Written by: Clamp
Directed by: Morio Asaka
Art Direction by: Yuji Akeda
Music Composed by: Takayuki Negishi
Dindrane's Anime Warnings:
- Some minor violence
- Minor teen angst
- Some attacks might frighten young children
- Better costumes than we get to wear
Released by: Pioneer
My Advice: Get the special edition, but after you see the series
The plot of this one seems to remind most otaku of the Tenchi in Tokyo movie, but it does manage to have a life and entertainment value of its own. Given that this is almost certainly the last installment of the Sakura saga that Clamp will ever produce, there is a lot of pressure on this movie to tie up all the loose ends and give us a final, positive view of Sakura, et al. to carry us the rest of our lives. Luckily, the movie is up to it. Clamp is known for their great characterizations, and this is no exception. The plot is nicely paced, filled with action and character interaction, each character gets his or her moment to shine (even Yue, Kero, Touya, and so forth), and we finally get some resolution to the Sakura-Shaoran relationship.
As an aside, if your only exposure to Sakura has been the chopped and Americanized version shown on TV will need to get used to the authentic names, such as Clow Reed/Eli is now "Eriol," and Madison is now "Tomoyo." Just pay attention, though, and you'll catch up quickly.
The only disappointment on this disc is that there are no features. A property as loved as Cardcaptor should have something at least...scans of some manga, a .pdf of the screenplay, interviews with Clamp members, even some run-of-the-mill outtakes would be swell. The special edition of the disc, however, was nicely loaded with expanded footage, a special Kero audio track, a long booklet, and so forth, but as I haven't seen that, I can't comment on it. On the up side, even this regular, non-special edition is widescreen anamorphic, a fact for which I am grateful to Pioneer. There are also two subtitle options, a choice that is becoming standard but is still sadly lacking on some other discs.
Another thing for which Clamp is known is their extraordinary artistic sensibility. This movie is just gorgeous. Each character is distinct and beautiful, and the backgrounds, special effects, and details are pitch perfect for the plot and for just plain enjoying the view. If you want to see animation at its best, then this movie is for you.
The audio is less perfect, but this is not the fault of the digital transfer or the production values--both of which are great. The problem lies with a couple members of the American cast who slightly overplay their hands, most notably Tomoyo and Meilin, both of whom subscribe to the "screechier is better" school of voice acting, which sounds even worse in English than it does in Japanese. This is definitely a movie to watch with the subtitles, even if you normally hate to "read" a movie.
If you love Cardcaptor Sakura, and you know you do, then you should enjoy this film. If you aren't yet familiar with Sakura, Shaoran, and the rest, then watch the series and then check this out. Fans of lighthearted adventure, especially the magical girl genre, will eat this up, and even those viewers who don't think they would like the cuteness of this show will be charmed; Sakura has somehow won over many harder hearts than yours with her irresistible combination of courage, kindness, and toughness.