by Timothy Georgi
Throughout history, civilized man has been fascinated by the elements of the natural world. Earth. Fire. Rain. Clouds. They all have been the basis for myths and legends in many of the cultures of the Earth. This issue's featured series is a story based on one such myth.
What would happen if these wild and unpredictable forces were somehow able to be captured and harnessed? What would happen if these repressed forces were then accidentally released into the world and their powers took on lives of their own? Card Captor Sakura is the story of an ordinary school girl's quest as she reluctantly goes forth to save the world from the destructive magical forces that threaten the world.
The tale begins thousands of years before the present day. It was a catastrophic time. The elemental powers had grown in strength and had become unwieldy and dangerous. A powerful sorcerer named Clow Reed used his magical powers to overcome the elements and capture their powers in the form of a deck of cards. Reed sealed the cards in the mystical Clow Book to protect the world from their destructive power. As an additional precaution, Reed designed the book so that only someone with magical powers could open the seal and release the cards.
To watch over the contents of the book, Reed created two beings, a protector to watch over the seal and a judge to determine if a holder of the cards is worthy to possess them. On the front of the book is Kereberos, the Guard Beast of the Seal, who rules the Sun. On the back is Yue, the judge, who rules the Moon.
Thousands of years passed as the book was carefully hidden from the world until it was finally discovered by Kinomoto Fujitaka, the father of our heroine, Sakura. Fujitaka was unable to open the book himself so he filed it away with all the other books in his basement library. It collected dust for years until...
In June of 1996, the latest creation of the manga production group CLAMP made it's debut in the monthly magazine, Nakayoshi. One of the most followed manga series of the 1990s, Card Captor Sakura created a new following in the Shoujo-esque manga field. It wasn't a typical shoujo story. There were more surprises that you'd normally find in a shoujo manga. There were unexpected relationships. And there was definitely a high level of action and excitement.
The story for CLAMP created an opportunity to take the Card Captor to places beyond where it originally started. The story consisted of two parts. The first part was known as the Clow Cards series and had ended in the June 1998 issue of Nakayoshi. The second part was the Sakura Card series which started in the July 1998 issue of Nakayoshi and ended in the August 1999 issue. Shortly after the first installments were published, the manga series began to be published in self-contained volumes and continuing until the entire series had been republished in graphic novel form.
Just before the first segment of the manga series ended, the anime version of Card Captor Sakura was produced by the anime production group, Madhouse. The series first aired April 7, 1998 on NHK and ran for 70 episodes. The first segment, the Clow Card series, ran for 46 episodes and the Sakura Cards series finished out the series with episodes 47 to 70. The series concluded its television run in March 2000 and had positioned itself as one of the best anime series on Japanese television.
During the run of the television series, Madhouse produced two Card Captor motion pictures. The first movie was released in Japan in August 1999. It follows the storyline of the television series with Sakura and company heading off to Hong Kong for some adventures while on a trip that Sakura won in a raffle contest. The second movie, which was released in July 2000, begins with a flower festival in Tomoeda. It's party time and everyone is enjoying themselves. Shaoran and Meiling come from Hong Kong for their Spring Break to enjoy the festivities. In the middle of all the festivities, the Sakura Cards begin disappearing and mysterious things begin happening in Tomoeda. Will Sakura be able to get all the Sakura Cards back? And what is the cause of the strange things that are happening? Only "The Sealed Cards" will tell the tale.
There's more to Card Captor Sakura than just a quest to recapture the cards of the elements that have been let loose on the world. It's about relationships. It's about adventure. It's about friendship. Let's step on over and see how our story begins...
A young girl stands atop a tall building. The bright lights of Tokyo Tower brighten the night sky. Why is she there? She sees a book with a strange looking creature on the cover. Down at her feet, pastel colored wings appear on her shoes. The wind rustles as she's suddenly closer to the Tower. Then, she leaps from the rooftop, gliding downward...
The series begins with Kinomoto Sakura. Sakura is a normal Grade 4 student at Tomoeda Elementary School. At school she loves PE and music and dislikes math. She lives at home with her father and her older brother, Touya. As older brothers do, Touya makes a habit of teasing Sakura as often as possible, frequently referring to her as a noisy monster. Sakura's father, Fujitaka, is an archaeology professor at a local university. Sakura's mother died when she was 3 years old. Every morning Sakura straps on her brightly colored rollerblades and tags along with Touya on the way to school. On the way, Touya usually meets up with his best friend Yukito. Yukito is in the same class as Touya and is the one that Sakura has a crush on. As they go separate ways, Tomoyo, Sakura's best friend, meets her at the school's gate. Tomoyo is the daughter of the president of a large corporation. She is very good at cooking and sewing and has a love for videotaping things, specifically Sakura. As the first episode progresses, we're introduced to Sakura's classmates and teachers, several of which you can learn more about on the character guide page.
After school, Sakura gets home to find that her father and Touya will be home late. She goes over to the refrigerator to get something to eat when she hears a noise coming from the basement. Unsure who or what it is, she grabs her baton from her PE class and decides to just peek in the door to investigate.
From the doorway, Sakura notices that the noise is coming from a glowing book on the shelf. She carefully pulls the book off the shelf. On the front cover is the picture of a winged beast. She looks at the book and notices that there is a lock on the side. As she examines the book, she hears the noise again as the lock starts to glow. Readjusting her grip, Sakura holds the book tightly, dropping her baton on the floor. The book mysteriously glows and the lock opens.
Sakura slowly opens the cover. Inside, she finds that the book has no pages, but instead contains a deck of cards. She pulls out one of the tall, slender cards and flips it over, reading the text at the bottom. "Wind... Windy," she says. The card begins to glow in her hand. Suddenly a large gust of wind swirled though the room, pulling the remaining cards out of the book and propelling them magically through the ceiling to the outside world.
Stunned, Sakura sits on the floor, staring at the book. To her surprise, the ordeal wasn't over yet. The book began glowing again, but this time a small lion-like creature with little white wings popped out from the cover. Sakura freaks out wondering if the creature is a toy or something. She finds that the creature is called Kerberos, the Guardian Beast of the Seal. Kero was made by the book's creator, Clow Reed, as a protector for the cards inside. Kero explains that when the seal of the book is broken, disaster will befall upon the world. Once freed from the seal, the cards will take on a life of their own and only an individual with magical powers will be able to stop them. Kero tells Sakura that she has the magic within her to recapture the cards and prevent their destructive powers.
So in ceremonial fashion, Kero asks Sakura to stand and begins to recite the lines of a verbal contract... "O Key of the Seal. There is one who wishes for a contract with thee. A girl, named Sakura. O Key, grant her power! Release!" Kero tells Sakura to take the key-turned-wand, exclaiming, "It's the birth of the Card Captor!"
And so begin the adventures of the Card Captor Sakura as she reluctantly sets out to capture the forces of the scattered cards.
In August of 1999, Canadian-based Nelvana Limited announced the acquisition of the North American TV and video distribution and merchandise licensing rights to Card Captor Sakura. Under the licensing agreement, Nelvana was set to serve as the North American television and home video distributor and the merchandise licensing agent for the series.
In the press release found on the Canadian Newswire, Michael Hirsh, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Nelvana Limited said, "Cardcaptor has all the elements of a highly-visible and successful merchandising brand. Nelvana believes the series promises to generate substantial ancillary revenue from related game products. Like Pokemon, Cardcaptor is filled with an unlimited cast of collectible card, toy and magazine characters that appeal to children and pre-teens. We are optimistic the series has strong potential to build our merchandising revenues and profits."
Despite the urge for Nelvana to turn Cardcaptor into the next Pokemon, the first step was to get the show on the airwaves. Nelvana began production of the English dub and started planning to get the show into a syndicated arena. For months the rumors swirled as people speculated as to where Cardcaptors would land.
With that issue brewing, the inevitable fan reactions to the upcoming dub release began to surface. What would have to be done to Card Captor Sakura to make Cardcaptors work on North American television? The first notable item of debate was the decision to rename characters to something that the younger generations could pronounce better. Several different names had been tossed around and one of the major decisions was to use "Nikki" (or any of the many alternate spellings) as a replacement for Sakura. Fans of the original Japanese series immediately reacted to the name changes and began to petition, email and voice their opinions on the matter. After months of fan debate and distaste for the proposed changes, Nelvana finally came out with a final ruling on the issue. Sakura would remain, but several of the other names would be changed. A partial victory was won by the fans and their beloved Sakura would keep her Japanese name. To give a rundown on the name changes, Nelvana listed the changes in the official Cardcaptors website. Here's the list:
Sakura Avalon was originally Sakura Kinomoto
Li Showron was originally Shaolan Li
Keroberos (Kero)is unchanged
Madison Taylor was orginally Tomoyo Daidoji
Tori Avalon was originally Kinomoto Toya
Julian Star was originally Yukito Tsukishiro
Meilin Rae was originally Meilin Li
Aiden Avalon was originally Fujitaka Kinomoto
Natasha Avalon was originally Nadesiko Kinomoto
Layla Mackenzie was originally Kaho Mizuki
Rita was originally Rika
Nikki was originally Naoko
Chelsea was originally Chiharu
Zachary was originally Takashi
(Editor's Sidenote: You'll notice that Nikki was still used. I wonder what Naoko's name would have been had Sakura become Nikki.) Name changes for anime on broadcast television seem to be inevitable with the recent explosion of anime coming to television. Good or bad, the show goes on. Amidst the name debate, in April 2000, the official word on a network was given and Cardcaptors was set to appear in October on Kids' WB!.
Then in May 2000, Sakura and crew started to appear during commercial breaks on Kids' WB!. Warner Bros. began their publicity run for a June premiere of Cardcaptors, directly contradicting the October release information on Nelvana's website. The confusion was finally cleared up on June 17th as Kids' WB! aired the first episode of the dubbed Cardcaptors during its Saturday morning cartoon block.
Did the anime community get what they wanted? Some say yes, some say no. For those that can't stomach the dubbed version, there is still hope. Pioneer Entertainment will be releasing the series, uncut in it's original form and subtitled. The first DVD and VHS of the subbed Card Captor Sakura is scheduled to hit the shelves in mid-September. Whether you like the original story or if you're a new Sakura convert, one of the hottest things from Japanese television is finally here. Sakura has quite a journey ahead of her. Fun, adventure, and we all can be part of it. So, sit down on a Saturday morning or grab that DVD and join in on the fight to save the world from the powers of the Clow Cards. Card Captor Sakura is summoning you...
Next: Time for a Kero-chan CHECK!