Also Known As: CCS, Cardcaptors
Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Romance
Format: 70 Episodes
Allegiance: CLAMP/Kodansha/Madhouse Studios
Director: Kondo Eizo
Vintage: 1998-2000
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Kinomoto Sakura is your average 10-year-old living in Tomoeda, Japan. However, she’s recently been having some strange dreams involving the Tokyo Tower, floating cards, and a strange yellow creature. One day after school, while her brother and father are out, Sakura discovers a strange book in the basement entitled “The Clow,” which contains a stack of mysterious cards. Picking a bad time to practice her English, Sakura reads out loud the name of the first card, “Windy,” causing a sudden gust of wind that blows all the cards out of the house, and awakening Keroberos, the Beast of the Seal. Keroberos dubs Sakura the new “Card Captor,” and says that she must recapture all the cards before they cause too much mischief in the real world.

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen 
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
Audio
7.50
9.50
9.50
8.50
9.00
Overall 9.25
(not an average)
Card Captor Sakura is certainly an anime that breaks stereotypes. After all, it’s a mahou shoujo that doesn’t stoop to repetitive transformations and fan service, a CLAMP that shares none of the visual characteristics of typical CLAMP works, and an anime geared at a grade school female audience that deals with just about every type of romantic relationship possible without any sugar-coating. Yet, past all these superficial details, Card Captor Sakura is at its root a magical gaze into the life of Kinomoto Sakura, her triumphs, disappointments, friends, romances, heartbreaks, and true love. 

As already established, Kinomoto Sakura is one of the best heroines in anime. Strong, kind-hearted, yet naïve and quick to anger like most 10 year old girls, Sakura’s personality is very realistic, and very endearing. Endearing personalities can only go so far before they grow stale, but CCS’s creators do not disappoint. Throughout the series, Sakura is tested again and again, by the past, present, rivals, emotions, and finally, love. By the end, Sakura is a very different person, yet she is still the same Sakura that stomped down the stairs like a monster at the beginning of the show. As for her supporting cast, they fulfill their roles to the letter, developing personalities and characters of their own, yet always remaining linked to Sakura and the main story as to not overshadow the main character. 

Storywise, Card Captor Sakura is really nothing too out of the ordinary. It’s a typical, repetitive, mahou shoujo plot, except the execution is far superior. While the end to each episode is essentially the same, it is the means that separates CCS from mahou shoujo like Sailor Moon and Kaitou Saint Tail. Throughout its duration, CCS manages to tackle a myriad of complex social issues, most of them pertaining to relationships. It also conducts this in a stunningly mature manner for an anime aimed at grade school children. Another main difference is that the henshin scene, the straw that breaks most mahou shoujo, is barely noticeable in CCS, seeing as it occurs barely once per episode, and only lasts approximately thirty seconds. 

Visually, the character art is quite good. The cutesy look fits this series much better than a stereotypical CLAMP design would have, and the only complaint is that most of the characters are just kinda… too thin. Animation is decent, although a bit choppy during some action sequences. However, while the visuals are good, the audio is outstanding. Charming BGM tracks, catchy vocals (save the ungodly 3rd ED Fruits Candy), and outstanding seiyuu work from Tange Sakura (Kinomoto Sakura), Hisakawa Aya (Kero-chan), and Iwao Junko (Daidouji Tomoyo) all enhance the show greatly and make the characters that much more real. 

Card Captor Sakura is far from your stereotypical mahou shoujo, and just as far from your stereotypical CLAMP. It has something for just about everyone, except people who don’t like cute things. Don’t let the adorable character designs fool you, Card Captor Sakura is as mature as most other anime out there. It just executes these aspects so subtlety and seamlessly that the viewer never asks “wait, what’s this doing in mahou shoujo?”