I consider myself fortunate for not being able to watch Card Captor Sakura Clear Card consistently over the past Winter 2018 season; and the only reason why I couldn’t watch it as often as I should have was because I was studying for a board examination. But again, it would appear that I was lucky that that was the case, and for all intents and purposes this “luck” was for all the wrong reasons. Because after binge watching the show, it has become clear to me that Clear Card is a painfully slow show that probably would have been nothing but intolerable if I were to actually watch it as it aired. And I would’ve been fine to have just left it at that, but the truth is I am quite the Card Captor Sakura fan, and I can’t help but feel frustrated in the many missed opportunities that the series had to shine as a pseudo-reboot of sorts. For a franchise that I pretty much grew up with, it is with both love and hate that I tear this season’s offering apart in the first Opinion article for this blog.
It goes without saying that the general thrust for any show that has been revived after years of hiatus is Nostalgia. The generation that watches anime now may not be that privy to the specifics of a show that essentially aired a decade before, but that doesn’t stop people from whipping out that old collection of dusty manga or DVDs and recoup the appreciation for a series that arguably ushered in the era of the modern magical girl genre. Yes, Nostalgia is expected — and the combination of a new original story and updated visuals meant that Card Captor Sakura Clear Card boasted itself as both a sequel to the series as well as a pseudo-reboot, basically resetting the whole world of magic that Sakura inhabits in favor for a new mastermind that undermines the established powers of characters like Li Syaoran.
The idea itself is exciting and refreshing. For one, it meant a new set of cards for Sakura to collect, all while embracing everything that makes the show enjoyable, such as the crazy antics of Kero (Cerberus) and Tomoyo, as well as the thrill of solving the mysteries of cards run amok and the adventure of sealing the cards for wrecking further havoc.
Three episodes in, however, and I began realizing that the formula was pretty much unchanged, if not uninspired, despite having a new shiny veneer of modern animation. The ramblings of Kero seemed incessant; the swooning of Tomoyo predictable; the interactions of Sakura and Li Syaoran seemingly boring due to the mutuality of their relationship at this point. In fact what made Sakura and Li Syaoran so adorable before was their dynamic butting of heads against one another and the eventual turn-around when Li becomes a bit more conscious of himself towards an otherwise oblivious Sakura.
Put into perspective, Clear Card seems devoid of anything to iterate beyond the establish, relying more on nostalgia and a pre-set formula — Sakura has a dream/premonition of the future; shit happens because of a card; shit gets fixed after sealing said card; everyone eats dinner and is happy. But to make things worse, the featured cards, at this point, seem overshadowed by the greater bulk of each episode to depict slice-of-life scenes with Sakura et al. Instead of focusing on plot beats to forward the new story revolving around the Clear Cards, the show keeps veering into pointless scenes that do nothing but pander to fans of the series who have missed watching Sakura for over a decade.
Which brings me to my biggest gripe in the series thus far: a lack of balance. If anything, there seems to be little drive in the current story to make me care for the events surrounding the clear cards. And even when a clear card appears, the journey towards securing it feels trite at best with Sakura basically just whack-a-mole-ing her way to victory. At the very least in the original manga and anime adaptations, Sakura spent a good chunk of the episodes going through trial-and-error to obtain the cards. It was the thrill of watching her fail that made her successes feel all the more rewarding. In Clear Card, however, it’s just a question of when the next Clear card will interrupt her daily activities so that she could just get things over by whacking the card to the middle of next week.
When I reached episode 7, I was nothing short of bored. I wanted my money back. I felt like nostalgia was not enough to justify the poor excuse of storytelling that I was seeing unfold before my eyes. I’m sure the story will turn itself around at some point, but taking half a season to present basically meh seems unacceptable for such a storied series. Card Captor Sakura deserves better than this.
Because at the end of the day, I still love Card Captor Sakura. I still think that Li Syaoran X Sakura is an adorable combination whose dynamic could be served better with less drama and more actual, meaningful dialogue. For example, the current status quo is that Li Syaoran is working on something behind the scenes, outside of Sakura’s knowledge, and yet he still has his own reservations for not having the ability to sense the Clear Cards. The setup is fine, but what’s with all of this blushing and puppy love nonsense that doesn’t do anything but make Li Syaoran x Sakura seem dull and expected? That’s the reason why love stories don’t pander to fans who basically know the two will get hitched. We enjoy seeing the dynamic between these two leads, so please — make them interact in ways that capitalize on their unique individualities! It happened before in the original series — why am I watching shallow fan story turned canon on screen?
And I think that’s where I draw the line between my own personal desires for the series and the direction it’s actually taking. Sure, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Tsubasa Chronicles (an uncommon opinion) that came after it, but I respected it as a reasonable continuation of the franchise as a sort of parallel story arc. But I can’t seem to find the same sentiment watching Clear Card. I can’t seem to watch this without feeling that this isn’t cannon — that it’s a spin off singing to the tune of an updated visual fiasco that doesn’t even seem to understand what made the series so enjoyable to watch in the first place. And and I know it’s a big accusation to say something like this against the franchise, but I can’t help but feel that way. As a fan of the series, I just can’t seem to find it in me to love Clear Card as much as I love Card Captor Sakura as a whole.
So what about you guys? What are your thoughts on what Card Captor Sakura Clear Card has showed us? Is it living up to your expectations as an amazing sequel to an already amazing franchise? Or are you just as confused and frustrated as I am? Do share your comments below — I’d love to hear what you guys think.
Honestly, without the nostalgia factor I wouldn’t still be watching this. It isn’t really my thing and it has been pretty slow without much drive. But nostalgia is strong and while I actually preferred Tsubasa Chronicles to Cardcaptor and would have loved more of that story, I’ll take what I can get of the adorable Sakura and Syaoran.
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As much as I’d love to say that Sakura and Li are adorable, I feel like their current relationship is so ho-hum compared to the more exciting dynamic they’ve had before. In the original Clow Card arcs, they were basically rivals, and then come the Sakura Card arc, it was a one-sided thing because Li was always so conscious towards Sakura. Even during Tsubasa Chronicles, what made their relationship so intriguing was the fact that Sakura basically had no idea what sort of relationship they had before and she tries to come to grips with the idea that they were actually romantic at some point.
Clear Card Sakura and Li are, if anything, just meh.
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Finally… somone speaks the same like mine.. i ready your post while nodding my head alot basically.. im so 100% agree..
Clear card arc story is so predictable in so many level.. its boring coz people are mostly know what would happen next. I am having a feeling sometimes that CLAMP forgot about their original CCS viewer are now mostly grown up. I just feel so bad im not so excited anymore.. I was excited when they finally announced CCS clear card for the first time i was in elementary school when CCS first came out, i pretty much grew up with this series. But i feel so bad to be “meh” after seeing the clear card episodes..
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It’s really very boring to the point I have to read something else while I watch an episode. I also wish the characters would act slightly more grown up now that they’re in Middle School, with less slice of life. Maybe it would have been better if she were at high school or college, and I wonder if the original authors are half assing it or if the new manga is this boring.
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Exact sentiments, 7 episodes in and disappointed so far. 😦 Far too many slice-of-life moments that seem very irrelevant/waste of time. Sakura also only spends literally 30 seconds to a minute capturing the new (useless imho) clear cards when the cards used to wreck more havoc and took as you said much trial and error on Sakura’s part to learn and capture them as well as most of the episode.
I miss the dynamic between Syaoran and Sakura when they were rivals + one sided, the tension was more fun and realistic. Everything is just really… Soft, lacks details and not much depth to the story.
Hoping CLAMP can iron things out and flesh it out… Because ugh forreal disappointed in this childhood nostalgia continuation atm. *TEARS*
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I agree 100% percent with you, I though I was the only one that had this opinion.
I will be a fan of Sakura forever, but I have to admit that I hated Clear Card and it did not fill my expectations.
SCC has a very complex and rich story, and the chapters never focus on silly detalils, there is a lot of struggle and action. In Clear Card everything is linear and boring, 22 episodes of almost nothing. In 22 episodes not a single mystery was solved!
Also, I hate the new drawing style/animation, I don’t care how kawaii it looks, I choose the old one. Just look at Sakuras hair, its blonde now, Yue’s face has changed A LOT, and so on…
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Ah, and I forgot to say…
I think CLAMP forgot that the Clear Card audience is the same that saw CCS back in the 90’s and early 2000, wich means, we are going to expect that after so many years, they come up with a really good plot. But it seems to me that they didn’put much effort in the plot. ☹️
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CLAMP is also famous for their crossovers and continuity. There is literally an official AMVs that show all their characters interacting. What I think the issue is the studios wanting something that the group ended long ago. It is also try to be modern, ala SM Crystal, and keep the spirit of the original.
The problem, for me, is that Sakura and Li are not interacting and instead they cameo when needed. I actually enjoy their little moments and appreciated Li’s maturity compared to his hotheaded childish nature from the original. The true problem is with Akiho taking up screentime that could have gone to Li and Tomoyo in being part of the plot building.
Akiho is a sweet kid, cute, and her purpose… somewhat interesting, but she should have been left in the background instead of the forefront of this series.
I hate how the Sakura Cards were sidelined in favor of the newer, shinier Clear Cards. After all the struggle Sakura went through gathering the Clow Cards and the energy and emotion she put into transforming them and the gratitude and love the cards had for her efforts, they are pretty much written out in favor of the new mcguffin of the week. And worse, Sakura doesn’t seem all that concerned for her original cards; this just seems so out of character for her after her heartache seeing the Clow Cards energy fading in the Sakura Card arc. CLAMP series are skilled at combining action and adventure with character development and relationships. What happened?
I agree with you. After all, although Sakura overcame many trials in the past, I thought that it was strange that nothing was done against the burning tree in 14 episodes like the early series. It is as if the blood-c episode 4 nightmare was reproduced. And that was a shock when I saw a deformed fish in Episode 17. Even after watching this story, I continued to watch but I did not notice that it was stupid. In stories 19-22, the story was too boring and boring. Just because I made it just to finish properly, I came to think that “This was made to give up the evaluation of the series with fake pirated version of CCS”. This is because the past season is unnatural as a sequel supported by the emotional character of the excellent character and a reasonable script. I am sorry for the long sentence.
I agree so much to everything you said. First episode in when she was walking through the sakura trees, I already had a hunch it’s gonna be bad. I was like, huh?! You’ve been walking through the same path almost everyday for YEARS, why you acting like it’s the first time you’ve seen the sakura trees blooming?
The first episode showed nostalgia in one episode. No problem! Then I got to the second one and noticed a pattern — that they’re gonna rely heavily on it. There I knew I’m not watching this. I kept seeing this on Tumblr and Reddit before and kept wondering why it’s so hyped. I get it now, but after watching it, still ask the same thing when it’s so bad.
Like, hello?! ALL YOUR CARDS JUST TURNED CLEAR, GIRL! The cards you WORKED SO HARD ON?? She doesn’t even appear bothered when she first saw the cards. THE OLD SAKURA WOULD BE JUMPING OFF THE WINDOW TO TALK TO YUKITO IF STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENED!!! But no, no, let’s remove that Sakura trait and make her wooden just so we could give her and Yukito a 1 minute fanservice where he holds her chin while saying something dumb.
These characters were once so alive and now all you see are shells of their former selves. They’re trying so hard to milk this franchise and they’re not even doing a good job. It’s pathetic!