This Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card review contains spoilers.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episodes 20, 21, 22
First off I must beg forgiveness from you, the faithful readers of my Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card reviews. I neglected to inform you I would be gone for two weeks AND I neglected to find out that this week would be THE FINALE OF THE SHOW. WHAT?!
Sadly these three episodes brought to the forefront all of the weaknesses that had been bubbling under the surface of the series. I would have paid more attention to these problems earlier in the series if I had thought we’d be wrapping up the story this soon. I genuinely thought Clear Card was doing that anime thing where it would screw around for around twenty five episodes then kick into gear around episode thirty and we’d start actually developing the plot until the finale around episode fifty.
BUT NOPE, it’s all rushed in these last three episodes and it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Episode 21 is especially bad since it’s almost an entire info dump episode and the information it provides doesn’t really clear (heh) much up. I won’t try to figure out what the hell was going on with Kaito or Eriol because the series didn’t really bother to figure it out itself.
This was a similar problem I had with Digimon Adventure tri. Both series kept piling questions onto their increasingly convoluted mysteries and then rushed at the end to try and explain them all without actually resolving many of the lingering plot threads. It’s incredibly unsatisfying as a viewer when you hoped the series was carefully setting up arcs and all the confusion would pay off but you’re just left scratching your head.
The problem is that amidst all the ridiculous attempts to quickly wrap up the story there are some gems of ideas that made me long for a different main arc. While I would have loved the series to drop the whole “Card” aspect and be a slice of life anime there was an intriguing notion about Sakura’s powers that could have been explored.
Sakura’s magic getting stronger and how this might be tied into her own emotions. Someone with that much power can’t be happy. It isn’t quite elaborated on why but if this had been more fleshed out and tied into Sakura’s worry about not knowing herself that would have made for an amazing arc.
The arc we got wasn’t really tied into anyone’s development, it was all just heavy handed plot. Things happened but it didn’t make us feel anything but confused. If this show had been about Sakura’s growth? Dealing with her anxieties about the changes in her life and how that manifested as her growing and unpredictable magic? This show would have been perfect.
It could have also explored one of the more… problematic elements of the show, that being so many people seeing Sakura’s mom in her. It was certainly the case for Sakura’s great grandfather and Tomoyo’s mom. So many people really only see Sakura as a representation of what they lost and they try to use her as some kind of connection to her mom. That would have been powerful as hell to dig into, to have Sakura struggle to figure out who she is.
It was all right there. Episode 21 has Sakura deliver this powerhouse line that could have been the driving force for the show.
“I’m the one who understands myself least. Maybe that’s why I make everyone worry. I wish I had a mirror… One that would show the real me. Then, maybe I would know how to avoid making everyone worry.”
The gut punch there is Sakura really doesn’t make that many people worried. They all think the world of her but she can’t see it. She’s so concerned with other people’s happiness and what they think of her she can’t see the love everyone has for her.
Going back to my review of the very first episode, that would have given us the development I wish Sakura had received. It would have had her grow as a person. I enjoyed all the cute stuff to be sure but after awhile it needed some substance. Same for all the other characters.
Tomoyo’s endless obsession with Sakura was hilarious but after awhile it was the same joke over and over. Stop having her fawn over Sakura and give her a love interest of her own! Syoaran got a little development but he was mostly sidelined as part of the series’ “mystery” which his involvement in was never clear. If only we’d had more moments like episode 14 (probably the series’ best) that really demonstrated how much he’d grown from his very first appearance all the way back in the original series.
The true heroes of Clear Card are Meiling and Kero. Meiling for pushing everyone to confront what they were struggling with and Kero for being a bastion of self-love.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card was a really fun series that almost seemed to be fighting against itself. It knew it had to have some kind of over arching plot but instead focused on the little moments of Sakura’s life, like her singing as she made omelets.
Those moments were able to stay at the forefront for much of the series but it had to return to its arc eventually and that’s where it suffered. If the series had balanced those super cute moments with an arc that strengthened Sakura’s character we wouldn’t have needed a convoluted mystery to solve by the end.
The only resolution we would have needed would be Sakura learning to love herself.
Hopefully there’s more Cardcaptor Sakura in our future. Even with the bad arc those moments of cuteness were truly revolutionary for television. Any series that can make characters baking for eight solid minutes be the most adorable thing on the planet? That’s a series we all need in our lives.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Also, this show did not have enough of Yukito and Toya being SUPER GAY. Biggest missed opportunity. Follow him on Twitter!