10, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, July 08, 2003



What They Say
Meilin is Back! Li decides to confess his feelings to Sakura- but only after he tells Meilin!

Then, Sakura uses the Mirror Card to do her Christmas shopping, but realizes she’s neglected something important... Later, during the New Year celebrations, Yukito begins to fade while Eriol continues to alternate helpful advice with life-threatening trials, such as the huge wave that threatens to drown Sakura’s friend!

With everything in flux, the end must be near?

The Review!
The end is getting closer and there’s a definite tension and sense of urgency as we move through four more episodes.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Of course, being that this is the only language on the disc again, it's a pretty easy choice. Throughout the track we didn't notice any dropouts or distortions and continued to find the opening and closing songs to be the best use of the stereo channels. The majority of the dialogue is through the center channel while the remaining music and sound effects made decent use of the left/right channels.

Video:
The transfer for this is pretty much on par with how things have gone recently, which means not as good as it should be. Colors look vibrant, though there’s still a general softness to things. Aliasing is also very minimal throughout. Cross coloration isn’t as strong as it was but it’s still there and there’s still a fuzziness to a number of areas that’s bothersome.

Packaging:
I tend to not really complain about the actual keepcases used, but this one was just boggling. Not only was there a second plastic wrap around this release of a different material than the regular wrapping, but the keepcase itself is one of the Nexpak blocky ones that I’m more used to getting with cheap import live action Chinese movies. My only consolation is that I originally bought 18 white amaray cases to replace all the ones Pioneer used so that they would fit smoothly into my region 2 boxes. Continuing with the pink, we have something of a more somber looking cover with Sakura not sporting that certain smile. The artwork overall is just as good looking as past volumes. The back cover provides a collage of artwork in the background as well as the usual summary and production information. The discs episode numbers and titles are also clearly listed here. The insert provides a nice shot of Sakura riding the water slide.

Menu:
The menu system here is really pretty barebones, but not altogether surprising. The main menu has some static artwork with no music. Access times felt a bit slower in a few areas this time though, such as returning from the art.

Extras:
The only extra included in this volume is a brief page line art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In some ways, this volume really isn’t all that different than the last couple of volumes. There are enough similar things happening from episode to episode that it really is getting quite repetitive. What manages to make it all work though is the level of creativity in doing this and the cast that continues to be as enjoyable as when we first met them over sixty episodes ago.

Part of the tension in these episodes comes from Shaoran’s attempts at trying to tell Sakura how he feels. Knowing how he feels now, he first sets out to make things clear with Meilin, which brings out favorite little Hong Kong girl back for an episode. Meilin’s return is quite a bit of fun and reminded us of why we do like her as well as why we definitely prefer her as a recurring character as opposed to a regular. There’s just a little something in her that doesn’t fit as smoothly as all the others in the series do. Shaoran’s inability to tell her over the phone that he’s found someone he’s completely in love with brings her to Japan the next day, and the two end up having “that” conversation. Between the way that plays out and how Meilin goes to Tomoyo for comfort, this is a fantastic episode and goes a long way towards reminding adults that kids of this age have some strong feelings as well that need to be recognized.

The other part of the tension in the show comes from the continual attacks and manipulations of Eriol on Sakura and Shaoran. He pretty much gets his fingers into the pie here for each of the four episodes, be it animating small concrete penguins into attacking the group or causing a massive tidal wave inside an indoor pool. His continual pushes at the duo, forcing Sakura to convert her cards or his attempts at being competitive with Shaoran while instilling some wisdom, he’s always got something up his sleeves. But there continues to be some slips in his fašade, particularly during the end of the tidal wave episode.

The most heartbreaking area though continues to be the scenes between Yukito and Toya, as Toya continues to watch his friend get worse and worse with his lack of energy. This has caused Yukito to fall asleep in the worst places possible, but it’s getting even worse now and there are times where Toya can see Yukito’s hands starting to fade. He knows what’s going on, but every time he tries to say something, Arizuka is right on the scene and interrupting, making sure that her job for Eriol is going off as planned. The disappearing act though is another signal that the final arc must be told soon, or we’ll start losing cast members, well, members!

One of the best moments on this volume that was with Toya. When Sakura and Shaoran head off to deal with the current issue created by Eriol, she brings out the Mirror card to help her cover and take her place since she has to go Christmas shopping with Toya. When he arrives, he quickly realizes once again that it’s the Mirror girl and goes into a concerned mode, both for Sakura and for her double. Toya’s senses work quite well, but his heart is what really prevails here as he takes the Mirror Sakura out shopping and even buys her a present. His understanding of the situation, and of Mirror Sakura’s concerns and fears, is truly heartwarming. The scenes with the two of them are so tender and touching that it continues to bring a smile to my face.

There’s so much to enjoy with these episodes, and that’s after talking about how repetitive they are. This series is just so wonderfully done that I’m dreading the fact that there’s only two more volumes to go. This installment has a lot of great material in it and this series is still highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & 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