I’m going to open this one up with a bit of an anectdote. Back in 2007 when I played Pokemon Pearl for the first time, having not played the previous generation in a year or so it felt much the same. Obviously there was a lot new there but at its core it hadn’t changed that much. On a gameplay level the series is fairly incremental but the interesting bit here was that I didn’t really notice much of a visual leap either. It wasn’t until I eventually unlocked the pal park and had to go back and prep my mons for transfer that I noticed just how much things had actually progressed. Because the spirit of the game hadn’t changed it felt like the same game and my memories were filling in the gaps.
This year’s Card Captor Sakura Clear Card has had a similar effect. On a story level it’s pretty obviously hitting all the same beats on purpose, but what was a lot more noticable to me is how much it feels like the original. More accurately it felt like what I remembered watching as a child. Clear Card feels like Card Captor Sakura. This is honestly pretty impressive given the gap between the two series, that it manages to so accurately capture that same spirit even now says that a lot of care went into crafting that renewed essence. It wasn’t until I went back to the original that I realised just how much had changed.
I had originally planned to try and get through the original last year in my ill fated magical girl binge, at least in advance of Clear Card airing, because that didn’t pan out I ended up finally getting to it a few months ago, after Clear Card had already wrapped up. It wasn’t until then that I saw just how different it actually was. Clear Card is essentially the original show condensed. Character gags that appeared every few episodes in the original are a much more frequent occurance in Clear Card and viewed through that lens it becomes a lot more clear how it managed to carry forward the feeling. Clear Card emphasises the bits of the original that stood out, the bits that stuck with me for over a decade and which I remembered, so seeing this new incarnation with all these parts clearly on display tapped into those memories to fill the gaps.
While Clear Card’s hewing so close to its predecessor may have ultimately left it feeling a little unadventurous and lacking in stakes it still allowed it to effectively channely the spirit of the original. A good sequel feels like revisiting old friends, and Clear Card captured that feeling perfectly.
Today was about old favourites, tomorrow is about new ones.