Title: Cardcaptor Sakura Collection 1
Encompasses: Episodes 1 – 35
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia/New Zealand)
Based on: The manga series written and illustrated by Clamp
Genre: Magical Girl, Romance
Audio: Japanese Dub
Runtime: 875 Minutes
Cost: $59.95 on DVD
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for kindly providing me with a copy of this title for review
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.
In the early 00′s, many kids including myself around Australia would spend every morning before school tuning into Cheez TV, a show which as with many shows similar to it nowadays offered a dosage of information and anime/cartoons. From memory the only shows I really watched consistently were Pokemon and Digimon, however it offered a diverse variety of shows from Dragon Ball Z to Cardcaptors over its many year run.
Unfortunately not all these series received such great distribution – Digimon for example was only really available on DVD when released by Madman Entertainment last year while Cardcaptors fared worse… on DVD only part of the series was released until being stopped by the company.
After demand building over the years from fans who grew up watching the show – or otherwise wanting a release of the show… Madman Entertainment answered by announcing the entire 70 episode anime series to be released over two DVD collections and for the first time in Australia with the original dub and no censoring (That’s right! No convenient rewrites or episode omissions). Also retaining its proper title Cardcaptor Sakura, the series will offer something new to those who have previously watched the show with plots cut from the original while welcoming newcomers with a storyline that warranted the demand for its re-release.
CardCaptor Sakura follows a ten year old girl by the name of Sakura Kinomoto, who after finding and subsequently opening a book in her fathers study sets a mystical set of cards free in her town and beyond. Inside the book lies the Guardian of the Clow Cards Keroberos (Kero) who after identifying her latent magical abilities and potential tasks her to retrieve them.
Each of the cards have a particular theme such as “Fly”, “Wood” and “Sword” and for the most part are pretty diverse. Each episode in the first 35 episodes at least generally focus on on one or two cards and focus on the geenral lives of Sakura and other characters which are inevitably impacted by the presence of a card from mysterious issues occuring at the local aquarium to the characters being trapped in an endless loop during a school marathon. Despite the episodic nature of many of the episodes in the first collection, the quality is mostly consistent and most make for interesting watches with the right balance between the ordinary life and magical action.
Given the all-age focus of CardCaptor Sakura, the character line-up is enjoyable and kept my interest through the first half of the series at least. Sakura is an overall likable main character who offered much to the storyline through her temperment, opinions and values, stengths, weaknesses and quirks and never really became dull.
The other main characters were also interesting and in comparison from what I have watched of the English dub (Only a couple of episodes) benefited from being uncut as other characters have as well. Tomoyo (English Dub: Madison) serves as a solid character who appears less creepy than in the English dub given her feelings towards Sakura are made clear to the viewer while Syaoran Li (English Dub: Li Showron) doesn’t receive as much attention in the first half as I assume he will the second half but was still an interesting character who served his (initially) slightly antagonistic purpose well.
Aside from these characters, the series boasts a nice selection of recurring and secondary characters who contribute to their roles well and never really become one-off characters (For example Episode 5 focuses on the owner of a doll shop, who afterwards makes brief appearances throughout the episodes).
In terms of CardCaptor Sakura’s storyline, it delivers everything one would want for a shoujo series of this type backed up by the demand for re-release more than a decade after its original airing. It is a fun and light-hearted show the provides creative ideas and content that I feel would appeal to many different audiences even just for the sake of nostalgia. Unfortunately as this is spread over two collections, you may find yourself like me – drawn to the plot and character development but left waiting until the 28th November for the rest of the series.
From Chobits to Kobato, Angelic Layer to Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle – Clamp’s plotlines have always been interesting to watch and read with Cardcaptor Sakura being a particular highlight.
Originally set for release in July 2012, Madman Entertainment delayed the release until September 2012 citing they were in the process of acquiring high-definition masters to ensure their release was of the best possible quality (See: Madman Entertainment’s Release of Cardcaptor Sakura Confirmed Delayed Until September). Originally airing in 1998, the series is around 14-15 years old and not all series can impress even at that age and has caused some issues in the past with English re-releases in particular. Fortunately the series looks out of its original time looking great overall. With consistently high animation and detail as well as strong character designs (and an important factor – no characters wearing the same attire for every episode) fans should not be disappointed. The only downside I think is that they didn’t or couldn’t do a blu-ray release as they have done in Japan.
Music / Voice Acting
As Collection 1 only covers the first season of the show, there is only a single opening and ending sequence included in this release. The opening Catch You Catch Me by Gumi is enjoyable and suited the show well, while the ending theme Groovy by Koumi Hirose was also a suitably upbeat song although had simpler animation. To put it in perspective you could always look at the original Cardcaptors opening HERE. All the original music returns in this uncut release and featured a well sized and appropriately used tracklist.
Given that this is an uncut release, it was only possible to include the original Japanese dub. Fortunately the Japanese dub is by far the superior option when it comes to comparison and while it may take a while to acquaint yourself with some of the changes in tone from the English dub the voice cast do a great performance of their respective characters. Sakura Tange, Matoko Kumai, Aya Hisakawa and Junko Iwao do solid jobs of the series four main characters Sakura, Syaoran, Kero and Tomoyo respectively.
Asides from clean opening and closing sequences on the first DVD, there are no other additional goodies or extras included in this release. Looking at what Madman Entertainment are promoting for their second release, this is set to differ little with both textless songs and their interview with Sakura Tange. While I am not sure what they could have included, given how many years Cardcaptor Sakura has been going for I was hoping for something a bit more in this area.
The demand of fans to see a release of the CardCaptor Sakura in Australia has finally been recognized, and reciprocated by Madman Entertainment with a strong and high-quality release which has shown that age has done very little to impact the charm of this show. Madman have been releasing a number of classic shows like this over the last few years – and I hope this trend continues.
Cardcaptor Sakura is a title I could happily recommend and am looking forward to the second collection release in November.
Storyline / Character Development: A
Music/Voice Acting: A
Extra Content: C
Personal Preference: A
Overall Score: A