It’s more about family this time, though some family members aren’t all that welcome.
What They Say:
Tiny Troubles. Card by card, Sakura gets closer to capturing them all, still the cards find plenty of ways to make trouble! Sakura thought the Loop Card’s never-ending race was tiring, but the Sleep Card’s about to teach Sakura’s father what tired really means! Now, even Sakura’s friends have to help out when the Song Card makes Tomoyo keep singing until she gets the song perfect. What could be next? Oh, no! Sakura’s been turned tiny by the Little Card – how will she capture it if her magic key is too huge to hold?
The audio presentation for this release is straightforward as we get the original Japanese language in stereo but nicely encoded at 384kbps. The series isn’t one with a huge or dynamic range to it considering its origins but it handles the forward soundstage well here with dialogue placed appropriately where needed while the action scenes have a good full flow to them with some minor directionality in a few places. The swirling of music tends to be one of the stronger points for it and that’s something that gives the show a little extra push, especially with the opening and closing sequences. While not a standout mix, it does the job well and we didn’t detect any distortion or dropouts throughout the episodes and overall had no issues with this track. Solid stuff all the way around.
Originally airing from 1998 to 2000, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series has a strong look to it in general with Madhouse animating it and using the appealing CLAMP character designs along with some very good colors. Traditionally animated for the most part, it has bright colors, smooth animation during the busy scenes and a good sense of detail about it. The release isn’t problem free though, owing to the time of its original release, and we have some cross coloration showing up throughout in small ways here and there and some line noise that creeps in as well. Some of the backgrounds aren’t as solid as they should be either, but the show generally does hold up pretty well considering when it was released and the difference in encoding now and source materials.
The packaging for this release continues to be a highlight after all these years as we get a single sized white keepcase to hold the disc. The front cover is bright piece but with some good soft pinks and whites for the background. Sakura dominates in a very cute pink flowy outfit of Tomoyo’s design that also brings in the wand which makes it pretty appealing. The logo along the top is straightforward and easy to read and we get a volume name along the bottom where it also breaks down the format of the release. The back cover has some good soft background images of various scenes from the volume, a few shots from the show and a decent if brief premise to the series. The episodes are brown down by name and number and the production credits dominate. The technical side is mild and simple but it brings out the basics needed for this DVD release. The package also comes with an insert where on one side it provides a shot of Sakura with Tomoyo and Li singing together along with a breakdown of the episodes by name, number and the chapters within each one.
Much like the show and the packaging, it’s cute, colorful and bright as we get a still image from the episode related to this volume without any music or sound effects. The menus are pretty simple, with only a few options on the main menu and most of the others in the extras menu, which is where they curiously placed the “Subtitles Off” selection. Access times are very fast and things look pretty good all around here.
The only extra this time around is the non-credit ending sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the addition of Mei Lin in the previous episode, Cardcaptor Sakura enters some dangerous waters. The character was never one I warmed up to all that much the first time around and I suspect the second time won’t be all that much different. She didn’t have a lot of time in the previous volume after her introduction, but she proved to be similar to Shaoran in many ways with her brusque nature and the possessiveness of Shaoran himself, something that neither Sakura nor Shaoran really appreciate since the two of them aren’t exactly an item. Even the tenuous friendship that they were forging at that point is rather easily threatened by the way Mei Lin inserts herself into everything and is just aggressive when it comes towards anyone trying to get closer to him.
With this set of episodes, it’s still a decent mix of Clow Card related stories where the Card isn’t always all that dominant and is often a minor part of things, letting the characters and their relationships and experiences be the focus. The first episode here for example gives us a look at the latest school event which is the marathon that the various classes all have to run, which is pretty lengthy. Sakura won it before, aided by the way she’s always so late getting out of bed and rushing to school, but she gets a challenge from Mei Lin over who will win as Mei Lin is doing her best to prove herself. With Shaoran involved in it all as well, there’s some fun as they race and the three of them get caught up in the Loop card, which has them running in circles so much that Mei Lin actually injures herself. The focus is less on the Card of course, but it’s just fun seeing how this trio is dealing with each other now that Mei Lin inserts herself into it.
Thankfully, the second episode avoids Mei Lin and Shaoran altogether as it deals more with what’s going on with Sakura’s home life. With her father finishing up a presentation that’s important to him, she and Toya take on more chores at home and she goes the extra distance of visiting him at school for the first time. This gets her, Tomoyo and Kero to see what her father is like at his job, which impresses them all, and to meet some of his research assistants. The tweak to it all here is that the Sleep card is in play and is impacting his work, making things a lot more difficult. And when she does get involved, it all goes to hell pretty quick, making for some sad daughter time. The focus on Sakura’s father is pretty nicely done and we see more of how those outside the family view him and also just how passionate he is about what he does for a living, matched only by what he’ll do for his family.
The third and fourth stories here are a bit weaker in the character department and just a bit more Card focused with what they want to deal with. The third episode has to do with the Sing Card, which goes back to scary things that go bump in the night for Sakura, but it’s more a chance to highlight what Tomoyo is capable of and it shows both Shaoran and Mei Lin that there are things that only Sakura can do. We’ve seen the opposite as well though as Shaoran has done things she can’t, so it’s balanced out. The fourth episode is just a lot of very silly fun as Sakura runs afoul of the Little card and she finds herself shrunk down to size inside and outside of her own home, so it has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland feel at times because of her outfit as we see her dealing with so many things that are tough for someone shrunk down to an inch in size. The Cards are obviously dealt with, but for both of them it’s more the adventure than anything else and not too much on the character side.
While Mei Lin gets used in two episodes here, she doesn’t come across as badly as she could since it’s tempered a bit and not overdone. She’s still a brusque and aggressive character when it comes to dealing with others and Shaoran isn’t exactly thrilled by it, which is a positive. But he can’t really bring himself to do too much about it just yet. A lo tot of what we get here is character fun across all the episodes, though the second one is the winner for me as it expands a bit on Sakura’s relationship with her father. When it comes to just pure fun, the fourth episode definitely wins there with tiny Sakura trying to escape from the troubles she has, including crossing the huge bathtub or dealing with some insects that now see her as a tasty treat. Overall this is a good volume without too much in the way of larger story progress but some decent, small movements with the supporting cast and Sakura’s overall addition of new Cards.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Non-Credit Opening
B>Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Pioneer
Release Date: November 6th, 2001
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.