Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ?

There's always a fear with late-breaking sequels that they won't manage to live up to the original, especially if that original series holds the level of fond memories as the first Card Captor Sakura anime. Luckily for us, Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card's first three episodes make it look like we won't have to sit back in our rocking chairs, pull our afghans over our laps, and grumble about how things were better in the old days – it's far more than merely adequate. This might be partly because it is a sequel (based on a sequel manga by CLAMP) rather than a reboot, so it isn't negating the first series but instead building on it. Picking up at the start of seventh grade with the return of Syaoran to Japan (which is where the first manga ended), we're presented with a cast who has aged a few years and gained a slightly more mature outlook on life, but they're still the same kids we loved, portrayed by the same seiyuu and gorgeously animated by the same staff. Seriously, this show looks beautiful, from a more faithful adherence to CLAMP's character designs to the character animation and use of color.

The first two episodes are basically set-up. Episode one reintroduces the majority of the main cast from the first series (with a couple of notable exceptions; the girl involved with the teacher has gone to another school) and the new plot: all of Sakura's cards have suddenly become clear and a new mystical figure, key, and set of clear cards are about to be awakened. Episode two builds on this while continuing to give us the basic format for the series, introducing the new Tomoyo outfits and battle structure while also reaffirming the friend group and family dynamics. Most importantly, episode two reminds us that Toya, Sakura's older brother, is in no way as clueless as she might think, which is confirmed in episode three when things really get going. Not only are there two card captures this time, but we also get the distinct impression that this new mage might not be entirely friendly—and that Syaoran knows more than he's letting on.

The Syaoran/Sakura dynamic looks like it may be the part of this sequel most worth watching. Even though they've been in contact from when he was back in Hong Kong, it's clear that he's hiding something from her that likely stems from that period overseas. They're obviously crushing on each other (with a totally adorable moment driving this home after Sakura's second battle), which makes the fact that he's being so secretive more ominous. The question then becomes why—if this is directly related to the clear cards, then why wouldn't he want to give her the information? Would it put her in more danger to know? Or is it simply that Syaoran himself isn't sure what's going on yet? Whatever the reason, it's likely going to have an impact on their budding relationship, which could prove distracting for Sakura at a crucial moment down the line.

In the meantime, these episodes are doing a nice job balancing Sakura's magical activities with her daily life. Tomoyo's role helps tie the two together, and I love that her decidedly non-magical pinprick defeats Siege in episode two. In the interest of honesty, I have to admit that I've always found Tomoyo voyeurism annoying, even if Sakura has never seen her that way—she's just so invasive of Sakura's privacy. This will be worth paying attention to as Sakura and Syaoran's relationship develops, because it will say a lot about Tomoyo when we see how she reacts. For now I mostly found that she and Sakura wailed too much in episode three—it felt like they were squealing for a disproportionate amount of time.

Next week's episode promises a new transfer student. Sakura commenting that the new mage is her exact same height (which initially made me fear a return of the multiple worlds from the last series she appeared in) and the avoidance of actually showing this transfer student suggests that the two characters are very much related. The real plot looks ready to kick off, and after these three episodes of setup, I'm excited to see it.

Rating: A-

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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