Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus, Vol. 1
My first foray into the world of Clamp comes via the first omnibus of their classic shojo story, Cardcaptor Sakura! The tale revolves around a young girl named Sakura who stumbles across a mysterious book and it’s accompanying magical cards. The book and cards aren’t all she finds as she also discovers their magical guardian, Kerebos. After a quick history lesson from the talking stuffed animal, Sakura finds herself tasked with hunting down the magical cards before they wreak havoc.
At this point the tale feels like a fairly straight forward, but incredibly well done, magical girl series. Sakura spends most of the book chasing after the escape and wild Clow Cards, halting their rampages and sealing them away, gaining their abilities as she goes. There’s a rival/ally a close friend and several other mysterious characters floating around the edges of the tale as well. Through it all Clamp is able to also weave some interesting and touching tales regarding Sakura’s mother and her own relationship with her family and friends. There’s a heavy emphasis on friendships, romances and the like, but never quite to the point where it feels like you’re reading a traditional romance story. It’s a really enjoyable and engaging read, but there are a few moments that left me confused as to whether I was supposed to sympathize with someone or not. The most obvious and notable example of this is a tiny subplot involving one of Sakura’s friends and her mysterious older boyfriend. Spoiler alert, the boyfriend turns out to be her teacher. On one hand the idea of a young student crushing on her teacher isn’t terribly shocking, a student/teacher crush could be cute and amusing, but it takes a turn for the creepy as the adult reciprocates the feelings and actually gives her an engagement ring.
The book is absolutely gorgeous. Clamp’s artwork is lovely to look at and incredibly detailed with wonderfully creative and beautiful costumes and clothing. The layouts and panel flow are interesting and can be incredibly ornate with lots of bleed over images, borderless panels and more. They make nice use of toning and shading using it to visually accent emotional beats without going overboard as some manga artists do. Basically, it’s a damn pretty book. That said there was one thing that really jarred me and stopped me in my tracks. Every now and then there’s the odd shot of male characters where their heads are far too small to be sitting on shoulders that are very, very broad. The rest of the book is so lovely and there’s such a wonderful attention to detail, that these few shots really leapt at me out. Still, I suppose it’s a rather minor nitpick in an other wise stunningly beautiful book
Minor nitpicks on the art aside I really enjoyed Cardcaptor Sakura and I’m glad that it’s back in print and that I finally had a chance to check it out. I think one of the best compliments I can give to the series is that it hasn’t just left me wanting more Cardcaptor Sakura, but it’s left me wanting to check out more work from Clamp as well.
Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus, Vol. 1 is available now from Darkhorse.