Summary (from amazon): Fourth-grader Sakura Kinomoto found a strange book in her father's library - a book made by the wizard Clow to store dangerous spirits sealed within a set of magical cards. But when Sakura opened it up, there was nothing left inside but Kero-chan, the book's cute little guardian beast, who informs Sakura that since the Clow cards seem to have escaped while he was asleep, it's now her job to capture them!
Details: This twelve volume series from CLAMP is cute, fluffy and then uber-serious in random turns. Often at the same time. Originally published in Japan from Kodansha, on the American side of things TokyoPop (as Mixx) produced several of the volumes as individual comic issues, before collecting them into their atrociously small 'Pocket Manga' volumes for volumes 1-6.
As Tokyopop they re-issued the series in the more standard American manga size under 'Cardcaptor Sakura' (vols 1-6) and Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow (vols 7-12). Dark Horse has been re-releasing the series in 3 volume omnibuses. Volume 1 (here), volume 2 (here), volume 3 (here) and volume 4 is due out in October.
Anime: If, like me, you grew up on the egregious show known as 'Cardcaptors' then you kind of sort of know the anime. I say this because when America brought it over they decided to play the slice and dice game--everything from character story arcs to switching up the play order of episodes occurred. Now don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Cardcaptors...mainly because I didn't know that there was another version (this is before I was into the internet). And even if I did read the manga, fact was I was used to the manga and anime being different (thank you Sailor Moon).
The original anime is 70 episodes long with two feature length movies. Every single episode has been dubbed--though the amalgamation known as 'Cardcaptors' totals out to under 40 episodes...so you can guess how much chopping they did. The series, as far as I know it, is out of print and hasn't been re-shown in quite a while on TV.
Favorite AMV: AMV, animated music video, are fan made videos using a song (in this case "Its My Life" by Bon Jovi) and either images from the source material or otherwise. AMV's in Japan can become quite elaborate in fact. In the case of this one, I really like it and the accompanying video.
Why I Love It: I came upon CCS after both X and Magic Knight Rayearth, but still well into my shoujo magical girl phase. I came upon the anime first though, so reading the comic--which begins appropriately when Sakura first finds the book--was at times confusing. At first glance its quite normal--cute, bright-eyed and perky kid gets magical powers to save the day with the help of her friends. However its more then that.
Let's start with the premise--Sakura gains magical powers not to fight some Big Bad, but to help restore the balance after accidentally letting loose all the Clow Cards. Her powers aren't to rid the world of some great evil, but to help harness a power she already had and fulfill the legacy of Clow Reed--a master sorcerer. Though the Clow Cards often put either herself of her friends in peril, they don't do it maliciously--its in their nature.
Take for instance the Mirror Card. It duplicates Sakura and nearly gets her brother killed--not because its evil, but because its mischievous and didn't understand the consequences.
Then there's her support group. Her best friend Tomoyo--who is so unrelentingly supportive, it sometimes bordered on fanatical. She recorded her adventures, made her cute outfits and was her rock. She always believed in Sakura no matter what. Sakura's older brother Touya similarly supports her through his love and understanding (even if he is a jerk at times, hey their siblings), Li starts out looking like a bad guy, but really he's just stuck in a family duty that he can't shake and eventually understands that might doesn't always make right.
This was also my first taste of shounen-ai (or boy love) in the form of Yukito and Touya. Yukito, Touya's best friend and Sakura's crush, is calm, pleasant and sympathetic. He's always coming between Touya and Sakura, while maintaining a smile. He has a deeper purpose, one that goes at odds with his life as Yukito and that's one of the more fascinating sub-plots in the series. Its never explicitly stated that Touya and Yukito are together, but its teased at by several characters observations as well as the deep bond they share.
Don't Believe Me? Here's some reviews from around the webs from people not at all related to me:
Blog Critics: Sixty Minute Manga Review (omnibus 3)
Seattle PI: Omnibus 1 Review
Alternate View: And to be fair, here's a review that wasn't as in love with it as me
er...didn't find one. Do you know one? Let me know.