Here's the latest series pulling on my nostalgia and purse strings alike. Kodansha has released an anniversary edition of Cardcaptor Sakura in hardback, and of course I need to get all of them.
Fourth-grader Sakura Kinomoto, with her latent magical ability, accidentally sets free a deck of magical cards, called Clow Cards, from inside a book in her father’s study. She’s also awakened “Cerberus,” nicknamed Kero-San, the Guardian of the Seal, who gives Sakura the key to the book and the ability to capture the cards again. These cards have gone out into the world and will wreck havoc in their own ways depending on their magical affinity. Sakura must capture the cards and use their abilities to capture even more cards.
Helping her out is her best friend, Tomoyo, who films Sakura’s exploits using a handheld camcorder, and designs all of Sakura’s amazing outfits. Tomoyo makes a new one for each new outing Sakura takes, which often happen at night when the Clow Cards are at their strongest. While collecting all these mischievous cards, Sakura navigates fourth grade, her crush on her brother’s friend, Yukito, and her affinity for anything athletic.
Some things in this story definitely haven’t stood the test of time, especially the tech in the story (pagers, camcorders, VHS tapes), but the majority of this story is timeless. Sakura is a very relatable kid, especially to the elements that make her human, like having crushes and being good at a particular subject in school. Tomoyo is also a really sweet character who uses her family's riches to explore her burgeoning talent for clothing design, and who expresses more than just friendship-type-love for Sakura, but Sakura is completely clueless.
The other major selling point for this series is its humor. CLAMP can be absolutely campy, and Kero-san is the big cheese-ball in this series. There are plenty of little funny one-liners that are right in line with elementary/middle school humor that younger students will find enjoyable.
The illustrations by the CLAMP group are always extremely detailed and beautiful. The detail around the eyes is something particular to this group that is a hallmark of all their stories, and they also excel in fantastical clothing, which here is utilized in all of Sakura's amazing outfits.
This series was also one of the foundations of the Magical Girl genre being so popular in the U.S. Its importance to the genre and the appeal the characters and story have, even to modern audiences, make this one that is a great investment for school libraries.
Notes on the Collector's Edition: the pages are very thin, which makes the book much lighter than Kodansha's Sailor Moon Eternal Edition that collects a similar amount of original volumes into one book. Because it is the Collector's Edition, and in hardback, this has a considerable markup in price. These volumes collect 1.5 volumes of the original run of Cardcaptor Sakura, and are priced around $30. For library purchasing, I'd consider the Omnibus editions, which come in at around $20, and collect 3 of the original volumes. These are paperback, and their binding isn't as strong, but you will be able to collect the entire original run in 4 volumes, rather than in the 9 planned volumes of the Collector's Edition.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 4-8
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Manga, Magical Girl, Action Adventure, Friendship, LGBTQ+
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