I'm making it my goal to read most of the manga written by CLAMP before delving into their two current series, xxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, as the two contain lots of crossover elements. I'm also doing it because CLAMP has made a pretty large impact in the manga medium, and they have written in many different genres. To see my past posts on CLAMP manga, I recommend using the tag system to your advantage!
Technically, volumes 7-12 are called "Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow," and are numbered 1-6. Whatever.
This is the only CLAMP series that I had read once before (most of it, anyway). Like Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura is an old favorite of mine. Sakura Kinomoto is a fourth-grader with a special mission: to collect the magical Clow Cards, each of which have a separate magical ability. The Clow Cards were created by Clow Reed, a magician with "supreme powers." Sakura opened a book in her father's study one day and met Kero, who looks like a cute stuffed animal that's a hybrid between a lion and a dog, with wings. He assures Sakura that he is only in this "cute" form because he is low on magic, and his "true form" is "awesome and scary."
The fact that Sakura was able to open the book means that she has magical powers. And thus, she uses them to collect the cards, with Kero's help. The only person who knows about her secret mission is her friend, Tomoyo. Tomoyo thinks Sakura's mission is so cool that she makes different elaborate outfits for every time Sakura goes out to capture a card. In Tomoyo's words, "When you do special things, you have to wear special clothes." Hence the frill.
Tomoyo (a girl) has a very apparent crush on Sakura, who is totally oblivious. Sakura is head-over-heels for her brother's high school friend, Yuki. Sakura's father married her mother when she was only 16 years old, and her father was a teacher!! Sakura's cousin, who is also Tomoyo's mother, is very jealous and angry at Sakura's father for taking away Sakura's mother. This also means that Sakura and Tomoyo are second cousins, and the love of Tomoyo's side of the family for Sakura's seems not to have left. Tomoyo knows that Sakura is completely oblivious to her love for her, but instead of pining and angsting about it, she encourages Sakura to express her feelings to the person she loves: Yuki. This is a very mature attitude for a 10-year-old!
Things grow more interesting when Li Sayoran transfers to Sakura's school from Hong Kong, and tells her that he is a direct descendant of Clow Reed, and therefore entitled to capturing the Clow Cards for himself.
Sakura is a pretty typical cute fourth grader. When Kero (Kerberos) tells her that uncaptured cards can do evil in the world, she asks, "Um, um, evil? Like stealing a snack? Or bending a flower? Or not doing homework? Or staying up late...?" Her cuteness (combined with her determination and courage) will make you love her; I promise.
And all of these plot points are from the first six volumes only (maybe even only the first 2 or 3, I don't remember).( Spoilers for the series lie behind the cut. )
This series is appropriate for all ages (although it might be difficult for very young readers to keep track of who likes who, as well as some of the plot points). It does not contain the references to panties that Angelic Layer does.
I love this series! It's one of my favorites by CLAMP, although nostalgia might have a lot to do with it, as well as its similarities in structure to Sailor Moon (perhaps my all-time favorite). The series is probably more focused on human relationships than on the Clow Cards themselves, although there are plenty of plot twists to keep that aspect of the story interesting, too.
I like that Sakura is strong in ways outside of her magical powers: she is athletic, and often shown roller-blading and otherwise being active in school. She is also a genuinely nice person, and a responsible role model for young children in that she's often shown taking turns with her older brother and father to take care of household chores.
I love that Sakura's father is shown cooking and cleaning in a way that isn't a hilarious joke. I love that there is gay love that isn't meant to be laughed at. The only thing in the series that made me cringe was the cousin!love and the student/teacher loves.
My favorite characters were probably Sakura herself, Tomoyo for her pure and honorable love, and Toya, for knowing so much but only acting when it was appropriate.
Cardcaptor Sakura looks like it will play an important role in CLAMP's current series Tsubasa Chronicle, as its protagonists appear to be aged versions of Li and Sakura. I look forward to reading it, and will be very angry if Sakura is a passive, useless heroine.