Along with Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the most beloved magical girl franchises of all time. The story follows schoolgirl, Sakura Kinamoto, who uses magical powers bestowed on her by a mysterious sorcerer to capture his rogue "Clow Cards."
The anime series, which premiered in 1998 in Japan, made its way over to the U.S in 2000 where it was repackaged as Cardcaptors and given an American dub by Nelvana, a version that's become infamous for its controversial changes to the story and characters—including to its central heroine. Read on for more on that, and nine other Sakura facts.
10 She Was Almost Cardcaptor Nikki
It's not uncommon for anime characters to get Western name-changes in dubbed versions. Sakura is no different—at least, in part. Viewers of the Nelvana Cardcaptors dub will have noticed Sakura's surname was altered from Kinamoto to Avalon, but her Japanese first name remained unchanged. Originally, the studio wanted to rename Sakura "Nikki," but audiences already had so much attachment to Sakura, a name that signifies youthfulness and hope in Japan. Fortunately, the change was eventually ruled out.
9 She's Part of a Multiverse
Cardcaptor Sakura plays a lot with the idea of reincarnation, with Eriol revealed to be a new version of the sorcerer, Clow Reed—who granted Sakura her powers—and Sakura's father hinted to have a similar identity in the manga. Cardcaptor Sakura's creators, CLAMP, also took this repetitive history one step further by spinning out Sakura's universe into a multiverse. In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, not only do alternate versions of Sakura and Syaoran Li carry the main story, but our original Sakura crosses over into this parallel world.
8 She Likes Guys... and Girls?
As fans of the original Japanese run of the show know, Cardcaptor Sakura is queer as hell. Sakura's brother Touya and his best friend Yuki have tons of sexual tension, while Sakura's own BFF Tomoyo overtly expresses her romantic interest in Sakura later in the series. Sakura primarily only shows interest of that kind in members of the opposite sex; first Yuki, and then Syaoran. However, her "warm, fuzzy" feelings towards her teacher, Mizuki, hint that Sakura might be a little bi-curious, at least.
7 She Has a Doppelganger in Pokémon
Cardcaptor Sakura's 1998 premiere date on Japanese screens—and it's popularity overseas—means it qualifies as part of the 90s anime boom in the West. The biggest proponent of this spike in interest was undoubtedly Pokémon.
Back then, the catch 'em all hook of both Pokémon and Cardcaptor Sakura invited frequent comparisons, a mirroring that the Pokémon anime actually paid homage to in the Diamond & Pearl series, Episode 77, where two girls that look just like Sakura and Tomoyo can be seen at the start of the episode.
6 Sayoran Can't Say Her Own Name
Sakura's rival-turned-partner, Syaoran Li, saw the peppy Sakura as nothing but a thorn in his side when he first arrived. As time went on and he got to witness her in action, his mood toward her softened into one of respect and, eventually, love. Japanese etiquette dictates that being on a first-name basis with someone is a big deal, signifying a more intimate relationship between two people. But, while Sakura graduated from "Li-kun" to "Syaoran-kun" with relative ease, it took the tongue-tied boy 40 episodes to utter the name, "Sakura."
5 She Can Make Her Own Cards
After successfully catching all of Clow Reeds' escaped Clow Cards, Sakura's mission later becomes converting the cards into "Sakura Cards." While strenuous, she was able to achieve this, too, cementing her status as their rightful owner. But, those who haven't watched the follow-up series, Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, might not be aware of how Sakura's powers have progressed since the show's original run. Clear Card reveals that Sakura is now powerful enough to not just convert cards, but create new ones all by herself.
4 She Has Another Pokémon Link
Not only is there a Sakura clone running around the Pokemon universe, but there might also be a reference to one of her most-relied upon Clow Cards in the series, too. In Pokemon's Ecruteak City, one of the five "Kimono Girls" is named Sakura. Now, Sakura is such a popular Japanese name that it's not enough of a reference point on its own, but fans have noticed that the trainer's chosen Eeveelution, Espeon, is remarkably similar in design to the fox incarnation of the Dash Card that Sakura often uses.
3 She's Solar Powered
What is the source of Sakura's magic power? While Clow Reed's continued presence in Sakura's world could be seen as the initial source, once Sakura is able to change his cards into "Sakura Cards" and even create her own "Clear Cards," the question becomes harder to answer. The strongest hint the series gives us is that Sakura draws her powers from the sun. After all, Keroberos, who symbolizes the sun, and Yue, who symbolizes the moon, were drawn to her and draw power from her. Plus, she later harnesses "Star Power."
2 Her Voice Actor Was A Child
Sakura's Japanese voice actress—who also happens to be called Sakura—does a great job disguising the fact she's nowhere near Sakura's age. The actress who voiced her in the Nelvana dub, however, didn't need to fake anything as she was a real child at the time. Sakura is about nine or 10-years old when Cardcaptor Sakura begins. Carly McKillip, the Nelvana voice actress, was 11-years-old when the show first debuted. This authenticity didn't entirely correlate with the different direction the American production took Sakura's character, making her more boyish and tough.
1 She's A Video Game Star
2019's Jump Force pulls together stars from Shonen Jump's pages—like Goku, Naruto, and Luffy—into a video game crossover brawl. Anime fans clamoring for a shojo version might be interested to learn that Magical Battle Arena is just that. Sakura is a playable character in the third-person shooter, and she also appears in the RPG, Granblue Fantasy, as part of a special collaboration event between CLAMP and Cygames called: "Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura and the Mystery Sky Journey."