Cardcaptor Sakura: The Official Region 1 Release

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

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.

Collage of Cardcaptor Sakura screenshots.

Be sure to check the images at full size.

Region two: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Region one: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Audio Quality

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.

Collage of Cardcaptor Sakura screenshots.

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.

Collage of Cardcaptor Sakura screenshots.

Menus: 1, 2, 3.

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.)

Collage of Cardcaptor Sakura screenshots.

Menus: 1, 2, 3, 4.

The Verdict

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.

7 Responses to “Cardcaptor Sakura: The Official Region 1 Release”

  1. Mermaid Princess Says:

    Thank you very very VERY much for your in depth analysis of the different CCS DVDs. They made a HUGE impact in my decision making of CCS DVDS. The only thing I didn’t like was how now whenever I watch my newly bought R1 DVDs, all I can see is the cut off top and sides of the screen!! Haha. I can’t turn it off now ^^; I definitely see how the images are cut, and I can even see how Tomoyo’s skin is a weird pasty hue. I always thought that was supposed to be like that, but now I know it’s not. When I save enough money, I definitely plan on buying the remastered R2 just based on your info of non-cut images. Thank you so so much again for all your hard work.

  2. Chris Says:

    Watching the R1’s certainly becomes a whole new experience after seeing the crisp, clear R2’s. Add in the extras you get with the R2 purchase (creditless openings and endings, mini-artbooks, episode information guides, Tomoyo diary specials), and the R2’s almost feel worth the major price tag (and probably are if you consider them as a collector’s item, rather than a casual purchase to watch).

    Whenever I watch a region one DVD, Tomoyo simply isn’t the same!

  3. Leih Klaire Says:

    I bought this series a long time ago, and according to your comments, I got the Malaysian bootleg of a bootleg version – even though mine has superior packaging to the one you reviewed, the menus and quality of the video are the same.

    I love the show tons, so I wanted an official set to replace my crappy (yet mostly watchable) bootleg. I was surprised to see price tags of $700-$800 for a USED set of the complete Pioneer/Geneon DVD set. Even though the price was steep, I was actually considering it. But your commentary on this official release makes me hesitant – mostly the color issues and cropping help turn me away from the hefty price tag.

    So, I’m glad for reading this (and of course, you writing this) to save me several hundred dollars. I’ll look around for more options. Thanks~

  4. Chris Says:

    I intended to review the set that you probably have (I wrote a review, but never finished it).

    If you’re considering paying $700 for this series, I’d say consider upping it to $1,000+ for the Japanese remastered release, but 1) that’s a whole log of money for an animation series! and 2) there’re no English subtitles on them. As much as I would like to be able to recommend an affodable Cardcaptor Sakura set to everyone, this is an instance where I have to say, “If you have the bootleg, stick with it.”

  5. Kimono Says:

    My parents offered me these DVDs for Christmas. Your verdict is good about the quality of English subtitles. By cons, my parents do not want to tell me how much they bought the series … Thank you for sharing!

  6. TokyoDreamer9 Says:

    I loved Cradcaptor Sakura, I live in the UK and purchasing the region 1 DVDs was not possible as they dont play in the UK so I bought a bootleg from the UK initially from Malaysia. I was satisfied but not 100% happy due to Kero’s Corner being cut out. This blog has made alot of sense to me as I was thinking of buying another copy someday. Thankyou so much.

  7. JJ Says:

    I was very fortunate to not only snag the official R1 subbed licensed Pioneer 18 disc set together as a unit, but to get it for $80 US.
    You read that right. For the price of about 2.5 discs I got the whole set. It remains one of my treasured collections and judging by the absolutely ridiculous prices for the same set online, I should probably hold onto it. I do find the character skin colors and other things to be a bit off, but the series is quite old and anime companies really did not have the resources for a really high quality transfer at the time. Its sufficient for me. Especially at the price I got it for.
    I really cant believe its worth $900 on Amazon. For me, its an absolute classic series and one I will probably never sell regardless of the worth of the set. I like the white cases and understated cover designs, although the packaging in general is really plain. The treasure of course, lies within it.