With the danger of losing a lot of her cards, Sakura starts to get reckless.
What They Say:
The Clow Cards are Fading Away! Eriol continues “playing” with Sakura, devising more complicated traps for Sakura to overcome. First Sakura must survive from drowning in a sea of sheep, and then try and chase down a runaway bike. Sakura later learns that it’s her Great Grandfather’s birthday and works hard to let him know how happy they are. And then Sakura is given the opportunity to learn everyone’s true feelings when she is thrown into Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
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 pinks for the background. Sakura’s solitary presence here is quite nice as she has a lot of great colors to this outfit with the blues and yellows that are accented by her great smile. 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 in a really innocent and frilly outfit 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 extras included in this volume is a brief twelve page line art gallery as well as a textless version of the third ending sequence, Fruits Candy.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Similar to how I had watched it a decade ago, this volume is one where it feels like an exercise in fist shaking with what’s going on. With each episode, I know we’re getting closer and closer to some of the truths being revealed, and while each episode is quite enjoyable, I keep wanting to hit those revelations so I we can get to some of the meatier side of things and juts deal with fallout from it rather than dancing around the edge of it for so long.
The bulk of the disc continues with Eriol and his servants causing problems for Sakura that forces her to convert her cards over. She goes through a particularly amusing segment in the first episode after she and Li track down where they feel Clow’s presence the most in the playground. After she goes down into the ominous hole in the ground, it seals up and keeps Li and Kero up there. At the bottom, Sakura tries to figure out what’s going on when hundreds of plush life-like sheep start falling on her. It’s just such a Sakura moment that the laughter it creates is infectious.
Sakura also starts to learn more about her cards in these episodes, as she remembers how she ended up overcoming many of them and in the end really befriending them. When she gets to a point where she learns some of them may die, she starts taking some serious measures to get them converted. This ends up going awry after Eriol gets himself involved in things, though Toya gets a rather smirkish moment as he senses part of what may be going on. Toya’s sensitivity to things continues to be the small dark secret of the series.
The best episode on here though is when Sakura’s father gives her a calendar that Nadeshiko used to have to keep track of various events she had coming up in her life. This becomes a hugely treasured item for Sakura as she starts to become somewhat more familiar with her mother and the things she considered important. One of those things is everyone’s birthday, which is clearly listed here. What surprises Sakura is that her great grandfather is listed and it’s that day. Though she “hasn’t met him” before, she gets it into her head that she has to do something for him, and with help from her father, she comes up with the perfect package. While this is the true essence of Sakura’s character, the results provide some very good results in the adult arena, the kind that may even get a few people weepy.
The only thing I didn’t care for was the Sakura in Wonderland episode, which has her being sucked into the Alice in Wonderland novel. There’s a number of good bits throughout it and some things that Sakura should realize, but as Tomoyo says, she’s sort of clueless that way. A lot of that episode just felt like a revisit of Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, to the point where that awful music was in my head again.
Outside of the problematic Sakura in Wonderland episodes, which I know I’m not part of the general consensus on, this volume brings us much closer to the end of the series and to the brink where things start to become known. There’s plenty of hints here and some solid setup for things to come and also some nice changes when it comes to how Sakura reacts to things. The series also has taken on a different tone for obvious reasons with the changes in the characters, Yukito in particular, and there’s an edge of sadness that’s populating a lot of it. Getting time with him in his transformed mode – and Kero as well – definitely makes for some fun scenes even as some of the events themselves are getting a bit more dangerous and difficult to deal with.
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: March 11th, 2003
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.