Explaining the canon of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (anime), connection to the second film

Sakura is not amused by your ignorance!

Sakura is not amused by your ignorance!

Saku­ra is not amused by your igno­rance!

Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card marks the return of my all-time favorite mag­i­cal girl, Kinomo­to Saku­ra (and mag­i­cal boy, look­ing at you Syao­ran!) into the world of Japan­ese ani­ma­tion, start­ing off the 2018 year on a good note. And I’ve returned from the dead to explain some very com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about the series that has plagu­ing the minds of fans since the ani­mat­ed ver­sion of this amaz­ing sequel start­ed.

Because not know­ing may need­less­ly ham­per your enjoy­ment of the series, when it does­n’t real­ly have to!

It's not a farewell yet!

Is this a continuation of the first anime, or a straight adaptation of the Clear Card manga?

It’s a con­tin­u­a­tion of the first ani­me series, which is appar­ent right from the first episode, which starts with a spe­cial Leave it to Kero! seg­ment which briefly recapped what hap­pened in the pre­vi­ous ani­me, includ­ing a mon­tage of scenes con­tain­ing ani­me-only events, such as the ele­va­tor scene:

A very iconic anime-original scene

The ele­va­tor scene was not in the man­ga, where Syao­ran starts call­ing Saku­ra by her giv­en name under very dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances

The first episode also gives us a flash­back to Saku­ra and Syao­ran’s farewell scene at the air­port from episode 70 of the orig­i­nal ani­me. They even took the time rean­i­mate it! How­ev­er, in the man­ga, this scene did not exist — our cou­ple say their farewells, but it was vast­ly dif­fer­ent. For instance, Saku­ra and Syao­ran’s farewell scene was at the bus stop in the man­ga and they exchange ted­dy bears with each oth­er, rather than Syao­ran just giv­ing Saku­ra his bear.

Episode 70

Card­cap­tor Saku­ra

Clear Card Flashback

Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card

Manga

Man­ga

Sakura and the Two Bears OAD

Saku­ra and the Two Bears OAD

The first Card­cap­tor Saku­ra ani­me series fol­lowed a sim­i­lar plot-line as its source man­ga, but had rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent takes on var­i­ous details and chap­ters, even adding their own, in order to keep it a fresh expe­ri­ence for read­ers of the man­ga. For exam­ple, the man­ga had few­er cards com­pared to its ani­me coun­ter­part: 19 cards in the man­ga vs. a full 52-card deck in the ani­me.

The same is true for this new­er Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card ani­me series: many episodes are rather dif­fer­ent from their man­ga coun­ter­parts, there’s plen­ty of new con­tent made for the ani­me, and we’re get­ting a lot of new ani­me-only Clear Cards. In order to ful­ly enjoy the fran­chise in its entire­ty, I real­ly do rec­om­mend expe­ri­enc­ing both the man­ga and the ani­me, they’re both two love­ly dif­fer­ent takes on this charm­ing sto­ry.

Meiling is back, and cuter than ever!

Meil­ing is back, and cuter than ever!

Anoth­er deci­sive indi­ca­tor that the Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card ani­me is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the old­er Card­cap­tor Saku­ra ani­me and not the man­ga  is the appear­ance of Li Meil­ing (cousin of Syao­ran and a close friend of Saku­ra and Tomoyo), and a men­tion of Syao­ran’s but­ler, Wei.

These two char­ac­ters only ever appeared in the ani­me and did not exist in the orig­i­nal man­ga. They also do not appear in the Clear Card man­ga — their appear­ances in the ani­mat­ed ver­sion is once again exclu­sive.

Happily ever after, a love that transcends life and death

A love that tran­scends life and death…

Scenes of Saku­ra’s father, Kinomo­to Fuji­ta­ka, in the Clear Card arc are also heav­i­ly altered, due to a cer­tain rev­e­la­tion about him that was nev­er revealed in the Saku­ra Card arc of orig­i­nal ani­me, but was revealed in the man­ga coun­ter­part of the Saku­ra Card arc.

I’ll avoid men­tion­ing what that spoil­er is (to encour­age peo­ple to expe­ri­ence the man­ga depic­tion of this series along­side the ani­me), but to sum things up, Ohkawa Nanase and the staff at Stu­dio Mad­house are tak­ing the adap­ta­tion dif­fer­ences intro­duced in the first ani­me into con­sid­er­a­tion, and craft­ing the sto­ry of the ani­mat­ed Clear Card arc accord­ing­ly to what old­er fans expe­ri­enced on TV and in the­aters so long ago… and what many Japan­ese kids today com­mon­ly have access to as an ani­me.

What this all means is that you only need to watch the old­er ani­me and its two films to under­stand the ani­me ver­sion of the Clear Card arc. Oth­er­wise, you do not need to read the man­ga, which leads into the man­ga ver­sion of Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card (although, again, I rec­om­mend both medi­ums!).

I'm here to give you my answer

What about the Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Prologue: Sakura and the Two Bears OAD that was released during Autumn of 2017, wasn’t that a retcon of the final episode of the first anime?

This is an easy ques­tion to answer: it has noth­ing to do with the ani­me.

The OAD was released as bonus con­tent for those who pre­ordered the lim­it­ed edi­tion of vol­ume 3 of the Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card tankoban. I hap­pen to own it, myself:

It's worth not being an EOP

It's worth not being an EOP

Nowhere does it indi­cate that it’s a pre­quel to the Clear Card ani­me series, nor does it adver­tise the new ani­me series. Yes, it’s the Clear Card pro­logue, the Clear Card MANGA pro­logue. Not the ani­me. It’s just a straight-up ani­mat­ed adap­ta­tion of the last few chap­ters of the orig­i­nal man­ga and was meant as a bonus for the read­ers of the man­ga (not the watch­ers of the ani­me), some over­lap aside.

If there’s any rela­tion to the new­er ani­me series, it’s just Stu­dio Mad­house exper­i­ment­ing with the new ani­ma­tion and art style, which match­es the new ani­me series.

To seal the deal, on the offi­cial web­site for Card­cap­tor Saku­ra, this OAD is list­ed under the man­ga sec­tion, not the ani­me sec­tion — which lists the old ani­me arcs, the two films, music, and the new Clear Card ani­me.

OAD = Manga Canon

The man­ga sec­tion: “Saku­ra and The Two Bears” list­ed under Vol­ume 3 con­tents

Clear Card anime = Anime Canon

The ani­me sec­tion: Clow Card arc, Saku­ra Card arc, Blu-ray Box and DVD box, Clear Card arc, Clear Card Blu-ray and DVD, Music, 1999 film, 2000 film, Revival Screen­ing (1st movie), Revival Screen­ing (2nd movie)

There was nev­er a rea­son to think the OAD was canon to the ani­me series in Japan; west­ern­ers had this con­fused because of the fact that online stream­ing sites upload­ing every­thing with­out release con­text makes it hard­er to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between a prod­uct made for the ani­me and a prod­uct made for the man­ga.

The OAD depict­ed Saku­ra’s con­fes­sion to Syao­ran as it hap­pened in the man­ga, which was not present in the old­er ani­me series. How­ev­er, the ani­me has its own ver­sion of Saku­ra’s con­fes­sion in the form of the sec­ond film, Card­cap­tor Saku­ra The Movie: The Sealed Card, which served as an ani­me-orig­i­nal end­ing and seals the SyaoSaku rela­tion­ship for the ani­me uni­verse. Speak­ing of which:

Why would you want this to be non-canon?

Is The Sealed Card movie still canon to the anime series, as of the Clear Card arc?

Frankly, it still is. Peo­ple were con­tentious with this because of a cou­ple of fac­tors:

  • The exis­tence of the Saku­ra Bear, which Saku­ra only gave to Syao­ran in the man­ga.
  • The exis­tence of Eri­ol’s man­sion, which was destroyed and rebuilt as an amuse­ment park in The Sealed Card.

Fans have been mak­ing all sort of the­o­ries regard­ing the first point. The flash­back to the farewell scene at the air­port was also accom­pa­nied by a flash­back scene where Saku­ra is mak­ing the pink bear (this bear is still not shown in the rean­i­mat­ed air­port scene). Saku­ra wears the same out­fit as the air­port scene, and appar­ent­ly, since she can nev­er ever wear the same out­fit twice (sar­casm), this has thrown peo­ple off and leav­ing peo­ple to assume that CLAMP and Mad­house are mix­ing canons, and that cer­tain aspects of Episode 70 of the orig­i­nal ani­me series have been mixed with cer­tain aspects of the OAD/final chap­ters of the orig­i­nal man­ga.

How­ev­er, this does­n’t make any sense on a time­line per­spec­tive (in the man­ga and OAD, Sakura/Syaoran were in the 6th grade dur­ing their con­fes­sions, while their ani­me ver­sions were still in the fifth grade) and need­less­ly con­fus­es the younger new view­ers, who would not be think­ing of things so intri­cate­ly while watch­ing CCS and most like­ly not have had access to a lim­it­ed edi­tion item such as the OAD.

Dur­ing episode 10 of the Card­cap­tor Saku­ra: Clear Card ani­me, Saku­ra shows her new friend Aki­ho an album show­cas­ing pho­tos depict­ing a scene from the sec­ond film, in which Saku­ra and Syao­ran play the role of a prince and princess in a play (which are not redrawn and are actu­al­ly screen­shots tak­en direct­ly from the film). Aki­ho asks Saku­ra if she could see the record­ing of the play, but Saku­ra ner­vous­ly sug­gests that they should watch it anoth­er time, pre­sum­ably to avoid Aki­ho see­ing The Noth­ing card cause hav­oc in the mid­dle of the play, which Tomoyo caught footage of in the film.

B-BUT MUH NON-CANON

Can’t exact­ly show off some­thing that nev­er hap­pened, huh?

This seems to solid­i­fy the sec­ond film as still being canon to the ani­me time­line of CCS as we know it now. In the film, Syao­ran was only back in Japan for the sum­mer and pre­sum­ably left for Hong Kong after. This gives us a per­fect time frame for Anime!Sakura to make and give Anime!Syaoran the pink bear she was seen mak­ing in her flash­back — in fact, it’s the only way this all makes sense. On top of that, cur­rent view­ers are giv­en encour­age­ment to watch the sec­ond film if they have not already. Right before the Japan­ese pre­miere of the first episode of the Clear Card arc on tele­vi­sion, the film was screened in Japan­ese the­aters (in the west, Crunchy­roll streamed the movie some­time after the Eng­lish subbed pre­miere of the new arc). And in an inter­view, Ohkawa Nanase expressed that fans should watch the sec­ond film to get the full enjoy­ment of the Clear Card ani­ma­tion, fur­ther con­firm­ing that the movie is indeed in con­ti­nu­ity with the cur­rent ani­me series.

The only plot­hole this leaves is the exis­tence of Eri­ol’s man­sion, which was demol­ished in the film to make room for the new amuse­ment park. Why has Eri­ol’s house sud­den­ly reap­peared as Aki­ho’s home in the Clear Card arc, and why are the char­ac­ters not shocked by this? None of us know yetCLAMP has­n’t revealed the sig­nif­i­cance the sec­ond film’s sto­ry has to the ani­mat­ed Clear Card arc yet, but there may be an expla­na­tion down the road as to why Eri­ol’s house has sud­den­ly reemerged.

Even if there was­n’t… well, let’s take a look at it from that per­spec­tive. We have to look at it from a char­ac­ter-build­ing per­spec­tive and also the per­spec­tive of the young audi­ence. Back when CLAMP decid­ed to give the ani­me an orig­i­nal end­ing via a movie plot, they prob­a­bly did­n’t think ahead that they were going to make a sequel to the series, a decade down the road. Now that we have the Clear Card arc, they prob­a­bly real­ized that some of the details from the film clash­es with the direc­tion they want to take the very basic sto­ry shared by both the ani­me and man­ga, such as the bear and Eri­ol’s house. Now, the bear is eas­i­ly rec­on­ciled and can eas­i­ly hap­pen after the events of the film, but Eri­ol’s house? Assum­ing there isn’t mag­ic involved here, they kind of dug them­selves a hole there.

Cutest scenes

That’s right — the ground where Aki­ho lives right now was home to some of the cutest SyaoSaku scenes

But look, they had two choic­es here: One, to shove the movie aside and ren­der it out-of-con­ti­nu­ity, there­fore deny­ing the ani­me view­ers a canon­i­cal love con­fes­sion from Saku­ra, which is sort of need­ed to have her and Syao­ran’s cur­rent rela­tion­ship make sense… or two, hand-wave the reemer­gence of some dumb destroyed build­ing in favor of keep­ing that sol­id rela­tion­ship foun­da­tion for our two love­birds. Hon­est­ly, the choice sounds like a no-brain­er for me. I’d much rather take a con­trived expla­na­tion such as demol­ish­ing a build­ing to build an amuse­ment park, only to demol­ish that amuse­ment in order to build the very same build­ing they demol­ished in the first place, to miss­ing out a chunk of won­der­ful rela­tion­ship devel­op­ment between Saku­ra and her spe­cial per­son. Maybe Eri­ol’s man­sion got restored with mag­ic after The Noth­ing shenani­gans. Either way, fuck the build­ing, Saku­ra and Syao­ran take first pri­or­i­ty — and the card that was a key point in episode 70 of the orig­i­nal series ani­me ends up serv­ing its pur­pose.

With the pro­duc­er of the ani­me shov­ing down our throats of the fact that the sec­ond film has some sort of sig­nif­i­cance to the plot of the Clear Card arc, and the fact that, instead of air­ing a new episode on April 1st (Saku­ra’s birth­day, Japan does­n’t cel­e­brate April Fools), they’re choos­ing to rebroad­cast the sec­ond film instead, I think it’s safe to say that… yes, the film is indeed, canon to the Clear Card arc. And I think it’s an awe­some thing — the film is an amaz­ing part of the fran­chise.

2 thoughts on “Explaining the canon of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (anime), connection to the second film

  1. You said they only had two options on the clear card and sealed card sit­u­a­tion but, I think the cre­ators had a third option: make Akiho’s home a dif­fer­ent home than the one Eri­ol lived in. Why did she have to move exact­ly to that same house? (which, wouldn’t have tech­ni­cal­ly exist­ed by that point, if we’re sup­pos­ed­ly fol­low­ing the sealed card movie). I have yet to fin­ish the whole clear card ani­me btw, so I might get the answer to my ques­tion lat­er but, if the rea­son as to why she had to move to that exact same house, is some­thing relat­ed to her being mag­i­cal (I’m assum­ing she is because I don’t know for sure yet), or that she is an odd/mysterious per­son, then it still wouldn’t make any sense for her to live in Eriol’s home. If that is the case and she is in fact mag­i­cal, then wouldn’t she still be mag­i­cal if she lived some­where else? Wouldn’t she be able to use mag­ic or be mys­te­ri­ous whether she was liv­ing at Eriol’s house or any oth­er house? The cre­ators could’ve just made up a new house for aki­ho to live in and make that new house seem odd or creepy, and that could have giv­en view­ers a sense of how odd and mys­te­ri­ous her char­ac­ter is. I feel like they straight up for­got that detail they had includ­ed in their movie and made the new ani­me with­out re-watch­ing it (or at least the whole movie). They could’ve eas­i­ly just cre­at­ed an entire­ly new house. But oh well, I might be total­ly wrong with my insight of things since I still don’t have all the info but, this was just my opin­ion about the mat­ter. I think it had a very easy solu­tion.

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