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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cardcaptor Sakura is available in both subtitled, uncut (and more mature) versions, as well as dubbed, edited versions more appropriate for tweens. Parents might want to determine which version they have access to before giving the OK to younger kids (we recommend the dubbed version for kids 8 and older). Much of the romance as well as same-sex relationships and crushes are cut out of the American dub. The series does have a lot of action but it is completely bloodless and no more violent than your average Pokemon movie. As is common for anime, the skirts on the school uniforms for girls are extremely short, however, to its credit Sakura generally looks and behaves much like a mature 10-year-old girl would.
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What's the story?
Ten-year-old Sakura (voiced by Sakura Tange) is a fourth grader who lives with her widowed archeology professor father and teenaged brother. One day after school, Sakura accidentally unleashes a collection of magical "Clow Cards" from a locked book she finds in her father's office. Keroberos (Aya Hisakawa, called Cerberus in the English version), the guardian beast of the seal on the book appears and informs Sakura that she must have some magical powers within her or else she would not have been able to open the book. He also argues that since she loosed the magical Clow Cards, Sakura is now responsible for retrieving the lost cards to prevent an unspecified world-wide catastrophe. Each Clow Card has the ability to manifest as a malevolent spirit that could wreak havoc unless they are sealed away in a card where they can be used as needed. Keroberos gives Sakura a magical key and guides her in her task to collect and seal all of the Clow Cards.
Is it any good?
CARDCAPTOR SAKURA (not to be confused with the American dub Cardcaptors) is a classic of the magical girl sub-genre of anime and shojo manga (manga written for girls). Part of the appeal of the show is the artwork (although, one has to question some of the outfits poor Sakura is forced to wear) and adorable characters. For example, Keroberos, whose true form is a huge winged lion, spends most of the series as a cute stuffed animal sidekick with a sweet tooth. Sakura herself is an incredibly likeable girl who is thoughtful, romantic, athletic, modest, and brave. She reluctantly takes on the role of cardcaptor and is initially fearful of the dangers but she almost always pushes through her fears to do what's needed.
Cardcaptor Sakura relies on a lot of anime and magical girl conventions, but it's unique in that it is generally well written and much of Sakura's situations are grounded in her reality. The solutions Sakura comes up with for defeating certain Clow Cards are things that any kid could think of given enough time. Finally, there is a lightness to the dialogue as the characters tease and joke with one another. The relationship between Sakura and her brother Toya is believable. The series, as a whole, has a nice balance of action, humor, good characters, and design and is well worth seeking out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about crushes and obsessions. Sakura has a school girl crush on her teacher and her older brother's best friend. How are her crushes similar or different to those in real life where tweens obsess about singers or other popular figures?
Why are Sakura's skirts so short? Girls: How would wearing a skirt that short make you feel? What kind of attention would you get? What other anime conventions do you notice?
Sakura loves to roller blade. What are some of your favorite outdoor activities and sports? How can kids to find a balance between their indoor and outdoor lives?
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