In this article:
- Cardcaptor Sakura was one of the biggest mahou shoujo anime of the 2000s and one of the most influential ones to date.
- Though it centered around the adventures and love life of the titular Sakura, there are a lot of moments in the show and manga that point to queer romances happening around Sakura.
- It’s not the first time a mahou shoujo anime had queer themes either, if anything, it seems to be a common thread in a lot of popular mahou shoujo shows of the 80s to 2000s.
First aired in the early 2000s, Cardcaptor Sakura is among the most famous mahou shoujo or magical girl anime shows to come out in the past several decades and is eclipsed only by the likes of Sailor Moon, its 90s anime predecessor. If you were a young girl around that time, you probably remember Sakura summoning spirits from her Clow Cards using her wand.
And you probably remember the show being a little too suspiciously gay.
As a mahou shoujo anime enjoyer, I personally have vivid memories of watching Cardcaptor Sakura, but that was a long time ago so I figured hey, maybe me thinking CCS was a little gay was just a me thing. Maybe I’m seeing things through the warped perspective of my childhood memories, right?
Apparently, it wasn’t a coincidence that Tomoyo and Yukito seemed queer as hell. Queer themes are so common in anime and manga made by CLAMP, the collective that made CCS, that it would take willful ignorance of a very, very suspicious pattern to think it wasn’t being done on purpose.
What Was Cardcaptor Sakura About?
Cardcaptor Sakura/Card Captor Sakura or CCS was a 200s anime created by CLAMP, a famous manga artist collective that started in the mid-1980s. CLAMP is known for revolutionizing the landscape of female-oriented anime because of the group’s thoughtful handling of themes relating to girlhood and womanhood.
One of their best-known works was CCS which centered on the titular Sakura, an elementary school student who unwittingly unleashes the power of the Clow Cards, a deck of stylized Tarot cards that contain spirit personifications of concepts like “water”. Because of this, she’s forced by Cerberus, a little yellow winged creature, to recapture the card spirits using a Key of the Seal, the winged wand thing she carries around with her.
Sakura is later joined by Tomoyo, a cousin of hers who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. She’s responsible for Sakura’s cute outfits. Unlike other mahou shoujo, Sakura’s outfits aren’t magical.
The show also introduces Sakura’s male love interest, Syaoran Li. Syaoran is a descendant of Clow Reed, the guy who made the Clow Cards which is why he has an interest in obtaining the cards.
I say love male interest because the show has a lot going on. Aside from Sakura having a hinted female love interest, there’s a moment in the show where Syaoran is implied to be bisexual.
Tomoyo Seems to Have A Crush on Sakura
And they were best friends! Yes, but did it not strike anyone odd how invested Tomoyo was in Sakura’s adventures? Also, let’s talk about how weird she was about Sakura and Syaoran being together. We later learn that Tomoyo’s mother had feelings for Sakura’s mother…and the two girls themselves have a very similar dynamic to their moms.
Okay, not a nail in the coffin. But the really incriminating bit comes from the manga. It’s no secret that anime adaptions of queer manga get toned down. I mean hello, Black Butler? So it’s up to the manga to give us an answer.
During a sports festival arc, Tomoyo says point blank that Sakura loves her and she loves Sakura…but they don’t love each other the same way. When Sakura pries into what she means by that, Tomoyo simply says she’ll tell Sakura what she means in the future.
Another scene that stands out was when Tomoyo is asked if she’s okay with helping Syaoran and Sakura develop their relationship. Tomoyo explains that love means prioritizing someone else’s interests over hers. Considering how close she and Sakura are, in light of everything else, that’s a little too pointed to be just “and they were best friends!”.
Oh, and there’s this report from March 27, 2022, from the ladies over at CLAMP.
And Let’s Not Get Started On Touya and Yukito
Tomoyo’s unrequited love for Sakura may need more reading between the lines, but the really obvious gay, gay, homosexual, gay moments in the show come from Touya and Yukito. Touya, if you’ve forgotten, is Sakura’s older brother while Yukito is his friend who Sakura lowkey has a crush on.
Yes, everyone’s into everyone in this show. Moving on.
The two of them get suspiciously handsy with each other in a lot of the scenes. And the way Touya looks at Yukito sometimes? You ain’t slick, kid.
Here’s a good test for you of whether a scene is queer or not even if you don’t pay attention to those things: If you replace one of the characters with a character of the opposite gender, can it be construed as romantic? Because that’s how Touya and Yukito are looking like.
We could keep going but the video of them together pretty much speaks for itself. There’s even a detail where Yukito gets jealous and angry when a girl tries to take Touya from him.
Sakura even asks Yukito if Touya is the most important person in the world to him and he plainly answers yes.
A Lot of Old Anime With Female Target Audiences Were Actually Pretty Queer If You Think About It
Strangely enough, Cardcaptor Sakura isn’t the first and only female-oriented anime and manga franchise to feature tons of queer themes, relationships, and subtext. Before we had CCS, there was Sailor Moon which was so obviously queer that they had to explicitly hammer it into the audience’s heads that Sailor Uranus and Neptune were cousins in the English dub.
Honestly, it just made things look even weirder since you’re made to think they’re related.
But hey, they’re girls – and cousins too!
Another mahou shoujo anime where the queer romance is front and center is Revolutionary Girl Utena. Sure, Utena is looking for a prince but she’s often cast into the role of a prince herself. And who is her damsel in distress? That’s right: A girl…who isn’t her cousin, thankfully enough.
But maybe they’re girls who are cousins who are roommates who are also best friends.