I had originally planned to compare all bootlegs with the official region one release, then write about the region one release on its own at the end. After realizing the region one release has poor video compared with the Japanese release, I’m now standing to throw away at least 10 to 20% of what I’ve written, as well as many images, and start over. I’ll compare the English subtitles on the bootlegs with the region one release, but I’ll put the video comparison in context on either the Japanese or region one release, whichever the bootleg is based off of.
Rather than saving the “official region one release” for last, I’ve bumped it up to first. I’ll probably edit this page in the future, especially after I start posting on the bootlegs, as I might improve the page structure and organization, or may add more things.
This post is on the official region one release, which is now out of print. As on January 2008, you’d be lucky to find the whole set for under US$300.
Box Art and Quality
The individually sold DVDs each come in a sturdy plastic DVD case with a full color artwork of Sakura. Two artworks are devoted to her (summer and winter) school uniforms, and the rest show Sakura in her various costumes. This is not unlike the Japanese individual DVDs, which showed manga-style artworks of Sakura on each case. In fact, the fourth DVD for both the Japanese and US releases showcase Sakura in an outfit with a black top, blue shorts, and a blue-outside, red-inside cap and hood. The sixth covers in both releases also hold Sakura the same pink outfit. The eighth Japanese and seventh US covers share the same outfit; the tenth Japanese and US; a match on the 13th of both; 11ths; 16ths; and 18ths covers match up outfits. The Japanese covers are more varied, showing Sakura in a yukata, in a kimono, in her prince play outfit, and in various other casual wear on covers. That’s probably more than anyone cares to know about the covers.
I really need to do episode write-ups with details on the costumes she wears so I can simply say “wearing her costume for capturing such-and-such card” without having to watch 70 episodes to figure out which one had that one costume.
DVD Art and Quality
There’s nothing negative to say about the DVDs when it comes to physical quality. Artistically, there’s…nothing much to say.
The faces of the DVDs are silver, with no color. The volume names are placed on the DVDs, but not volume numbers. The only indication of an order from one DVD to the next is the serial number of the DVD.
Each DVD sports a colorless artwork, but these are random. The first DVD chooses to ignore Sakura, instead placing Tomoyo on it. Sakura appears on the second DVD, followed by Tomoyo again before going back and forth between Sakura and Clow Cards. Meiling appears, as does Eriol, with more characters on the later DVDs.
To give an idea of how plain the DVD faces are, I didn’t even bother taking photos of them to include with this section.
Video quality leaves much to be desired. A small amount of width is cropped off the sides, as well as a decent amount from the top. There are black borders on the sides, the right-hand side border often wavy.
Colors are incorrect, as well, with a blue and purple hue to them. Tomoyo’s fair skin becomes bluish, and her black hair is purple. Colors are also darker, leaving less detail visible in the black of the school uniforms, and causing visiblity issues during night scenes.
A fair level of graininess exists in video, but this is to be expected due to the age of the series. There are also compression artifacts degrading objects with many close, contrasting outlines and colors (such as Sakura looking at the costumes in the below screenshot).
I don’t know what the original Japanese DVDs look like, but the region one release is inadequate in almost every way possible compared with the remastered DVDs. This is a series that needs a region one re-release, using the remastered DVDs. Don’t take my word for it, compare for yourself. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine which side is from the remastered Japanese release and which is from the region one release.
Be sure to check the images at full size.
There are no issues with audio quality. The remastered region two DVDs may have slightly cleaner audio (as well as 5.1ch audio). For all other releases, slightly lower audio and a restriction to 2.0ch audio is expected.
Subtitling is decent. Don’t expect to see “oniichan” and “Sakura-chan”, as “big brother” and “Sakura” are fine for an English subtitling job, especially when name suffixes don’t hold any significance not inferable otherwise. Also, don’t expect to see broken English, confusing dialogue, and spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. This is a professional translation, not a bootleg job.
Visually, the subtitles are yellow with black outlines. The lettering is a little thin, but readable.
The subtitles look much clearer when viewed full size.
One menu page allows access to each chapter’s opening, first half, second half, ending, Leave it to Kero, and next episode preview. Alongside are still images from each episode.
Extras and Omakase
“Leave it to Kero” is included. Non-credit openings and endings are spread across the DVDs, as well as character intros, concept art sketches, and the Cardcaptors dub opening. (I know I can’t be the only one who thinks that opening is actually decent, as English dub openings go.)
This is a tough one. If you can get it at a decent price, I’d say go for it. The subtitles hold the superior translation when it comes to official and bootleg DVDs. I’d like to see a fansub group release subtitle files which could be used alongside DVDs, allowing one to buy a different DVD release and still view with subtitles, but that’s not an option.
The only negative to this release is the colors, cropping, and border issue. Well, that and the lack of volume numbers on the DVDs.
The biggest positive is the English subtitles. I’d say another positive is supporting the company releasing the DVDs, but production has stopped, and most places selling the series are people reselling for a huge profit, or shops selling for a huge profit.