Guided by the Key of Dreams, Sakura embarks on a new adventure! It is spring, with cherry trees in full blossom, and Sakura is just entering middle school. Her beloved Syaoran has returned from Hong Kong, and life couldn't be better. But when she awakens from a strange dream to find her Sakura Cards powerless, how can she protect Tomoeda from disaster?!
When Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card was announced, I think I screamed. I never expected more Cardcaptor Sakura, even though the dub was formative in a million ways. And now, in Clear Card, we get to go back and see what Sakura's doing now that she's saved the world, made her power her own, become a teenager and started high school!
Protip: everything is going to go horribly wrong, and there is going to be a lot of trouble with additional magical cards, because that's how this series works.
If you, like me, were holding off on reading the manga because you're watching the anime: this covers the content in the first two episodes of the show, although events don't happen in exactly the same way. But of course, because I've watched the first few episodes of the anime already, my thoughts and feelings about that are a mess with this, so fair warning.
First: the art is still really cute. I love the way that it still manages to jump between funny and serious, and the characters do actually look a little older, which is nice. Some of the spreads are a little hard to follow, and it can be hard to work out which parts are dream sequences and which are real, but that seems to be intentional so I'm trying to roll with it. Plus, it's kinda interesting that the series has just been moved to the present day? It's not necessarily a problem, but if you remember the Big Deal it was that Tomoyo could get them mobile phones, it's a little amusing now that the series is apparently set now instead of the nineties/early 2000s, when not that much time has passed in canon.
I feel like the foreshadowing is a lot more obvious here than it is in the anime, and somewhat confirming my suspicions about who's ~behind everything~ which is absolutely fine, but not what I was expecting for so early in the series. From the cryptic comments to the Totally Sweet And Just Emotionally Significant Exchange of Teddy Bears (Definitely no ulterior motives there, definitely not.)
Speaking of: oh no, the relationship between Li and Sakura warms my heart. They've been long-distance for a while – apparently every other magic user in the series left the country for a while – and her joy at finally seeing him again delighted me. Plus it's great to see what everyone's doing, especially because Sakura's friends and family are integral to her story; everyone is looking out for her and she doesn't have to go through her latest trial alone! (I did notice that the character who was engaged to her primary school teacher in the original series – no, really – has been explicitly shuffled off to another school and doesn't have any screentime. I don't know if that's progress or not.)
I just – I love this series so much, and I was worried that I was going to overhype it to myself, or I was going to start reading it and discover that I was too old and jaded now, but I shouldn't have worried. It's revisiting the characters that made me, and finding them still as cute and hopeful and determined as I remembered. I'm so delighted and warmed by this volume of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, and I hope that feeling stays through the rest of the series.
[This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, although weirdly the day after my ARC came through, the hardcopy I pre-ordered arrived. Whoops.]