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January 10, 2011

Bento Bako Weekly: Cardcaptor Sakura vol. 1 Omnibus

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Cardcaptor Sakura
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Author: CLAMP (Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, Nanase Ohkawa)
Volume: Volume 1 (omnibus version, 1 of 4), $19.99
Vintage: 1996-97 by Kodansha in Japan, November 2010 by Dark Horse
Genre: Magical girl, comedy, romance, kid friendly

Years ago, a great sorcerer named Clow created a set of powerful magical cards (the Clow Cards). He sealed these cards, some of which are quite dangerous, away inside a book. Fourth grader Sakura, whose father Fujitaka is an archeologist, found this book tucked away in her father’s library and opened it, only to find it empty. The book’s guardian, a tiny flying creature named Cerberus (nicknamed Kero-chan), told Sakura that she must have her own magical powers to have been able to open the book and awaken him, and that it is now her responsibility to capture the cards and return them to the book under his guidance. If the Clow Cards, which have come to life, are allowed to run rampant, disaster may befall the world. With Kero’s support and the power of the book’s key (which transforms into a magic staff), Sakura starts collecting the cards. It won’t be easy; the cards have minds of their own, and while some have gentle dispositions, others have violent personalities. Fortunately Sakura doesn’t carry this burden alone, as her best friend Tomoyo is in on the secret. Tomoyo makes costumes for Sakura to fight in, and often videotapes Sakura’s battles for her (well, more for herself, really). And even though they don’t know her secret, she is surrounded with love from her father and her older brother, Toya, and his best friend, Yukito (whom Sakura has a crush on). Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. Some of the Clow Cards are genuinely dangerous; the water based card attacks students in the school pool, and one of them even tries to harm Toya. Once she catches them and signs her name to them, they are under Sakura’s control, but her progress is slow going. Enough that a strange boy the same age as Sakura shows up, demanding that she turn the cards over to him. Syaoran feels that Sakura doesn’t have the power or the skills to capture and wield the cards, but Kero insists that the book would not have chosen her if she wasn’t capable. In the meantime, Sakura must hide Kero from an ever more suspicious Toya, compete with Syaoran not only for the cards, but also for Yukito’s attentions, and balance her everyday school life with hunting for the cards at night. Fortunately she gets to relax from these pressures with Tomoyo’s help, and is able to hear stories about her deceased mother Nadeshiko from Tomoyo’s mother, who was Nadeshiko’s cousin. Syaoran isn’t the last strange person to show up, however, as a new teacher sets the young sorcerer on edge. While Syaoran and Sakura have been inadvertently working together, they may be forced into a more serious partnership when they find themselves, along with Tomoyo, trapped in a mysterious maze.

This charming manga is a clear example of why CLAMP is so popular with fans. Darling artwork, lovable characters, excellent story telling; everything is lovingly well crafted. Featuring a young heroine, the series is a great choice for youngsters, but maintains a quality that makes it great for older readers as well. Though I should say, if you have a strong distaste for the magical girl genre, you may not like Cardcaptor Sakura. There are plenty of flowers (in fact, there’s a couple of chapters where a flower based card literally drowns Sakura’s entire school in flower petals), sparkles, cute costumes, magical symbols, an adorable mascot, super cute kids, and handsome guys. Possibly too much cute for some readers, but a perfect amount for me, and I have no shame admitting that I would love a Kero-chan of my very own. There are a lot of things here that make this a good manga, but there are some weird things, too. Or maybe it’s just my recent over saturation with yaoi influencing my interpretation of the translation (which is likely). There do seem to be some interesting and as yet unclear relationships between some of the characters. There’s something underlying the friendship between Toya and Yukito, which makes Toya largely ignore the attention his friend gives his sister. Tomoyo sees Sakura as much more than just a friend, but as she appears to support Sakura’s feelings for Yukito, my yaoi induced interpretation may be off base (or maybe I’m interpreting it correctly after all). Syaoran has an adorable admiration for Yukito and gets flustered anytime he’s near. There are hints that Yukito may be aware of Sakura’s powers, and that Toya (if he isn’t completely aware already) has growing suspicions about his sister’s behavior. The rivalry between Sakura and Syaoran is presented in a very real way, as they fight each other just like the kids they are. It’s a lot of fun watching Syaoran trying to cover up the fact that he is occasionally impressed by Sakura’s abilities.

The series is filled with warmth (and adorableness), with themes of friendship, love, and inner strength. It’s classic shoujo, but only as CLAMP can do it. And only as Dark Horse can publish it. This version of Cardcaptor Sakura contains over twenty full-color pages, featuring the original manga covers, plus bonus illustrations, on glossy paper. The art, remastered from the original artwork, is crisp and high in quality. It’s another excellent, must buy CLAMP omnibus from Dark Horse. Beautiful to look at, and fun to read.




  1. […] of the Immortal (Slightly Biased Manga) Kate Dacey on Blue Spring (The Manga Critic) Kristin on vol. 1 of Cardcaptor Sakura (omnibus edition) (Comic Attack) Penny Kenny on vol. 1 of The Clique (Manga Life) Charles Webb on […]

  2. Sam

    Any idea how the translation is compared to the Tokyopop version?

  3. Kristin

    I haven’t seen the TP version, so I don’t know. But I believe it’s supposed to be a new translation, so it’s cleaned up. Also, all the extra artwork. Otherwise, I don’t know how they’re different. 🙁 Sorry.

  4. […] Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus volume 2, by CLAMP. “The beautiful new teacher in Sakura’s class, Kaho Mizuki, soon reveals that she’s a shrine maiden with magic powers of her own. But, as always, the struggle to capture the Clow cards is woven together with the mysterious – and complicated – threads of love and affection between Sakura and all the people in her life. Will her heart be strong enough as she faces the one who will judge her worthiness to master the cards at last?” July 2011, $19.99, from Dark Horse Comics. […]

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