What They Say:
Sakura continues to work on capturing new Clear Cards, though the cards and her staff of dreams are still a mystery. She’s determined to learn about the mysterious figure that keeps appearing in her dreams, but she still has to worry about school, her friends, and her feelings for Syaoran! Right when she thinks she has it all together, she’ll find out that her new friend has a shocking secret.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English dub gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded with the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series works a pretty familiar pattern that we saw with the prior series where it handles a lot of basic slice of life stuff well but still essentially sticks to being just that. The dialogue has some nice placement, the incidental sounds and music fill in the rest, and it all comes together pretty well for a solid experience. The action sequences with the magic and cards expands a bit with a fuller and more engaging design, but it really only hits that more fully with the 5.1 mix as it gets to stretch a bit more. It’s solid on both tracks and comes across well with the way it uses the space overall to really make it feel fully realized. Both tracks are clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The eleven episodes are spread across two discs in an eight/three format. Animated by Madhouse, the series is one that retains the look of the original very well while giving it the glossier sheen of modern animation design and fluidity that you’d expect Madhouse to bring to this project. It’s a beautiful looking show to begin with as it’s just brightly colored in its design and rich with detail before even talking about the costume design. That all gives it a really strong look that you want from this to make it feel fully realized while still being something of a slice of life fairy tail. The encoding captures the color depth well with all of its variety and it handles the fine detail very well with crisp lines and lots of smoothness where needed. The visual design of the show is a big part of its appeal and the encoding here captures it wonderfully, making for a good experience.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the Blu-ray discs as no DVDs were produced for this. The front cover uses a really good key visual of Sakura with the cards floating around her while she wears the pink outfit and wields the wand, all while various symbols are lined up behind it. It’s a busy cover but in the right way with the flow of it and if it feels like Sakura has the right amount of presence on it. The back cover goes for white with some light blue-green framing where we get more cute Sakura artwork and some shots from the show. The summary of the premise captures things well and we get a clean listing of what extras are included with it. The technical breaks down the set accurately and without problems with a cleaner look at how the extras are handled as well. No show related inserts are included but we do get a pretty nice visual on the other side with a small Kero piece and an adorable full panel piece of good character artwork.
The menu design for this release is a bit pared down for my tastes while still working well as we get a static image approach using the same piece for both discs. I do think a really nice clip piece would work better with transformations and magic, but I also like the angelic look of Sakura we get here in all white with some cool blues mixed in. Setting it against the white backdrop works well but it’s the logo with its pinks and greens against the white that’s the most striking and works far, far, better than I thought it would. The navigation is straightforward as we get some of the instrumental music playing along as it has a standard submenu setup for episodes, language selection, and extras for each disc. It loads quickly and easily with no problems navigating it both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are pretty basic in that we only get the clean versions of the two opening and closing sequences. They’re welcome but I wish the show had warranted more original extras for it from the dub cast.
There’s no denying that the opening half of the Clear Card series was a fun one for fans. After going so long between shows and long considering the property dead, it was just a delight to reconnect with these characters and have them aged up so that there were some new aspects to what would be happening. That a lot of it felt familiar in a repeat kind of way with the clear cards themselves was something you could kind of overlook just because the real draw were the characters themselves. That holds true here even as the overall storyline gets a bit more serious and is largely kept to the last couple of episodes. That means the bulk of what we get are pretty much standalone character stories among a group of friends you like hanging out with.
Such as the opening episode where it’s sportsball time as it’s a school sports tournament. While the episode slides in the cloaked figure once again into Sakura’s dreams toward th eend, the bulk of it is all the usual school based sports activity. And it’s just fun to see Sakura in that situation again along with the others. Of course, Tomoyo is filming everything with Kero handling the camera itself, but everyone enjoys watching the generally solid all-around athletic nature of Sakura and her smile. That you can have mostly an episode focused on that without drama says something, but they do slide in the Hail card along the way with a hailstorm happening, but there’s just so much good sports day stuff that you can more easily forget about the card material.
These kinds of stories and other explorations fills a decent chunk of this set, with the discovery of the Mirage card to tracing earthquakes that are going on and trying to understand what’s happening. It’s a good bit of creativity in that hunt and the use of cards to deal with it since there are a few cards in the mix – which isn’t the norm. I think it utilizes both Siege and Struggle along with the Swing card. It’s not often we get two cards used in an episode overall and three make it somewhat special. The card I enjoyed the most comes a bit later with the Blaze card as it has a lot of flying and a phoenix-like element to it that’s visually appealing. The bright reds and blues that dominate the card aspect of the episode really makes for a lot of fun and it’s a big card to have loaded up in Sakura’s deck to deal with anything else that might come.
The series keeps a few subplots running throughout the back half, much like it did in the first half, and they’re decent overall. I get what they’re trying to do in telling Akiho’s story but Kaito just didn’t do much for me as a character and parlaying all of that into the “serious” storyline in the last couple of episodes falls kind of flat for me. I did like that it resulted in Sakura getting time with her grandfather and Syaoran learning of just what kinds of things Sakura will face as time goes on, reinforcing his desire to help her find as much happiness as possible. It’s a nice contrast to what Toya is like in dealing with Sakura who is much like Yukito in that they’ll let Sakura come to them when she’s ready. She knows when she needs help she’ll seek it and she knows that they’ll help when she asks. But she has this desire to do things right herself and with her friends supporting her and that blends well into the overall fabric of the series.
Cardcaptor Sakura is the kind of series that I’ll always love and want more of and it’s the property that has family meaning as we all watched it together over the years. Clear Card adds some minor twists to the formula and looks to expand things but the story is, admittedly, not what’s drawing me here. The original series didn’t get serious until near the end of its seventy-episode run and just had fun in growing the cast and exploring their dynamic from an otherwise very short manga series. Here, getting Sakura and the others a bit older and in new situations, well, that’s what I wanted to see and I hope that there’ll be more sometime. What we get here is a well done release in that it’s encoded great with bright and striking colors and fluid animation, a fun dub, and clean mixes. I do wish it had a bit more in the extras department but everything that counts is there in the show itself, and that will always get a recommendation from us.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Openings, Textless Closing Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
Running Time: 275 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.