It seems we’ve really been getting a lot of revivals recently. We had a new Sailor Moon, a new Dragon Ball, and now it’s Sakura’s turn. She’s supposedly in middle school now, but it seems none of the characters have aged a bit. I guess I should find that charming, in the sense of re-connecting with old friends, but all I can think of is how much of the new episodes are recycled content. Even The Force Awakens, as nostalgia pandering as that was, introduced different characters that could take things in interesting new directions (and say what you will about Last Jedi, but it certainly was interesting). On the other hand, Sakura’s just off collecting new cards that just so happen to resemble the old cards, having new dreams that resemble the old dreams, characters are making the same old jokes they did before, and no one even displays a hint of self-aware deja vu about it. It’s the safest and least ambitious thing I’ve seen since Pokemon Origins, and normally, this is where I’d simply dismiss it as cynical nostalgia bait, baffled as to how so many people can fall for it.
And yet, if I did so, I wouldn’t be writing this entry right now. I mean, I didn’t write a Pokemon Origins entry for those reasons, but Cardcaptor Sakura is different. It means something to me.
At this point, I ought to make a confession. I never felt like a Cardcaptor fan. Sure, I love the show, and, as I had previously explained, it does occupy a special place in my heart. However, I like it for reasons that are different from almost everyone else. Whereas most people dismissed Nelvana Sakura as a brat that was an insult to the real Sakura, I saw in her a rare androgynous magical girl I could actually relate to. My favourite character in the entire series is Meilin, and she not only tends to get neglected, if not hated by the wider fanbase, but she wasn’t even in the original manga. In fact, a major reason I’m particularly attached to Meilin and Touya/Tori (my second favourite character) is because they’re less goody-two shoes than the rest of the cast and injected some welcome sarcasm into the group dynamic. In the context of the show, it didn’t matter how offbeat my opinions were. No one made a single comment about Sakura’s androgyny, but instead thought she was awesome for it. The characters, especially Sakura herself, accepted Meilin and called her a good friend even despite her bitchiness. The anime may not have had the most interesting plot, but it was refreshing escapism at the time. Unusual girls tend to be portrayed and treated as outcasts in most fiction, even when they’re heroes, but in the context of Cardcaptors, unusual was totally normal.
And then I met the show’s online fandom. Make no mistake, it’s one of the nicer fandoms. However, when I never hear anything but scorn for the Nelvana dub that was such a key formative aspect of my childhood, it makes my opinions feel, illegitimate, ya know? Like, there’s this cognitive dissonance with hearing people praise the show for being so inclusive, yet have your feelings and experience be excluded. It didn’t help that it took me until adulthood to actually understand why I felt that way about something everyone hated (heck, the reason I wrote the Memories entry, along with the one for the Grinch movie, was because I saw no one else make those arguments). Until then, Cardcaptor Sakura fandom felt to me like a group of people having fun without me. So when I see people go nuts about the revival series, I get the feeling that, maybe, I have such a low opinion of it because it’s like a party I wasn’t invited to. It wasn’t meant for me. And it never was, because I’m not a real fan anyway, but just a weirdo playing in the corner alone.
I know all that was quite personal, perhaps even petty. But those are the feelings that comes flooding back to me whenever I see Clear Card, and I felt it was important to be honest about them since it would influence my opinions of the anime whether I said them or not. There’s also me growing up with series that aged with me, most famously Harry Potter. If I see a new installment of something I’ve liked in the past, I’ve become accustomed to expecting new perspectives that come with becoming older or that acknowledge how things have changed in the present day. In contrast, with the new series, Cardcaptor Sakura seems permanently frozen in time, with the characters remaining static icons. I do not understand the appeal of such a thing, and it even creeps me out a bit. I mean, sure, my idea of a continuation would have a teenage Meilin cursing out everyone, and that’s good reason to be grateful I’m nowhere near the production of the anime. But it would have been nice to at least see Sakura come to terms with using her existing cards responsibly rather than go chase new cards. I’m not asking for an edgelord makeover, just a bit more coming-of-age maturity similar to some of the better Spiderman stories.
Well, those are my confused feelings towards some nostalgic kiddie anime. I hope it was at least an interesting second opinion on things, despite all the personal baggage.