Watching the first episode of Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc brought me back to that nondescript childhood moment. It was like seeing an old friend you hadn’t spoken to for a long time. They’re familiar, despite having grown a bit older, but changed into something new.
Animation Studio Madhouse once again worked their magic on this popular mahou shoujo franchise. Sakura’s new look adopts the modern shoujo anime look. Drawn with thinner softer curvy lines, most of the characters’ faces appear smaller and youthful. It was noticeable whenever (young) adult characters made their first appearance in the episode like Yue.
Seeing both versions of Yue side-by-side, it’s clear that the OG version created an age distinction between the child and adult characters. Adult characters possessed sharper features, or rather a sharper chin, a long pointed nose and narrowed eyes, and overall, a longer oval-shaped face. The new version is still attractive and preserves features of the OG style, but adheres to modern shoujo cuteness, losing the cool mature vibe of the OG version.
Madhouse’s new style uses lighter colours to reflect the palette used in the comics and adds CGI effects, mesmerizing my inner OG fan.
I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who noticed where the budget was allocated to, but the cherry blossoms and the animation for the opening theme are stunning.
The cherry blossoms are intricate and delicate on-screen. They act as a visual storytelling element to symbolize Sakura’s internal world. When we first see cherry blossoms, they are not all in full bloom. With that in mind, they represent Sakura’s new beginning and how she embarks on a new adventure: her first day of middle school. Flowers are also used to frame scenes to the point that they are an overused device in this episode, but their effect emphasizes the cute-girly atmosphere I think Madhouse was going for.
The humour of the story was another nostalgic hit to my feels. Although I feel Toya wasn’t as savage as he was in the original series, the sibling squabble was still adorable to watch with its patterned backgrounds and bright colours.
The first episode’s storyline is split into two sections, much like the set-up of the OG series. The first portion of the episode is dedicated to #nostalgia. It is a gradual re-introduction to the cast of characters, which leads up to the heartfelt reunion between Sakura and Syaoran. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in this scene and coloured bright pink, which obviously symbolizes Sakura’s love for Syaoran.
Whenever Sakura and Syaoran’s relationship sprung up in conversation in this episode, there was an emphasis on how Sakura should depend on Syaoran that I don’t exactly recall in the first few chapters of the sequel’s manga.
It almost felt like just because their relationship was taking on a new romantic form, these two individuals should focus on each other and only each other. But I could just be reading the implications of Eriol and Yue’s comments wrong from the translated subtitles. Sakura and Syaoran had to spend the beginning of their new romance in a long-distance relationship (defined by phone calls and sending text messages to one another) but now they have the opportunity to spend more time together. In a way, I think returning their teddy bears to one another solidifies the idea of pushing Sakura and Syaoran together since there is no physical distance separating them anymore.
One thing I was sad about was Tomoyo’s explanation of Sakura’s great supporters to Syaoran and how she didn’t include herself in that list. ಥ_ಥ
I feel like that conversation was a direct way for Tomoyo to tell Syaoran that she abandoned her own romantic feelings for her cousin. The original series showed the audience small moments of Tomoyo’s unrequited feelings for Sakura, including her quiet withdrawal from the possibility of being something more than a friend to her cousin as Syaoran realized his romantic feelings for Sakura.
The pace quickened considerably in the second portion of the episode by opening with a dream sequence foreshadowing Sakura’s new challenges. It was like watching a condensed version of an episode from the original anime. It retained the same formula:
- Presenting the new enemy (who conveniently dresses up in an oversized cloak that hides their identity super well) and foreshadows Sakura’s new ability of having to make her own magical cards,
- Speculating over Sakura’s dreams (and gaining a new wand),
- Sakura encountering a mysterious force (a.k.a the clow card of the day or in this case, the clear card of the day), utilizing her new ability and,
- Overcoming the mysterious force and gaining a new
clow card orclear card.
To echo Sakura’s first “captured” card from the original series, Windy, I think that her first encounter with Gale was pretty brief. The concept of the teddy bears from the first portion of the episode was a nice detail to add, but I think it dragged the nostalgia bit because the action sequence of the episode and the creation of Sakura’s new summoning spell was cut short. What was also cut down on was Kero’s constant “vocal support” of Sakura capturing the
clow card clear card.
I found the first episode of Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc a satisfying watch. It retains the familiar formula of the original series despite its brand new shiny shoujo look. I think this sequel greatly appeals to fans of the original and does its best to encourage new viewers, from its quick re-cap at the very start of the episode, to tune in and join Sakura on her new adventures.
This episode revealed how our favourite characters fared since our last meeting with them, with the exception of any certain anime-only characters who appeared in the original anime. I think the intrigue behind the new enemy is heightened a bit more for me just because they’re riding on a dragon, which I think is pretty badass.
I will definitely be watching out for the next few episodes because I’ve only read the first four chapters or so of the manga, so I’m excited to see what lies in store for Sakura and to see what new costumes Tomoyo is making for her. Because let’s be real, Sakura’s outfit in the opening sequence is gorgeous and I am ready to see cosplayers tackle a real-life version of it!
What are your thoughts on CardCaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc? Let me know down below!