Pioneer (now Geneon), in their infinite generosity and wisdom, had apparently decided to package the Card Captor Sakura DVDs with titles, but no volume numbers. Well, I'm grateful that they released it in the first place, rather than leave it to Nelvana's butchered version. But still.
I'm not sure if the new re-release is better. I don't even want to think about how much I could have saved buying them all now, rather than one DVD at a time.
So volume one is called "The Clow", contains four episodes, and it has the following blurb:
Curiosity is a part of any 10-year old's life, but Sakura just broke the seal on a magical book and released all of the mischievous spirits imprisoned on the cards inside! Kero, the "Guardian of the Clow Cards" is horrified to find all of the cards gone and tells Sakura she must become the "Cardcaptor" and retrieve the spirits before they work their mischief in the world.
Not too inaccurate. The Clow Cards seem to limit their presence mostly around the Tomoeda area, though, which is quite considerate of them. In any case, the extras on this DVD are Sakura's character info blurb, the creditless first opening animation, and the Nelvana Cardcaptors opening. Which, um, is kind of painful to watch. But enough of that.
The first episode of CCS, "Sakura and the Mysterious Magic Book", sets up most of the necessary character introductions, and has Sakura defeat her first monster-of-the-week. You can already tell that the show is pacing itself for the long run.
A dream, involving the Tokyo Tower in some way. It always involves the Tokyo Tower. It's almost an unwritten rule of anime, or at least anime of a certain vintage: if it takes place anywhere near Tokyo, it will feature the Tokyo Tower, and probably blow it up in some spectacular fashion. The Tokyo Tower always has a bad day.
Gods know how they find the money to keep rebuilding it.
Sakura Kinomoto, ten years old. (Her birthday is 1st April, which is a few days before the school year starts, I believe.) She lives with her brother Touya and her father Fujitaka. I don't think there's any explicit mention of a full nuclear family in all of CCS; most of the time, we don't see anyone's parents, but when we do, it's either only the father or only the mother. In Sakura's case, we actually get to see both her father and mother, but it doesn't quite count.
In any case, Sakura introduces herself to the viewers as a normal "energetic" (genki) girl. I don't think there's any more out-of-character introductions after the first half of this episode for the rest of the season; mostly it's just her thinking to herself. I need to catch up to the next seasons to figure out if she does the same in the first episodes of those as well. If I remember correctly, in the manga, she also does the same thing.
CHECK!Point: After the usual daily bullying by Touya, Sakura scampers to her seat and smiles as her breakfast is served. The way she sits there so attentively is definitely moe.
Sakura gobbles down her breakfast after realizing that Touya has already left and that she might be late, then rushes off on rollerblades.
CHECK!Point: This scene, with Sakura watching the namesake cherry blossoms around her, is one of the defining moments of the atmosphere of CCS for me. It's just so happy. Easily one of my favourite scenes in the entire series.
Sakura meets up with Yukito, who's introduced as Touya's best friend. It's also pretty obvious that, this being CLAMP, they're at least on the road to being That Way. Yukito is unfailingly polite and bishounen, and Sakura is all hanyaa~n over him. Yes, this is a plot point.
In the manga, Yukito double-rides with Touya, hanging onto the back of the bicycle. I suspect that the change to Yukito having his own bicycle in the anime is less to do with fear of the Touya/Yukito pairing, and more that double-riding is dangerous (and I think illegal).
CHECK!Point: Tomoyo Daidouji, Sakura's best friend, and an all-around awesome character. My absolute favourite character in the entire anime, and probably ever. Tomoyo is obscenely rich and talented, but is still friendly and unpretentious. Her obsession with filming Sakura and dressing her up is often played up for laughs, and even I have to admit that it does border on the creepy at times.
I'm not sure if CCS is the first to do this or if there's an earlier example that I'm just blanking on at the moment, but the whole Magical Girl And Best Friend dynamic can be seen in lots of Magical Girl stories. There's usually a cheerful, energetic main protagonist, usually with brown or blonde hair (or some other light colour), and her Best Friend, who's quieter and has long dark hair and is ambiguously (or not so ambiguously) attracted to the main character. Not counting outright parodies like Puni Puni Poemy, there's also the Sasami/Misao combination in Pretty Sammy. I'm not sure if the Nanoha/Fate combination is the same (from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha), but plenty of fanworks have pointed out the Arisa/Suzuka pairing.
The rest of the day goes by more or less without incident or further major character introductions. (The trio of Chiharu, Naoko, and Rika don't count as major characters, unfortunately.) Sakura goes home, hears a strange noise from the basement, and, heedless of the possibility of Pedobear danger to herself, decides to confront this menace. The question that then arises is why this noise would choose now to manifest itself, and not anytime else in the last thirty years. This never really gets answered to any satisfaction.
She finds a glowing book. I'm probably not the only one who's wondering what else is on that bookshelf, and how the books are arranged. It doesn't seem to be alphabetical, at any rate. I wonder what Dewey Decimal number "books of magic" are classified under.
Then again, is the Clow Book considered an actual book? Can one read it? Isn't it mostly just a container, and therefore more like a box?
Sakura accidentally releases the Clow Cards, sees the plush toy that is the Guardian of the Seal emerge from the book via MAGIC, and completely fails to confirm if Kero-chan is anatomically correct.
I'm not sure how well elementary-school students in Japan are able to read (and write) English. It would be a very short series if Sakura had stared at the English words on the card, and not been able to read them out. This is why knowledge of a foreign language is hazardous to your continued peaceful everyday school life.
Kero-chan shanghais Sakura into being the Card Captor. I'm not entirely sure why he thinks that enlisting (forcibly, no less) the help of a ten-year old girl whose physical (or magical) prowess he's unsure of is a good idea.
I realize that there's probably a reason for this (and it likely has to do with MAGIC), and it may well just be a case of anime exaggeration, but I haven't a clue how Kero-chan eats everything he does. That pudding is almost as big as he is.
There's a sudden strong wind, and Sakura and Kero-chan look out to see a large bird, the freed Fly card, just, um, flying around. The manga explains why nobody else seems bothered by this (the Fly is invisible to those without magical senses), but the anime just kind of leaves it unanswered.
CHECK!Point: Swirly eyes. Hee.
Sakura decides to try for a point-black assault. To do this, she builds up speed, and roller-blades up the side of the wall, before pushing herself off and landing on the Fly's back. Lupin III would be proud.
Sakura tosses the Windy card ahead, and manages to catch it with the Sealing Wand quite nicely. Good hand-eye coordination, there.
CHECK!Point: "I thought I was going to die!" Yeah, Sakura, welcome to life as a Mahou Shoujo. My sympathies go out to you; I don't think I'd have dared do something like that now, much less at ten years old. "Too young to die" indeed.
Here, also, there's a rather glaring plot hole that will become clear in episode 4: Kero-chan tells Sakura to try using the new Fly card, before Sakura writes her name on it. But I suppose there's some No-Prize answer out there; after all, it's MAGIC.
This episode's Kero-chan ni Omakase ("Leave it to Kero-chan") features the Tomoeda Elementary school uniform.
Yeah, I feel kind of dirty too.