Cardcaptor Sakura, Vol. 2

As it was with the first two-volume collection of CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura (Dark Horse), so it is with the second: pretty much pure delight. I may not be the biggest CLAMP fan in the world, but I love this series.

Our titular heroine continues to collect the powerful, magical Clow Cards that give her control of various elements and let her… well… collect more Clow Cards. She protects her friends, wins over dubious rivals, generally enjoys everything about her life, and wages an unstoppable charm offensive in the process. Sakura is a terrific, terrific heroine. I love that CLAMP can portray her as being inexperienced without seeming stupid or clumsy, and that they can portray her as being instinctive and resourceful without eliminating any element of risk.

The already engaging supporting cast is enhanced even more by additional focus on Kaho Mizuki, a knockout of a substitute teacher who has a history with Sakura’s brother and a lot of secrets that may or may not relate to Sakura’s mission. In my experience, CLAMP tends to enjoy portraying enigmatic moments and behaviors without necessarily making them pay off later. (I’m a patient reader, but enigmas are annoying if they don’t ultimately mean something.) Mizuki is a wonderful example of that kind of mystery reaching satisfying closure while being a lot of fun along the way. I hope she comes back, if only for the pleasure of seeing her accurately assess the relationship dynamics of the other characters but being too polite to spoil things for them.

I’m ceaselessly amused and even a little moved by the romantic geometry in evidence. Boys crush on boys. Girls crush on girls. Boys and girls commiserate over their shared crush on the same boy. There’s a school festival, an event that rarely distinguishes itself, but CLAMP even manages to liven up that old saw with emotionally urgent peril and cross-dressing.

There’s just nothing to dislike about this book. It’s got great characters, a fun plot, art that’s just the right kind of cute, and tons of energy and good will. I may never forgive CLAMP for not finishing Legal Drug or for the song lyrics and angel dredge in Clover, but they will always be in the win column thanks to Cardcaptor Sakura.