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by Robert Nguyen

Cardcaptor Sakura

Manga Vol. 1

Cardcaptor Sakura GN 1
With magic staff in hand and mascot on hand, Card Captor Sakura charges at the Jump card that has gone astray. With a twirl of her staff and the help of her Windy card, the Jump card returns to the collection of recovered Clow Cards.

Presented by the talented women of CLAMP, Card Captor Sakura (CCS) brings a new angle to the concept of shoujo manga with the ever-changing costumes of main character Sakura Kinomoto. Deliciously cute, her escapades are matched with gowns, costumes, and various expensive eveningwear: all financed by her rich friend, Tomoyo Daidouji. Forget the sailor fukus and overly dramatic poses, Sakura means business when she stylishly captures Clow Cards.

While Tomoyo has the odd penchant of videotaping her friend while Sakura is snaring mischievous Clow card, being taped is the least of Sakura's worries. Ignoring her bedtime, Sakura spends long nights on the town finding and capturing various Clow Cards in Volume 1 of Card Captor Sakura. Unwilling to give up their freedom, each of the cards puts up a different form of struggle that Sakura must overcome.

An example is the Illusion Card, which takes on a familiar form in order to fool Sakura into letting it go.

Created by ancient and long forgotten magics, the Clow Cards are specially crafted magic cards that harbor unique, but powerful abilities. By invoking their power, magicians, wizards, and card captors can use these powers to fight the forces of evil.

As it happens in all magical girl series, the inevitable mascot to the heroine rears its small head as Kerberos. Flying every which way, while flapping his little wings, Kerberos is the guardian of the Clow Book that once held all the cards, but serves as Sakura's sidekick as she recovers them. Serving as a know-it-all and sidekick, he offers advice on how to capture various cards.

The style of CCS is atypical shoujo with a large emphasis on the emotions of the character. Readers will notice many scenes of blushing and facial contorting due to embarrassing situations. This style may perturb some because the constant variations in facial expressions may distract readers. In addition, there are changes in the physical design of the characters as the 'super deformed' style is sprinkled throughout the entire volume.

The most impressive aspect of CCS is the detailed artwork and beautifully drawn pictures of the Clow Cards themselves. Each card has a breathtaking cover image representing the personality of the card. When summoned or if they are already loose, the cards take on a human or animal form in an artful blend of magical fantasy and reality.

CCS has its own cast of interesting supporting characters including the obnoxiously bishounen (handsome/beautiful man) older brother of Sakura, Touya Kinomoto. Playing a variety of roles including vexatious sibling and the protective older brother, Touya serves as a foil to Sakura's overt cuteness.

However, Sakura's focus is not on her brother, but his friend Yukito Tukisiro. Another bishounen character, Sakura's crush on him is precious to watch as she goes through every emotion possible before meeting Yukito in the morning.

One of the few problems with volume 1 is the light character background behind Yukito and Touya. Since these characters are very close to Sakura, one would expect to know more about them. However, since this review is based off the Japanese Text version of CCS, and since I cannot translate it, there is little I can understand behind the supporting characters.

However, understanding the actions and story is simple because the artwork does the talking.

One of the greatest assets to the story is the unlimited amount of abilities Sakura can utilize. The writers behind the story are unhampered by plot-killing, repetitive magical girl attacks as Sakura has a host of Clow Cards to call upon when she needs them. In the heat of battle, she can change the face of the fight by changing the card or cards she is using.

As a side note to readers, subtle hints to the nature of certain characters can be discerned in the closing panels of Volume 1 as Sakura hugs a picture of her mother.

Over all, this manga is a recommended read for shoujo fans and anime fans. There will be an overabundance of cuteness that might send some into sugar shock, however, discounting this small setback; the story and artwork work together in an excellent manner.

+ Beautiful artwork, detailed Clow Cards, cuteness, decorative costume designs, well-drawn fight scenes
Excessive cuteness, lack of character development for supporting characters

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Production Info:
Story: CLAMP
Licensed by: Kodansha Comics

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