Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday animation: 劇場版カードキャプターさくら (Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie)

Rating:

I wasn't always a huge animation fan.  I mean, I always liked it, of course, but I didn't really get into it until anime became very prevalent in the U.S..  Anime was my first real introduction to the world of animation, so even though I have found more favor with Western animation in the past decade, I still have a lot of love for it.

One of the first anime series I ever became interested in was Cardcaptor Sakura. My sister and I watched the Canadian dub, Cardcaptors, on T.V., and we both fell in love with it.  Since then, we have watched the Japanese version and collected the manga, art books, and toys from the series while living in Japan.  Still today, it remains one of my favorite anime shows.

We ordered the first movie on VHS from Ebay which also included English subtitles.  Some time later, the dub was released, but by then, we were pretty sold on the Japanese version, especially since we were living in Japan.  It remains close to my heart today, so I was happy to see that it was selected for today's animation review.


 (Screencaps from http://www.desertmoon.org/directory.php?series=cardcaptor).

Overview: Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie is an anime film that was released in 1999 as part of the anime T.V. series Cardcaptor Sakura.  The film was well-received and won the Feature Film Award at Animation Kobe.

Art: The art is the same as the T.V. series but slightly enhanced.  I say slightly because they really do look almost the same.  That is not to say that the movie does not have great animation.  The colors are not vibrant, but there are many of them, and they are bright and vibrant at certain times such as when magic is being used.  There is a limited amount of fluidity with plenty of held frames, but that is kind of the "anime look;" it's not really anime without all of the held frames.  :b  Lip movements are very anime as well, just flapping and not actually matching the words they are saying.  Some light rendering and CG effects, but the film appears to be almost completely hand-drawn, which is always nice to see.  Design is excellent.  Characters, hair, clothing, objects, backgrounds, they all look great, at least as far as anime goes.  I'm not in love with the general anime style, but this particular anime style is quite lovely.  However, I cannot say that the film is particularly beautiful.  It certainly looks nice, but there aren't any scenes that take my breath away.  I would say it is a step up from the T.V. animation, but not a very high step.  The most obvious difference is that there is more fluidity and grander backgrounds, but again, they aren't noticeably different.


I love it when animators make water sparkle like this!



This one is really pretty.


More sparkles!



I like the detail in this scene.
Sound: The voices are the same as in the T.V. series, and they are all wonderful.  Great acting.  I especially love Sakura's voice provided by Sakura Tange.  It's adorable!  Junko Iwao is also excellent as Tomoyo with her soft, beautiful voice.  And, of course, Motoko Kumai does a wonderful job as Syaoran.  I can't get enough of her portrayal of his personality!  I could honestly go on and on about each voice actor.  They are all talented.  The sound quality is excellent, clear and crisp.  The soundtrack for the movie is a little different from the T.V. series but is really, really good.  I remember buying the soundtrack when I was younger and playing it over and over again.  It is bright and fun, beautiful and sweeping, melodic and dreamy.  It is definitely a noticeable part of the film.  I really like the theme song for the movie, "Tooi kono machi de" ("in this faraway town").  I still listen to it pretty regularly!

Story: The story fits right into the Cardcaptor Sakura universe but is much grander than a typical episode as would be expected.  Ten-year-old Sakura Kinomoto mysteriously wins a trip to Hong Kong and comes face-to-face with a vengeful spirit who mistakes her for Clow Reed, the original creator of the magic she now possesses.  There's humor, adventure, and suspense, all the makings of a good movie.  That said, I do not think the plot is particularly great.  It has some very cliched moments and can drag at times.  It is also not a standalone movie.  The back story of the series is needed to fully understand its plot.  Any Cardcaptor Sakura fan would probably love this movie, but if you have not seen the show, it will probably just confuse you.  The characters are well-developed and lovable, but this is because they were already developed in the T.V. series.  There isn't really a moral or something to be gained from the movie.  The story is enjoyable, but it is nothing special.  It kind of just feels like a longer episode of the show.

I think this scene captures each character's personality pretty well!


Personal appeal: Being a huge Cardcaptor Sakura fan, I adored this movie when I first saw it.  Over time, I've come to see that it is weaker than I originally perceived it to be, but I still love it simply as a fan.  I think the music is probably the best feature.  I'm not in love with the animation, but I am not a fan of the anime style in general.  I just prefer more fluidity, more, you know, actual animation.  I find movement and more precise lip movements to be more impressive than pretty backgrounds and designs (most impressive being the two combined, of course!).  This one has the pretty backgrounds and designs but lacks movement.  There is, of course, movement.  I'm not saying that there isn't, but not as much as I would like to see.  It's an anime trait, though, so I don't expect that to change any time soon.  It's nice to look at, but I don't feel impressed by it.  I just feel like anyone can create pretty pictures; the true art of animation is in how you make those pictures move!

Probably the most stereotypical anime scene in the movie.  :b
Overall, I give this film three out of five peridots.  Great animation and fantastic music.  The story is a little weak at parts and does not make sense on its own, so I would not recommend seeing this one unless you are familiar with the back story of Cardcaptor Sakura.

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