Why I Hate ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ (and you can, nine!)

The Ten Days of Hate: Penultimate Day!

Today, in our ongoing series of Ten Things I Hate about Cardcaptor Sakura, we come at last to something I’ve been alluding to all this while. Brace yourselves; we’re now diving headfirst into the cesspool.

Number 2. All the Child Molestors.

One thing is clear from reading comics by Clamp: the Clamp ladies have never met an inappropriate teacher-student liaison they didn’t like. They’ve got so many teachers chasing students that reading their manga can feel a lot like perusing a police blotter in an American newspaper.

I … um … er … I give up.

I present now, in order from least to most disgusting, all the child-molesting I remember from the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise. It’s possible I’ve forgotten some.

1. Child molestor Fujitaka Kinomoto and victim Nadeshiko Amamiya.
Ugh.

First, we have Sakura’s parents. Her dad, Fujitaka Kinomoto, is an archaeologist. He seems like kind of a wuss for a guy who digs pits all day, but never mind that. Formerly, he taught high school, where he met and married Nadeshiko, a teen model and Mr. Kinomoto’s student, who became Toya and Sakura’s mother.

When they got married, she was sixteen and he was twenty-five, and she was still his student. They walked hand-in-hand to school together. Can you say “conflict of interest”? How about “non-fraternization”?

I’m pretty sure this is not okay even in Japan, but Kinomoto-sensei apparently faced no discipline. Her side of the family, it is hinted, hates his guts, and I don’t blame them: parents give teachers their kids to teach them, not impregnate them.

Nadeshiko.

Nadeshiko gave birth to Toya at the age of seventeen. It’s not stated, but she must have finished high school heavily pregnant. She died at the age of twenty-seven, three months after giving birth to Sakura. Cause of death unknown. Her cousin Sonomi Daidouji, Tomoyo’s mother, remains weirdly obsessed with her and blames her widower for her death. I blame Sonomi.

I’m a little worried for Sakura: she seems like a nice girl, but her family is full of nutcases. Tomoyo or Sonomi is likely to crack sooner or later, and I’m not sure what Daddy might be capable of. It’s a good thing she’s got all those magic powers, except we know from observation that, even though she can create lightning, shoot fireballs, make earthquakes, and wield a magic sword, she fights like butt.

2. Serial child molestor Kaho Mizuki and victims Toya Kinomoto and Eriol Hiiragizawa.
Ugh.

I already discussed child molestor Kaho’s relationship with Toya, so I won’t retread that ground here.

Kaho is Sakura’s math teacher, apparently because she’s scouting the elementary school for new boyfriends. By the end of the manga, she is officially an item with eleven-year-old Eriol Hiiragizawa, the quote-unquote “villain” of the second story arc. Eriol is the reincarnation of magician Clow Reed, complete with Clow’s memories, but he’s also an eleven-year-old boy.

By the end of the story, he and Kaho are officially an item. There is an utterly absurd scene right at the end of the manga series in which they declare their love for each other.

Sweet Madoka, what is wrong with you people!?

Just look at that picture: look at the difference in their heights, which emphasizes the difference in their ages. How could whichever artist produced this picture not pause midway through and ask herself, “What the hell am I doing?”

Let’s think for just a moment here: what era is Clow Reed supposed to be from? He lived some time in the past, and he was half English and half Chinese, which suggests that he was probably the son of some stuffy British colonialist or something. He could see the future, apparently in great detail. I picture him sitting there, thinking to himself, “I better make sure my magic cards are taken care of after I’m gone … let’s see … ah, they’re going to end up in the hands of a sweet little Japanese girl. Well, that’s nice … whoa! The Japanese in the future are a bunch of perverts! What the hell happened? I better find some way to protect her from this—”

“Won’t there be any child protection services in the future?”

But then he actually shows up, and all these sexual shenanigans are apparently a-okay with him. He’s totally down with putting the moves on a woman who’s probably three times his age, and is his teacher. Criminy, it’s like he’s running for president of France.

Also, I hate Eriol because I can’t ever remember how to spell his last name.

3. Child molestor Yoshiyuki Terada and victim Rika Sasaki.
Ugh.

Yoshiyuki Terada is a fourth grade teacher. Rika is his student. She’s ten. I don’t think his age is given, but this guy estimates it as mid-thirties, which is reasonable. He’d at least have to be in his late twenties.

This is probably the most infamous “ship” that Clamp has ever created. A quick Internet search immediately turns up memes like this:

Here’s the thing that a lot of people are missing: this may be shocking, but if you know Clamp, it shouldn’t be surprising. This is what they’re all about. But I’ll discuss that tomorrow.

As the meme creator above notes, Rika is repeatedly said to be “mature” for her age. But that is not, as the meme implies, a miscalculation or slip-up on Clamp’s part. That’s deliberate. Its purpose is to get the reader to accept something horrific as if it’s normal. That is not unique to Cardcaptor Sakura; it characterizes Clamp’s work as a whole.

The manga actually treats us to a scene of Terada-sensei grooming his victim. In case you think I must be joking or exaggerating, I reproduce the entire scene here.

Yes, that’s it. That’s all of it. As I’ve stated before, this comic isn’t graphic. But that’s how it works: it makes the evil look sweet by giving it a heavy coating of sugar and by keeping all of the implications out of the picture. Keep in mind that this is a series for children, too; by romanticizing predatory relationships in this way, Clamp was potentially making their audience more vulnerable to predators.

Notice how they set up the scene: first, Clamp reminds us that Rika is supposed to be “mature,” a point already made earlier in the same volume. Notice also how they avoid the mistake in their depiction of Kaho and Eriol; they do this scene through close-ups so you can’t see him towering over her, though you can see just how huge he is in the last panel of the first page. It doesn’t help that Clamp draws ten-year-olds to look like six-year-olds and draws men as anorexic yet massively broad-shouldered giants.

If you’ve seen Cardcaptor Sakura the anime and don’t recognize this, that’s because the anime deletes it with extreme prejudice. In the animated version, Rika has a crush on the teacher, but the teacher doesn’t reciprocate and in fact is unaware of it. In other words, the anime takes something quite grotesque and replaces it with something perfectly normal.

What I’ve given here are only highlights (or lowlights) of the series, but there is a seedy atmosphere that pervades the whole thing. That will be our discussion for tomorrow.

To be continued …

When everyone around you is a pervert.
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  • Alex Evensong

    Something about reading about your loathing for this show speaks to my soul on a sur-rational level. For whatever reason, people hating on anime has a cathartic quality for me that I cannot quite get anywhere else. So I hope after this series concludes you’ll at least begin again with another series.

    Also, you need to complete your Thirty-Nine Articles of Revolutionary Girl Utena.