Editorial: a show that brings more than nostalgia
For the first time in 20 years Cardcaptor Sakura began a new season. The show, which first ran at the very beginning of a long list of “magical girl” animes, is hands down the best thing to air on television.
Not only does it have LGBT representation with characters that are three-dimensional (which for the 90’s, and even now, that’s surprising). But it is also hands down the purest show in the world.
The villains aren’t even really villains. They just made some bad choices with good intentions, then everyone comes together to help. The entire fictional town is just so supportive of each other and wants to get along.
Obviously I’m really excited about the show’s return, but it’s not childhood nostalgia. I first watched Cardcaptor Sakura a few summers ago when a friend — who was already well versed with my love for Sailor Moon — was scandalized when she found out I had never even heard of the show. Cardcaptor Sakura and shows to its likeness bring something that I’ve found is seriously lacking in the world — which is female empowerment without trauma.
By that I mean that Sakura never had to be degraded or abused for her to rise up and become empowered. There isn’t a part of her that’s sacrificed for this to happen, and never in the show is she put through anything that’s extremely traumatic.
She goes through hardships, of course, because we all do. For example, there are episodes where it’s fear that gets the best of her and she needs a little more support. Other episodes she struggles with asking for help because she doesn’t want to endanger her friends.
But never does anyone take anything from her; and that’s so imperative to the message of the show. You don’t have to go through a traumatic experience to be strong. She’s strong not because she has to be, but because she wants to be. Nobody forced her into the role she plays as the heroine.
At this point I want to digress, because I don’t want to be misinterpreted. I do think characters that have been abused or have gone through trauma are important. Their presence in shows or books reminds us that we’re not alone and that we can also come back from a traumatic event.
However, I do think it’s just as vital for people — kids especially because, truthfully, this is a show geared toward children — to know that they don’t have to wait to be strong. It’s a hard lesson to learn, that you don’t need to wait for to be knocked down to rise up.
I always get concerned at this point, worried I’ve read too much into a show and found something that wasn’t actually there. But not this time, I’m certain I’m right when I say there is something vital in demonstrating to girls and women especially that they can be strong without loss.