Review: Card Captor Sakura Clear Card arc TV Anime – Episode 1

© CLAMP・ST/講談社・NEP・NHK

© CLAMP・ST/講談社・NEP・NHK

Episode 1 – Sakura and the transparent cards

Card Captor Sakura Clear Card TV Anime is being broadcast in several countries around the world via online services in a simultaneous or semi-simultaneous fashion. Please check the guide below to see if your country is included:

Where can I watch Card Captor Sakura Clear Card TV Anime? – A useful guide

If you watch the anime via one of these channels, you’ll be supporting the creators and helping to make Card Captor Sakura even more popular worldwide.

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*

© CLAMP・ST/講談社・NEP・NHK

© CLAMP・ST/講談社・NEP・NHK

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.

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13 thoughts on “Review: Card Captor Sakura Clear Card arc TV Anime – Episode 1

  1. That’s a great start! I’ve counted 73 cards on the table plus 1 that Yue was holding. Do you think it’s just a random number? It seems really high!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, 73? That does seem high. I think the deck ought to have 50-something cards.

      Maybe it’s just a random number or, did you count them right? Them being all transparent makes it a little difficult.

      Like

        • Hummm yes. I guess they just wanted to give a feeling of “many cards” but oops, they got a little carried away ^^”

          Like

      • The original deck has 52 cards, the total number we see in the anime and the fortune book. Then, Sakura produced a 53rd one, the second movie a 54th one named NOTHING, which both fused at the end, so back to 53. Sakura had a year to produce 20 more, but I feel they just added more card for the look, not expecting anyone to actually count them.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. OK HERE I AM
    I’ll start by saying I didn’t read any of the other comments so I might be saying things already pointed out by someone else above, but I wanted to keep my thoughts and impressions as natural as possible, without influences!
    SO!
    You didn’t do the emotional rant BUT I WILL.
    I’ll be short, actually, because you already know how I felt since we were screaming together 24 hours ago!
    When Kero-chan appeared, I was already trembling for the excitement/emotion, and even though his corner (entirely devoted to make a recap of the old anime, bless them!! This is what Yamato animation was talking about) was very very funny, when he screamed “Clear Card Hen Start!” I lost it. I was “Here it comes, here it comes!!”.
    And then, as soon as I saw HER, floating in the blue (OMG THAT BLUE, I LOVE ALL THE SCENES IN WHICH SHE’S IN THE SKY), my breath halted, my heart was exploding in my chest and I watched the entire opening with a hand covering my mouth, like I was watching some kind of miracle, something incredible happening. AND IT WAS! HOW MANY YEARS I WAITED FOR THIS? 18 damn, fucking, long years.
    My memories with CCS are all tied to important things in my life. Many were good, some were bad, but the latter didn’t make me stray away from it. I feared I would, but I didn’t. And after waiting all of this time, dreaming, SHE came back. With everyone else.
    I said I would have been short….well there it goes. XD

    About the opening, you know I wasn’t very enthusiastic about CLEAR at first listening. It wasn’t another PLATINUM, and it will never be. And it’s fine!! After many listenings I came to appreciate and actually picture the song working for an Opening. BUT BOY it went even better than I was expecting. Song + animation flow together perfectly. I do agree with you about the frames that might use some improvements, we’ll see if they will re-do them for the BD release. My favorite scene, however, is the one where Sakura is hopping in the rose fields. In that part the song reaches my favorite part too, so I can’t help but being hypnotized. And the dark sky + the red roses and feathers actually give kind of a *creepy* feeling to it? I don’t know, I can’t help but feeling this when watching that scene. And yet it is my favorite one. Fucking Tsubasa really ruined me. I also wonder what the hell that scene means. It can’t be there just because it’s pretty.

    The episode itself. I’ll start with the things I liked less, this time.
    One, is how they rushed a lot to try to fit THREE DAMN chapters into one episode. Guys are you crazy? I do understand the need to show the new wand in the first episode, you might argue that CLAMP were way too slow in that, but in that way they cut a lot of interesting bits! Like, where’s Sakura trying to resist MCF’s attempt at stealing the key? Where’s the “DAME!!!” scream I longed to hear before she wakes up from the dream? Where’s the cool “dream inside of a dream” part? Where’s Syaoran’s pained expression when Sakura and Kero mention wanting to send a message to Eriol? And the whole part of Fujitaka noticing something was wrong with his daughter + Nadeshiko’s lack of appearance (although that might have been forced by the anime timeline)?? It’s a big CUT CUT CUT. But it’s ok, I can go over that. We complained about the manga’s slowness, and here Madhouse served us right XD
    Another little complaint, mostly because of the confusion, is how they tried to clumsily fit Sakura Bear into the picture. They basically retconned the end of episode 70 and sent Movie 2 in the trashcan (SO MUCH for making all that advertisement about “another story that connects to Clear Card”…WHERE?). They also took Syaoran’s and Sakura’s lines from the OAD and pasted them into the final scene of episode 70. Then we don’t understand WHEN and HOW Sakura gave the Sakura Bear to Syaoran. But it’s ok, this sequel is just too good to allow this small mess to ruin the excitement for me. I could take Tsubasa, I can largely take this. I’ll close my eyes and trust what they did there. Sakura Bear exist, period.
    And now the good things!! THE ANIMATION in some (many) points flows so well omg! When Sakura gets out of home to go to school, when Sakura approaches Syaoran at the reunion scene, or when the card attacks. About the fight scenes, I’ll say just one thing. Sakura Tange in the latest interviews/comments put *a lot* of emphasis onto the fact that the battle scenes are going to be “harder” than before, and Sakura will get beaten here and there a bit more than before. This will create a gap between the peaceful everyday life and the battle scenes with the cards, which will be sharper and probably a bit more merciless than in the past. Her voice might even sound *not* Sakura-esque (I THINK I know what she refers to). I’M SERIOUSLY looking forward to this.
    The emotional load of this first episode was great, and the reunion with Syaoran was done brilliantly. I LOVED the scenes in the dream. The background, the darkness, the transparent cards, MCF, THE BGM!!! Oh I love already the OST, which is borrowing BGMs from the previous anime, but the BGM when she’s in the dream really gets me. It’s haunting…also the one with the black dragon is really cool. I REALLY can’t wait to listen to more of it. Like you, I’m really glad the new BGMs blend perfectly with the older ones. The only one I didn’t like was the one of the SECURE scene, lol. I guess I’ll have to get used to it!

    The ending!
    Wow, what a surprise!! I wasn’t expecting anything big out of it, and yet it possibly became one of the favorite moments already!!! A date before Sakura’s birthday is just the cutest idea that has never been explored in the previous anime, I’m really glad about this choice. The animation is impressive even though the drawing style is really minimalistic. The kids (not only here, in the whole episode) look really like teenagers, I’m so glad the staff scratched that itch that I’m having since Chapter 1 of the manga. I can rest in peace now!!XD
    Also, all the references and nods to the previous Opening and Endings are very, very welcome!!

    This episode 1 was so great that it’s almost hard to wait 1 week to see the rest. I look forward to all the original content they might deliver (Seems like Episode 5 might have a lot of it) and hopefully the quality will stay consistent. Looking from the preview of Episode 2, it seems the case, for now.

    Gosh I wrote a book over there. I’ll go to bed now XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the Hero segment too! I loved Spinel playing the director or what not!

      when he screamed “Clear Card Hen Start!” I lost it. I was “Here it comes, here it comes!!”.
      YES!

      My dear, so sweeeeeet your emotional rant! (I think I know a thing or two about the few bad things you went through, but I am glad the good ones topped the bad ones)

      My favorite scene, however, is the one where Sakura is hopping in the rose fields. In that part the song reaches my favorite part too, so I can’t help but being hypnotized.
      Completely random and VERY likely unrelated but that scene reminded me of the ANGELIC LAYER anime, during the last battle between Hikaru and Athena, they fight in a rose field. SO PRETTY.

      We complained about the manga’s slowness, and here Madhouse served us right XD
      But that’s Ohkawa there. I am all OK with the changes. The manga and the anime are different medias. The chapters have 30-something pages and each chapter needs to end with a cliffhanger to hook the reader. The same goes with the anime. They need to hook the viewer and those first 20 minutes are extremely crucial. Just like they ended episode 1 of the original series with Sakura capturing The Fly, it makes sense that they end the first episode with her securing GALE. Don’t worry, all the things you mentioned that were cut will be addressed in the upcoming episodes. Kitto.

      About movie 2, we have to wait and see if The Hope is here and if Yuna and Akiho will be living in Clow’s mansion. And about the teddy bears, for all we know, Sakura could have mailed Syaoran her teddy bear. Although Kero says she rushed to make the bear BEFORE Syaoran went to HK, so yeah, it looks like a tiny inconsistency due to manga/anime differences.

      Ohhhh so nice about Sakura Tange’s comment! The battle scenes are not filled with enough action in the manga, they are very compact and quick, and I think part of that is because action scene take s a lot of pages and I believe CLAMP consciously left the action scenes to have their full glory for the TV Anime.

      The only one I didn’t like was the one of the SECURE scene, lol. I guess I’ll have to get used to it!
      It’s really hard to top the iconic BGM for when Sakura captured or transformed a card in the original series. But you know, I had the feeling that we only hear a small portion of it and the full thing might be really good. I got the feeling that they used the wrong part of it for that scene, somehow. Plus, I am hoping that Sakura will have a full sequence dedicated to transforming the key and securing the cards.

      The ED was indeed a lovely surprise!

      I am also praying for consistency in the animation and it really looks like it’s going to be the case. It’s one of MADHOUSE’s many treats!

      Thanks for the comment, dear ❤

      Like

    • “My memories with CCS are all tied to important things in my life. Many were good, some were bad, but the latter didn’t make me stray away from it. I feared I would, but I didn’t. ”

      this is exactly the same for me too. so many major and important turning points, loss and life changing things happened for me during the first run of ccs. i admit i did turn away from ccs for a long time but during my uni days i came back to it. i suppose i always knew i would be drawn back to it since it is my first and all time favourite anime/manga. and i am so so glad i did!

      literally everything i want to say has been said by you chibiyuuto. i will say how i loved that opening sequence, and i did like the song. its got the same cute vibe to it as the original openings, but this one felt a little more mature, and i LOVE her costume! very angelic/ princess like.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for having the links toward the official website! Very useful.

    “Having Platina’s notes playing during the Sakura and Syaoran hug scene was a very nice touch. So emotional!”
    Totally! My eyes filled up with tears. I hope they will reuse it in the series.

    “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 had the same feeling. XD And now I try to see Momo with a pair of bat wing and I’m not sure. ~_~

    I really loved to see how the animated Sakura. When she’s about to do the cartwheel, her feet movements felt so real. I’m pretty sure they had some reference video footage to draw it. I’m so glad we have Madhouse for that anime version.

    Seeing the clear cards animated gave me a strange feeling though. I felt they were the shed skins of the former cards, like snakes getting too big and shedding to a newer skin. It really struck me. That could explain why the new cards keep the same concept as the old ones, but stronger.

    Can’t wait for next week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad that people are finding it useful the list of streaming links =)

      The dragon thing cold be Momo too! It’s just easier to picture Yuna like that, though. He’s a shadier character.

      Like

  4. Hi! I’ve come here pretty recently after a ressurging interest in this new sequel series of a classic!
    Just like many others, CCS was a part of my childhood, even when I was too young to fully understand its message and dynamic. Anyway, one thing about myself: I’m not nostalgic. At all. So I was pretty skeptical about Clear Card, because like meh CCS is ancient and lately like every franchise is appealing to the glorious past cuz cash grab. That’s logic of many and too many times they just fail to keep the good name.

    Although when I started to read the Clear Card manga I got immediately attracted to the art. CLAMP have improved vastly since last time I’ve read of their work (guess it was Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles and XXXholic) and also noticed the very same feel of cuteness and sweetness from the classic, making it worth of a sequel.

    That’s how for the first time I’ve decided to become a follower, in a point to purchase the first volume.

    Anyway I did watch the first episode. Most of the points you’ve mentioned I fully agree. I do love the opening theme, the artstyle (though I still think the manga is more beautiful) and the refreshing voice acting as if all these years did not take them at all.
    As I’m updated from the manga until the latest chapter, I was waiting to see how the anime was going to handle the dream stuff, with the hooded figure which, at this point, probably have a slight idea who is.
    Though I’m particularly intrigued about that black dragon. I dunno why but it reminds me of Yuna (yup the mysterious waiter)

    Also I’m a rare case of a lack of interest of shipping but can’t help to find Sakura and Shaoran’s relationship simply adorable. And Tomoyo’s mischievous filming tendencies. And the very soon a certain new character’s crush over Yuna :3

    Alright that’s all I wanted to say for now. I’ll try to give my review for the next episodes and chapters for now on!

    Like

  5. So, I finally re-watched all the 70 episodes of the first series, plus movies and boni OVA, I’m ready to comment!
    Although I did watch the episodes as they came out, I couldn’t help it. ^__^

    The visual is much better than the first series. 20 years have passed by and it shows. The animation is in the superior tier, thanks madhouse. Some rear view are not too good, but we are picky, really. This anime has a stuffy budget and it shows.

    The audio, all seiyuu are back in their shoes as if it wasn’t 20 years ago, all excellent. The musics, old and new are well chosen and enhance the scenes smoothly.

    The only point which ticked me a little is the rythme of the episode is a bit off, maybe because they edited too much stuff in, out and moving scene around. Anyway, we are push around from one scene to the next and it doesn’t quite flow.

    About how this fit together with the rest of the Card Captor anime canon… The final of the first series, at the airport is definitely canon. It’s weird that they Sakura meet Xiaolang in his civil clothes and not his uniform. Not only is it different from the final of the 90s manga and the beginning of the 2010s manga, it’s also different from the OVA. Hence, I would think the OVA is definitely part of the manga universe, a manga fan treat available only with the third tankoubon. And they really worked out of their way to differentiate the scene between this TV series and the rest of the versions.

    I would guess Sakura gave her bear to Xiaolang on the second leaving, because he came back in Japan for the second movie and he still wasn’t home when the 2010s series start, so he had to leave a second time. They’ll have plenty of filler to answer all these questions, we’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, that they worked so hard to include the second bear really makes me think it really will be important in the clear card story.

    Since Mereime-neechan asked for it, the scenarist is Ohkawa, obviously; the storyboard is Asaka; the episode director is WAKABAYASHI Kunio… he wasn’t in the first series, and isn’t in the series main staff; the director of images is HAMADA Kunihiko, the new character designer. so big names on this episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I quite liked the pacing of episode 1. I think they wanted to really hook the audience. I am sure you already noticed that the pacing gets a lot better in the upcoming episodes.

      Hence, I would think the OVA is definitely part of the manga universe, a manga fan treat available only with the third tankoubon. And they really worked out of their way to differentiate the scene between this TV series and the rest of the versions.
      I fully agree. And I think the reason why Syaoran is not wearing his uniform is exactly because of that.

      I would guess Sakura gave her bear to Xiaolang on the second leaving, because he came back in Japan for the second movie and he still wasn’t home when the 2010s series start, so he had to leave a second time.
      Yes, except that she is wearing the same clothes as episode 70 and Kero specifically says she made the bear in a hurry before going to the airport. It looks like a small consistency flaw, but not that it matters.

      Like

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