theicecreamsprinkles asked: Hi KG! I'm a big Namor fan and I've gathered that you are too, but I haven't been quite able to articulate why. Could you explain what you like about the character? Also, I've only been reading comics for about 3 years, and there are surprisingly few "top 10 Namor stories" listicles, so I'd love to hear your recommendations.
(Sorry - no time to compile a list.)
sometimes it’s really hard not to hate this country.
this is extremely relevant rn
Anonymous asked: I feel so useless sitting here. What can I do to help Ferguson??
national moment of silence 2014 (for victims of police brutality)
share the following:
Never apologize for loving yourself. Self-love is power
35. Bulbasaur Flowerpot (Succulent Monsters)
At 9PM EST on Tuesday, August 12, we will be witness to one of the greatest miracles of our time: the arrival of high-definition, streaming, and subtitled Cardcaptor Sakura. Announced by Crunchyroll on Friday, the online anime streaming website will have all 70 episodes ready for viewing for any one to watch. Now, why is this at all important?
Allow me to explain you a thing.
First of all, let me give some credit where credit is due. Thank you to Emily Yoshida of Grantland for writing up this excellent piece explaining Sailor Moon. Without it, it would have been much harder to convince fellow TFP Editor Brian Coyle that this article was a good idea, but so it goes.
Funnily enough, I had talked with Brian about the format of this piece around a month ago, as I was convinced that the world needed to have more appreciation for this wonderful anime from the late 90s-early 2000s. So when the news broke that the series would be getting a second life online, I had all the more ammo necessary.
Because honestly, Cardcaptor Sakura (or, as some of you who only experienced the dubbed version might remember it, Cardcaptors) is a defining series, both as a manga and as an anime. While Sailor Moon undoubtedly redefined and revolutionized the mahou shojo genre (otherwise known as Magical Girl), Cardcaptor Sakura, or CCS, came incredibly close to perfecting the equation, if not outright achieving it.
For those of you who need a little background, CCS follows a girl named Sakura Kinomoto, a ten year old fourth grader who is rather athletic, love music, hates math, and is a pretty decent cook. She lives with her father and her older brother, Toya. Toya teases her incessantly, often referring to her as a kaiju, or monster. Her best friend is Tomoyo Daidouji (aka the best character in the show), she attends Tomoeda Elementary, and she has a huge crush on her brother’s best friend, Yukito Tsukishiro. Oh, and she’s terrified of ghosts. In many ways, she’s your average, elementary school girl.
As the genre implies, Sakura has magical powers, and they are unlocked with full force when she happens to open a book that contains these special cards called Clow Cards. Created by a sorcerer named Clow Reed, these cards contain spirits that embody certain traits (e.g. The Shield, the Sword, the Bubble, the Illusion, etc.) but left to their own devices, they can do some serious damage upon the world. To capture them, she must use her wit and previous Clow Cards, whose attributes she can utilize after she captures them. Together with the Keroberos, who serves as the Guardian of the Seal, Sakura must do her best to collect all the Clow Cards, whose numbers range from 19 in the manga to 53 in anime, before a great catastrophe befalls the world.
For the record, Keroberos is unable to turn into his true form until Sakura captures Firey and Earthy, so until then he travels around like a plush toy.
With just that description, it sounds like this should be regarded more as a shounen (typical boy manga/anime series, with an emphasis on fighting and action) rather than a shoujo (typical girl manga/anime series, with an emphasis on drama and emotions), and in fact, that’s exactly what those in charge of the dubbed version of CCS would have you believe. This was made all the more prevalent with the fact that Syaoran Li, a boy from Hong Kong who also wishes to collect all the cards, was more prominently featured as the main character in all the teaser material for Cardcaptors rather than Sakura herself.
Yet CCS is unabashedly a shojo, and when you watch the first few minutes of the original, Japanese version, it’s readily apparent that this was the very intention of the creators: CLAMP. CLAMP is a group of artists who are responsible for a great many number of original content from CCS, Magic Knight Rayearth, xxxHolic, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. They also help produce character designs for other anime at times, most famously Code Geass. It wouldn’t be a stretch to compare them to Pixar pre-Disney (and much like there exists the Pixar Theory where all the films take place in the same universe, CLAMP often ties in characters from their previous works in other series, but more on that later).
While CCS features a lot of action scenes and transition transformations and battle cries, it is ultimately a story about love, fate, and finding who the number one person in your life is. The overall direction with CLAMP has always been about pointing towards those very themes, and it’s at the forefront in Cardcaptor Sakura. So while Sakura has to deal with all these cards that pop up, she also has to sort out her own emotions and feelings, which, as anyone who’s ever been ten can remember, can be overwhelming at times.
So, you might be asking yourself, what really makes Cardcaptor Sakura so different and so good? Good question!
First off, the art is just flat out bonkers considering its time period. With all the digital rendering and computer-generated graphics that pop up everywhere in today’s landscape of anime, it is easy to forget that at one point, all these cartoons were hand-drawn. And while Sailor Moon and the like might have done themselves a few favors by using the same battle scenes over and over again (here’s looking at you, Dragonball Z), the animators for Cardcaptor Sakura made a point of changing her outfit for every single card-capturing or significant event. This means that every time Sakura activates her magic wand or seals a Clow Card, it’s a different animation sequence.
To wit, someone actually giffed a few of her finishing poses together.
That takes some serious dedication, and the efforts of the artists were not lost on the fans.
And the background art… it’s just beautiful. If you’ve ever seen a Miyazaki film, you know how he loves to focus in on little details, things that don’t have anything to do with the current action but give weight to each scene. CCS specializes in those moments.
And yes, the fight scenes are pretty cool, the plot is always driving, and while the first 20 episodes can feel like a bit of a drag, once it gets going, you cannot get off the train.
There are some pretty hilarious bits to it, too. Seeing as it was initially aimed at a younger crowd, there are some wildly funny moments, including genderbent renditions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, a kid who always makes up far-fetched lies (though Sakura and Syaoran seem all too gullible and often believe them), and some self-referential humor.
The show also completely tugs at your heartstrings. The story is so intricately written and so powerfully moving at times, you start to remember how it feels like to be a kid and when things just don’t go right for you, what it feels like to get rejected from the person you’ve been crushing on for so long.
There’s one particular standout moment in Episode 22 where Sakura, in the midst of capturing The Sleep card accidentally crashes her father’s computer, who has been working day and night to complete a project. This is after she continually makes him meals, gets him tea and snacks, and just wants to do anything she can to make his life easier. As you can imagine, destroying a laptop doesn’t exactly help.
And there are the many love stories, of unrequited love, of failed love, of love lost, of love that’s not approved by those around you. CCS manages to take these storylines and make them heartwarming but reminds you of how cruel life can be sometimes, how unfair it can be to those who simply wanted to do good.
The most important aspect of Cardcaptor Sakura, though, is the characterization of all the major (and even minor) players of the show. You begin to genuinely care about the characters, as odd as that might sound about animated characters whose run ended over a decade ago. While it might be easy to dismiss Sakura’s feelings for Yukito, fully seven years her elder, as childish, it doesn’t seem that way for her. To her, it’s the realest emotion she’s ever felt. Friendship plays a big part in establishing character narratives, and Tomoyo’s friendship with Sakura might quite possible be the most supportive in all anime. Tomoyo’s happiness comes from making sure Sakura is happy, and her lightning quick mind and good people skills helps her serve as the ultimate wing-woman. Syaoran also grows into himself from his friendship with Sakura; initially a bitter rival of hers, he comes to appreciate her thoughtfulness and her candid heart (and lands himself and Sakura as my OTP through time and space, quite literally). Sakura herself is by no means perfect, either. Her heart is certainly in the right place, but she has a short temper at times and doesn’t always manage to capture the card as well as she could have, if at all.
Yet it is these moments of failure and redemption that have allowed Cardcaptor Sakura to survive through the years, to the point where Crunchyroll’s decision to stream the anime has caused quite a stir on the interwebs.
Now, for some questions you guys might have…
Hey, I think I remember watching Cardcaptors! Is the Japanese version pretty much the same?
Oh, please, for the love of Clow Reed, do NOT bring that up. While I don’t think the English dub is the exact spawn of the devil, seeing as it did introduce many to Cardcaptor Sakura, what it did to the original should be classified as straight up murder. Cardcaptors took Cardcaptor Sakura and turned the 70 episodes into 39, began with the episode where Syaoran appears (which isn’t until episode 8 of the Japanese), and did two huge things that really piss me off to this day:
1. They Americanized the names so poorly, most notably changing:
- Sakura Kinomoto to Sakura Avalon (with an emphasis on the “u” in the American version)
- Tomoyo Daidouji to Madison Taylor
- Yukito Tsukishiro to Julian Star
2. THEY TOOK OUT ALL THE LOVE STORIES. Fearing that boys would hate anything romantic, they took out any semblance of attraction one character might have for another character. This included such notable and important arcs like:
- Sakura’s feelings towards Yukito and others
- Syaoran’s initial crush for Yukito
- Syaoran’s growing feelings towards Sakura
- Tomoyo Daidouji’s pretty-sure-more-than-just-friends love for Sakura
- Yukito and Toya’s definitely-pretty-gay love for each other
- The fact that Sakura’s mom was 16 when she married Sakura’s dad (who was 25)
- Rika (a classmate of Sakura)’s schoolgirl crush (and in the manga, engagement) to their third grade teacher, Mr. Terada, who’s in his mid-30s.
Wait, wait, back up, you mean there were WHAT kind of romances?
If you’re surprised by any of these, welcome to the world of anime! Yeah, I get that these feel a little off, especially as you go toward the end of that list, so I understand why the English dub got rid of some of them. Tomoyo is actually Sakura’s second cousin (their mothers were cousins, and also very close), and while it’s never explicitly stated in the anime that Tomoyo has romantic feelings for Sakura, it’s readily apparent in key moments, but she has never let Sakura know as she is completely content with just being her best friend (Sakura, for her part, would not be able to tell a romantic moment if it hit her on the head). Toya and Yukito are also best friends, and they get real close in the third season. (Sidenote: Yukito is a REALLY weird character for a children’s show). And I guess I understand why they took out Rika’s involvement with her teacher, because… yeah.
BUT HOW DO YOU GET RID OF SYAORAN AND SAKURA? Their love story is an epic one that transcends time and space.
That’s the second time you’ve used that prhase regarding Syaoran and Sakura. Can you explain?
Surely! So while Cardcaptor Sakura might very well be CLAMP’s biggest hit, their second biggest hit is arguably Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. It takes place in a different universe, but features many of the same characters, particularly Syaoran and Sakura. They are different characters than their counterparts in CCS, but their love for each other is THE driving force behind the series and allows them to bend the rules of spacetime. It’s pretty awesome.
I kind of feel uncomfortable with watching a show about a ten year old girl. Doesn’t anime feature a lot of fanservice?
Not in CCS! There are people who will fetishize anything on the Internet, but again, this was a kid’s show. Don’t feel bad about watching it! It’s pure of heart and really great, a welcome step back from much of the unrealistic drivel that gets produced these days.
What does this announcement even mean?
Well, anime loves nothing more than rebooting franchise from decades past. Look no further than Sailor Moon Crystal, Rebuild of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherood, and many, MANY more. There’s been talk lately that Cardcaptor Sakura could be in for her own reboot or possibly a sequel; just last year, the creator of the anime came out and said that he would love to work on something CCS again, opening up the possibility of a remake. With the Crunchyroll news, the premium Blu Ray edition hitting the North American market last week, and the 15 year anniversary edition of the first movie coming out later this month, it all but seems that they’re testing the waters to see what the market is. For what my opinion is worth, which is very little, I would love a remake or even a sequel to see what happens after the second movie. After all, it’s been so long since we’ve had anything canon from CLAMP or the anime.
CCS is one of those shows where you go, “I’m glad I got to grow up watching this.” At the end of the day, while Sakura has magical powers, her most powerful spell is when she says: “I will definitely be all right.” Essentially, I just want more Cardcaptor Sakura because when it comes to anime, CCS is my number one.
- David Chough
Original Porco Rosso story by Hayao Miyazaki