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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2003



What They Say
The World of Darkness… Sakura worries that she can’t replace Clow Reed as the master of the cards so she travels to the past to talk to Clow Reed himself for advice. On her return, Eriol reveals himself and unveils his final test. Sakura’s foretelling dream comes true as the entire city is put to sleep and if she doesn’t win, no one will ever wake up! As Li helps Sakura in this final battle, he finally gathers the courage to confess his feelings- now Sakura has to win and figure out what’s truly in her heart! No pressure…

The Review!
And all good things must sadly come to an end.

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 continues throughout the episodes much as it has in the past, but it’s a bit more muted this time around.

Packaging:
Finishing out with a pale blue cover, we get the really nice looking shot of Sakura in something of a prayer mode as seen in one of the episodes on this volume. 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 has a very pretty shot of Sakura surrounded by Yue and Kero that’s just very nicely done. Also included in this release is a nice postcard with the three young leads as well as Toya and Yukito in a spring like setting, though with the cruel words of “See you next time!”

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 character profiles.

Extras:
The only extra included in this volume is several pages worth of character information, such as showcasing a particular person and listing their likes, dislikes, blood type and birthdays.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After three years and eighteen volumes, Cardcaptor Sakura has finally come to a close. And it is one of those really rare series that you simply don’t want to see end at that. After having a new volume to look forward roughly every other month for so long, it’s going to feel very strange not having that fix coming anymore. This series has become something of a staple in our lives here, one that my three year old daughter has grown up with in her short life and knows quite well. For that alone, this show will always hold a special place in my heart.

With the final volume, the series finishes out with three episodes. The final three brings the storyline to a very satisfying conclusion and works it as a serial as opposed to the episodic manner that it has for the majority of the series. With as much that has been going on as of late, right up to the point where tiny snowmen are pelting Sakura into submission, she’s decided that she’s fairly well had enough of this and is determined to get some answers.

With everything that’s been happening lately having that tinge of Clow Reed associated with it, she’s made the surprisingly firm decision to use the Return Card and travel back in time to just before Clow’s departure from this world. Her intent is to find out what his presence is all about and why things are going on as they are. Li is very much against this as is Kero, since he’s not sure there’s anything to learn, never mind that the use of the card is dangerous with someone only at Sakura’s power level. But she still carries through with it and we finally get some hands on time with Clow Reed in his better days.

With what she’s gained from her meeting with Clow, her return to the present isn’t all peace and quiet. Almost the moment she returns, Eriol and his guardians have arrived at the same place and he’s going on about putting Sakura through her final test. With the guardians taking on their opposite on Sakura’s side, Eriol brings complete darkness to the city of Tomoeda by covering both the sun and the moon at the same time. With that done, the entire population falls asleep unless they have some amount of magic in them. Eriol tells her that unless she can stop him from doing what he’s done, everyone will remain asleep forever in this city. And so Sakura’s final test gets underway.

With a series like Cardcaptor Sakura, it’s really not hard to imagine how it will end. You can almost guarantee the type of ending based off of the first episode of the series. These final three episodes do a really good job of bringing the main cast members together and giving them their final nod for screen time and companionship with each other. The only one that really seems like he gets slighted is Sakura’s father. Others have gotten their swan song in recent episodes, so it’s natural that as things wind down they focus more on Sakura and Li as well as what Eriol both is and what he is doing.

I make no bones about it, but this has been a great series from start to finish. It wasn’t the most challenging to watch and figure out nor did it avoid a formulaic approach. There’s plenty of repetition across the series as well with transformation sequences and the like. But there is just such a warm and loving heart at the core of this series that has seeped into just about all of the other characters that has helped elevate it above to something better. This is a series where I believe that there most definitely is some real magic in it.

In Summary:
Suffice to say, if you’ve been buying the series the last volume is a no-brainer in getting. This is the culmination of the last several discs worth of episodes and it brings it all to a very satisfying conclusion. Though there are aspects that are still left open and open to interpretation, I came away from these last three episodes with a smile; a touch sad since this is the end of the series, but still a smile for seeing it all the way through. This has been one of my favorite things to see showing up at my doorstep every other month and I’m definitely going to feel the loss of it now that it’s concluded.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.




Mania Grade: A
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: 19.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cardcaptor Sakura