Cardcaptor Sakura, Vol. 9: Winter Wonderland (1998)
Review by Dindrane

Directed by Morio Asaka
Music Performed by Gumi
Original manga by Clamp


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Rating: 13+, but perfectly safe for most ages.

Anamorphic: N/A

My Advice: Buy it

Winter Wonderland contains the three episodes that herald the end of the first season of Cardcaptor Sakura. In "Sakura's Freezing Ice Skating," she encounters a new Clow Card. Will she be able to capture this one before her friends are in the deep freeze forever? In "Sakura, Yukito, and Midday Moon," Sakura and Yukito are teamed up for a town-wide quiz contest. In "Sakura's Wonderful Christmas," Sakura faces another tough Clow Card and just might have to have her friend's help to pull her fat out of the Fire! Throughout the episodes, Sakura has visions of a mysterious woman overseeing her Clow activities. Could this woman really be Sakura's math teacher, Ms. Mizuki? This disc also marks the final Kero end-segment.

The characters are even deeper than you would expect from anime geared towards younger audiences, which is part of what makes Winter Wonderland work for adult audiences, as well. Given that this is the original Japanese uncut edition of the show, these three episodes continue the character interactions in interesting ways: characters don't automatically like each other just because they're in the same series. For example, Li is jealous of Yukito, and Sakura's brother Toya isn't quite sure he likes Li. Kero also changes, as he regains some of his power in the final episode of this disc. Things seem to evolve between Sakura and Yukito, and there are also some very funny moments between Meilin and Li.

The video and audio quality are both good enough. The colors and art of the Cardcaptor Sakura series is so good that it would be a shame if the video weren't solid, so luckily it is.

The extras are nearly non-existent. There is a line-art gallery, which is quite nice, and a spiffy postcard, but that's it. It would at least have been nice to have had a dub on this disc, too, just for the option. The art is so good that the subtitles distract from a viewer's enjoyment of the episodes. Given that there are only three episodes on this disc, a few nifty features would have been nice.

Basically, Winter Wonderland is good, clean, innocent fun in a world that desperately needs it. It's attractive, well-written, lovely to look at, and the characters are genuinely engaging. No one here should irritate you just by existing. Fans of the series will be as charmed by these three episodes as any episodes before. They are marked by the humor, fine art, action, and characterization that makes Cardcaptors work. There are plenty of humorous moments in this disc, along with some character development and good storytelling. What more could you ask for?

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