Another aspect that we also need to account for with Cardcaptor Sakura is merchandising. Magical girl series have had a long history of being made to sell toys, after all (Galbraith, 2014; Hartzheim, 2016). And CLAMP must have been aware of that history, for rather than rejecting it, they anticipate merchandising. That anticipation can be seen not only through the designs of the magical items, but more explicitly by having Tomoyo the daughter of a toy company president, which allows her to provide support items made by the company. Looking at the experiences of Minky Momo, Creamy Mami up to Pretty Cures of the present, selling toys can also be a platform of collaborative feedback between toy designing, storytelling, and animation production (ibid.); for the endeavour requires evoking emotional response to the magical items in the animated story through endearing narrative and attractive animation.

Mobile phone from Daidouji Toy Company © CLAMP / Kodansha / Elex Media Komputindo

With Cardcaptor Sakura, the cards that seems to be very merchandisable items are also characters in their own right. As previously mentioned, in capturing the cards, Sakura often needs to understand the nature or the situation of the cards, which sometimes also ties into the human characters’ conflicts. That imbues each cards with memories, making each of them have a story to tell. Furthermore, Sakura does not treat the cards as mere objects, but as if they were her own family. All in all, she was nurtured by her encounters with the cards and she nurtures them back in return.

The cards showing affection to Sakura © CLAMP / Kodansha / Elex Media Komputindo

Based on what I observed from Cardcaptor Sakura, then, in this series, the magical girl is a figure who conjures a world of caring and supportive connections and relationships in her adventures with magic. The magical girl does not simply exist on her own in vacuum, but in a context of rich feelings in her relations with her surroundings. This is what defines her magic, more than about casting a bigger and stronger spells.

With Cardcaptor Sakura, that idea may be somewhat easier to observe especially since it does away with good vs. evil setup typically used by action-oriented magical girl series. But we need to consider that the importance of feelings and relationships is still present in series with more action contents as well, be they shows like Pretty Cure for little girls or even Lyrical Nanoha for otaku. Heartcatch Precure, for example, has been noted for presenting characters with relatable personal and interpersonal issues in mature, but easily digestible way. And while fans may joke about the combats in Lyrical Nanoha being reminiscent to giant robot combat, the presence of fans who care about shipping the characters seems to me indicates that the series provides enough basis in depicting the relations between the characters that can make fans care enough for those relationships.


In the end, revisiting Cardcaptor Sakura is more than just nostalgia for me. Over the years, I have read and learned new perspectives that change the experience of reading the series in the present. It gives me a new understanding of the series that the me of the past didn’t think of. And I’m grateful that I can found these new reasons to love and enjoy Cardcaptor Sakura.


  • Galbraith, Patrick W. (2014), Interviews with Toshihiko Sato and Yuji Nunokawa in The Moe Manifesto (Tuttle Publishing), pp. 46-61.
  • Heartzheim, Bryan Hikari (2016), “Pretty Cure and the Magical Girl Media Mix,” in The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 49, No. 5, pp. 1059-1089.
  • Lamarre, Thomas (2009), The Anime Machine (University of Minnesota Press), chapter 16: “A Face on the Train,” pp. 209-220.
  • sdshamshel (2010), “More Shows Should Be Like Heartcatch Precure,” in OGIUE MANIAX, accessed from on 22 January 2018.
  • Thorn, Rachel Matt (2001), “Shoujo Manga – Something for the Girls,” originally published in The Japan Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, accessed from on 21 January 2018.

Winter 2018 Anime: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc

Staff Picks: Magical Girl Anime

The Indonesian Anime Times | by Halimun Muhammad | This article is the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the views and opinions of KAORI Nusantara

KAORI Nusantara invites readers to write opinions about anime, fandom, and Indonesian creative economy. You can send your opinion in Indonesian or English at 500-1000 words to

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