Card Captor Sakura the Movie
Sakura wins a trip to Hong Kong in a prize raffle, so she takes Tomoyo, Touya, and Yukito with her to have some fun. Of course, whom should she run into but her rival, Li Shaolan (naturally, because he's from there!) and his constant companion (and cousin) Meiling? She meets his family, including his four very girly teenage sisters, and his beautiful and perceptive mother. Of course, maybe that raffle win may not have been just chance after all...as the trip to Hong Kong turns out not to be all fun and games. Premonitions and encounters with two strange birds lead to an unexpected magical showdown with a mysterious figure who has been apparently lying in wait for the possessor of the Clow Cards...and how will Sakura fare against this sinister new challenge?
Though not really a stand-alone movie, as it requires at least foreknowledge of the relationships between the various characters, Card Captor Sakura the Movie succeeds in taking the essence of the series, and putting it in wonderful fashion onto the big screen, without compromising anything in the bargain. The first time I was able to view this was as a recently released, unsubtitled Japanese tape - but I had no trouble at all tuning into this. All the wonder and charm of the television series is here, and interestingly enough (though not surprisingly for a CLAMP title), there is a sense of suspense and atmosphere that is really well done, and crescendos into a climax that proved resoundingly that throwing a high budget at CCS is actually quite a good idea.
Yet despite the obviously high amount of detail in the backgrounds and character animation, this is still recognizably Card Captor Sakura. It's like having an extended episode of the TV series with a movie budget, which is essentially the purpose of a film like this. Mind you, most of the time I would not consider that statement a compliment, but in this case, it is, as the TV series is excellent to begin with. Plus the whole Hong Kong setting is wonderful, and adds to the entire experience. (Apparently, the Japanese find it as exotic as we do, and they're practically next door!)
The character voices reprise themselves in this movie, with the notable addition of Inoue Kikuko as Shaolan's mother, Li Ieran, and the antagonist, voiced by Hayashibara Megumi. Those of you used to the American dub of the TV series may find the voices far higher pitched than you're used to, but then again, that's a dub I advise avoiding in the first place. Otherwise, you know what to expect as far as the characters - really cute, really charming, without being cloying or stupid. (And Li-kun's sisters are a riot!)
The best part of the whole deal is that behind the fine animation and cute characters is a well-written, serious plot that takes very little time to hook you in, and it takes you on quite an interesting and fun ride. Unlike some other CLAMP projects turned movies (cough cough, X, cough cough), the storyline is coherent, fast-paced, and eminently watchable. The slightly darker ambience of this film is what you'd expect from a full-length motion picture, and it generally makes everything just a little more suspenseful and exciting. The music complements the animation well without overwhelming it; and in turn, the animation never overwhelms the storyline, though there are some incredible action sequences that only a movie budget could give proper justice. (This after the TV series, whose action sequences already raise the bar quite high for a magical girl series.)
Mind you, if you're deathly allergic to shoujo, or magical girls, or "cute" in general, you won't be able to just sit there and watch the pretty pictures. (Go watch Spriggan.) This show is essentially (and always has been) about the trials and tribulations of Sakura herself, both as the Card Captor, sealer of the Clow Cards, and as a young girl not quite ready to be a woman. It's not just about flash and style (though it has plenty of it), but it's not so serious you won't enjoy it. And thank goodness they didn't dumb anything down (like, say, the Ranma movies).
Newbies would best be served watching the Card Captor Sakura TV series first (not that it's such a bad thing!) but those who know and love the characters of this show simply must see this movie. It is, quite simply, everything that a Card Captor Sakura movie should be - and more!
A perfect movie for a wonderful TV series. Anyone other than a fan of this show might opt to take it down a star or two, but it should be said that this is CCS at its best. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Very little objectionable content. There is some violence, and the atmosphere is a bit darker than the TV series, though not much more so than, say, the episode with the Illusion card. Children about Sakura's age and older (late elementary or so) would love this, and their parents would appreciate it too (unless they have trouble with the whole aspect of using cards to summon magic spells). Recommended family viewing for the open-minded.
Version(s) Viewed: Japanese VHS, R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Card Captor Sakura the Movie © 1999 CLAMP / Kodansha / NHK / NEP21
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