Cardcaptor Sakura is not something that should be written off because of its significantly younger targeted demographic. The main focus of the first volume is Sakura capturing the Clow Cards. The cards themselves each embody different elements, which are often tied to events in Sakura’s personal life, particularly later in the book. Despite being aimed at younger readers, this first volume deals with many themes that will likely resonate more with older audiences. For those familiar with it, one cannot help but wonder whether the English edits to the animated television adaptation from years ago, despite creating increased visibility, enhanced perceptions of the series or not. For myself, it resulted approaching the series with apprehension, as the old dub of the anime scrubbed the series of many of important thematic elements.

The first volume of the manga deals with a romance with very significant age differences between the two involved parties, which may be questionable for some readers. For instance, Sakura’s mother was still in high school when she was engaged to Sakura’s father, who was her teacher at the time. The series itself frames these relationships as neither positive nor negative. Much of this is simply heavily implied, and goes over Sakura’s head. One of the biggest aspects lingering in the background much of the time that often drives the plot is the death of Sakura’s mother.

Also implied in the first volume is the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sakura obtaining the Clow Cards, which may have more to it than initially apparent thanks to a few awkward moments with Kero. It’s not entirely clear at this point what those circumstances are, but it lingers in the background of the book implying even darker events are to come for Sakura. Another point of note is that the series is very LGBT friendly, with many core cast members having romantic attraction to someone of the same gender. Sakura’s rival, a young boy from China named Li for instance has feelings for Yukito, the object of Sakura’s affection too.

Li is introduced midway into the volume as a rival for capturing the Clow cards, and he makes for an excellent foil to Sakura. Both of them have their own methods and reasons for trying to obtain the Clow cards, and at this point Li’s motivation, and back story, are not entirely clear.

Another compelling character is Sakura’s best friend Tomoyo, who herself has implied romantic feelings for Sakura. Tomoyo initially feels superfluous, but with the introduction of her mother, who also held romantic feelings towards Sakura’s mother in the past, their friendship develops in fascinating ways. Perhaps that isn’t being entirely fair, as the more comedic dynamics in Sakura’s and Tomoyo’s relationship are fascinating on their own. Tomoyo is more of a motherly figure to Sakura, despite also being in elementary school. As with Li and many other cast members, Tomoyo seems to have more to her than what is apparent in this volume.

With all the interesting characters and plots it will be genuinely exciting to see where the Cardcaptor Sakura goes. There wasn’t a dull page in this volume, nor does it ever feel cluttered. It has plenty to offer for pretty much anyone of any age, it’s that great. I strongly encourage picking up the series, even with only a vague interest as I had going into it.

Cardcaptor Sakura vol 1 cover

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