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Cardcaptor Sakura is a Magical Girl series that stands out from the crowd with its premise. Spirits formerly sealed in a book of tarot cards are released and cause strange occurrences to happen. Sakura must first identify which card is responsible and then figure out how to seal it. It's naturally a formulaic Monster Of The Week setup, but the mystery behind each card is compelling enough to prevent boredom. It even invites viewers to follow along and attempt to solve the puzzle. The cards themselves vary from simple inconveniences to powerful widespread entities wreaking havoc (yet everyone still goes about their daily lives), each with distinct personalities, so there's enough variation to keep things interesting.
Though the cards are a major attraction, equal charm comes from the human characters (and Kero). Sakura is easy to relate to, and differentiates herself from many lead characters by relying more on her wit and resourcefulness as opposed to direct combat to solve her problems. Tomoyo / Madison proves her worth more than the usual Muggle support character and provides an amusing fangirl relationship with Sakura. Li is compelling as a foil and rival, being more aggressive in his approach while still having a heart of gold underneath. Meilin may be exclusive to the anime, but she is a natural fit in the main cast with her bratty, yet endearing personality. Even support characters get in some of the action, with the various cards directly affecting them and Sakura's older brother even proving to be more than meets the eye (a very attracted eye, I'll say). In addition, there's enough Slice Of Life elements that even without the cards, it's just nice to see everybody live out their daily lives.
Admittedly, the second arc is significantly less appealing than the first season, primarily since the first was already conclusive. With all the cards already sealed, weird occurrences are literally invented to keep them relevant, and the whole thing is poorly justified in-universe. It suffers from the typical sequel syndrome of trying to find a reason to exist. Regardless, overall, this anime has familiar elements, yet is definitely its own series. Certainly worth checking out for Magical Girl fans.
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