Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie (1999)

Cardcaptor-Sakura-84b37452

Genre: Animation, Kids

Cast: Voices of people I don’t know

Synopsis:  In the movie extension of the anime series, a magical Japanese school girl travels to Hong Kong with her friends and comes face-to-face with a pissed off evil sorceress.

As I mentioned before, in less than three weeks I will be off to Japan for a vacation, In order to get myself in the Japanese spirit, I decided to revisit some of my favourite Japanese TV shows, including Cardcaptor Sakura. If there was an award for the most LGBT friendly kids show, Cardcaptor Sakura would probably win it hands down. As far as I know, it is the only kids show which has both a gay love-triangle story arc AND an unrequited lesbian-love storyline. There’s even an episode where two male characters do a power transfer through a “special hug.” Well, the Japanese version was very gay. The English dub was more nonsensical. Anyway, I usually stay away from the movie adaptations of animes. However, I vaguely remembered watching this a long time ago and, if I remember correctly, I actually quite enjoyed it.

The reason why I usually stay from anime movie adaptations is because there is a tendency to take the story too away from the ones featured in the show. For instance, the Naruto movies always introduce crazy new characters and situations which require the main characters to do things that they can’t do in the series i.e. one-off gimmick moves. Moreover, the movie plots are placed in a time-frame which doesn’t align very well with the episodes. Fortunately, there isn’t any of that nonsense here and one of the strengths of this movie is that it feels much more like an extended episode. All of the great things about the series are featured in the movie.

What are some of those things? Well, for starters, gay sexual tension! It’s not quite as pronounced in the movie as it is in the series but it’s still there. Secondly, great magic battle scenes. The main character, Sakura, is essentially the master of these magical cards which contain spirits which can do her bidding. She must collect all the spirits and transform them into cards all while battling the forces of evil and dealing with the advances of her voyeuristic friend/lesbian lover. To collect these spirits, she must use the cards already in her possession to fight, trick or coerce them. While she does it she wears the most kawaii costumes imaginable. That’s a third great thing about this movie: fashion. It’s probably one of the few animes which takes costume quite seriously. The detail put into these outfits is amazing and I’m sure they can provide some interesting pointers for female viewers. Unfortunately, as a guy, I wouldn’t look great in Lolita dresses and hats with a cherry blossom pendant pinned on but if I have a daughter I’ll model her style on the characters in this show.

Another thing that is beautifully rendered is the city of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it is an insanely idealised version of city steeped in magic and mystery and I’m sure it bears little resemblance to what Hong Kong is like in reality. You know how there’s that mental illness Japanese people get when they visit Paris and it’s nothing like what they imagined (largely because the city reeks of piss and everyone is super rude)? Well, I’m worried I’ll get that if I visit Hong King now because of this movie. Still, it would be nice to imagine Hong Kong as a place that still has mystical shrines and bird markets.

As a word of warning, if you watch this movie without watching any of the TV series, you will be confused as fuck. You need to have a core understanding of who these characters are and what it is they are doing. If you watch it without having seen the show, you will have all sorts of questions like: “who be dis bitch with the bow and arrow?” and “why is the main character acquiescing to her creepy friend’s requests to film her.” Fortunately, all of the episodes are on Youtube! I’m just going to conveniently leave a link right here and hope some of you take the bait.

High-lights:

  • This girl’s fashion sense is on point!
  • Epic battle scenes. The one with the water was boss.
  • Great animation and sound editing.
  • LGBT friendly.
  • Screaming catchphrases like “RELEEEAAASSSEE!!!!” and “WINDY!!!”

Downers:

  • An unrealistically beautiful version of Hong Kong which I will never get to see.
  • Difficult to grasp if you’re not a fan of the show.
  • There is one scene that borders on racial insensitivity when portraying horny Chinese girls: “ME ROVE YOU RONG TIME!”

Summary:

A surprisingly good movie which manages to capture all that is enjoyable about the TV show without distorting its plot or timeline. Cardcaptor Sakura truly is a wonderful anime and I would encourage you all to give it a go. When I’m in Japan I will no doubt visit Akihabara (Tokyo’s video game and manga district) and while I’m there I will try to hunt down some Cardcaptor Sakura memorabilia….maybe a fierce battle outfit like this saucy cat number….I’ll be the most kawaii journalist in London.

7/10

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2 Comments

Filed under Good, Kids

2 responses to “Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie (1999)

  1. Brings back so many memories! I love Cardcaptor Sakura! I still have all the mangas 🙂 I’ve only seen the shows though. I need to check this out. Awesome review!

  2. I’m so happy one of my followers is a fan of the show. Are the mangas any good?

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