Jason checks out Hideki Ohwada's politically-charged mahjong manga, The Legend of Koizumi.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Jan 1st 2003
DVD 11: Trust
Sakura's adventures continue in the 11th volume of Card Captor Sakura as she discovers more Clow Cards and also learns more about a strange reoccurring dream of hers. As it turns out, the dream is a vision from the future. In the meantime, Sakura has other issues at school, such as her role in the school play, as well as Meilin's forced move back to Hong Kong.
As Sakura's escapades continue, viewers begin to notice that the episode count is getting quite high. Surprisingly, even after 39 episodes, volume 11 continues to be just as entertaining as the ones preceding it. Beginning with the previous volume, Pioneer has released only a subtitled version of the original uncut anime. For fans of CLAMP's work and cute magical girl anime, this option is a dream come true, as the series can be watched in all its original glory. Along with the four episodes on the DVD, it also comes with a creditless version of the ending theme, “Honey.” Although the theme is cute and soothing on the ears, few visual advantages can be garnered from it, since the accompanying animation is rather static. A better extra on the disc is a small gallery of line art, featuring mostly Li, and also a few shots of a Clow Card. While the gallery is rather small, it is still nice to be able to see the line art that went into developing the characters. As an added packaging bonus, there is even a Card Captor Sakura postcard, which is enjoyable only for its useless cuteness.
Interestingly, even though Card Captor Sakura falls into the generic "magical girl who collects objects with a fuzzy sidekick" genre, it is still unique enough to be wildly entertaining. Each episode follows virtually the same formula every time, but the method of a card's attack and capture varies enough each time to be fresh. Another big perk is the episodic characterization that accompanies each episode. It is often worth it to watch the series simply to see the characters' relationships with one another grow. By this far into the series, characters who were deemed annoying at the beginning have developed into heart-warming friends; all that is left is a series stuffed with sheer cuteness. Even though the plots of the stories fall far short of ingenious, the appeal of the series lies in the light-hearted and innocent nature of the characters, an area in which this volume excells. If anything, it's at least good for a few hours of entertainment and viewing pleasure.
The Japanese voice actors perform their roles very well, and it's surprising how much better a series can be with its original actors using the characters' original names. The characters' emotions are expressed well, especially the innocent cheerfulness that English dubs tend to make strained or annoying. While the acting is done well, it's the dialogue that at times makes one scratch her head in confusion. There are some scenes intended to be profound that immerse the characters in soul-searching epiphanies, but the effect is lost when it becomes clear that not even the writers know exactly what lesson is meant to be learned by the characters. When the targeted revelationer finally understands the lesson after a moment of confusing probing, he or she repeats it to make sure that everyone has shared the same life-changing experience. Unfortunately, the deep disclosure that is revealed comes out as a pile of BS, showing that maybe the writers just tried too hard, and it was better to leave the series as pure entertainment and nothing more.
The art in the series is nothing to get too excited over, but carries an interesting quality of being clean-cut. Somehow, the people and objects are able to retain well-defined trace lines, along with smooth and consistent coloring that makes the cels look like they were rendered rather than hand-painted. The effect that this imparts, along with the bright colors used, is hard to define but leaves viewer with a feeling of crisp functionality, as no extraneous lines are drawn. Another enjoyable aspect of the art is the colorful variety of costumes that Sakura is always wearing. Presenting a cosplayer's fantasy sourcebook, it's always amusing to see what kind of outrageous outfits Sakura will be stuck wearing. Not surprising for such a long series, the animation isn't as fluid as it could be, as the characters sometimes move in a rather choppy fashion. Luckily, this doesn't detract from the entertainment value of the series, which relies on the characters to drive the plot logistically and emotionally.
Another cute aspect of the series is the music, which is filled with light, happy music characteristic of many mahou shoujo series. The instrumental pieces are generally cheerful, and although the same music is used repeatedly, the tracks aren't wildly distinctive enough for this to be aggravating. The opening and ending themes are also catchy, featuring sugary J-Pop vocals that are good for those sleepover nights to sing along to. Oddly enough, there aren't any tracks in the series that particularly stand out or define a scene. They seem to exist only to aide the cheerful mood of the series, which is as good of a reason as any other because they do it successfully.
For fans of shoujo anime and magical girls, Card Captor Sakura is a series that is perfect for a few hours of enjoyment. Because each story is largely individual, viewers can jump into the middle of the series without missing a bit, giving them a great opportunity to preview the series. If one sticks around long enough though, one will find a continuing background story that is interesting if only to see the characters interact with one another. Even if the idea of collecting such a long series isn't thrilling, it's always worth at least a nice rental.
Overall (sub) : A
Story : B-
Animation : C-
Art : C+
Music : C
+ Cute series that's fun to watch
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