The Summer of Love IV continues! As is traditional for every event, I make sure to take time to explore the main characters of the show. What makes them tick, work or really, what is that jumps out to me when I explore them? Of course for any successful show, a lot of the strength will come from the main character and Cardcaptor Sakura has one for sure, but she is also one who is surprisingly human. So after the cut let’s take a dive into the series lead: Sakura Kinomoto and find out!
Off the bat, it is important to know that CCS is not a show of extreme depth. While there are great moments of development, this isn’t an anime that is concerned with doing a deep examination into its cast. What you see with the cast is pretty much what you get and honestly there is nothing wrong with that. Not every show needs or should be a exploration of that level and there are many great characters who get the job done without it.
Sakura Kinomoto is an example of this and she accomplishes it quite well. On the surface level, Sakura is exactly what this kind of shows needs. Cheerful, upbeat, endlessly optimistic, and full of childlike wonder and naivety. She approaches almost all situations with a can-do attitude and a smile. Even when some of the Clow Cards cause more trouble than others, Sakura never loses her smile and tries to see the best in situation. Her common use of the phrase ‘daijoubu’ Japanese for ‘alright’ or ‘everything is going to be alright’ is the sum total of who she is as a character. That no matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, if you put on a smile then things are going to be okay. To many in the real world, that may come off as overly optimistic or shallow, but in a children’s show, I think it is a great message.
However CCS is wise enough to not make Sakura’s optimism the end point of her character. And what endears her to the audience is not her magical powers or loving smile, but the traits that make her human. Throughout the series we see Sakura being happy and loving, but also jealous, angry, frustrated, sad, upset, weak, and determined. There are episodes were Sakura fights with Kero, where she tries and fails to help her father, where she struggles to cook, or where she pushes herself too hard and collapses. These are all basic things, but they are crucial for fleshing out who Sakura is and pushing her beyond the box the genre puts her in. The world of CCS is one of pure innocence and trusting adults, but that doesn’t mean the struggles of life are just absent.
This comes to head in the major source of development for Sakura: her views on romance and going from her infatuation with Yukito to the true love she has with Syaoran. Sprinkled throughout the entire series, we see that Sakura has a major crush on Yukito, a source of comedy throughout the series. However as time goes on and and she eventually confesses her affection, we see that the crush she had was just a crush. That the love she felt for him was the love of a sibling, or the way she feels about her father: a warm and affectionate role model who is a source of comfort and assurance. When confronted with Syaoran’s own feelings, we see Sakura discover that this love is different than that of her family or friends. This is a someone who loves her deeply and truly and wants to be her ‘number one’. We then see Sakura become more flustered and nervous around him, and much of the final film of the series is her trying to tell him how she feels. All very natural feelings and ones that are very human. It takes what is on paper a very basic character and adds a layer of depth that show benefits from.
Sakura Kinomoto serves her series exceptionally well. Forever optimistic, forever kind and full of affection and love. It is clear why she has served as the legacy for all magical girls to follow. Whether it is shows that try to honor it, or run away from it, Sakura is one of the most important ones. But beyond that legacy and looking at the show as is, we see that CLAMP and the writers worked hard to give Sakura a layer of humanity that endears her to the viewers. It is neither too much, or too little, and doesn’t concern itself with pandering to any type of group of belief. It makes the show feel more than just the ‘monster of the week’ entertainment it often is. It’s nothing special, nothing groundbreaking, but you are glad that it is there and that it works so well.
At least that is what I think.