Before the 2000’s, and even a little into them, North American studios didn’t know what to do with anime. The standard practice initially was to completely recut into some new, Frankenstein like show a la Robotech or Voltron. Gradually, they started to let shows remain intact, plot-wise, but still heavily edited, similar to Dragon Ball Z‘s initial run. Even with these early lessons learned, anime was still heavily altered for years. None more so than Cardcaptor Sakura.
Cardcaptors (how it was known in NA), had a fun premise. A girl named Sakura, in modern day, opens a magical books that releases the Clow Cards, each representing a creature with magical abilities. She sets to capture them while becoming the next card master. Created by the all girl team at Clamp, this was a female-centric story, as is most of their work. Normally, a female lead isn’t a negative, unless you’re in America.
Initially, the anime was licensed with the Ocean Group dubbing the show. Much of it was left intact, save for the homosexual relationships. I can understand that, given the era and that the lead character is only 10 years old. Still, the show exists, intact outside Japan. The version that many are likely familiar with though, is the one that aired on television.
The show originally ran for 70 episodes. A respectable number. The aired version was cut down to 39. This was done to change the focus of the show in hopes of capturing (ha) the male demographic, as supposedly more boys watched cartoons. Sakura’s main rival and eventual partner was Syaoran Li, a boy intent on capturing the cards himself. Fearing the show would fail with a female lead, Kids WB (or whoever) cut to show to give Sakura and Li equal footing while changing the focus to action. The “first” episode was actually episode 8, when Li arrived. Watching it was confusing, as the card capturing premise is covered in oddly placed flashbacks.
DBZ’s Ocean dub was edited, but the heavily serialized nature forced the episodes to remain in order. Cardcaptors had no such like, with episodes culled from every part, jammed together nonsensically. What we saw as 1, 2, 3 & 4, was actually, 8, 12 , 17, & 13. Better still are the episodes that were spliced together. What we saw as episode 24 was actually 47, 48, & 58. Two consecutive episodes I can understand, but one from 10 down the line? Not only were entire plot threads lost, but entire characters were missing.
I’m not some overzealous fanboy purest. Edits are constantly needed for things as innocuous as cultural differences or written text. Censorship is occasionally a necessary evil, such as the borderline pedophilic relationships insinuated here. Great, totally on board. The rest, I just don’t get. Again, I’m not some temperamental stereotype, I just don’t see the purpose, time-wise. A lot of work went into this abomination. A lot. And for what? The show wasn’t successful, but constantly lambasted for bastardizing a perfectly fine story. How did they justify the cost?
Cardcaptor Sakura is a fine show. Girls will love it. As an adult, your mileage may vary, but that is purely a demographic thing. I think you’d be hardpressed to find this edited monster, so have no fear. Looking for something to watch? Give it a shot. Clamp’s pedigree (X, Magic Knight Rayearth, xxxHolic) speaks for itself.
Do you remember this crap on Saturday mornings? See the original? Comment below!
Because Sailor Moon wasn’t a thing.