Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the most famous magical girl series there is. In the pantheon of cute female anime warriors, Sakura Kinomoto is right up there with Sailor Moon and the five hundred different Pretty Cures. But with several mangas, movies, and a couple of anime to its name, there's a lot that changes in between.
The differences began way back in the '90s, when Cardcaptor Sakura was adapted into an animated series from CLAMP's original manga. While a lot was left in tact, there was plenty that got tweaked, and any true Clow expert ought to know them.
10 Meiling Was an Anime-Only Character
If you're a fan of Syaoran's boisterous cousin, Meiling Li, there's some pretty bad news about the manga: She's not there. The spunky little martial artist was created for the cast of the anime specifically, and hasn't appeared in the various manga incarnations of Sakura's story. Meiling fans can definitely get their fill from the anime, though. Not only is she there for the original series and the movies, but she returns for the Clear Card arc as well. And, of course, CLAMP has done some manga-style art of her for bonus material int he past.
9 Clow's Mysterious Split
The manga sees developments to the great wizard Clow Reed's character that don't see the light of day in the anime. The original story has Clow's soul broken between two characters: Sakura's father, Fujitaka Kinomoto, and her mysterious classmate, Eriol Hiragizawa.
At the end of Eriol's arc, his half of the power is given back to Sakura's father. This lets Fujitaka see his late wife, Nadeshiko (not unlike Touya was able to do before lending his power to Yukito). This all flies under the radar of the anime, where none of it goes on at all.
8 The Stories Begin in Different Places
The original Cardcaptor Sakura anime famously begins with Sakura finding the Clow book and beginning her adventure as a cardcaptor. The manga, on the other hand, starts in media res, with the origin story of her adventure happening in a flashback. In fact, by the time the manga kicks off, Sakura has already captured two of the cards that she needs. This might help explain some of the discrepancy between the two versions of the story: The manga is 50 chapters, while the original anime lasts for 70 episodes.
7 The Anime has a LOT More Clow Cards
If there is something consistent across anime adaptations, it is the expansion of the material. Filler arcs and "monster of the week" episodes are often used to make sure that the anime doesn't get too far ahead of the manga. Cardcaptor Sakura is no exception. In the original manga, there are only 19 cards that Sakura needs to collect to fulfill the book's requirements. In the anime, her challenge is a little tougher at a whopping 52. That means there are 33 completely new cards added to the list. Clearly, anime Sakura had a lot more on her plate.
6 Syaoran's Living Situation
Syaoran Li had an oddly bachelor-esque life for a 10-year-old. At least, he did in the manga. In the anime, he's had the company of both his cousin Meiling and his housekeeper, Wei, while he was living in Japan and helping Sakura. In the manga, on the other hand, the poor kid is all by himself in the house while his famous family stays back in Hong Kong. He doesn't seem to complain much, but it can't be easy having to do all of that warrior work and make your own lunchboxes.
5 The Purpose of the Moon Bell
In the series, the Moon Bell (also known as the Bell of Second Chance) is a magical item that is owned by Sakura's teacher, Kaho Mizuki. Ms. Mizuki was given it directly by Clow Reed himself back during her time in England. Depending on what version of the series you're checking out, however, the way that it's used is different.
In both the anime and the manga, it's a vital tool for the Final Judgment showdown with Yue. In the manga, Sakura can use it as a way to defeat Yukito's other half without seriously hurting him. But in the anime, its purpose was to give Sakura a second chance in the battle, hence the bell's other name.
4 The Way the Cards are Captured
Naturally, with over 30 new Clow Cards added to the lineup, the anime and the manga split on how and when they're captured by Sakura. In the manga, those first two cards that she captures by the time the story begins are Wood and Jump. Meanwhile, in the anime, the first card that she gets her hands on is actually Fly. This directly impacts the way she captures other cards. In the anime, Fly is captured with the use of Windy, but in the manga she has to use the aforementioned Jump and Wood cards to get it. It seems like more than enough work for an elementary school student.
3 The Famous Teddy Bear's Origins
One of the hallmarks of Cardcaptor Sakura is the romance between the titular magical girl and warrior Syaoran Li. The series famously ends with Syaoran confessing his love for her, and the situation involves a homemade stuffed bear. That bear, though, has a different background in the anime and the manga.
In the manga's take on the story, Sakura makes the bear for Syaoran and gives it to him at the train station before he leaves for Hong Kong. In the anime, Syaoran is the one who makes it earlier on in the series. He then gives it to Sakura at the airport, where he is once again about to head off to Hong Kong. There's something pretty romantic about it being made by the two of them at the same time.
2 The Dream and Return Card Abilities
With all those brand new Clow Cards put into the anime, Sakura, of course, has plenty of extra abilities to go around. One big example of this is the use of the Return and Dream cards, which give her a magical insight into events related to the Clow Cards and what's coming her way, such as the Final Judgment. The thing is, these particular two cards are anime-only. Those dreams are important, though, so manga Sakura still has them -- they're just dreams that she has instead, no extra card powers needed.
1 A World of Dub Changes
As far as anime adaptations go, Cardcaptor Sakura manages to stick pretty close to the source material for the first part. When the original series first came to the English market, though, a lot was flipped on its head. The old dub, licensed by Nelvana, was known as simply Cardcaptors, and had a wealth of tweaks that the localization team felt more suitable for western audiences. This included nixing Touya and Yukito's relationship and giving the characters Americanized names. This was particularly curious because it happened alongside Tokyopop's release of the localized manga, where just about everything was left in tact. While there were small gaps between the anime and manga back home, it seems America got a whole canyon.