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Newest Cardcaptor Sakura Museum Asks: 'Why is CCS Being Rediscovered Now?'

posted on by Kim Morrissy
"We need fantasies because all fantasies are prayers - prayers for the meaningless but valuable real world."

A Cardcaptor Sakura exhibit recently opened in the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Roppongi Hills, one of the most famous art galleries in Tokyo. This exhibit showcases CLAMP's original manga artwork and lovingly recreates the cards and costumes from the Cardcaptor Sakura anime. It's also remarkably accessible for international fans. Almost all the text at the exhibit is available in English and traditional Chinese, and there's even a section that gives a shout out to Cardcaptor Sakura's international fanbase.

What particularly stands out about this museum is how thoughtful and reflective it is about the franchise as a whole. The museum opens with the question: “Why is Cardcaptor Sakura being rediscovered now?”

Sure, there's the magic and the beautiful costumes. A large part of the exhibit physically recreates that iconic aesthetic, and it is breathtaking to behold. Rika Adachi, who was a special judge for the Sakura Battle Costume Design Contest, left a comment: “All of Sakura's battle costumes are filled with dreams!” It is very easy to see where she's coming from.

Yet there's also something a little more… intangible about Cardcaptor Sakura's enduring appeal. To quote the museum text: “Cardcaptor Sakura introduced new perspectives and twists to Japanese comics. Its gentle words mask the radical ideas that it actually offers and that is one of its qualities that its fans are rediscovering after over 20 years.”

Several key voices in Japan offer their own take at the exhibit. Mitz Mangrove, a TV personality and openly gay crossdresser, wrote: “The relationships and love in the series are not based on the patronizing assumption of 'everyone being the same.' The characters' love for each other is genuine and free.

“There are only men and women in this world, but unfortunately, everyone is different to some degree or other. There are all sorts of men and there are all sorts of women, too. Some men like men and some women like women. There are men who like men and like to dress as a woman, while there are also women who like men but were born in a man's body. Despite this diversity, people today are obsessed with idealized and fantasized images of men and women - very complicated but that also makes them more interesting."

“Those who immerse themselves in the world of fantasy know the harshness and emptiness of the routines of the real world. We need fantasies because all fantasies are prayers - prayers for the meaningless but valuable real world.”

Yuri Nomura, chef and director of eatrip, wrote: “There is no doubt that magic is the characteristic quality of Sakura but losing her mom at age 3 and growing up with a single dad have also made her who she is. Her dad doesn't have any relatives, her best friend is privileged and rich, and she loves someone who moved on his own from overseas as an elementary student. Despite this focus on unique minority characters, the story feels refreshing and inspiring because of all the home-cooked meals appearing throughout."

“These meals are sometimes provided by Sakura's dad while her brother and she takes turns to cook, and Sakura also enjoys making sweets with her friends. When they cook for others, they don't expect much in return just like most mothers don't, and I can't help but think that it is probably such ‘maternal’ love that our future society requires. The plain message of human love that Sakura's stories deliver tempts us to believe that we can overcome even minority discrimination.”

Atsuko Asano, novelist and creator of No. 6, wrote: “Adorable and strong at the same time, Sakura might represent what is ideal for those living today. What Sakura is really fighting against might be the world we know today where assumption, deception and misinformation are everywhere, where the boundary between truth and justice and crime is blurred, depriving people of the ability to believe in others and themselves. But Sakura keeps her faith - both in others and herself - and says, 'I'm sure I'll be all right!'

“She turns common simple words into a positive momentum and it is refreshing. The words of a young girl, the magic that only young girls can use, are here to create a fascinating world of Sakura.”

Finally, the Peruvian fan Sofia Pichihua left a message of her own: “'Dreams can come true.' This is the best lesson that Sakura taught me as a school girl. I got the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Cardcaptor Sakura [memorabilia] in order to honor CLAMP and everyone behind this beautiful manga and anime series. Each item from my collection helps me remember the values that Sakura taught me as a child. My Guinness record is my way to say: 'Thanks for everything, CLAMP. We love you!!' and make Cardcaptor Sakura's Latin American fans a visible community.

“In Latin America, every girl wanted to be like Sakura. Not only for the magic (actually, magic was fine too) but also for her kindness, tenderness, friendship, courage and her optimism to face any problem. Sakura's magic is never giving up! All the values that Sakura taught us are the best gift from you. The Cardcaptor Sakura series will always be in our hearts. Thanks!!!”

All of these messages are just within the opening room. Venture further into the exhibit and you'll find more examples of Cardcaptor Sakura's magic. Visitors are encouraged to leave their own messages in the “Record” room, which is based on a card that Sakura captured in episode 6 of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. Every volume of the manga is available here for visitors to browse and revisit their favorite moments.

At the very end of the exhibit, there's even a new Sakura Card waiting for you with a very simple yet profound power:

The Cardcaptor Sakura Exhibit - The Enchanted Museum exhibit will be open from October 26 to January 3, 2019. From December 1, 2018, the exhibit will display different manga artwork under a new theme. The Cafe THE SUN, which is on the same floor as the exhibit, will sell CCS-themed food and drinks during the exhibit's run.

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