Episode 1 – Sakura and the transparent cards
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Let me just start with saying how much I loved it. I really did. I was so worried about this adaptation, just like everyone else. And over the years I have become more and more analytical when watching a CLAMP anime and I feared that this adaptation would disappoint me and not live up to the outstanding reputation of the original series. Thankfully, my expectations were (almost) completely met and I am very happy with the final result. It doesn’t mean that it’s flawless. There are some room for improvements and things I wasn’t very happy about, but I can say that those were very minor things.
I am not going to go over the emotional overload that it was to watch a new episode of a CCS anime again, because I already wrote a lot about that when the manga returned and for the OAD review that I made. But insert here a very nostalgic speech.
The Opening Sequence
When I first hear CLEAR, I wasn’t very excited about it. It didn’t sound as magical as Platina sounded the first time I heard it, so I had low expectations about the OP, specially since nowadays most anime OP all look very similar. But it works here. The song works.
I loved that they made many references to the original OPs, to the very first scene to some of the poses and movements — like when Sakura and Kero are flying. I loved the drop that turns into a crown!
Upon looking closely at the OP sequence, however, I do think that some scenes could use some improvements. There are a few scenes, particularly the ones with Sakura and the white dress, that the animation is looking a little half-done:
I hope these will get fixed in the Blu-ray/DVD release. I mean, it’s the OP sequence, it HAS to look flawless.
While I am glad that the white dress was chosen for the OP sequence, I think some of the scenes with it lacked graciousness in the flow of the dress. But I loved all the feathers and flowers.
I would have loved to have Mokona doing the storyboard for the OP sequence.
The episode itself
I somehow didn’t expect the opening words (the ones about how capturing all the cards was only the beginning of the end) to be spoken by Sakura. I wonder if there is a meaning behind this or they simply went to be easiest choice.
The episode was very faithful to the first couple of manga chapters, save for a few changes like Syaoran starting school on the following day of meeting Sakura and the dream sequence with the Mysterious Cloaked Figure being split in two parts. I take these changes as adaptations for the TV in order to keep a 20 minutes episode interesting thoroughly, but there could be other meaning that we don’t know yet. But dialog and scene wise the episode was very faithful to the manga, even though they might have been slightly different.
Regarding the timeline, to me movie 2 is still cannon and could still have happened. They don’t make it clear on this episode, but they don’t deny it either. The OAD, on the other hand, kind of has its own stand-alone place. It’s harder to connect it to the anime.
The amount of comedy is on point and I am so glad of it. I love how they kept manga elements like onomatopoeia and little side notes. That wasn’t very present in the original series but to me this is a very welcoming change.
Sakura’s design is flawless. Absolutely flawless. The team really worked hard to make her design as close to CLAMP’s as possible. The other characters might have had a few design mistakes here and there but Sakura was spot-on. Generally speaking, though, everyone is looking great and very close to CLAMP’s current design.
Also, very important: they look OLDER! They look how they should look! The design for the kids is very consistent for their age *cough*unlike the manga*cough*
This is the sort of consistency that we get when CLAMP are closely involved, instead of a red-haired Ame Warashi fiasco.
Having Platina’s notes playing during the Sakura and Syaoran hug scene was a very nice touch. So emotional! The teddy bear exchange was given the same attention as the manga, which indicates that it’s for sure very significant for the plot. But I thought it was a little messy how it all took place — via flashback scenes and everything. Sakura had said goodbye to Syaoran and then he walked her home? That was a little weird, storytelling wise.
I didn’t expect Yukito’s hairpin gift to Sakura to be green, of all colors! I expected it either transparent or light blue.
I loved the reoccurring little flowery spot that they meet to talk about the cards. It’s going to appear on the next episode too. So pretty, so flowery. Syaoran looks a lot less concerned when talking about the cards here in the anime as opposed to the manga.
The dream sequences with the Mysterious Cloaked Figure look nice. The CG on the transparent cards and the crystal fragments look nice. But I think in the manga it’s clearer that the Mysterious Cloaked Figure wants to take the key from Sakura. In the anime that bit was a little subtle. Also, while watching the scene with the dragon/snake-like creature I had a thought: what if the creature is Yuna’s true form?
I loved the scene with GALE. It has the right amount of action (I daresay it turned out to look better than the manga) and Sakura in action with the new staff gave me goosebumps!
Needless to say that the voice actors did a marvelous job. We had seen this already in the OAD but it’s amazing how everyone sounds the same and that definitely contributes to a great experience.
I loved the soundtrack too, combining old and new scores. That also plays a huge part in keeping the mood of the original series. And I am excited for the new tunes too, which sound like siblings of the old OST.
All the sound effects too, were all back. I noticed particularly for Kero. The sound effects when he is moving and flying around are all there!
The animation was really good. It flowed really well during the entire episode. It’s really top quality especially when comparing to the mediocre animation quality of most TV shows these days. They *could* tone down the haze a bit, though. That is a trend in contemporary anime that I do not like. I wish the colors would be a tad more vibrant and the haze could go down -20%. My favorite scenes were Sakura in her bedroom at night because there is practically no haze effect! That being said, the whole thing looks far less hazy than I dreaded. Thank God!
We were all expecting the best and the same quality as the original series. What with having all the crucial elements there (same staff and cast), but at the same time, we all had our fears that the worse could happen. The feeling I had upon watching this episode, however, is that they delivered.
It was worthy of CCS, it was worthy of CLAMP. Yokkata!
The Ending Sequence
I loved it? Usually the ED sequence doesn’t get a nice treatment and it can be rather simple. But it wasn’t the case here! You just want to keep watching it till the end!
I love that animation style! They look so mature, like teenagers. I love the aesthetics too! And there is a cute concept of Sakura’s birthday coming up and going on a date with Syaoran.
It looks a lot like the 3rd ED, Fruits Candy. There are some similar elements between the two. I heard that it might be from the same animator?
So I loved it! Just because it’s a sort of tradition of mine, I will give 9.8 for this! A little less haze and an improvement in the OP would get a 10.