The Summer of Love IV continues! Last week we finally wrapped up our look at the final few episodes of the first half of the series. With that done and before we head into the final half, I thought it was important to make sure we cover all our bases with the series. I originally wasn’t going to be talk about this film as I didn’t feel it to be really important, but when making up the schedule I saw I had a free week and I figured I’d throw it in. Does that mean the story is worth looking at, or is it just another piece of filler? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie and find out!
This film, like with many of the entries in this era of anime, can be pretty much be summed up from a ProZD quote.
“Whatever man, this is an anime movie. This shit ain’t canon, I’m never going to see or hear from these people ever again.”
That is too often the case with anime films of popular series. Until the last few years, almost all of them were one-off adventures that were basically filler episodes with a massively increased budget. That is not to dismiss any of them, just that if you are someone who wants everything in a series to be relevant, then you are going to be disappointed. This has changed in recent years however, with several films (Naruto: The Last, and the later Dragon Ball Super entries) where they are direct continuations to the story. Cardcaptor Sakura’s debut film is the former however and throughout the hour and twenty-one(ish) run time, I couldn’t shake that everything that was happening didn’t really matter. Set before the final judgment, we follow Sakura and her friends after they score an all-paid trip to Hong Kong. Yet while they are trying to see the sights and have fun, a mysterious figure with ties to Clow Reed keeps cropping up, and Sakura soon finds herself forced to confront a power that should have long since moved on.
Right away, what I will praise about this movie is its excellent art style. Like with many anime movies of the time, the increased budget and time for the animation makes everything pop off really well. Hong Kong feels like Hong Kong and the darker shades and long draw distances make the city feel both unique and lovingly crafted. I enjoyed that the movie didn’t fall back on recycling the same transformation sequence either, with it only happening in the final climax of the film. The background music as well is a damn good, with several Chinese musical beats that give the movie a foreign like vibe. When Sakura is chasing after her vision, I found myself engrossed in the moment thanks to the music.
Then there is the new big character of the series. No, not the villain, but Syaoran’s mother: Yelan Li. While she is only in this movie for a handful of scenes, her presence and appearance are instantly striking. She commands respect everywhere she is, and has an air of otherworldliness that is almost intoxicating. Her brief conversation with Sakura upon their stay at her house gave me big Galadriel vibes from The Fellowship of the Ring: a wise woman giving sagely advice to an unsure hero. This was a nice change of pace from the sometimes too mysterious Ms. Mizuki and the loving, but oblivious Fujitaka. Really, Yelan is just a great character who I wish was in the series more.
As for the movie villain, Madoushi. Well her story is pretty much the big ‘eh’ part of the movie. A would-be rival and admirer of Clow Reed who was sealed away and is unable to accept that he died. She really just shows up, causes some water spouts, and when confronted with the truth, silently fades away into the afterlife. It’s a fine enough story and credit should be given for finally given CCS an actual villain who wants to do the characters harm, but it also feels toothless. We know the characters are going to get out of this, and we know that it what happens here doesn’t have any long term effect on any of their story arcs. There is some idea about being unable to move on and accepting death. Concepts that COULD link to Sakura’s relationship to her own deceased mother, but the movie just doesn’t go there. It feels again, toothless and without any real meat to it.
Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie is another installment in those classic filler films that dominated the 90s and early 2000 anime series. Harmless, toothless, but with good animation and some fun moments. A roller coaster movie you are suppose to enjoy, but never really think about after it is finished. And for a series that can be fairly criticized for having too much filler, it’s something that can’t be ignored. Regardless, I loved the art, I loved the music and I loved Yelan Li. But aside from that this is something you could easily skip and not have it hurt your watching of CCS in any real way. Still I am glad I made time for it, and for something that was only an hour and a half, there is no harm in it. Give it a look if you are so indulged and see what you think. As for me, I hope you check in next week as we finally resume our look at the main series!