By CLAMP. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Nakayoshi. Released in North America by Dark Horse.
The second omnibus of Cardcaptor Sakura gives us Vol. 4-6 of the original series, which was effectively the end of ‘Season One’ of the manga. As such, Sakura continues to find and capture Clow Cards one by one, gaining strength and confidence, until the climax where she is forced against the most powerful card – and a powerful enemy. Or is he?
I always have to remember to downshift my brain a bit when I read the early 90s shoujo stylings of Cardcaptor Sakura. In a modern, 21st century world where most manga, shonen and shoujo, are targeted to the largest possible market, it’s refreshing to see something that is clearly meant to primarily entertain 6 to 8-year-old girls. That said, the downside to this – although perhaps not a downside so much as simply a different way of seeing things – is that there really doesn’t seem to be much happening for the first two thirds of this book.
There’s certainly lots of entertaining things going on. Kaho Mizuki, the new teacher of Sakura’s that showed up at the end of the last book, continues to hang around, trying to guide Sakura by means of subtle hints and gentle boosts to her confidence. The relationship between Sakura’s brother Toya and his friend Yukito is subtle (well, really, everything about Toya is subtle – he’s not a man of many words or emotions), but also nice to see defined as much as it’s going to be in this sort of manga. And the chapter where Sakura and Syaoran have to put on a play is the funnest of the lot, with some classic gender reversal going on, and Yamazaki at his funniest.
That said, it does seem to meander a bit, so I was quite happy when things started to heat up towards the end. CLAMP have a lot of plot gun surprises going on, most of which they did a good job of building up to or giving hints for, and they pop out one by one – Cerebus’ true form, the final Clow Card, the Card’s other guardian, and finally Sakura, having proven that she can capture the cards, has to be judged worthy of being the cards’ leader. Of course, the outcome is not really in doubt – Sakura has spent the previous five books being awesome, after all, it’s not going to reject her right at the end – but the way that the cards end up judging her, rather than Yue, the aforementioned guardian, is excellent. As for Yue’s identity, it gives him a certain gravitas that I don’t think he’d have had as ‘just a random, last-minute character’, and adds some depth to his alter ego as well.
I missed Tomoyo, who was all over the first volume of these but appeared far less in this one. Syaoran is clearly the co-star of the series with Sakura now, and though we have not yet approached the romance stage – Sakura’s still far too young and naive – it’ clear that’s where we’re headed. I also note that people who like shaded characters and some flaws in their heroes are going to have issues with this manga – Sakura may worry and lack confidence at times, but she’s also a kickass magical girl good at sports and beloved by all her friends. As for Kaho, I like her, but I wish she was less nice and sweet. Everyone’s kind and considerate and seems to have all their ducks in a row, so to speak.
So it’s not exactly great angsty drama, but the second CCS omnibus is fun, fluffy magical girl shoujo that is perfect for a young girl wanting to read some manga. And Dark Horse’s presentation matches the first volume – crisp, sharp images, nice thick paper, oversize, and with lots of color pages. Also, despite being CLAMP, fear not – this series has an ending. Though not quite yet. Volume 3 will arrive soon, and bring with it one of the most controversial characters in the series, Eriol.
In the meantime, we have this book. Guaranteed to make you feel all floaty.