As we shift to the second season, Sakura advances to the fifth grade and things begin to change bit by bit.
What They Say:
Sakura starts the 5th grade on a high note with a beautiful new teacher, Kaho, and a precious birthday gift from Yukito. However, the Clow Cards make sure to remind her that she still has her duty as Cardcaptor in addition to her school-work. The Snow Card’s storm, the Voice Card’s theft of Tomoyo’s voice, and the Lock Card’s attack on her school field trip, are just a few of the problems she has to deal with. Not an easy task when she’s home sick with a high fever, but without Sakura, how can the Cloud Card be captured?
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 whites and yellows for the background. Sakura’s costume design is very cute here as she has a very elegant yet simple yellow and white piece that feels like a princess design to some degree and is just appealing when tied to her facial expression. 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 together where both are in their school uniforms and just filled with smiles 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 another art gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s a whole new season for Cardcaptor Sakura and it makes a few changes, including moving Sakura and her friends ahead a grade. While that doesn’t change much for them in general in terms of how their school days go, it at least makes it clear they’re getting older. Her brother and Yukito also move up in their high school path, but both manage to stay in the same class. In Sakura’s case, her entire class is moving forward together, but they’ve got a new teacher. And as luck would have it, it’s Ms. Mizuki.
This just sets off all kinds alarms in Shaoran’s mind since he still feels a sizeable amount of power coming from her. Sakura on the other hand still seems to almost idolize her, and gets a bit dreamy eyed around her. With Mizuki now teaching the class, she wins them over quickly by letting them go outside to play for their first free period. But during this, she provides an ominous portent to Sakura about things falling heavily.
No sooner does she say this than we see the Sakura blossoms falling, but in the end that’s not it. Throughout the day, massive amounts of snow begin to fall, covering the city entirely in over three feet of it. Another card is obviously at work here, but while that is important, the fact of Mizuki knowing something was going to happen is even more telling. This gets some minor discussion, mostly from Shaoran after he finds out, but it’s left to the side until it happens again in a later episode.
This episode is also important due to the fact that Yukito gives Sakura a gift for her new year. It turns out to be a watch, which she just goes gaga over, much like a girl her age would. It’s a terminally cute sequence when Kero is trying to find out from her about it. But where it plays a larger role is later on when it gets lost, and ends up bringing her and Shaoran closer.
This also ties to another event later on. A rather solid episode features Tomoyo losing her voice to the VOICE card of all things (surprise surprise!). Prior to that, we hear just how great her voice is and about the upcoming recital she’s a key part for. I really have to hand it to Junko Iwao in just how fantastic her voice is to be able to pull that off in addition to the wide variety of other roles she’s done. She’s definitely one of my favorite actresses out there. During Tomoyo’s time down, Sakura feels very responsible for it all since she’s supposed to capture these things. While at Tomoyo’s with Shaoran, Sakura tries to figure out what to do about it all, but Tomoyo notices (again) how Shaoran is watching over her. She takes advantage of not having a voice to point this out to him, which only serves to fluster the poor boy.
While I generally hate the will they/won’t they kind of ‘romance’ relationships, it’s one that works perfectly for this age level, and little things like this are just perfect.
With this being the start of a new “season when it was originally broadcast in Japan, it’s set up to work as the kind of arc that shows a fair amount of portents of things to come. Things come to close to being revealed on a number of occasions with Toya intending to tell Yukito about Mizuki. Toya also manages to become even cooler with things he says and does during the episode where Sakura falls ill. The relationships in that family are just done so well, that it’s almost eerie. For the start of the new season, these were solid episodes that provided good Clow Card action, great character development and some really fun stuff in general. The series continues to delight when it comes to its look and especially the characters, but it’s also a show that still works with simple ideas and simple characters but makes it very, very enjoyable to watch. These episodes are no exception and you continue to finish them with a feeling of wanting more. Which, thankfully, is easy to do since it’s been out for over a decade now.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Pioneer
Release Date: July 9th, 2002
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.