Author: CLAMP, 1996 – 2000
Volumes: 12 (published in English by Tokyopop as Cardcaptor Sakura 1–6, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow 1–6)
The Clow cards have escaped from their binding, and Sakura must recover them with the advice of the card’s stuffed animal guardian Kero-chan and the technology and fashion of her best friend Tomoyo!
Yes, its magical girl, but it’s CLAMP magical girl, which makes all the difference. The artwork is gorgeous – cute, gentle and upbeat – and the plot line still seems new and interesting despite the proliferation of the magical girl genre. Refreshingly, Sakura doesn’t need to use her magic to boost her self-esteem. Her male counterpart knows about her powers, short-circuiting a lot of the irritating poor-communication/mistaken-identity plot lines.
Although an in-depth analysis of the relationships involved in this manga might disturb the reader, Cardcaptor Sakura is so cute, it doesn’t matter. It manages to be sweet without cloying. It has danger and emotional change without slipping into angst. The magic is well thought out, more or less consistent, and mostly makes sense. Well worth reading by both genders. (Real men read CLAMP!)
Shonen-ai/Shojo-ai Note: Except for one paring, all shonen-ai/shojo-ai inclinations are mild and one-sided. And while some are “You don’t want to think about this too much,” they’re easy to ignore. One pairing is reciprocated. Maybe. Possibly. Only CLAMP could have one guy say to another, “You are my most important person,” and still have that be a debated pairing. All but the most stubborn dissenters acknowledge that the two are a couple. (Though this raises the question, if they dislike slash so much, why are they reading CLAMP?) If there is a rating less than G, then Cardcaptors gets it. Also, yes, I was being annoyingly vague on purpose.
Continuity Note: Things from Cardcaptor Sakura appear in xxxHOLiC. Whether this means they’re in the same world is up for debate.
Anime Adaptation: I’ve seen only a few episodes of the anime. The art transferred surprisingly well, though simplified, and the tone of the series is consistent with the manga. Of course, there are more cards to capture in the anime, as well as additional characters. However, I’m not sure how well the larger plot lines survived. If you’ve got the time, watch it. Nice and heartwarming.