I’m watching bog-standard DVDs from Pioneer (at least the first one is from Pioneer, maybe some of the later ones were from Geneon). With that, my first thought was: damn, this series looks good. Those colors, that movement, those costumes. This series is drop-dead gorgeous. I imagine it’s a treat on Blu-Ray.
My second thought was the realization that this was all done by hand, this is all at least borderline pre-use-of-computers in anime (1998-2000). There is a lot of strong animation here: Sakura tosses a baton in the air and we’re treated to a close up of her fingers as she catches it with a twirl; the magic circle that appears as she transforms is wreathed in smoke; the battle scenes are also very attractive and well done.
Third: this music is really good (the OP is extremely sweet, even if I can’t keep that wretched crossplay version from popping into my head from time to time). The ED I can do without.
It’s interesting to watch this series in this post-Madoka era. Kero-chan (now) reminds me of Kyuubey. Did he really ask Sakura to make a contract with him? Tomoyo –> Homura? An opening dream sequence presaging Things to Come?
Gosh, in CLAMP-world boys go through some incredible transformations between age 10 and age 16 — doubling in height, while their shoulders broaden to maybe three feet. Except Yukito. He’s pretty narrow-shouldered.
The first episode of the series establishes Sakura as a character: she’s athletic and cheerful, she tells us. A few minutes later she proves it when we see her doing a back-flip and twirling a baton in a fore-shadowing of her acrobatics while battling escaped Clow Cards.
Seconds into episode two, Sakura’s secret is accidentally revealed to her unflappable friend Tomoyo, who sees Sakura’s new Cardcaptor status as an opportunity. Later that day, she and her minions arrive with a van full of magical girl costumes. Fortune favors the prepared mind.
Sakura is a wonderfully charming character: a little bratty, a little scared, but also resourceful (she captures her first card with little more than her skills with rollerblades and batons) and courageous.
There are more intelligent things being said about this series here (or will be when the site comes back up).