Card Captor Sakura: The Sealed Card
Another movie springing from CLAMP's rather sugary but very entertaining mahou shoujo series. It's a good movie, but you really have to know the story and characters from the TV series (or manga) to really enjoy this one.
This movie takes place quite late in the card captor story-line. So late that it's difficult for me to describe it without risking spoilers. Let's just say she collected all the cards and a couple of important things happened. If you haven't seen the story up to this point then you should probably consider waiting on this movie. Not only will it spoil things for you, but many of the characters and events won't make as much sense as they should.
And one of these events is that it seems the relationship between Li Shoaran and Sakura has changed quite a lot from their original rivalry. This is a spoiler as well, so skip quickly, but it seems that Li has even professed his love for Sakura although she didn't respond. The core of this movie is almost entirely focused on Sakura attempting to come to terms with her own feelings and respond on that basis.
The story is filled out by a mysterious force to give some threat and danger to the movie. It's another creation of Clow Reed (the cards creator) and is strongly bound with them. And since Sakura is now the true owner of the cards she gets dragged in as well. It takes quite a while to identify and to understand the nature of this new foe. Even worse it seems that this enemy can affect the deepest feelings of any who would seek to bind it, which is not what Sakura needs at this time.
Okay, one more paragraph to make this crystal clear. This movie is really focused on Sakura and her thoughts and feelings. Even the enemy, and events, exist primarily to draw this out and provide a stage. Indeed a stage is provided literally, with the school production of a romantic drama taking up a lot of screen time. Even the opposition proves to be more important for how it relates to Sakura's feelings than its own threat.
And, well, it's very shoujo and sugary and cute and I sort of like this stuff. However there are lots of cases in which you might find it much harder to enjoy. If you don't like the series, if you don't know the characters (and like them) or if you don't like soft shoujo stuff then you might not want to bother. The first movie had some wonderful action and atmosphere, and the feeling of an epic adventure, that made it easier. This one, being much smaller in scope, demands that you like and know the series much, much more.
For those, like me, who can cross these hurdles you'll find an enjoyable experience. While the lack of grandeur does mean it's a bit less `special' watching Sakura, and all the other cool characters in the show, remains entertaining. Li is a lot better now that he's calmed down, Sakura's as cute as always while Mei Lin and Tomoyo just keep getting better. There's also a lot of cute little scenes, and lots of Kero-chan, for fans of other characters. CLAMP are really good at this sort of character driven stuff and it shows.
The production values are also top notch. There's clearly no shortage of money and it is used well. The production is well colored, drawn, moves nicely and looks good. The character artwork is cute and expressive. Since the issue at hand is so character driven and internal there is little action and as a result fewer impressive special effects. Although there are some decent moments of action which are animated very well. The confidence in direction, and how all the elements combine so neatly, is very impressive. The voices are excellent and have grown into their roles, the music is also good.
At the current time none of my regular sources have a review of this title.