Spring 2018 Season Wrap: Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, Amanchu! Advance, & Hinamatsuri

Can anyone even think of another spring season in recent memory as strong as this one? Spring 2018 will likely be a season to remember for years to come as providing a strong line-up of originals and continuations, and that’s even after a winter season almost as golden in content.

Today, we start with three endearing anime with a knack for combining comedy and drama. Buckle up—this is only the beginning of a long run of reviews!

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

There was an unbelievable amount of hype among fans of the original Cardcaptor Sakura series when the sequel, Clear Card, was announced. I, along with many others at Anime Expo last year cheered as we watched the trailer reuniting Sakura and Syaoran. Getting to also read a bit ahead with the release of the first volume of the manga was also a treat. Now Clear Card is finished, and I have so many more questions than at the start of the year. The show ended in the perfect spot for a sequel, yet one has not been announced thus far.

Clear Card brought us a Sakura much like before, but while Sakura herself is just as sweet and caring as always, she’s stronger and more confident in her actions. We see this in her apprehension of the new cards, and in the reactions of her friends around her. She’s grown, as have her powers, and now she must confront those changes before they spiral out of control. I was suspicious from the start about the origin of these new clear cards, and the explanation behind their transformation makes complete sense. As formulaic as these card scenes were, they also felt necessary.

The competing conflict surrounding Akiho and her butler, Yuna D. Kaito, however, was woefully underdeveloped. I don’t fault them as characters; they just didn’t have enough time. Clear Card needs another season to fully pursue their involvement with Sakura, as well as her own struggles as a powerful magician. We’ve started out on a strong foot with the familiar; it’s time now to push on to more daring paths.

Rating: 1 dango

Amanchu! Advance

There’s no question among long-time readers of my love for ARIA, the older sibling to Amanchu! and my favorite franchise of all time. Amanchu!’s first season didn’t resonate as strongly with me, as much as I liked the characters and setting. They were good, but not very memorable. Now the second season is finished, and my opinion has taken a complete 180 with the anime up there among my favorites of the year.

A big part of what catapulted Advance up the rankings was its more artistic approach to storytelling. Instead of the more straightforward layout of its prequel, we were treated to dreamscapes and alternate dimensions. I was reminded of ARIA the Natural’s supernatural episodes—it also wasn’t until ARIA’s second season when I realized I had fallen head over heels for Neo Venezia and Aria Company. Here, again, we meet Cait Sith in water-covered streets. We also witness Teko lucidly dream of flying through the sky on a broom not once, but multiple times. These overtly fantastical scenes make the “normal” scenarios underwater seem more magical and otherworldly.

I highly encourage those of you who watched the first season and thought it too bland to continue on to the second to give Advance a try. I have a feeling you’ll fall for it just like I did. Teko’s growth as a character, as well as the additional scenes with cast members old and new, had me imagining them as dear friends. I very much hope we’ll receive a third season, especially now that the Diving Club has new members!

Rating: 2 dango

Hinamatsuri

There’s little question Hinamatsuri deserves best comedy of the year, and already stands up there among the giants of the genre with the likes of Nichijou and Daily Lives of High School Boys. The premise of a yakuza member and a telekinetic child sounds so outlandish, yet everything about the characters and writing slides effortlessly from one scene to the next. The cast members, no matter how brief their appearances, are memorable in their individual quirks. The jokes—often terrible, frequently borderline—hit you hard enough in the stomach to have you reeling for days. I still can’t get over Hitomi’s bar encounter with her teacher and classmates. I still can’t get the image of Nitta stuck in a barrel and praised by his fellow yakuza members out of my mind.

And if you think this show excels only at comedy, you are in for a lovely surprise. Hinamatsuri proves it also knows how to write drama. Anzu’s time with the homeless community was one of the most explicit and nuanced storytellings I’ve seen in anime or other media in recent memory. It’s not often a show geared perfectly for comedy can also render me to tears and conviction.

Then there’s Mao, pictured below, who only featured in three out of twelve episodes, two of which were short sections preluding or concluding half the full time. Only one week fully focused on her character, but it was enough to flesh her out as her own personality and made me want to see more. If we do ever receive the gift of a sequel, she better become a main character! Please, please watch Hinamatsuri if you passed on it this season.

I can’t help but include a screenshot of Mao and her killer moves. She may not have received much screen time, but she was graced with some of the most memorable content. GIVE ME MORE OF HER!

Rating: 3 dango

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4 thoughts on “Spring 2018 Season Wrap: Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, Amanchu! Advance, & Hinamatsuri

  1. I was not as taken with Hinamatsuri as most viewers, I don’t think. The comedy of Hina being a terrible slacker and horrible person rarely made me laugh, and just as often induced me to skip ahead through it. Anzu was a terrific character, and Hitomi was more fun, in her “going along with working hard is the easiest path” way. I did think the character arc of Utako was interesting, especially the way Nitta moved away from her (and was reflected in the OP) and she really became a jerk. The show was good enough, but I certainly wouldn’t call it an all-time great comedy.

    (for the record, I’ve also never been able to watch more than 3 episodes of Nichijou. The extended over-the-top battle/action parts just turn me right off, and they seem to keep coming, and I just get bored and turn it off)

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    • I think I enjoyed other characters’ reactions to Hina’s terrible personality more than her as a standalone figure, so I think I get where you’re coming from. Anzu and Hitomi are a a couple of good examples of likable characters who had some of the best chemistry with Hina’s blandness, particularly since as much as I liked Nitta, he became too predictable.

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  2. I liked the way Amanchu portrayed Teko and Pikari’s friendship, and especially Teko’s growth in herself. Maybe the dream stuff could have been a little less, it wasn’t my favorite part. But seeing Teko grow into her friends and her life was really nice to watch, and the messages that came out of that, like “Something that seems the scariest thing ever eventually seems like something you want to do”, were really nice. It was also nice to see the younger girls weren’t all enamored with Pikari, but were kind of split on who they thought was a good person to look up to.

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    • I can definitely see the dreamscapes not suiting all viewers—I’m surprised the anime even went through with them given the huge shift from the first season, and also the fact that I can hardly think of any ARIA fan who will name the Natural as their preferred season to the Animation or Origination. Natural had the most supernatural crossover off the three seasons combined.

      Teko and Pikari’s friendship really was a beautiful thing to see strengthen, and in turn push them to become better individuals. I also loved how Teko’s fears never really disappeared; she just started viewing them more as surmountable obstacles rather than impassable blockades.

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