Cardcaptor Sakura
CCS vol. 1 Kodansha
Original cover of Cardcaptor Sakura vol. 1 as published by Kodansha in Japan.
(Kādokyaputā Sakura)
Genre: Magical Girl, Romance
Cardcaptor Sakura
Publisher: Kōdansha
Demographic: Shojo
Magazine: Nakayoshi
Original run: May 1996-June 2000
Volumes: 12
TV Anime
Cardcaptor Sakura
Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse
Publisher: Geneon
Network: NHK
Original Run: April 7,1998 - March 21, 2000
Episodes: 70

Cardcaptor Sakura (カードキャプターさくら, Kādokyaputā Sakura), also known as Cardcaptors or just CCS is a shojo manga series written and illustrated by the mangaka team artists CLAMP.The story focuses on Sakura Kinomoto, an elementary school student who discovers that she possesses magical powers after accidentally freeing a set of magical cards from the book they had been sealed in for years. She is then tasked with retrieving those cards in order to avoid an unknown catastrophe from befalling the world.   

The manga started its publication on May 1996 by Kōdansha editorial. It was serialized by the Japanese monthly magazine Nakayoshi until June 2000. It consists of 12 volumes and 50 chapters. Tokyopop published the series in English, with the second half of the series having the subtitle "Masters of the Clow." In 2009 Tokyopop lost many Kodansha licenses, Cardcaptor Sakura included. Along with a few other CLAMP titles, DarkHorse has now picked up Cardcaptor Sakura and will release them in onmibus format. The first omnibus volume is to be released in the summer of 2010.

Later on, the manga's story was adapted to anime, which was produced by Madhouse. It was aired in Japan from April 7th, 1998 until March 21, 2000 and broadcasted by TV network NHK. It consisted of 2 seasons, which include 70 episodes. Two movies were produced, many videogames and complementary books, and many other merchandise. The anime in the dubbed version was licensed by the now defunct Geneon.

Both the anime and manga series have reached a great success inside and out of Japan. In 2000, Cardcaptor Sakura received the Anime Grand Prix on the category "Best Anime", while on 2001 it received the Seiun prize on the category "Best Manga". On a TV ranking poll by TV Asashi of the "100 Best Animes of 2005", the series ranked #69, while ranking #44 on 2006.

Plot Edit

Ten-year-old fourth grader Sakura Kinomoto opens a mysterious book in her father's study and accidentally releases the magical Clow Cards. Created by the half-English half-Chinese sorcerer Clow Reed, the Clow Cards were sealed within the Clow Book upon his death and represent a combination of magic from Clow's mixed heritage. Each card has its own personality and characteristics and can assume alternate forms when activated.

Cerberus, the Guardian Beast of the Seal, awakens and emerges from the book's cover. Upon learning the cards are gone, he tells Sakura that she must have special powers, and that it is now her responsibility to retrieve the missing cards. As she finds each card, she must battle its magical personification and defeat it in order to seal it away. Cerberus acts as her guide and mentor throughout the quest, while her classmate and best friend Tomoyo Daidouji films her exploits and provides her with costumes, insisting that she must "wear special clothes for special occasions." Her older brother, Touya Kinomoto, watches over his sister while pretending that he is unaware of what is going on.

As the series progresses, a rival in the form of Syaoran Li appears. A descendant of the late Clow Reed, creator of the Clow Cards' and their guardians, Syaoran travels to Japan from Hong Kong to recapture the cards, but finds his goal complicated as he comes to respect Sakura and begins aiding her instead. Once Sakura has captured all of the cards, she must undergo the Final Judgement. Yukito Tsukishiro, Sakura's crush and the best friend of her brother, is revealed to be the false form of the card's second guardian Yue. Yue is the one who must test Sakura and Syaoran to determine which one is worthy of becoming the cards' true master. Sakura is aided in the test by Kaho Mizuki, who is later revealed to have been sent by Clow to ensure Sakura is able to pass the test because he chose Sakura to be the cards' new master when he knew he was going to die.

With Sakura as the new master of the Clow Cards, life initially is peaceful until the arrival of a new transfer student from England, Eriol Hiiragizawa, which coincides with new disturbances occurring in Tomoeda. Yue and Cerberus find themselves unable to aid Sakura during a magical attack, and Sakura is unable to use the Clow Cards. Sakura transforms her wand and creates a new activation spell for it, enabling her to then transform one of the Clow Cards into a Sakura Card. As the series progresses, she continues finding herself in situations which cause her to have to transfer the cards, unaware they are being caused by Eriol and two guardian-like creatures, Spinel Sun and Ruby Moon. Yue, who requires the support of another to generate his own energies, begins growing weaker as time passes, though he initially does not tell Sakura that it is because her magic is not yet strong enough. The problem does not affect Cerberus whose power, like the sun, regenerates on its own with no need to draw extra power from other sources.

During these events, Sakura finds herself having to deal with the pain of Yukito's gentle rejection of her feelings, as he instead loves her brother Toya. Toya, in turn, gives all of his magical abilities to Yue in order to ensure Yukito doesn't fade away, making Yue promise to protect Sakura in his place as his loss of powers prevents him from knowing when she may be in trouble. Syaoran helps her recover from the hurt, while finding himself falling in love with Sakura but unsure of how to tell her.

When there are only two cards left to be transformed, The Dark and The Light card which must be converted together, Eriol reveals himself to Sakura. Once she has successfully transformed the cards, he explains that he is half of the reincarnation of Clow Reed, with her father being the other half. Eriol has all of the memories and magic, enabling him to assist Sakura in converting the cards so that they would not lose their magical powers. With the task done, he asks Sakura to split his magic between himself and her father, so that he will no longer be the most powerful magician in the world. He then returns to England.

In the aftermath, Syaoran confesses his love for her, but Sakura is unsure how to respond. When he tells her that he is returning to Hong Kong, Sakura finds herself hurting and upset. After running into several of her friends, she realizes that it is because she loves Syaoran too. She rushes to the airport to tell him and he promises to return when he has taken care of some things. At the end of the series, he meets Sakura a year later having moved to Tomoeda permanently.

Differences in the Anime Adaptation Edit

In the anime adaptation of the series, the plot is slowed down to fit the longer length and to avoid catching up to the on-going manga series. Some of the manga's most dramatic moments are stretched out and delayed, such as Cerberus true form not being revealed until just before Yue's appearance. The anime also greatly increases the number of cards to be captured, stretching the original 19 from the manga to a full set of 52 in the main television series. In the second anime film, Sakura creates a 53rd card, "The Hope", a talent she is not shown to have in the manga yet. Some of the circumstances around the capturing of the cards seen in both media are changed. Syaoran's role is expanded some, with his capturing several cards and being tested by Yue before Sakura's test. An additional character, Meiling Li is introduced as Syaoran's cousin and fiancee, positioning her as a romantic rival for Sakura later in the series. The ending is modified some, with Sakura's father role as the second half of Clow Reed's reincarnation removed, as well as the splitting of Eriol's magic. The anime television series leaves the relationship between Sakura and Syaoran unresolved, with Sakura having not responded to Syaoran's love confession. Instead, the second anime film has Sakura attempting to confess throughout the film, but being unsuccessful until the last moments of the film, where she confesses to Syaoran.


Cardcaptor Sakura crosses over with Tsubasa and xxxHolic. For example the Clow Reed in Cardcaptor is the same Clow in both xxxHolic and Tsubasa Chronicles Of The Wings.

Themes Edit

The central theme of Cardcaptor Sakura is love and human relationships. Throughout the series, many forms of love are showcased, including "sibling love, childhood crushes, unrequited love, [and] true love." At times, Clamp even ignores the Clow Cards for several chapters to focus more on the relationships of Sakura and those around her. Each of these relationships is presented as is, with Clamp carefully avoiding passing judgment on the correctness of the relationships. In particular, the romantic relationship between elementary student Rika Sasaki and her teacher Yoshiyuki Terada is presented in such a way that it can be seen as a sweet and innocent tale of "wish fulfillment", or if examined more seriously, as a mildly disturbing story of pedophilic love. Another relationship is that of Sakura's brother's, Toya, and Yukito's. Despite how homosexuality may be viewed in reality, their relationship, however subtle or predominant, is genuine.

Reception Edit

The Cardcaptor Sakura manga series was popular with Japanese readers, ranking among the top five sellers during its release.

Animerica contributor Kevin Lew felt the series had a "sophisticated design sense" that allowed the series to transcend its target audience of young children and be enjoyable to older viewers as well. Fellow contributor Takashi Oshiguichi found the character Sakura to be appealing and praised the series art work. He felt that while it was "very calculated" to attract male readers, the series was attractive to fans due to Clamp's "unique entertainment style" that incorporates "perfectly time[d] appearances of "fascinating villains" and the unusual element of having the main character change costume for every capture. The magazine's Winnie Chow felt the series's animation was "far above average for a TV series", and compliments Sakura's magic-casting scenes for being nearly unique due to the regular costume changes. In Manga: The Complete Guide, Mason Templar states that the series is not "just one of the best kids' manga in translation, it's one of the very best manga available in English, period." He praises Clamp for its creativity and its shrewd business sense, in being able to create a series that "clearly has merchandising in line" and an "utterly forgettable premise" into a story that is "brimming with warmth and joy and wonder" and is "much more than the sum of its parts."

The anime adaptation was popular with viewers in Japan, despite having a timeslot that normally has low viewership. The Cardcaptor Sakura anime adaptation won the Animage Grand Prix award for best anime in 1999. The 18th DVD volume was the eight best selling anime DVD in Japan in June 2000.

In January 2002, the restaurant chain Taco Bell began a month long promotion in which four Cardcaptors toys were available in their kids meals and the company expected to distribute up to 7 million of the toys during the month. The "conservative Christian political orientation" American Family Association complained about the promotion as the organization felt the Clow Cards in the series were too similar to tarot cards and Eastern mythology. However, the organization's complaints did not begin until the promotion was already scheduled to end, so it's unsure whether the complaints had any actual effect.



Cardcaptor Sakura began as a manga series written and illustrated by the manga artist group Clamp. It was serialized in the monthly shōjo (aimed at young girls) manga magazine Nakayoshi from the May 1996 to June 2000 issue. The individual chapters were collected and published in 12 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha from November 1996 to July 2000. Kodansha released the first six volumes in bilingual editions that included both Japanese and English from May 2000 to July 2001. The bilingual volumes were part of an experimental line for helping Japanese children learn English. Kodansha stopped releasing the bilingual editions after the series was licensed in English for distribution in North America by Tokyopop. Tokyopop released the volumes of Cardcaptor Sakura from March 2000 to August 2003. Tokyopop initially released the first six volumes with the book "flipped" from the original Japanese orientation, in which the book is read from right-to-left, to the Western format with text oriented from left-to-right. These volumes were later re-released with the original orientation in two box sets, each containing three volumes. Volumes seven through twelve were released in the original orientation with the subtitle "Master of the Clow". Madman Entertainment used Tokyopop's English translation to release the series in Australia and New Zealand. Dark Horse Manga is publishing an English edition of the series in four omnibus volumes containing three of the original volumes each. The first omnibus volume was released in October 2010. followed by volume 2 in July 2011, and volume 3 in January 2012. The manga series is licensed for additional regional language releases by Pika Édition in France, Star Comics in Italy, Egmont Manga & Anime in Germany, Editora JBC in Brazil, Ever Glory Publishing in Taiwan, Ediciones Glénat in Spain, Editorial Ivrea in Argentina, and Editorial Toukan in Mexico.


A 70-episode anime TV series adaptation produced by the animation studio Madhouse aired in Japan on the NHK television network spread over three seasons. The first season, consisting of 35 episodes, aired between April 7 and December 29, 1998. The second season, with 11 episodes, aired between April 6 and June 22, 1999. The third season, containing 24 episodes, aired between September 7, 1999 and March 21, 2000. Directed by Morio Asaka, Clamp was fully involved in the project, with head writer Nanase Ohkawa writing and composing the screenplay and Mokona overseeing the costumes and card designs. The series also aired across Japan by the anime satellite television network Animax, which later broadcast the series across its respective networks worldwide. The series was later released by Bandai Visual to 18 VHS, LD and DVD compilation volumes from September 1998 to May 2000. Nelvana licensed Cardcaptor Sakura in North America, which dubbed the series into English and released it under the name Cardcaptors. The initial version of the dub covered all 70 episodes and were left mainly intact, although character names were changed, some Japanese text was changed to English, and controversial subjects such as same-sex relationships were edited out. The musical score and sound effects were completely replaced with new music and sound effects, although the opening and ending themes were dubbed into English. This version aired in Australia on Network Ten and Cartoon Network, in Ireland on RTÉ Network 2, in the UK on CiTV and Nickelodeon, and in Canada on Teletoon (which also aired the episodes with a French dub). Animax created an English dub of the series as well, which it broadcast on its English-language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia. Cardcaptors first aired in the United States on Kids' WB between June 17, 2000 and December 14, 2001. The version aired on Kids WB featured heavily edited and reordered episodes, with some episodes left out completely. The editing to the original dub was done to refocus the series to be more action oriented for the appeal of male viewers, as they were seen as the largest audience of animation at the time. The first episode aired in Kids' WB's version was "Sakura's Rival", the eighth episode of the series, having removed episodes focusing on Sakura and to have the show start with Syaoran's arrival. The series ran for 39 episodes, changing the original episode order but finishing with the show's actual final episode. Pioneer Entertainment released the dubbed Cardcaptors episodes to nine VHS and DVD compilation volumes from November 2000 to July 2002. It also released the unedited Cardcaptor Sakura series with the original Japanese audio tracks and English subtitles to 18 DVDs from November 2000 to November 2003; the first 11 volumes were also released in VHS. Pioneer also contracted with Nelvana to release the dubbed episodes. The Cardcaptor Sakura TV series DVDs went out-of-print at the end of 2006 when the license expired.     


Madhouse produced two, 82-minute anime films as an extension to the TV anime series. The first, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie, was released on August 21, 1999. Set between the first and second seasons of the TV series, the film shows Sakura and her friends going to Hong Kong where they encounter a vengeful spirit who was hurt by Clow Reed in the past. It was released to VHS, LD and DVD in Japan by Bandai Visual in February 2000. Nelvana released an English dubbed version of the film, retaining the same name and story changes as its main Cardcaptors dub. As with the TV series, Pioneer Entertainment released the film without editing, including the original Japanese audio and English subtitles. Both the edited and unedited versions were released on VHS and DVD in March 2002.

The second film, Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card, was released in Japan on July 15, 2000. It provided a conclusion to the TV series, in which Syaoran returns to Tokyo in hopes of getting Sakura's answer to his love confession, but her own confession is interrupted by the appearance of a 53rd Clow Card. It was released to LD (as a limited edition) and DVD in January 2001, and to VHS in July 2001. It was released in North America to DVD by Pioneer in November 2003 and featured a new English dub by Bang Zoom! Entertainment, this time retaining the original character names and the content unedited and uncut. The Cardcaptor Sakura films remained in print in North America until Pioneer, now called Geneon Universal Entertainment, stopped direct distribution in fall 2007. A bonus short film titled "Leave it to Kero!" was played with the theatrical screening of the second film.

Audio CDsEdit


Four original soundtrack CD albums were released for the anime TV series from July 1998 to March 2000. The soundtracks included instrumental background music and the vocal theme songs. Two soundtracks were produced for the films: the first film's soundtrack was released in August 1999, followed by the second film's soundtrack in August 2000.

Nine theme song singles were released: six for the TV series and three for the films. The three opening theme song singles for the TV series are: "Catch You Catch Me" by Gumi released in April 1998, "Tobira o Akete" by Anza released in April 1999, and "Platinum" by Maaya Sakamoto released in October 1999. The three ending theme song singles for the TV series are: "Groovy!" by Kohmi Hirose released in September 1998, "Honey" by Chihiro released in May 1999, and "Fruits Candy" by Megumi Kojima released in November 1999. The two ending theme song singles for the films are: "Tooi Kono Machi de" by Naomi Kaitani released in August 1999 for the first film, and "Ashita e no Melody" by Chaka released in July 2000 for the second film. The theme song single for the anime short "Leave It To Kero!" shown with the second film, "Okashi no Uta", was released in July 2000.

Six character song singles sung by the voice actors of Sakura, Toya, Cerberus, Tomoyo, Yukito and Syaoran released in June 1998; each single also contained a short drama track. A character song album titled Cardcaptor Sakura Character Songbook was released in January 1999 containing tracks from the previously released character song singles as well as new tracks sung by the various voice actors. A album titled "Tomoeda Elementary Choir Club Christmas Concert", released in December 1999, contains seven tracks by a children's choir, including five where they are joined by Junko Iwao, the voice actress for Tomoyo. A four-CD compilation set, "Complete Vocal Collection", was released in February 2001 compiling the series' theme songs, tracks from the character song singles, remixes of previously released songs, and new music. An album containing the theme songs from the TV series and films titled "Cardcaptor Sakura Theme Song Collection" was released in December 2001. Victor Entertainment released the albums and singles for Cardcaptor Sakura. An original soundtrack for Cardcaptors titled "Cardcaptors: Songs from the Hit TV Series" was released in September 2001 by Rhino Entertainment.

Drama CDsEdit

As a preview to the anime series, Kodansha released a tankōbon-sized CD volume titled "CD Comic Cardcaptor Sakura" in August 1997 containing two character songs sung by the voice actors of Sakura and Tomoyo and drama tracks. Two drama CDs were released for the series. The first, "Sakura to Okaa-san no Organ", was released in July 1998 featuring a script written by Clamp author Nanase Ohkawa. It depicts Sakura having a dream about her mother playing an organ and choosing to write about her the following day for a school project. The second CD, "Sweet Valentine Stories", was released in February 1999 and depicts a single day in the life of the girls in Sakura's class, including Sakura herself.


Kodansha published six art books for the manga series and ones featuring art from the anime TV series by character designer Kumiko Takahashi. These included three books for the manga titled Cardcaptor Sakura Illustration Collection released from August 1998 to December 2000, and three for the TV series titled "Cheerio!" released from April 1999 to September 2000. A set of the 52 Clow Cards featured in the TV series was released in August 1999 and a Clow Card Fortune Book, which contains information on how to use the Clow Card replica set as tarot cards, was released in March 2000. A fan book for the manga titled "Cardcaptor Sakura Memorial Book" was published in February 2001 containing various illustrations from the series, as well as information on branded merchandise based on the series and interviews. Four similar books, referred to as Complete Books, were released for the TV series from July 1999 to June 2000 and the films from October 1999 to October 2000.

Ten volumes of a film comic series were published from August 1998 to November 2000 covering the first two anime seasons, though some episodes were skipped. Three more were published from March 2001 to February 2002 covering up to episode 59, though again some episodes were skipped. Four picture books were released for the TV series from September 1998 to November 2000.[120][121] Four sticker books were released for the TV series from August 1999 to March 2004

Video GamesEdit

Ten video games have been produced based on the series and released on a variety of video game and handheld consoles. They feature various genres, such as adventure and role-playing video games. The series debuted in Japan on May 15, 1999 with Cardcaptor Sakura: Itsumo Sakura-chan to Issho!, and concluded with Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura-chan to Asobo! on December 2, 2004.

Title English Translation Release date Producer(s) Platform
Cardcaptor Sakura: Itsumo Sakura-chan to Issho Cardcaptor Sakura: Always with Sakura-chan May 15, 1999 MTO Gameboy Color
Animetic Story Game 1: Cardcaptor Sakura - Aug. 5, 1995 Arika Playstation
Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura to Fushigi na Clow Cards Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura and the Mysterious Clow Cards Dec. 2, 1999

Bandai & Sims

Cardcaptor Sakura: Tomoyo no Video Daisakusen Daisakusen Video of Tomoyo (?) Dec. 28, 2000 Sega & Sega Rosso Dreamcast
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clow Card Magic Cardcaptor Sakura: Clow Card Magic Jan. 27, 2000 Akira Playstation
Tetris with Cardcaptor Sakura: Eternal Heart Tetris with Cardcaptor Sakura: Eternal Heart Aug. 10, 2000 Akira Playstation
Cardcaptor Sakura: Tomoe Shōgakkō Daiundōkai (?) Oct. 6, 2000 MTO Gameboy Color
Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura Card de Mini-game Mini-game in Sakura Card (?) Dec. 12, 2003 TDK Core Gameboy Advance
Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura Card-hen Sakura Card to Tomodachi Cardcaptor Sakura: Strange Sakura Card and Friend Sakura Card (?) Apr. 23, 2004 MTO Gamboy Advance
Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura-chan to Asobo! Cardcaptor Sakura: Play with Sakura-chan! Dec. 2, 2004 NHK Software Playstation 2