CARDCAPTORS: POWER MATCH, the second collection of Cardcaptors episodes, maintains the easygoing charm of the first, but has a greater emphasis on physical confrontations than its predecessor. "The New Rival" features a martial arts battle between Sakura's aggressive new competitor Meilin and a female Clow spirit, while "Double Edged Sword" finds Sakura's friend Rita possessed by a Clow card and coming after Sakura with a sword. Nevertheless, it's Sakura's magical powers rather than violence that save the day. Once again, the non-magical aspects of Sakura's life gets as much screen time as her mystical battles. Fortunately, Sakura is a well-rounded character that kids will identify with--she's bumbling and insecure one moment, courageous and confident the next. Her unsure responses to Meilin's in-your-face aggressiveness are particularly charming. The friendship between Sakura and her pals is also well portrayed--they clearly respect and value each other.
Unfortunately, Li, the rival boy Cardcaptor, is still an unappealing character. He comes across as an egotistical brat who spends his time singing his own praises, while constantly denigrating Sakura's Cardcaptor skills. This shallow portrayal makes it somewhat frustrating whenever Sakura needs his help to capture another Clow card. In general, the show looks quite good. Sakura's magical encounters provide opportunities for various animated effects, and the Clow card spirits take many shapes and appearances. In an amusing reversal of expectations, the Clow spirit "Power" is a harmless-looking elfin sprite, whom Sakura initially underestimates due to its cute appearance. While Cardcaptors may not satisfy kids looking for action, others will find the show's sedate, more earthbound approach to fantasy refreshing.