Heck, if you were a 90s kid then you probably remember it being on TV at some point muddled in with a bunch of other anime characters like Goku and Sailor Moon. Although those in America might only remember it as simply Cardcaptors, as the title was changed during the localization process.
Either way, there is a chance the name rings a bell somewhere in your mind or in the dark recesses of your memory. Whether you are taking a stroll down memory lane or here to finally learn about that small girl in the pink and white costume, here is a brief overview of the Cardcaptor Sakura series.
Cardcaptor Sakura or カードキャプターさくら, is a series that spans across 2 separate manga runs, an anime, and two animated movies. The manga was written by CLAMP, an all female Japanese manga artist group, starting in 1996.
It was originally published in a monthly shoujo manga magazine called Nakayoshi and later published as a stand-alone manga by Nakayoshi’s parent publishing company, Kodansha. This is the same path that was taken when they published Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon a few years prior.
You may be familiar with CLAMP as they are also the group that brought us other popular manga series like, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, XxXHolic, and others. Even if you haven’t read one of their titles, there is a lot of character crossover between series. That means yes, the Sakura and Syaoran from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles are kind of the same characters from Cardcaptor Sakura.
The series revolves around the main character Sakura Kinomoto who is a young girl living in a fictional city in Tokyo. One day she hears a funny noise and happens upon a mysterious book in her basement. After some investigation, magical tarot-like cards, called Clow Cards, are released into the world when she opens the book.
Each card holds powerful magic relating to natural forces, elements, and objects. Once freed from the book they begin to cause havoc around Tokyo, leaving Sakura to rise to the challenge of battling the magic in the cards to gain control over them and subdue them. In order to do this, Sakura must work together with her new found mentor, Guardian Cerberus, to harness the power of the magic that is already inside of her.
Within this fight to regain control of the cards, the series touches on a lot of topics, some of which were considered quite progressive for the late 90s and early 2000s, both in Japan and in other parts of the world.
The main theme that is quite common across the magical girl genre in general is that of love and friendship. This is a theme that is present in Cardcaptor Sakura as well. Sakura’s ability to see the good and pure heartedness of others is a driving force of many of the plot points within the series.
This is most notably seen in the main relationship between her and Syaoran Li, a person who starts out as an antagonist but later turns towards friendship and love due to Sakura’s kind and gentle nature towards him.
With such a heavy focus on the relationships of the characters, the series also heavily features many LGBT+ themes and relationships. Although some may claim that there are heterosexual explanations for many of the LGBT+ themes, the story lines that feature them were and are deeply impactful for many LGBT+ readers and watchers of the series.
Sakura Kinomoto is the main and titular character of the Cardcaptor Sakura series. When the manga and anime starts she is a 9 year old girl in her 4th year of elementary school. She lives with her older brother and father after the death of her mother.
The second series, Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, picks up after the events of the first series a few years later when she is 14 years old and in middle school.
Sakura is often depicted as being a bit of a tomboy, she is an active girl who loves sports, video games, and rollerblading. She is also generally very happy and upbeat, often seeing the brighter side of things even when in difficult situations.
So, even though Sakura doesn’t have a transformation sequence, or fight dark forces of evil, she still has the power of friendship and she is one of the most recognizable magical girls in the world of Japanese comics & animation. So if you are a fan of deep meaningful friendships, cute characters, magical powers, and adventure, I recommend you check out Cardcaptor Sakura.
Also, if you like Cardcaptor Sakura, check out our picks for the top five shojo animes of all time. Or if you are a fan of strong independent female leads, check out our picks for other manga independent kawaii girls will love.
Kawaii culture lover since birth, I am beyond excited to share my passion for cute with the world!
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