It’s a good time to get nostalgic about anime and manga at the moment. Right after Fruits Basket got a sequel series, my other favourite manga series Cardcaptor Sakura is also getting a sequel, to coincide with the manga’s 20th anniversary, and the first chapter has just come out in Japan.
Cardcaptor Sakura is one of Clamp’s most popular series and along with Sailor Moon, it was one of the defining series of the magical girl genre until Madoka came along and turned it super angsty.
I’ve been re-watching the anime lately and it not only still holds up (the only thing that has become outdated is the bulky cell phones), its portrayal of LGBT+ characters was amazingly progressive for a late 90’s show, something that western animation is still struggling to get to grips with. The general rule of Cardcaptor Sakura, and with Clamp manga in general, is that love has no boundaries such as gender, age, or whether a person is technically human. While this does provide a few questionable student/teacher romances, it’s rare to see a series where sexuality and gender identity are treated in such a way. Touya and Yukito were probably the first yaoi couple I knowingly shipped like crazy (I shipped other guys as ‘friends’ thanks to section 28) and it took me this long to realise that Yukito is technically non-binary. If you throw in his alternate form Yue, does that technically make it a polyamorous relationship?
The plot of the original series was about a precariously cute little girl named Sakura who discovers a book of magical cards called Clow Cards in her father’s library and accidentally sets them all loose. She has to become the Cardcaptor and use her growing magical powers to get them back and stop them causing mischief throughout the town, all while trying to get the cute boy she has a crush on to notice her.
The Clear Card arc picks up almost exactly where the manga left off; on Sakura’s first day of middle school when she and her long distance boyfriend Syaoran are finally reunited and can finally be together forever. But on the same night, Sakura gets another of her prophetic dreams about a mysterious figure in strange clothes, indicating that a new supernatural thereat is on its way.
Even if Sakura has only aged up a few years in the story’s timeline, there is still a strong feeling of ‘my daughter is all grown up’ for the reader. It’s refreshing to see all of the characters again in their original forms, and not with all the Tsubasa alternate dimension self weirdness (sorry Clamp fangirls, but I really didn’t like Tsubasa). Tomoyo, Sakura’s loyal best friend, is hilarious as ever when she films Sakura and Syaoran’s touching reunion and for some reason I find it funny that Kero, a magical creature who has lived for hundreds of years, has an e-mail address.
Perhaps it is because the characters are getting older but something still feels slightly off with this first chapter. Sakura and Syaoran aren’t quite as lovey dovey as you’d expect of a couple who have been separated for years. They even re-exchange their homemade teddy bears, which in the original manga were a symbol of their love for each other. I really worry that is some kind of horribly foreshadowing. There is also a notable absence of Yukito, despite being a major character and presumably an official couple with Touya by now. Perhaps there just wasn’t enough time in the first chapter to introduce him along with everyone else.
Even so, all of these new questions are intriguing. The series has been able to develop itself while still keeping with the spirit of the original. I’m looking forward to the next installments of the story arc and seeing what is going to happen to Sakura and her friends from here.