Emotions almost revealed!
What They Say:
I’m in Love With…!
Ski lessons are impossible in a blizzard, but what can Sakura do when an avalanche threatens the entire class?! Next, Touya and Yukito star in Akizuki’s movie which gets too close to their real lives for comfort. Unfortunately, Yukito begins to fade forcing Touya, Sakura and Li to reveal their feelings and face their fears. When Yukito asks Sakura to really examine her heart, she is left confused. Doubting herself and her feelings, she decides to visit Clow Reed in the past. Don’t worry Sakura- Li’s there to help!
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 blues for the background. While some of the previous covers have been more pink oriented and a bit more serious in tone, we get something with her being a lot more outgoing here with a cheerleader style costume and some cute green pom poms that look great and has her feeling alive. 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 some of the characters 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When your name the volume something like “Confessions”, you know you’re going to get something going on here. And that is kind of the theme of things here, though it’s still kept at a bit of a distance and not exactly full on admitting of things. What we do get is having moments where some truths are revealed and the depth and quality of relationships are explored, particularly when it comes to Yukito and Toya. There’s a certain quality to their relationship that has long been established and seeing it come to a new point here where each of them admits what they know and some of the meaning of it is quite welcome since both sides of it handles it better than one might think in some ways.
Eriol of course continues his bag of tricks as he works his way into creating various situations that lead to Sakura converting her cards over to her ownership. Sometimes the situations are a bit weird or nonsensical, such as the recent swimming pool one, but other times they’re pretty decent. We get a couple of those here, such as the one where the gang is all on a school ski trip and everyone’s having a good time. Tomoyo is a master of the skiing arts, so she spends most of her time videotaping Sakura, who is now just happy that she’s not falling down all the time.
A round of scary stories puts Sakura in the wrong mood for awhile, but eventually she’s back outside and having fun and ends up going to a new slope with Eriol now that she’s gotten better. While the two are out, a snowstorm gets stronger around them and they find themselves really stuck in a blizzard. It’s a great moment where Sakura realizes she has to use her powers to save people from an avalanche, but Eriol is right next to her and she desperately tries to figure out the best way to deal with it.
Some of the best material of the series comes after that, where the school festival season is back and we focus on Yukito and Toya’s piece. Having been roped into a movie, the two of them engage in a fun performance that ends up getting Sakura involved when she drops by the set. The focus though is pretty much on Yukito, as he continues to disappear at times and his sleeping problems are still as strong as ever. Toya tries desperately at times to talk to him, but there’s always something in the way of it. But this is finally brought to a head and Toya pushes everyone back and confronts Yukito about everything, unknowing that Sakura is listening. She’s shocked that he seems to know so much and even more so at the price he’s willing to pay to help Yukito.
Sakura’s life changes quite a bit in these episodes, as she takes what she’s learned from this encounter and realizes just how close she is to losing anyone at any time, a revelation that children come to at different times as they grow up. With so many important people in her life, this really brings her to the realization of how precious life is. Instead of being shy and awkward about certain things, she decides to take things into her own hands and confess her true feelings to Yukito. This has a very tender and warm cascading effect on her other relationships; some very heartwarming and heartwrenching moments.
With this volume bringing us into the late 60’s for the episode count, I continue to be amazed at just how well it’s held up throughout on a second viewing, albeit one that wasn’t quite as strong a marathon as I intended. I’ve found myself enjoying all the moments between the characters just as much as when we first met them and their awkward interactions. It hasn’t gotten overdone or drawn out, but just laid out simply and beautifully. With so little left, every episode has felt like it counted more as get towards the end run. The focus here on making some of these things clear, pushing Shaoran to think more about Sakura and for Sakura to start realizing who it is that’s always there while also taking care of some of the important business between Yukito and Toya, it does it with good meaning and actual understanding.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Pioneer
Release Date: September 9th, 2003
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.