12 Days I: Catch you, catch me

「闇の力を秘めし鍵よ」/「hatsuko」

I don’t think it’s that much of a surprise if I tell you that Madoka made me watch Cardcaptor Sakura. Well, that’s not entirely true. A more accurate phrasing of that statement would be, I watched Cardcaptor Sakura in anticipation of Madoka. Yep, I spent a good chunk of the Christmas break just before Madoka aired watching the entirety of Cardcaptor Sakura.

Cardcaptor Sakura seems to be one of those childhood anime that sits alongside the likes of Dragon Ball or Sailor Moon. I actually had no idea it was dubbed in English and aired here until when I was way too old and cool for that crap. More recently, it went from ‘that show that a few of my friends watched that seemed lame’ to ‘that show that people cite as the epitome of its genre’.

CCS is a pretty lengthy show, at about 70 episodes. After I got into the whole magical girl thing, I’d planned to watch it eventually, but never really had the time or motivation to do so (which is fairly common for shows that I plan to watch because I “should”). But with 2011 and Madoka quickly approaching and having finished all of my grad school applications, I convinced myself to finally start.

Up until then, my benchmark for magical girl shows was Nanoha. As far as Sakura and Nanoha go, they’re pretty similar. For a while, before I watched either of them, I’d get them confused sometimes. Obviously, I knew that CCS wasn’t going to have huge explosions or funnels, but it was sort of surprising because I’d forgotten that magic doesn’t necessarily manifest itself as a giant pink beam of death. It turns out magic has a wide array of uses.

Speaking of magic, I was surprised to learn that Sakura’s magical girl outfit was not and that there wasn’t even a default outfit. I don’t even know if she actually ever wears the one that she’s seen wearing in most promotional art in the show. The only constant in her magical girl wardrobe is her staff. But nope, Sakura’s eclectic fashion is thanks to Tomoyo.

And I’m not entirely sure when it happened but the focus of the show seemed to shift slightly from Sakura learning to be a magical girl to include falling in love. She basically spends the entire show tracking down the Clow Cards in some way, but somewhere along the line we also get scenes of her and Syaoran sorting their feelings out. Something that I didn’t expect was for the entire show to basically consist of Sakura dealing with the Clow Cards. But even then, the last thing that Sakura had to do before everything ended wasn’t to save the world, it was to tell Syaoran that she loved him.

This love thing was new to me, especially coming from Nanoha, where at best, we have some best friends forever stuff crossing the line occasionally with undertones. Girls and boys interested in each other? Why I never! But it was interesting because it actually went there instead of dancing around it. And it was quite nice seeing Sakura and Syaoran growing in that way.

I think this show made me realize it’s okay to watch shows made for little girls even if they’re not wrapped in a layer of beam weaponry and sci-fi military trappings.

P.S. despite this post’s title, the best OP is Platinum

2 thoughts on “12 Days I: Catch you, catch me

  1. CCS was dubbed in English by some now-nonexistent US company and aired over here briefly, but it was messed up far beyond Robotech level. They called it CardCaptors, chopped out a lot of episodes, and tried to refocus it with more emphasis on Li in order to widen the appeal to boys. It didn’t work, I think they cut it down to half-length and even then only aired maybe 20 episodes. Definitely nothing on the Dragonball/Sailor Moon level over here.

    Cardcaptor Sakura is probably highly influential on some of these newer otaku-focused mahou shoujo — there’s some attempts to break apart the typical stuff, like you mentioned in the outfits, and damned if I don’t get a subversive vibe from it sometimes — but ultimately it was still for girls, and while otaku make waifus and prefer those waifus to be pure, little girls prefer a love story (broad sweeping generalization).

    Hard to say whether it’s the definitive word on mahou shoujo, I’m not super knowledgable about the genre, but I think it did serve to modernize it to some degree and there’s no doubt it’s a staple and one of the shows that made me not just like anime, but become a real fan.

    • I knew about the mangling, but I didn’t know about how short it got cut. Basically, all I remember about it is hearing about it at recess and how I should watch this thing because it’s got cards and all. And I’d be like, looks and sounds girly, I’ll stick to my digimans, thanks.

      Tomoyo is hilarious. So back in the day, there were rumours that Tomoyo was a lesbian in the Japanese version. Watching it in the year 2011, she definitely seems like the forerunner to Kirino-types more than, say, Nanoha or Fate.

      Speaking of subversive, the thing that came to mind was something JP mentioned in his CCS post about the various relationships. I can see the North American licensors watching this and going how the hell are we going to air this on tv?

Leave a Reply