Published by Kodansha (May 1996 – June 2000)
” Sakura Kinomoto, a 4th grader, with the help of a magical beast Kero-chan, has to collect magical cards that cause havoc in her city”
If you are a fan of manga, then you may have heard about CardCaptor Sakura. If you’re a fan of Shojo manga, then there’s no question!
Winner of the the Seiun award, not to mention the Animage Gran prix for the anime adaptation, CardCaptor Sakura has rightly earned its place among the manga greats. From kids to adults and girls to boys, this beloved manga transcends demographics with it’s unique spin on the classic magical girl motif.
But what makes so many of us fall over in love with this manga? What is the enduring magic behind CardCaptor Sakura?
Kinomoto Sakura is a “super cute”, 4th year elementary schoolgirl growing up in the fictional Japanese city of Tomoeda. An ordinary 10 year old girl, Sakura lives a trouble-free life of school work, whilst being surrounded by her loving, one parent family consisting of doting Dad, Fujitaka and playful tormentor/brother, Toya.
All of this changes when one day, Sakura enters her father’s library and discovers a very special book. By opening this magical tome, the young heroine unwittingly unleashes a deck of magical cards that spread throughout the city. To make matters more fantastical, the fleeting Clow Cards are quickly followed by a talking teddy bear!
Well, not exactly a teddy bear. Keroberos, the magical beast that protects the cards emerges from the book and instructs Kinomoto to search and collect the cards she unleashed. Acting as guide, friend and occasional annoyance, “Kero” stresses the importance of collecting each and every card or risk worldwide disaster!
Kero also bequeaths Sakura the magical, Sealed Key. A beautiful scepter that not only allows her to “seal” the wayward cards, but symbolizes her new role, that of a “CardCaptor”!
An ordinary girl, thrust into extraordinary circumstances, Sakura must juggle a normal life filled with family, friends, love and heartbreak along with her responsibilities as the world’s first and last hope…CardCaptor Sakura!
I as a kid, I would spend endless hours channel surfacing in search of cartoon satisfaction. Stopping on the Cartoon Network one rainy day, my life forever changed, because before me was a magical concept that gripped me from the very start. All it took was flying girl, a magical wand and cute, talking teddy bear.
For me, CardCaptor Sakura was the door to the world of Clamp. Watching a seemingly regular girl, around the same age as me at the time, having magical adventures whilst being a responsible school girl and loved by everyone, captivated me to the point of me actually wanting to be her.
After reading Clear Card, the spiritual successor to this beloved manga 20 years later, I marveled at Sakura’s personality. With her strength rooted in positivity, good nature and selfless attitude, I could not help but think that this is one of the greatest manga characters ever created.
With a little sprinkle of magic, Sakura’s everyday experiences are effectually turned into magical adventures, without diverting the focus from the main plot and allowing character development throughout the manga’s principle players.
Clamp’s imagination is not only given space to grow within the story. The design of CardCaptor Sakura is a sumptuous display of Shojo excellence, with frilly dresses galore, Clamp playfully and expertly adds all the ingredients to make this manga the object of every girl’s desire.
Beyond the frills, the love letters and the magically talking bear, the true strength of CardCaptor Sakura lies, to me at least, in the lack of evil. Typically for this genre, the magical girl is heroically engaged in a fight against evil, but in the case of CardCaptor Sakura, it’s all about a girl growing up, albeit a girl with a magical wand that can capture magical cards at the risk of world annihilation…
Clamp’s style and storytelling is beautifully exhibited in CardCaptor Sakura. Recognizable settings, lovable characters and a little dash of magic is Clamp’s raison d’être, and never have they been more effective than in CardCaptor Sakura.
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