Sakura goes to Hong Kong!
When we last left off on my rewatch-blog of Cardcaptor Sakura, the first season of the series had concluded with Sakura enjoying her final moments of Christmas day.
In the original television broadcast of Cardcaptor Sakura, the anime was put on-hold until April 6, 1999 for its second season. Gekijouban: Cardcaptor Sakura didn’t premiere in theaters until after the second season had ended and Sakura captured all the Clow Cards (the movie premiered in theaters on August 21, 1999). However, the plot of the film clearly takes place around/between episodes 35 and 36 (it’s winter vacation in Tomoeda and Meiling is still around), so for the purposes of the re-blog, I’m placing it before the second season.
The film opens up with Sakura capturing the Arrow card, another anime-exclusive Clow Card. It has a pretty cute design, but unfortunately it ends up being unused for the duration of Cardcaptor Sakura as a whole. Aside from this movie, Sakura never uses it.
This movie is canon to the anime adaptation and The Arrow is officially part of the 52 Clow Card deck, yet they avoid using it at any point after the film’s story. However, they do have The Arrow make cameo appearances as a card whenever the whole deck is shown in the anime (it even apparently got turned into a Sakura Card off-screen). I’m assuming this is because, unlike the second movie (which was the conclusion of the series), viewers are not explicitly required to watch this movie to enjoy/understand post-season one storylines (again, it was released after season two) and this was done in order to show fans who saw the movie “hey, this really happened” while not confusing fans who weren’t fortunate enough to catch the film in theaters.
At least, that’s what I think happened. It’s a shame, because The Arrow basically takes the best out of The Sword and The Shot cards. You’d think Sakura would use it a lot more considering how useful it was here. I guess some friends are just less noticeable than others.
“Water is something that flows.”
When watching this in chronological order to the series, Sakura’s prophetic dreams of the Final Judgment suddenly switching over to this rather eerie dream of her being trapped in a room surrounded by water and the presence of a woman trying to strangle her is… well, jarring. Especially when watching this with a Japanese cultural mindset turned on (well, if you have one!) — some of the most notable horror stories take place in damp settings because water/humidity is often associated with spirits.
Anyways, there are parts of the animation, scenery, and atmosphere that give me vibes of particularly fantastical Studio Ghibli films. At the very least, trippy scenes like this that revolve around the film’s main antagonist’s ominous presence/magic are Spirited Away-tier trippy.
Character establishment of the day (THE MOVIE): Meilin’s Japanese writing still sucks despite her being a fluid speaker.
And another: Syaoran’s apparently so terrified of his mother that he freaks out at the thought of receiving a bad grade.
In general, we get a better glimpse into Syaoran’s background in this movie. More on that later.
On the way home from school, Sakura and Tomoyo decide to stop and browse through Maki’s Twin Bells shop, where they found out there’s a end-of-the-year prize draw being held (if you’ve ever played Shenmue before, you know what I’m talking about).
Expecting to draw a fairly puny prize, Sakura actually draws the best prize from the lotto…
(C’mon Sakura, the ball is gold, of course it’s not a basic prize!)
…a trip to Hong Kong! (I kind of want to go to Hong Kong someday without the travel expenses… if only it were that easy for me.)
Kero notes that he’s been to Hong Kong before, since Clow Reed had lived there some time in the past. He’s excited to tag along with Sakura for her vacation, but then they remember that her dad has a business trip.
Fortunately, Fujitaka is a bro dad as always. Not wanting Sakura’s grand prize to go to waste, he allows Sakura to go to Hong Kong under the supervision of Touya (who quits his current part-time jobs for Sakura, under the condition of five chores… not much of an equal trade there, just admit you’d do anything for Sakura, Touya).
Obvious invites that will tag along during the trip is Sakura forever-bestie Tomoyo and
Snow Rabbit Yukito, who sticks to Touya like glue.
Tomoyo will have an aneurysm if she’s can’t film Sakura for more than a day
I mean… I can’t blame her. I personally wouldn’t want to miss a chance to film A+ Sakura moments such as this:
“You’re supposed to take off your shoes before boarding an airplane.”
“Miss, please step in as you are”
Oh Sakura, you’re just too adorable for words. Thank you Touya for the awesome plane ride (and for that awesome Seki Tomokazu).
Kero’s reaction to Hong Kong’s industrialization was pretty hilarious. Welcome to the 21st century, Keroberos!
Sakura’s cute energetic reaction to the seagulls melts my heart.
Repeat after me: はにゃーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーん.
Hong Kong is pretty much one of those settings that I never get tired of being used (especially in video games). It’s an aesthetically pleasing city to look at, and because it’s crowded, it’s interesting to see how well the liveliness could be replicated in media.
I personally think Madhouse did a pretty good job accurately capturing the city in the CCS movie. Not that I expected anything less from one of the best animation studios out there.
“There’s no such thing as coincidences in this world.”
Oh ho, here’s CLAMP setting up Arc Words for ×××HOLiC/Tsubasa ‑RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-! Well, it gets brought up in the main Cardcaptor Sakura storyline, but for the anime series, this is where it first gets chronologically brought up.
“There’s no such thing as coincidences in this world, only inevitability.” I remember back then, when all of us super-weeb CLAMP fans left “inevitability/fate/whatever” untranslated as hitsuzen.
THERE IS ONLY HITSUZEN
Classic Sakura expressions on the big screen must have been pretty good
While visiting Bird Street (which is beautifully detailed, by the way), Sakura senses the ominous (and outright evil) presence of… well, these really creepy-looking birds:
KILL EM’ WITH FIRE
(Speaking of birds, the first time I watched this film with my little sister, we had a parakeet named Dragon. The same type of bird appeared in one of the shots and my sister adorably yelled out “hey, Dragon’s in this movie!”)
Our Cardcaptor Sakura releases the Clow Wand and gives chase.
Begone demon birds!
I’m afraid of heights, but I wouldn’t mind being a Cardcaptor…
One of my actual gripes about this movie is that Jump and Fly are about the only Clow Cards used by Sakura. By this point in time, she already has a good amount of the Clow Cards sealed up and ready to use, and could have used them in a whole myriad of different ways later on in the film, especially considering the enemy and her relation to Clow Reed. It’s somewhat of a waste.
“Good thing this isn’t the Ring.”
“Oh DEAR GOD”
Yeah… spooky ghost lady coming out of a well and putting our cute little Sakura in a magical trance… That certainly bodes well.
Time for an A+ classic Sakura moment
Face Translation: “Yup, that’s her alright.”
Meanwhile, Meilin (literally) bumps into Tomoyo back in Bird Street.
Man, I just really love the little exchange between the two here.
ともよちゃん 「すみません、 大丈夫ですかーーはあ?」 (I’m sorry, are you alright?)
苺鈴ちゃん 「大丈夫だけど…… 日本語?!」 (I’m fine, but… Wait, *Japanese*?)
ともよちゃん 「今日は!」 (Good afternoon.)
苺鈴ちゃん 「大道寺さん!!」 (Daidouji-san!)
Glad they didn’t pull the “Everyone speaks the same language!” handwave that’s commonly used when fictional characters travel to foreign countries. Not everyone knows how to speak Japanese in Hong Kong and Meiling is immediately surprised when she’s suddenly forced to reply in Japanese. I know it’s a pretty weird thing to go on about, but I just love that kind of detail. I mean, as much as I loved Shenmue II, it was pretty strange when Ryo went to investigate in Hong Kong and he never ran into any language barriers besides just reading…
MARTIANS SPEAKING MOON
“WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU GO”
*puppy dog face*
“I‑it wasn’t that big of a deal anyway.”
Your siscon is showing, Touya.
I SWEAR TO GOD I’M NOT STRAIGHT
Onto one of the bigger highlights of the film: Syaoran’s house! Sakura needs to change out of her wet clothes, so Syaoran offers to do so at his place.
(Well okay, he never actually says so onscreen, but at this point in the timeline Syaoran should be adorably tsundere around Sakura, so I can imagine Syaoran bringing up a “w-..well we can drop by my place or something…”)
You can never have too many Sakura outfits in one story. Chinese cheongsam dresses certainly suit her.
Tomoyo doesn’t look half-bad either!
Realistic reaction to being GLOMP’d
If you’ve read the manga where Syaoran brings up his mother and four sisters (specifically the chapter about the Maze card,
which had a cute Sakura x Syaoran moment at the same time) or remember Meiling’s comment about Syaoran’s “many sisters” earlier in the anime, this movie is the first and only time you’re ever going to meet them. Geez, if this kind of environment is what Syaoran grew up in, then you’ve got to wonder how jarring it is to move to Tomoeda where you have peace and quiet at home (mostly in the manga where Meiling doesn’t exist).
Apparently they’re supposed to be self-inserts for CLAMP themselves. Which is amusing when you realize they’re four women who go fangirly over anything remotely 素敵 suteki and/or 可愛い kawaii. The names of Syaoran’s sisters are Xiehua, Huenli, Fuurie and Feimei, by the way.
HEY BOYS HEY GIRLS
Funny story: Since the Blu-ray included the horrid Cardcaptors dub, I was curious and switched it on randomly here. There was an inappropriately-placed insert song here — some girl band or something — but yeah, it weird-ed me out when the Li sisters locked their sights onto “Tori” (Touya) and “Julian” (Yukito). The insert song was a bunch of girls singing (in fact, they sounded exactly the same as the dubbed sisters to me), and when this happened, I thought they were seductively chanting “…hey boys… (me: uh-huh…) HEY GIRLS… (me: wait wut) hey boys… HEY girls.”
I have no idea what the fuck was going on and my little sister died laughing. Good job, Cardcaptors.
“Yuki, I think I remember why I turned gay.”
We also get to meet Syaoran’s mother (Li Yelan). It’s easy to tell she’s a stern and serious woman, which is why Syaoran is always nervous about showing her his report cards, but she seems to have easily taken a liking to Sakura, and lets her and everyone stay at the Li manor for the night.
When Sakura has a particularly (and I mean particularly) ominous nightmare during the night, Yelan uses her powerful sorcery to determine what it is — warning Sakura that a powerful magical source, the woman in her dreams, is following her.
The mother approves!
Syaoran’s mother gave Sakura a parting kiss on the cheek before they left to go sightseeing in Hong Kong, pretty much voicing fondness of her son’s rival at capturing the Clow Cards. It’s strange once you think about it. I mean, she could easily just really like Sakura (
because who doesn’t?), but the fact that she’s a powerful sorceress makes me want to look deeper into this.
In Cardcaptor Sakura, we’ve seen that particularly powerful magicians are able to percieve the future to some extent. Clow Reed was able to do this, and Ms. Mizuki was able to do this to some extent despite being leagues below the dead mage. Even Sakura is able to perceive the future to some extent through her dreams.
Yelan can probably see a bit into the future as well. Because of this, I assume that…
She knew that Sakura would eventually become her future daughter-in-law, and approves of it after seeing what kind of girl she was in this film. Kissing her on the cheek, right in front of the surprised Syaoran (who, by this time, has already grown feelings towards our moe protagonist), is her way of signaling to her son that she’s alright with him loving Sakura.
I mean, parental approval should never be required when it comes to love, but it certainly helps when your mother-in-law doesn’t hate your guts.
The episode that takes place chronically right after this film has a Syaoran x Sakura moment that marks a defining moment where Syaoran starts being really tender around Sakura, which supports my headcanon about the anime.
(Although the movie seems to go a bit too far in reverse-characterizing the characters again as seen above — Syaoran shouldn’t get this jealous over Yukito and barely shows the same of amount of dere for Sakura that he had these past few episodes, for instance. This film came out by the time the second season ended, so I tend to handwave it and let it slide.)
The sorceress antagonist comes across as an unused Clow Card design on this book
Reminds me of when Sakura opened the Clow Book. It would’ve sucked if Madhouse and CLAMP made this book a Dark Star counterpart of the Clow Book…
The scene where the mysterious book filled the antique shop with water and trapped everyone into the sorceress’s world was pretty surreal and I quite enjoyed it aesthetically.
I never really appreciated it until now, but I adore the fact that the sorceress’s voice actress was Hayashibara Megumi — she’s pretty much in every iconic series I’ve enjoyed while growing up, like Slayers, Ranma 1/2, Detective Conan, Pocket Monsters, etc. and she nails her roles perfectly. If I had to name every single female Japanese voice actress that I think deserves to be crowned legends, Hayashibara Megumi would be one of them.
Even if Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie certainly isn’t the greatest thing that came out of the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise, they were still able to maintain their superb casting, even for a filler villain.
See? This is what I mean. The only cards Sakura ever uses aside from the (pretty much) movie-exclusive Arrow are Fly and Jump.
I mean, Syaoran uses Freeze too, but he has so little Clow Cards at his disposal anyway… and he gets rendered out-of-commission for the rest of the movie.
It was nice seeing them work together in wide-screen Blu-ray, though
Okay, scratch what I said earlier: she uses Fly, Jump, and Sword. Three out of the thirty-seven cards she has. Big whoop.
(Note: Poor Touya and Yukito. They’re only high school-aged boys with the huge responsibility of chaperoning a couple of grade school kids on their trip to Hong Kong, and one of the said kids keeps running off to god knows where. Then they get trapped in a spell created by some crazy ghost lady.)
After escaping the magical water world created by the mysterious ghostly sorceress, the book that allowed everyone to enter that world to begin with vanishes, and poor Sakura feels immensely guilty about it (to be honest, it was completely the sorceress’s fault, so there’s no need for self-blame, Sakura!).
“I just remembered who that woman was!”
Character establishment of the day: Kero’s terrible memory is crippling.
Because the owner of the antique shop heard Kero’s yelling and was coming down stairs, they decided to finish the conversation back at their hotel.
(You know magic is involved when this guy didn’t hear all of that racket up until now.)
(Also, I love how he yelled, asking if the customer was Japanese. The scriptwriters still remember we’re in Hong Kong!)
At the hotel room, Kero explains to Sakura and Tomoyo that the woman they encountered was a water-based fortune teller that lived in Hong Kong long ago, around the time when Clow Reed was still alive. However, while Clow Reed was in Hong Kong, his predictions started to ruin her business. Clow Reed wasn’t a fortune teller by trade, but being the most powerful sorcerer in existence, his predictions were pretty damn accurate. So Clow Reed found himself clashing with the sorceress numerous times.
After she died, her magic arts allowed her to transfer her hatred into that book. Such magic arts are incredibly difficult to maintain, so the fact that she’s been lingering this long into the future means that she had a very strong willpower (and because of that, she probably doesn’t even realize she’s dead now). Sakura was drawn to the book because she was in possession of the Clow Cards. She most likely cast those magic arts with the intention of trapping Clow Reed within the book, but does she really hate Clow Reed to that extent? We’ll find out in a bit.
The objective at hand is find a way to get back to that watery dimension and free everyone else. Luckily, Sakura realizes that an alternate portal exists within that well she found earlier in the movie.
Even in these dire situations, Tomoyo remembers what’s most important in life: Cute battle outfits for Sakura!
Syaoran’s mother is a badass! Her powerful magic is able to create a hole in the fortune teller’s barrier, long enough for Sakura to pass through and enter the well.
It also helps that she’s pissed that the fortune teller captured her son, giving her that extra hot blood. As scared as Syaoran is of his mother, she really does love him.
“These clothes are really easy to move in!”
It’s a shame “Leave it to Kero!” was cancelled before this movie, it would have been neat to see Kero give us a run-down of the costume, the setting, Syaoran’s family, etc.
In fact.… that could have been an extra feature for the Blu-ray.
Once Sakura manages to go through the dimensional gate and return to where the fortune teller was, she tries her best to tell her that Clow Reed is no longer here.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get through to her, so she starts going crazy while sucking all of her captives into her very being.
“I’ve waited forever to see him.” By this point, her desire to see Clow Reed again is obviously rooted to something a bit more deeper than mere hatred.
(Meanwhile on the outside, Yelan shows more of her maternal instincts.)
The sorceress makes her way outside the dimension of the book, and is confused by the modern-day surroundings.
Our beloved Cardcaptor isn’t going to let her wreck havoc on Hong Kong, so…
the movie edition
The madoushi vs. Sakura chase scene was pretty cool to look at. But it doesn’t last long, and again, Sakura doesn’t use any of her 37 Clow Cards other than Fly here. Mostly because she doesn’t want to hurt anyone in a crossfire or attract any attention, but… the sorceress is shooting water beams downwards at her from the sky anyway. Someone’s going to notice the two magicians fighting in the sky and/or get hurt by the battle sooner or later. Well, I suppose that gentleness is one of the things I like about Sakura. It’s just that, it’s a Cardcaptor Sakura movie, and it would be kind of neat to see a lot more card usage than you would in an actual episode.
Sakura finally says it to madoushi — no sugarcoating — “Clow Reed is dead.”
And here’s where it’s 100% clear that the sorceress’s feelings towards Clow Reed isn’t just hatred, or a desire for revenge. She refuses to believe that the man is dead. The anguish in Hayashibara Megumi’s performance — there’s a lot more to it than just a villain out for revenge. She loses her shit.
And then proceeds to drown Sakura in water
AW HELL NAW MAN, YOU DID NOT JUST. NO, YOU. NOOOOOO. NO. I WILL FIGHT YOU
As she drowns Sakura in her endless torrent of water, the sorceress softly laments Clow Reed’s death, reminding herself about how long she’s been waiting for Clow Reed and how how she was willing to wait.
The woman sheds a tear, which drops down and shines to where Sakura is, showing her a vision of a happy memory:
In the past, Clow Reed had given madoushi a hairpiece for her birthday.
If you haven’t noticed until now, yes, she was in love with Clow Reed. By now, Sakura has confirmed her suspicions, which she had for quite a while now.
“Water is a thing that flows.”
With the help of arc words that Sakura’s been hearing from Clow Reed’s voice for quite some time in the movie, Sakura uses The Arrow to escape her confines.
Ah, Arrow. This is the first and last time you’re ever used by Sakura. At least your success record has no stains.
Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng best protag
Sakura takes the opportunity to approach the sorceress, and tenderly relate her feeling of losing someone you love with her own, which I always assumed to be in reference to her deceased mother.
The sorceress calmly asks again if Clow Reed is really dead, and for the final time, Sakura confirms his death.
Sakura’s gentle talk is what allows he sorceress to accept Clow Reed’s death and pass on to the afterlife, with her with her hairpiece dissolving as well. This scene was actually pretty bittersweet and I enjoyed how genuine and heartfelt Sakura was.
She releases Sakura’s friends, as well
Sakura is relieved.
I love how Touya and Yukito don’t give a shit about what happened the day before and are only worried about what to get as a souvenir for Fujitaka. I mean, I suppose Touya wouldn’t be that weird-ed out by supernatural phenomenon, but Yukito on the other hand…
I guess I can hand-wave it as them thinking it was a weird dream or something, even though I’d personally raise my eyebrow if the last half the yesterday abruptly disappeared from my head.
The movie ends with Sakura reflecting on the feelings that madoushi desperately wanted to tell Clow Reed, and has a new resolve to confess her own feelings to the person she likes the most.
She gets around to doing this later on, but the person she likes the most is not who she thinks it is, even though a confession happens either way.
I’ve always liked the Cardcaptor Sakura movie, but it ultimately falls short compared to other goodies this series has to offer. For the sake of completeness, I do recommend you watch this movie where it’s supposed to be placed when watching/re-watching the anime, but skipping over it is inconsequential. The second movie is superior because it’s the conclusion to the anime series, filled with almost everything that made Cardcaptor Sakura great, whereas this movie is largely a glorified filler adventure (which isn’t bad by any means).
The plot was alright for what it was. I did feel sorry for the sorceress, but her story wasn’t exactly something I hadn’t seen before. Even so, the way Ohkawa Nanase approached the story (in a way only a CLAMP woman could) made the “I will wait for you + sealed evil in a can” plot work as a Cardcaptor Sakura story.
Despite the flaws, such as the little use of Clow Cards or the fact that it’s probably the most inconsequential Cardcaptor Sakura “chapter” to skip, there’s positive points to this movie. First off, the 90’s anime film animation and OST were still kicking after all these years, especially with the backdrop being the beautiful city of Hong Kong. Plus, it introduces aspects from the manga that CLAMP originally left unexplored, like introducing Syaoran’s four sisters and mother. That alone makes the film somewhat worth it for a Cardcaptor Sakura fan.
The ending song sounds really pretty as well:
(And how! Kaitani Naomi’s voice is scrumptious.)
Now that the first movie is done with, onto the next chapter of this Cardcaptor Sakura rewatch-blog: the second season.