Buying Cardcaptor Sakura

Whenever I can, I buy anime in a box set. Typically, a six DVD series as a single box set will have five DVDs for the price of two individual DVDs. Extras may be stripped out, but otherwise it’s a very good bargain.

Sometimes, there’s a series with a little bit more than six DVDs. Cardcaptor Sakura is an 18 DVD set (not counting two movies). This alone means the series will be costly to purchase.

At least there are a few options out there.

English Subtitled US Release

The first English subtitled release in the United States by Nelvana was released for sale roughly in the year 2000. In all, 18 DVDs were released, as well as two 9-DVD box sets. There were also two movie releases, each with English subtitles and English dubs (by different companies).

A company licenses a Japanese series for only a number of years. This is why the American releases of the Sailormoon cartoon and comic are no longer produced. This is also why Disney could not dub My Neighbor Totoro earlier than it did, as Troma Films still had the rights from a decade earlier.

The licence for Cardcaptor Sakura expired, from what I’ve read, at the end of 2006. Nelvana did not renew the license, so there’s no chance of them reproducing Cardcaptor Sakura DVDs for sale.

Because the USA distribution has discontinued, it’s almost impossible to get the box sets anymore (for anyone interested, I have the first 9 DVD box set available for anyone willing to pay a decent, yet reasonable price). You can buy all 18 as a set of individual DVDs from Anime Corner Store’s Cardcaptor Sakura page, but it’s US$247.98 US$389.98 at the time of the writing (with free shipping within the US). This amounts to US$21.67 per DVD, which is quite the price to pay, let alone to pay for all at once. And once supplies run out, that’s the end.

There are a few other options for buying Cardcaptor Sakura episodes. If lucky, you can get all 18 DVDs for about US$100 to US$150 through eBay. Expect to see the sell-prices for complete sets only go up.

Japanese Remastered Release

Cardcaptor Sakura remastered release box set covers.

Back in 2005 or so, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) (or perhaps another company working for them) remastered the Cardcaptor Sakura series. They converted the series to a digital format (via negative telecining), for use on NHK’s “Hi-Vision”, a hi-definition digital satellite television service. This release boasts 5.1ch audio, and remastered audio and video. It also means a three-box DVD re-release, in Japan.

The first remastered box set came out in Japan 2005/04/01, and contains episodes 1–23. The second box came out 2005/06/25, with episodes 24–46. The third box set came out 2005/07/22, and finishes with episodes 47–70. There is also a movies box set with both movies.

These re-releases are, again, remastered, and contain 5.1ch Dolby sound. The first box set contains 575 minutes of episode content, but also 235 minutes of bonus materials. (This is 9 hours 35 and minutes of content, 3 hours and 55 minutes of bonus, for 13 hours and 30 minutes total.) The bonus material includes: textless opening; textless ending; what may be a Kero-hosted segment on the birth of Cardcaptor; two “Cardcaptor Sakura SPECIAL” segments, one Clow Card chapter and the other Sakura card chapter; and various other “Leave it to Kero” (ケロちゃんにおまかせ) shows. I’ve read that bonus material includes a lot of “flashback” scenes to episode content.

Putting a Price on the Remastered DVD Box Sets

The box set releases are Japanese language, no subtitles (maybe Japanese subtitles?) The list price is ¥34,650 per box set, with the movie collection listed at ¥15,540. This is ¥10,3950 for the episodes and bonuses, or ¥119,490 to include the movies. Because the English-subtitled movies are still easy to find, I’ll focus on the cost of the episode box sets.

According to Google near the end of 2007, ¥10,3950 is about US$930. That would be roughly £632, AU$1,007.

I’m all for buying an available series, but some prices just seem to be too much. This is why I buy the official Taiwan releases of Ojamajo Doremi. I’ll buy legit, or skip over a series if it’s too expensive to buy legit.

One reason for the high price is because the box sets come with other little goodies, items I could live without if it meant a stripped down box set for a lower price. The length of the content and bonus material together (the later of which containts clips from the episodes) for the first box set is 13 hours and 30 minutes. Working my current job at my current pay, I make over US$160.00 in 13 and a half hours, but since I put half of my earnings into savings, and I have other costs to consider in life, I would price 13 and a half hours of content at being worth US$80.00 to me. Assuming the same content length for the other box sets, I would be willing to pay US$240.00 for the three box sets. Unfortunately, the boxes are more along the lines of US$310 each. Even allowing for any “extras” in the box, and that these are “remastered”, I have trouble going over $350 for all three box sets, let alone one.

Buying Options

There is a cheaper route for the remastered DVD box sets, which is to buy via The three box sets are priced at ¥25,641 for box set one, ¥27,720 for box set two, and ¥27,720 again for box set three.

Using Amazon’s prices, this takes the cost down to ¥81,081, which Google gives as US$725, £493, AU$786. These prices are almost reasonable, although not as reasonable as, say, US$250 for the eighty episodes. This excludes the movies and shipping, and doesn’t take into account that probably only ships DVDs within Japan.

Options for buying outside of Japan include Play-Asia. Box sets one, two, and three are US$329.90 each.

Play-Asia’s price for the three total comes to US$989.70, which not only is more expensive than the Japanese listed price, but would take someone with a decent job at least a good two months to save up for (considering other expenses). Remastered Sakura is quite a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve seen the box sets sold on Yahoo! Auctions (Japanese version) for ¥20,000 or less, but these are for shippig in Japan only. This could be a good route for anyone with a friend in Japan willing to buy and ship the product.

Additionally, CD Japan sells the box sets (one, two, and three) for a total of US$869.40. Plus shipping, this will go over US$900.

Licenced Releases, Bootlegs, and Beyond

With the US release no longer produced, and the Japanese remaster insanely expensive, many people may look to either downloading fansub releases of the series or buying bootlegs. While I don’t condone either when there’s a valid purchase available, I plan to follow with a series of posts comparing the US licensed release with various other licensed releases (if I get find them on eBay; being outbid at the last second is no fun) and bootlegs.

26 Responses to “Buying Cardcaptor Sakura”

  1. Wonderduck Says:

    Considering the quality of the show, $390 isn’t unreasonable… it’s one of the best anime series ever, to be frank, and $22/DVD is actually quite comparable to the prices for new shows.

    Of course, I got my copy of the Nelvana set from when they were selling it at $90, so take that for what it’s worth. Unfortunately, that deal is no longer available (indeed, when I jumped on it Rightstuf was so low on stock that they actually had to get some of the DVDs for it from amazon).

    I understand about low cashflow. If you had to get one series, though, you’d do a lot worse than CCS.

  2. Chris Says:

    At $400, 70 episodes is under $6 an episode, which is about the high end of what I typically pay. I go for box sets when I can. I do agree that $400 is reasonable for Cardcaptor Sakura, but prices will only increase from here on, unless someone in the industry wises up and licenses a re-release.

    What I found interesting about the Japanese remastered box sets, which I pointed out as being upwards of $1,000 (try calling that reasonable ;) is that if you were to buy the original release Japanese DVDs one by one, they remastered box sets are actually the cheaper way to go!

    I’ve read about Japanese DVDs being meant for collectors, not for casual buyers. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the prices for Ojamajo Doremi DVD box sets. I’ve since seen the prices of the Saint Tail and Princess Tutu releases in Japan, and it’s outrageous.

    On a level of comparison between $400 for the region one Cardcaptor Sakura DVDs and the Japanese DVDs, $400 is a drop in the bucket. For the collector, though, you can’t argue with the quality of the remasters.

    For the price of the remasters, they should pile in all the OST CDs…

  3. Optimus Says:

    Thanks for your post! It struck a chord with me as Ive been trawling the web over the past year or so looking for an affordable release of cardcaptor sakura.

    Worst of all – I was actually on to the Rightstuf 79.99 offer a while back for the complete 18 DVDs bundle, but decided against getting it as cashflow was bit tight then. Been kicking myself since.

    Praying for re-release…

  4. Chris Says:

    It kind of makes you wish you bought four sets from RightStuf, so you could sell three for $200 each on eBay now, huh? But who could have predicted this scarcity and popularity combined would lead to such prices for the region one subtitled release?

  5. tambre Says:

    since they released a remastered version of cardcaptor sakura in japan, do you suppose we’ll be seeing a rerelease in the states? a lot of shows come back around again…. hopefully…

  6. Chris Says:

    Considering there’s a reusable set of subtitles, the only things prohibiting a re-release would be 1) cost of licensing/production, and 2) whether there’s any indication of a return on investment. Unless there was a sudden return/increase of Cardcaptor Sakura in the USA, I wouldn’t imagine a region one release using the remastered DVDs, unfortunately.

  7. Miu Says:

    Thank you so much for all your reviews~! I’m so happy I found them before I bought a box set–a bootleg. Your pages gave me a lot of info on all the different cardcaptor sakura dvds, and so I’m wondering about getting the remastered version…

    Do you think the remastered version is worth it? Because I live in Region 1, and I don’t know if the remastered dvds would play on my dvd player….

    Thank you so much~!

  8. Chris Says:

    The remaster is worth it if the following conditions are true:

    1) You have the cash to afford it, and can spend that kind of money on it. (We’re talking $1,000 here.)

    2) You feel justified in spending that amount of money on a 70-episode series.

    3) You have no problems with a series in Japanese with no English subtitles.

    4) You have a DVD player that can play region 3 DVDs. These will not play on a region one player.

  9. Miu Says:

    Hi~! This is Miu again~ Even though I found this site almost a year ago, I still find it really helpful, so thank you again for posting lots of reviews~!
    I was searching for some Cardcaptor Sakura merchandise online, and i ended up finding this dvd box set:

    Do you know if this is also a bootleg? (Also…sorry for asking but…what exactly is a bootleg?) Also, do you know if this is a good version? If you don’t know, that’s absolutely fine, but thank you so much for reading this~!

  10. Chris Says:

    Hello again,

    That set looks like it’s probably a bootleg. A bootleg is an unofficial copy of a product that is sold by a person or vendor who is not the owner, and is not an authorized vendor.

    For DVDs, a bootleg usually has worse quality, will be region free, and often will have Chinese subtitles and bad English subtitles.

    The back of the box shown on that listing says it uses four DVDs (if I’m reading it correctly. This sounds like the two movies are on one DVD, and the 70 episodes are on the three DVDs. This means there will probably be 23 or 24 episodes on each DVD. High quality (official) DVDs may have four to seven episodes on a DVD. More episodes than seven means lower quality.

    I hope this helps =)

  11. Miu Says:

    Ah okay thank you~! So….technically, is a bootleg not legal?
    Thank you so much for responding~ Your comments always help~

    So do you still think that there won’t be a re-release of Cardcaptor Sakura? Because i’ve seen so many forums in stuff about people who want it re-released….It would be so nice if a good company licensed it and sold CCS with the remastered dvds, playable on region 1, and with subs for a reasonable price~ Although right now all of that seems like a fantasy, ehe…But plus, then the original region 1 dvd prices would go down too, and i bet lots of people would want it (judging from forums)….So it doesn’t seem like a bad idea for a company~?

    Sorry for asking so many questions, but…what would you consider to be the best bootleg? (If they’re legal) Or do you think in terms of quality/availability, the region 1 dvds are better? I think the green blobs on the bootlegs kinda bother me a little… ^^’

  12. Chris Says:

    Bootlegs are illegal in every country that is part of the Berne Convention.

    I don’t expect to see a new CCS release. A lot of US anime (and manga) companies seem to be having hard times right now (but I don’t know about in the UK or Australia). CCS might still be licensed to the company that released it on DVD before, so another company might not be able to release the remastered yet (I don’t know). Also, if a company wanted to release the remaster, they have to either translate everything on their own, or pay to reuse the existing subtitles.

    If you decide buying a bootleg is your better option, the bootleg of Pioneer’s DVDs are copied from the region one DVDs. It also has the cropping and bad coloring of the region one release.

    The AnimeCartoon release has the better colors and less cropping, but it also has worse compression than the region one, a less-good translation, an AnimeCartoon logo that shows now and then, and sometimes really bad compression.

    If you cannot get the region one DVDs, I recommend the bootleg of the Pioneer region one DVDs if you want a better translation, or the AnimeCartoon if you want better colors and no cropping (but don’t mind things like a random logo on the screen). Both will have bad compression to fit on only eight DVDs.

  13. Miu Says:

    Okay thank you~! That was really helpful~ ^^

  14. Blik Says:

    I’ve been researching this series to purchase it, and at the beginning of November I could have bought all 18 DVDs (used) individually on Amazon for about $400 all told. Though at the low end of the prices discussed on this page, this is not really a viable option for a poor college student. So, I’ve been reluctantly researching the bootlegs (as you say, they’re not legal), and your series of articles has been the most helpful resource I’ve found. But I do have a question that you haven’t addressed.

    What does compression do to the video quality as far as smoothness of animation? Are the versions that are compressed onto fewer discs jumpier? I can handle poor picture quality and some color anomalies, but my sticking points are smooth animation and intelligible subtitles. (I discovered this pet peeve after watching an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! in Japanese, where the subtitling was particularly horrendous.)

    I’m leaning towards the Pioneer release because of what you say about the subtitles, but how is the animation flow?

  15. Chris Says:

    It’s especially hard for a poor college student to justify a high price for a series whose English release is long out of production.

    You bring up a good point to consider about the flow of the animation. Another item to consider is the audio, and whether it has any issue. You’ll be glad to hear that I never mentioned these because I didn’t consider them because there are no issues with them.

    The video will have lower quality/more compression artifacts, but the video plays smoothly. I didn’t see any issues with the animation flow. I also don’t recall any issues with audio. Granted, I haven’t watched every episode on every bootleg, only random samplings.

    I hope to extract the subtitles from the Pioneer release (to use when watching the episodes with the Japanese remastered release), and if I’m able to successfully do that, I may do the same for the non-Pioneer subtitles, and do a post comparing the two. However, there’s no telling if I’ll ever get something like that completed, so I’d say if the clarity of the translation is a top issue above accuracy of colors, the Pioneer bootleg would be the way to go.

    Good luck on your purchases. This is such a cute series with a well thought out storyline, and the company that made it probably has earned back more than the money they put into it, so it’s a shame there isn’t a release in production and at a reasonable price including Pioneer’s English subtitles. It’s a lost market right there.

  16. Tsubasa lover Says:

    I have been trying to find Cardcaptor, region 2, with subs. For years now. With little success. I just kick myself when I think of the fact that, about 10 years ago I saw the complete box-set in HMV and didn’t get it!!…:(…because I thought the price was to high….well compared to the prices now…Anyway I was wondering if anyone knew anything or had herd anything about region 2, subbed Cardcaptor DVD’s?

  17. Tsubasa lover Says:

    I know its a long shot, but any infomation would be helpful. Thank you.

  18. Chris Says:

    Currently, it’ll be difficult to find a legit subtitled Cardcaptor Sakura release for any DVD region. It seems the only option for region two Cardcaptor fans is (as far as I know) to get a bootleg copy.

  19. jem Says:

    was wondering if there are any english subtitles on the japanese remasters… saw some in yahoo japan auctions and was thinking of buying them if they have subtitles…

  20. Chris Says:

    The remaster does not have any subtitles. It’s pure Japanese, without any English.

  21. Pokelucelop Says:

    Thank you for the insight! Hopefully there will be a company (maybe Funimation or Nozomi) that will be able to acquire the licenses and re-release the series. I honestly don’t care if they produce it with the cheapest materials that they can find; so long as it gets a complete release, I’ll be satisfied. Who knows; maybe it will turn out like Nozomi recently re-releasing Utena into 3 parts for affordable prices (and throwing in special goodies). I just really, REALLY hope that CCS gets some sort of re-release. :)

  22. Chris Says:

    I hope so, too. CCS really is a magical series, and deserves a chance to have its remastered form reach American, European, etc. shores. I don’t know what kind of licensing costs would be involved, but if the owners of the series (animation studio, etc.) licensed it at a reasonable price, it seems like the kind of thing that would be profit all around. Maybe in another five years, the time will be right for Nozomi or another to introduce the series to a new generation of CLAMP/anime/mahou shoujo fans.

  23. Mitchell Says:

    Hey there. You seem very knowledgeable about Cardcaptor Sakura and the available media sets. I have one HELL of a puzzler for you though! I bought a VCD set of Cardcaptor Sakura at a thrift store for $3. It’s the original Japanese production, with Chinese subtitles. In total, there are 12 disks, containing Episodes 1 to 24 of the series. Initially, I thought it was a bootleg, but the quality is far too high, and the disks are professionally labelled. It says it was produced under licence by Video Star Japanese Animation and Animation International, and it is known as the “Super Golden Box Set.” If you have any information on what in the Hell it is I have here, that would be great! lol

  24. Mitchell Says:

    Sorry, my mistake. These disks actually contain episodes 1 to 35, which means it holds the entire 1st Season, with 3 episodes per disk on disks 1 to 11, and 2 episodes on disk 12.

  25. Chris Says:

    I haven’t heard of Video Star Japanese Animation. “Animation International” is the name of a known bootleg company, but there is a Hong Kong “Animation International Ltd.” which may be the same or a different company. They don’t like Cardcaptor Sakura in their properties, though. Does the logo on the box look the same as the one on Animation International Ltd.’s web site?

    The only VCDs I can find are a Hong Kong release with Cantonese dubbing and no subtitles, from a Hong Kong company called Wide Sight. (These are at YesAsia, under the name “百變小櫻Magic”, as seen on their CCS list.)

    Looks like this and this are from the same set as your purchase.

    While on the topic of VCDs, it looks like there was a VCD release in Singapore with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles. Interesting.

    It seems there was also a VCD release in a yellow box with Chinese text, and 12 VCDs, licensed by a company called Media Link.

  26. Mitchell Says:

    Hey man, thanks for your help. I’m pretty sure I have the Media Link release, but don’t see a “Media Link” logo or copyright. Below is a transcript of all of the English text on the box and discs.

    Front Box:
    Video Star Japanese Animation
    Cardcaptor Sakura
    TV Animation Cardcaptor Sakura
    12 Disc VCD Box Collection
    Animation International
    Super Golden Box Set

    Back Box:
    Cardcaptor Sakura
    TV Animation Cardcaptor Sakura
    12 Disc VCD Box Collection
    Video Star Holding Inc.
    Animation International Inc.

    All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved. Unauthorized public performance, broadcasting and copying of this disc prohibited. Man Bone Film. Ch Isin G Ltd.

    If it helps, I will take some pictures of the discs. I’m not sure if what I have is worth 100 dollars, or 100 cents! lol