WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Cardcaptor Sakura
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about Cardcaptor Sakura and why I liked the show despite me not being the target demographic. Waxing nostalgically like that helped remind me of one of my favourite aspects of the show – the Clow Cards themselves. It’s hard to really explain but something about a set of magical cards, each with their own abilities and different themes and such just really appeals to me; so much so that I actually own a real-life deck of the cards (I have no regrets).
So, just because I want to, I’ve decided to rank all 53 of the Clow Cards, from least favourite to most favourite, in the first of a new series of articles I call Random Rankings.
Some quick notes before I start:
- I will be ranking the cards based on multiple factors – visual design, power, personality, usefulness and how they’re used/implemented in the show. This is not a definitive ranking; just a personal one
- For any Cardcaptor aficionados reading this, I will not be including the Nameless Card or the Hope since they are technically Sakura Cards and were never Clow Cards
Right, rambling over. Let’s get this ranking officially started.
53. The Wave
Someone’s got to be at the very bottom and, in this instance, it’s The Wave. I almost feel sorry for it since the only reason it’s even in this position is because it did literally nothing throughout the series. Not only was it captured off-screen, but Sakura never used it once throughout the whole series. Even its design is kind of bland and, apparently, its only power is a slightly less useful variation of The Watery (an infinitely better card). Sorry, Wave, but if you didn’t exist, no one would notice.
52. The Maze
For me, The Maze is one of the more boring cards in the show. It’s just… a maze. That’s it. Granted, a very trippy, M.C. Escher-like maze but that’s about it. While it served a decent purpose for a single episode (Sakura and friends working together to escape it and unable to cheat via magic), it doesn’t really serve much practical use afterwards. Sakura does use it in a later episode in conjunction with The Illusion, which is kind of neat, but aside from that, it’s just uninteresting.
51. The Change
If you really think about it, The Change’s name is a little misleading. You expect its power to involve completely changing an object’s appearance or something similar, but its actually a body-swap card. Is that technically changing? I feel like The Swap would’ve been a more fitting name.
I do quite like its design, though. It’s very similar to a chameleon (which are inherently cool animals anyway) but managed to make it look kind of cute and cuddly. It’s like an Eastern-interpretation of the animal. But while it may have led to one of the funnier episodes of the show, Change didn’t contribute at all. Then again, a body swap power seems pretty useless in the grand scheme of things (though I’m sure SOME people can come up with some less than morally decent ideas with it).
50. The Glow
I kind of don’t want to bash The Glow too much considering it’s a pretty harmless card but that’s ironically what put it so low on the list. Its power is an instant firefly show which, while pretty, isn’t exactly useful. While Sakura did find a use for it in helping provide light for a festival (which The Light could’ve probably easily done too), it’s just so unassuming. Unlike the other Clow Cards, it didn’t cause any problems for Sakura and friends; it wasn’t a threat. It just showed up so that the peaceful filler episode wouldn’t technically be filler. Its design is nice, though, (possibly referencing Tinkerbell) but, in the end, I’m a sucker for the cards that are inherently more action-oriented.
49. The Mist
Speaking of action-oriented cards, The Mist is not one of them. Much like The Change, it’s name is kind of a lie, since it takes the form of a thick, green fog rather than mist that’s kind of ugly to look at. It can also corrode things which, last I checked, isn’t something mist or fog can do. It’s ‘human’ form is really nice, though. It just looks so refined and I love how its hair is adorned with what looks like dew drops. Shame that we never see it in the show.
48. The Float
The Float’s a dick. I’m just getting that out there; it’s easily one of the most asshole cards seen in the show. See, in its debut episode, it takes residence in the home of a small girl and said girl is kind of sad because her dad passed away. When she muses how she wishes she could float up to Heaven to see him, guess what Float does? The girl is fortunately saved by Sakura but, God damn, she nearly got dragged into the atmosphere! What is your damage, Float?
Plus, while it does have some practicality to its power (when it’s not being a dick), Float has the same problem Wave has – there’s already a much better card with the same power, The Fly. Between that and the aforementioned personality issue, I’m honestly surprised Float even got this high on the list.
47. The Loop
In concept, the idea of The Loop is a cool one – it has the power to warp space as a means of keeping someone in a perpetual loop. And while its design is overly simple, it works effectively (infinity symbol/mobius strip, people). It unfortunately suffers the same problem as Maze; it doesn’t have much practicality and, as much as I appreciate the design, it’s a little too basic for its own good.
46. The Cloud
Honestly, all that The Cloud has going for it is that it’s cute. Just look how fluffy it is; it’s practically begging to get a plush toy of it. And while the idea of a card being able to make clouds isn’t inherently a bad power (I actually quite like slightly cloudy skies), it’s not the most amazing of magical abilities.
45. The Sweet
While I probably prefer the visual design of The Cloud over The Sweet, I put the latter higher on the list for one main reason. Despite it’s very innocent appearance and overall harmless personality, it has the potential to be one of the most dangerous cards. Why? Because it can turn literally anything into a sweet, be it cake, candy, chocolate, whatever.
In its debut, all it really did was mess up a classroom, which is more humourous than terrifying, and it can be easily stopped by throwing salt at it. But imagine someone with ill intent or a far more devious mind in possession of this card. With enough malice behind it, The Sweet could be the most effective and deadliest method of assassination or rampant destruction ever. Fortunately, Cardcaptor Sakura is too sweet of a show to really address that capability.
44. The Twin
The Twin is one of those cards that’s kind of uninteresting to me from a design standpoint but has an incredibly effective and useful ability – object duplication. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a really handy power if you ask me. I mean, two chocolate bars are better than one. Outside of that, though, The Twin doesn’t offer much else. The episode it appeared in was also the one where Meiling was forced to return home to Hong Kong and say goodbye, which I honestly was much more invested in than the actual confrontation with the card, since Meiling was one of my favourite characters in the show. At least she went out on a high note by helping take The Twin down (even if she came back later on).
43. The Voice
I’ve noticed that, despite disliking the less active Clow Cards, they seem to wind up much higher on the list than I expect. Case in point: The Voice. It’s only power is that it’s able to steal voices, which I guess could be useful in some instances but, given its personality, I highly doubt it’d agree to rob the voice of inane politicians or your screechy younger sister. So how did it get this far?
I guess it just comes down to the design. Simple yet appealing; it’s appearance on the card itself seems almost angelic. I especially like how its dress resembles wings. Or maybe that’s the actual body? Shame that this pretty face also has a somewhat greedy personality.
42. The Jump
Don’t let that cute, little fairy-rabbit on the card fool you. The Jump is not that adorable. Unlike actual rabbits that are content to just nibbling on some lettuce and possess a slightly vacant expression that’s somehow stupidly cute, The Jump’s a feisty, sour-faced (and apparently stupid) prick. It looks perpetually angry, which I guess is a nice subversion, but it’s just not appealing. It’s almost more like vermin than anything.
Plus, much like The Float, it was a bit of an asshole by almost putting an innocent woman out of business by stealing a panda toy from people who bought it and returning it to the shop she ran. Sakura didn’t even need to beat it; it tripped and knocked itself out like a dumbass after absorbing plush toys to turn into a giant (what does THAT have to do with jumping?!). The only reason Jump got this high up is because it’s actual power is useful and became one of Sakura’s regularly used cards.
41. The Storm
Sometimes, it’s just nice to see a card wield destructive powers. Unfortunately, The Storm doesn’t have enough appearances in the show to really demonstrate that. You’d think this card would be a big deal considering it can create… well, storms. A massive tornado appearing in the middle of the city could make for a very tense episode but Storm is quickly defeated in the opening minutes of the same episode to introduce The Float. I know Cardcaptor isn’t the most action-y of shows but the machismo part of my brain just yearns for some bad-ass magic battles sometimes.
Still, Storm’s design is pretty cool, with what looks like power armour of some kind and its ringlet curls. Its weirdly suitable, and it’s nice to see a small girl being the physical representation of storms for a change.
40. The Rain
I’m not a rain person. Some people seem to not mind casually strolling through downpours but I find that irritating and it can really ruin my day. That said, I don’t hate rain; in small bursts it’s nice and if it is heavy, it can be satisfying listening to it when you know you don’t have to leave the house. So I don’t mind The Rain that much, even if it was a cheeky, little shit and nearly wrecked Sakura’s house.
While it may be very similar to both Cloud and Storm, I put Rain above them both since Rain’s powers could not only be used offensively but also for slightly more mundane but still useful situations. Imagine having your own personal rainstorm to keep your garden fresh during a heatwave. Just as long as it doesn’t turn it into the Amazon rainforest or something.
39. The Little
Why are all the innocent looking cards always the most sadistic? You’d think The Little would be harmless considering its size but it takes some sick glee in shrinking Sakura down; watching her get nearly crushed or eaten by a cat whilst giggling and mocking her. That being said, I’ve always enjoyed media that show the world from that kind of perspective, turning mundane objects into dangerous obstacles. Even your own home becomes a daunting and almost frightening place to explore. It lends itself to some creativity.
Plus, the idea of shrinking things can be useful. We could save so much storage space, and getting rid of trash would be so easy to do. Whole scrapyards could be shrunk down and dumped in a furnace or something. Shame we never get to see Sakura use The Little that much; not even for mundane things. Could’ve lent itself to some nice comedy.
It’s also hard to hate it when you look at its dozing face on the card. So cute.
38. The Sand
At the risk of sounding like a certain whiny, former Jedi, I’m not fond of sand. I’m the kind of asshole who refuses to take his shoes off at the beach and spends all his time sitting on a deck chair playing on my 3DS. But I can’t deny the fact that controlling sand (or psammokinesis, as it’s called) would be pretty cool. It’s basically another form of earthbending (which is awesome already), though I can’t think of many applications for it that aren’t combat related. It’d be helpful in traversing a desert, I suppose. I have to compliment the design as well. The use of Arabic-style clothes is an obvious choice but it works. Too bad Sand is one of those cards whose ‘human’ form is never seen in the show.
37. The Bubbles
The Bubbles is another card whose capture happened offscreen, but I’m a bit more forgiving about since… well, what kind of threat are bubbles? I suppose you could blind somebody with them but it just doesn’t seem intimidating in the slightest. If anything, Bubbles is one of the more mundane cards. It’s only use in the whole show is when Sakura uses it to help bathe Kero and wash the dishes (the latter would be especially helpful in real life).
So how did it get this high in the ranking? Thank Bubbles’ design for that. It’s just a mermaid with hair that slightly resembles and is adorned by bubbles but, if it wasn’t apparent already, simple designs sometimes work the best. Plus bubbles in and of themselves are very appealing. I always turn into a little kid again whenever I use one of those bubble blowers. Don’t act like you don’t do the same.
36. The Freeze
Something I’ve only just noticed in regards to The Freeze is that its design on the card looks a little… derpy. I mean, the idea of a literal ice fish is neat and fitting to its power, but the face looks TOO fish-like. It doesn’t mesh all that well with the rest of the very jaggy and sharp design.
Fortunately, in the actual show, it looks far more menacing. It’s arguably one of the most dangerous cards Sakura faced in the show. Not much else to say really except that it’s really… cool.
35. The Dark
The Dark doesn’t have too much going for it as a card. At least on its own. Part of what makes The Dark so unique is its relation to The Light. There are plenty of cards that share similarities with each other but The Dark and The Light are the only two to have an explicit connection. After all, Sakura couldn’t seal one without sealing the other at the same time.
I also really like how subversive Dark is. When we think of darkness, we associate with evil and nightmares. You don’t feel safe in the dark, yet Dark itself is actually one of the most serene and gentle cards. It doesn’t really endanger anyone and only wanted to test Sakura’s worth. When she succeeds, Dark is willingly sealed along with Light.
Even the design goes against the norm. While it is pitch black and sharp in some places, the serenity present on its face suggests that there is no malice or ill will involved here. It’s even more apparent when you see how it’s drawn in the show itself. It’s not the most active of cards but definitely one of the more interesting from a design stand-point.
34. The Light
There’s not much I can really say about The Light. It’s pretty much what you expect, and the only real interesting thing about it is its relationship with The Dark. While the former subverts the tropes you’d associate with it, Light plays them very straight. The only reason it’s above The Dark is that I’d prefer being in a brightly lit area than in pitch black. Photokinesis > umbrakinesis.
33. The Flower
I’m honestly surprised The Flower is as high in the ranking as it is. When I was first writing it out, I expected Flower to be much lower on account of how useless it is. It’s only power is to summon flowers. That’s it. Hell, Clow Reed only created it just for that purpose. So how come it’s not at the bottom?
Probably because, unlike some other cards I won’t mention, it’s generally goodhearted. It didn’t go out of its way to hurt people or cause trouble. It’s just an enthusiastic, if somewhat scatterbrained, individual that just wants to have fun. Even when Sakura showed up to seal it, it ended up dancing with her instead. I also love its elegant design; it’s almost bride-like in appearance. It looks the part of a ballroom dancer. Plus, while I did ridicule its power earlier, I admittedly wouldn’t mind a personal cherry blossom shower every once in a while.
32. The Lock
Despite being a very mundane and ultimately rather boring card, I actually quite like The Lock if only because its power is very practical. Padlocks do their job well enough but there’s no contingency if a hypothetical thief comes with a lock-pick or a blunt instrument to break it. With The Lock, you can even make a single room in your house safe from unwanted entry. The only thing keeping Lock this far down is that it’s not all that interesting. I mean, it’s a literal padlock. The most unique thing about it is the wings and those hardly make much of a difference. Still better than The Maze though.
31. The Song
I can’t help but wonder why The Song and The Voice both exist. They’re pretty much the exact same card; the only difference being Song isn’t a greedy asshole and doesn’t go around stealing voices. It’s content to copying them just so it can belt out a nice tune and, while not a particularly active power, it’s hard to dislike what is essentially the power of song. It’s also one of the nicer cards; the only real trouble it caused was make people think there was a ghost in the school. It’s probably got one of my favourite designs too. The idea of incorporating stuff like the treble clef into its headgear or the cello pattern on its dress is obvious but welcome and easily helps The Song stand out visually.
30. The Shot
I don’t know about you but The Shot really stands out from the other cards due to its appearance alone. It’s hard to explain but there’s something I really like about the use of edges and its hair sort of curling in on itself. And then there’s that single, lightning-bolt looking strand of hair. That’s kind of cool. It’s got a bit of a circus performer vibe going on, thought that might just be me.
Not to mention it’s really powerful. Once The Shot has been given a target, it will relentlessly hunt it down until the target is destroyed. It made for a tense episode. Come to think of it, I’m surprised Sakura didn’t use it more often. Shot’s other main drawback has to be the actual colour of its hair. It’s just too garish for my liking.
29. The Arrow
The Shot’s arguably more powerful than The Arrow but I ended up putting the latter over the former simply because of its design. I know I just praised Shot’s but I love how calm and collected The Arrow appears, which makes sense considering the amount of concentration archery requires.
I also love the coattails; it gives Arrow a mature look, which is ironic considering how child-like it is in appearance and stature. It’s a humourous, little contrast, I guess. And I think it kind of looks adorable but that’s just me. Only downside to this card is that summoning it doesn’t turn Sakura’s staff into the bow itself. I’d have loved to see Sakura pull off some cool arrow tricks.
28. The Dash
I’ve always been a bit back-and-forth on the idea of super speed. It’s certainly appealing but part of me finds it scary as well. It’s hard to imagine how you’d feel going that fast and, while awesome and helpful, it’s a bit off-putting as well. The Dash, I think, offers a good middle-ground. It grants a certain level of increased speed; enough to make a real difference but not Sonic the Hedgehog levels. As someone that gets tired very easily from running (on account of being an unhealthy asshole), the power of The Dash would be greatly appreciated.
Plus, unlike some of the other animal-looking cards, The Dash could easily pass for a house-pet (just look at the episode it debuts in). You probably wouldn’t even have to feed it or clear up its leavings on account of it being a magical spirit (assuming magical spirits don’t poop). Though I suppose if it decided to run off, you’d stand no chance of getting it back. Maybe it’s best to keep it in the card.
Also, it looks a lot like the Pokémon, Espeon. I’m not the only that thinks that, am I?
27. The Through
Again, we come to a card that I feel was heavily underutilised in the show. It grants the power to walk through solid objects – how cool is that?! Pretty damn cool, in my opinion. I think it would’ve made for a great episode seeing how Sakura deals with it; maybe even using The Lock to trap it or something. Plus, Sakura never even uses it except in the second movie. It’s other drawback is that I don’t find its visual design that interesting or engaging, though I do like the ridiculously long sleeves.
26. The Shield
When I was considering The Shield’s placement in the ranking, I went back and forth on whether it should be this high or much lower. In the end, though, I felt like it was worthy of being this high up. While I clearly have a preference for the more offensive cards, The Shield is a perfect antithesis to them. It’s all well and good having a kick-ass magical arsenal but you need something to protect yourself in the event of a worse-case scenario.
I also like how it doesn’t resemble a typical shield; instead taking the form of the wing symbol associated with the Clow Cards. Kind of feel like an opportunity was missed by not having Sakura actually wear it on her arm or something whilst also wielding The Sword. That would’ve been bad-ass.
25. The Create
The Create is one of those cards that’s ridiculously overpowered. Seriously, there’s literally no limit to what it can create. Dragons, flying pink hippos, serpents made from fire; if you can write it down, it can make it. While it did lead to a very entertaining episode that saw Sakura fight a giant dragon, it’s, again, a very underutilised card.
Fair enough, it is a story-breaker power; a lot of Sakura’s battles would’ve been easily solved with it, but then some limit should have been imposed on it. Or maybe, ironically, it shouldn’t have been created in the first place. Plus, as cool as the power itself is, this is an instance where the overly simple design hinders it. It being a book makes sense but it’s not particularly eye-catching.
Though The Create did give us that awesome opening fight in the second movie so I guess that balances things out.
24. The Sleep
Despite not being a combat-focused card, The Sleep quickly became one of Sakura’s most used and most useful cards. And rightly so; it can put people to sleep instantly, which is very convenient for when Clow Cards start causing trouble in public places. Good thing the people living in this town don’t question why they all fall asleep en masse sometimes.
Sleep’s got a nice design as well, heavily resembling a fairy or pixie and even carrying a small wand (another card with a Tinkerbell resemblance). It compliments its power very well. And as somebody that honestly struggles to fall asleep sometimes, I’d greatly welcome a spirit that I could command to put me to sleep instantly. It just about makes up for that time it caused Sakura to accidentally trash her dad’s office trying to capture the bloody thing.
23. The Big
Is it wrong that part of the reason why The Big is this high on the list is because I kind of like tall women? It is? Bugger. Fortunately, there is another aspect about The Big that I like aside from height. While The Little has arguably a more useful power (making things bigger seems like a recipe for disaster), it was, like I said, a prick that enjoyed making Sakura suffer. The Big, however, is the exact opposite.
Again, we go back to subversion talk. You’d think, having a much larger stature, that The Big would be a daunting figure. An imposing power that threatens everyone around it. But The Big could not be further from that. You can tell just by looking at it that it’s a very gentle soul; it’s somewhat baggy but elegant clothing giving off a sense of calm. It even willingly surrenders to Sakura since it has no intention of doing any harm. It was just chilling by a fountain and accidentally making things grow. And while it may not have a lot of practical use, it was still awesome seeing Sakura use its power to fight a dragon.
22. The Return
No matter how many films or TV shows tell us how time travel is a bad idea, it’s still viewed as something that’s just inherently awesome. The Return is a pretty neat example of the power since, while it does allow its user to go backwards in time, it doesn’t allow you to actually affect anything. You’re just an invisible, ghost-like figure observing the events of the past. While some may see that as a bit pointless, I feel like there’s still something to gain from just being able to witness past events, even if it’s for a short while. Only downside is that, like a lot of the other cards, The Return is incredibly situational and requires a ridiculous amount of power to use. Sakura herself couldn’t use it without borrowing extra power from a certain cherry tree. If I nearly fell unconscious every time I wanted go back in time, the fun would wear off very quickly.
21. The Move
I’ve discussed mundane cards already but The Move is easily the most mundane of the lot. It can move things. That’s it. It’s not even a particularly strong card either, as its power is limited to small objects like books, and it can only move things for a short distance. So how come it nearly broke into the top twenty? Probably because my life would become a lot easier if I had this card. TV remote on the other side of the room? I don’t need to get up; just get The Move to bring it to me. Granted, I’d become incredibly lazy (I mean, lazier) but anyone would abuse that power if given the chance.
It also manages to be one of the more dickish cards without being too much of a dick. Unlike, say, The Little which took some sick glee in seeing Sakura nearly getting killed, The Move is just annoying; spending its debut episode moving a book that both Sakura and Syaoran needed just out of their reach… constantly. Annoying for them; hilarious to watch for me.
20. The Libra
What wasted potential. Out of all the Clow Cards that were captured off-screen, this one annoys me the most. The Libra (apparently) has the power to tell when a person’s lying or not. That’s an amazing power! Why would you not use it at all?! Maybe we could’ve had an episode where people found themselves being forced to tell truths because of the card; there could’ve been a nice moral about telling the truth or maybe even discuss the idea of how lies aren’t always bad. But nope. Captured off-screen and never seen again. I almost wished Sakura used the bloody card to force Eriol into spilling the beans about his plans and who he was (though considering WHO he was, The Libra might not have worked anyway). Really, the only reason The Libra is this high up is because of its power alone.
19. The Fly
Flying is just one of those powers that nearly everybody wants. For whatever reason, the human race has always had this inherent desire to be able to soar across the sky like a bird. Be it a plane or a jetpack or even a broomstick; all methods of flying are desirable. Even as somebody that finds the idea of flying mildly terrifying, I’d still be super tempted to try it. Fly also wins points for being one of the most useful cards in Sakura’s arsenal and one her most used. It’s no surprise that it was the first one that she caught; so many of her later battles would’ve been a struggle without it.
The Fly’s pretty unique as well in that it was the only card whose effects actually changed upon becoming a Sakura Card. See, since Fly causes Sakura’s staff to grow wings, it means she couldn’t use it and The Sword at the same time, making a certain battle particularly difficult. So what did Sakura do? Transform The Fly and grew wings herself. I remember watching that episode as a kid and it felt like the most hype thing the show had done. And it still kind of is.
18. The Silent
If you’re shocked to see this card so high up in the rankings, I’m honestly just as surprised as you are. The Silent isn’t exactly one of the most impressive cards; it’s power is to basically remove all sound in a nearby area. However, it’s one of those powers that sounds crap but, in actuality, could be very useful for certain situations.
Some people really struggle with concentrating on their work; even the slightest noise could potentially distract you, so having the power to just silence everything could do wonders. Or even remove all noise on a crowded train? Suddenly you don’t have to put up with that one asshole talking loudly on his phone or the whiny brat that won’t stop screaming. The Silent’s even capable of teleporting the source of noise away from it; how hilarious is that? What’s that, random stranger? You want to share your crappy opinions with me? Well, you’re making sound so I’ll just teleport you to the other side of the street. Bye!
I’m fond of its design as well, particularly the huge collar that covers her mouth which manages to not look gaudy. It’s got its own sense of style; it almost looks like the world’s most elegant-looking librarian.
17. The Erase
I don’t know why The Erase was given a harlequin design but it surprisingly works in its favour. A lot of the Clow Cards tend to resemble circus performers to some degree but I feel like The Erase is the only one to really “own” the look, if you know what I mean. I especially love how it’s holding a sheet of some kind like a stage magician, ready to pull it away to reveal what was behind it has vanished.
Its power is awfully sinister, however; mostly in how it’s presented in the show, randomly causing people to vanish completely without a trace. It’s another card which is incredibly overpowered since there’s no limit to what it can erase. I think The Sweet just lost its title of “Most Effective Assassin.” That being said, The Erase would be a lifesaver should its power be put to a more noble cause, like completely wiping garbage from the face of the planet. No more overflowing scrapyards to worry about. Maybe it could erase reality TV too?
16. The Snow
As someone who lives in England AKA a land virtually devoid of snow, I always appreciate the sight of it. Don’t ask me to go into the psychological reasons why; I just love seeing snow, especially when it has set nicely. So, I’d love to have possession of The Snow; being able to turn my home area into a mini-winter wonderland around Christmas time sounds perfect. And apparently The Snow is capable of removing snow as well as summoning it so getting rid of it afterwards wouldn’t be an issue either.
Its design is great as well. Many of the Clow Cards get mistaken for ghosts but I feel The Snow is the only one that could easily pass for it. In fact, it looks similar to a Japanese spirit called a yuki-onna. I love designs based on mythology and stuff like that so Snow wins extra points just for that.
15. The Wood
It’s very easy to give The Wood a bad rap since it did create an entire forest in Sakura’s house (which would really piss me off if I was in her position), but it’s actually one of the nicer and gentler cards. In fact, the whole forest-in-the-house thing was more The Rain’s fault. Its design is a bit too simple for my liking, since it’s the obvious “woman adorned by leaves” thing but it’s still a nice design. I think that’s mostly why Wood got so high in the rankings; it’s just a very pleasant kind of card.
Though it did also get a super-awesome moment when it successfully defeated Earthy (one of the most powerful cards). It was really cool seeing this otherwise useless card that Sakura’s had since almost the beginning being instrumental in one of her final challenges.
14. The Earthy
We finally get to the first of the four elemental cards. It’s no surprise, really, that they’re all pretty high up considering they’re the most powerful cards in the show. The question is which ones I like the most? Unfortunately, The Earthy is probably my least favourite but it’s by no means a bad card. Hardly. It has terrakinesis, for crying out loud. How can anyone dislike the idea of being able to move the very earth itself?
I also love how its ‘human’ form still possesses the same grace and serenity that a lot of the other cards have. It’s very easy to associate that kind of power with toughness or ruggedness. You automatically picture a power like that belonging to some big, muscular warrior-type. Earthy, however, seems to go for more of a Mother Earth vibe. You know how some people refer to the Earth as a ‘she?’ I think that’s what the artist was going for with the design, because Earthy is very much like the planet. Caring and providing but also capable of easily destroying you, which made it the perfect “final boss” for Sakura in the show.
13. The Windy
The Windy was pretty much guaranteed to get this high in the ranking. It’s to Sakura like Pikachu is to Ash or how the Dark Magician is to Yugi. It’s associated as being the main card, mostly because of how she uses it AND it being her first card. Granted, she never had to capture it (and considering it’s one of the four elementals, that’s a saving grace) but it was so reliable; very rarely letting Sakura down. It’s got a good design as well, combining both a wind and wing motif. While The Fly fully resembles a bird, Windy combines that with a more spirit-like look; I particularly love how its hair forms a cross shape in front of it.
But Windy being Sakura’s main card isn’t all it had going for it. It helps in that it had some pretty awesome moments to call its own. Particularly its defeat of Yue. Despite the white-haired pretty boy absolutely wrecking Sakura before, Windy manages to completely turn the battle around and show why Sakura was now worthy of inheriting the cards. Bonus points for the fact that Windy is one of the cards under Yue’s jurisdiction – he should’ve been able to easily turn Windy’s power against her but Sakura’s power outweighed his. Bad-ass points for both Sakura and The Windy.
12. The Watery
When it comes to elemental powers, water has always been my favourite for some reason, so I naturally have favouritism towards The Watery. What helps it, though, is how it subverts the usual trend of water-based characters (notice how I’m talking about subversion a lot). We normally associate water with calmness but The Watery is anything but, at least at first. It’s just so ferocious, perfectly showing how dangerous the water can be. It outright tries to drown people. If anything, this personality fits its mermaid-like design. If The Bubbles is the kind of mermaid you’d see in a Disney film, Watery is the mermaid you read in Greek myths; the kind that lures you in before drowning you.
Its debut episode is just great in general, as it requires Sakura to rely more on her own intuition and planning instead of just sending Windy at it. And considering Watery’s status as one of the more powerful cards and the fact that Sakura only had three cards at that point, Sakura’s success is very impressive. Awesome card, awesome episode.
11. The Firey
First, no I have not spelled its name wrong; that’s how it’s written in the show. Secondly, God damn, this card looks awesome. I feel like it has the best visual design of the four main elemental cards; it just exudes power yet still has an angelic look thanks to its wings and face. While plenty of the cards have been hostile towards Sakura before, this was probably the first one that possessed arrogance; it had an almost mocking smile to it during its episode.
It also felt like one of those turning points in the series; something that was helped by the fact that its debut episode was the Season 1 finale. I remember seeing this card appear in the English dub’s opening all the time as a kid and constantly wondering when it was going to show up. Then it did and my excitement went through the roof. It was a tense and tough battle; one that required Sakura to combine the powers of both The Windy and Watery AND its capture led to Kero regaining some of his own magic. While I may prefer Watery, Firey is arguably, and possibly undeniably, the best.
10. The Time
In case you didn’t notice it yet, the majority of the Clow Cards heavily resemble young women or little girls (when they’re not animals or whatever). The Time is one of the very few cards that looks male, which makes some degree of sense since it’s quite clearly based on the idea of Father Time. For some reason, we always associate the passing of time with elderly figures and, while maybe too simple and obvious, Time’s design does compliment it well (though I don’t get why it has a beard in the anime but not on the card). That being said, I like how its design completely mirrors The Return (old man VS young woman). They’re even facing opposite directions and holding two different devices that can tell the time. I like that kind of parallel design.
Of course, the main reason why Time is is high up is because of its power. Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t love the idea of being able to literally control the flow of time. I don’t even need to explain how useful that would be. As for how it’s used in the show, unlike some of the other aforementioned OP cards, Time actually has a massive drawback. Whenever it’s used, its user expends so much magic that they pretty much pass out afterwards, which explains why Sakura and Syaoran very rarely used it. Much better explanation than why Sakura never uses cards like The Erase or The Shot constantly.
9. The Power
I love The Power so much. The idea of having a tiny girl having superhuman levels of strength isn’t an original idea nowadays but it’s always great when it happens. And in the case of Power, it’s even more amazing. The thing is bright pink and dresses a bit like a ballerina but is incredibly arrogant and strong enough to lift an elephant.
There’s not much else I can really say about it; it’s a card that appeals to the most basic part of my brain, even if it did torment the aforementioned elephant by throwing it in the air. The only real downside is that Sakura very rarely used it; I’d have loved to at least have seen it come back or maybe for Sakura to show off more feats of ridiculous strength (even though she doesn’t seem fond of the idea).
8. The Thunder
What do I even say about The Thunder that isn’t obvious already? Look at that thing. It’s a literal wolf (maybe lion?) made of lightning! How frigging cool is that?! It may lack personality when compared to other cards but it makes up for that in spades on its visual design alone. Again, it could be argued that it’s too simple but I feel like The Thunder can get away with it. It’s just one of those things that’s just inherently cool. You can’t put it into words but some people immediately know what you’re talking about when you start gushing about it. Sorry if this section is too vague or short but there’s nothing else I can say. The Thunder is a beast; both physically and metaphorically. Enough said.
7. The Sword
The Sword is another one of those cards that is just inherently awesome. Hell, swords in general are the go-to weapon of choice in a lot of stories and there’s a reason why. Anime and JRPGs are guilty of giving their protagonists ridiculously designed swords so I greatly appreciate how The Sword is much simpler in design. It’s just a standard rapier; what makes it stand out are the Clow symbols that adorn its handles and such, and that’s all it needs. I also love how it’s held by chains on the card, as if there’s a risk of it breaking out and summoning itself. Hell, The Sword is stupidly powerful, capable of slicing not just through metal but both The Loop and The Shield.
And while Sakura may not be quick to action (especially early on in the series), it was always cool to see her summon The Sword, just because it meant that shit was about to go down and this sweet, little girl was more than willing to kick some ass.
6. The Dream
I have a fondness for dream sequences, particularly the ones that either give insight to a character or serve as foreshadowing. So it’s only natural that I would love the episode that introduced The Dream. Though Tomoyo’s and Syaoran’s dreams kind of showed things we already knew about the characters, they were still interesting to watch. When it came to Sakura’s though, things became incredibly off-putting. It was that right blend of mysterious, nonsensical and foreboding.
The Dream itself has a great design too; I don’t know why but I love how you can’t see its eyes. Maybe because it adds to the sense of mystery. Eyes are described as the windows to the soul and the lack of them is seen as off-putting because it makes it hard to read a person. It might’ve also been based off of a blind seer, as it’s been said that they are able to see the future more clearly, which is part of The Dream’s power – helping its master see the future.
And despite the seemingly disturbing nature of it all, that was The Dream’s intention. It wasn’t out to cause mayhem or manipulate; it just wanted to provide Sakura a glimpse of the future as a means of helping her prepare for her final challenge. Even though Syaoran was the one to capture it, it was like The Dream had already accepted Sakura as its new master. I wonder what that says about it? Or maybe I’m just reading too deeply into things again.
5. The Fight
God, I love this card! (Can you tell we’re getting to my favourites yet?) I mean, bad-ass, action ladies are cool. I don’t care what you say. I especially love female characters that fight using hand-to-hand combat, and that’s all this card is. Even its static pose on the card is awesome; most of the cards have their arms crossed over their body but The Fight still holds something of a battle pose. I love the costume too; the thigh-length boots, the leotard with tail-fins, the use of blue and white (my two favourite colours) – everything about it just works.
The lack of empathy is a massive downside, however, as it was more than willing to keep pummeling Meiling even after she was beaten. Not to mention, as a card, it was utterly wasted as Sakura never once used it afterwards. I get that action was never the show’s priority but I couldn’t help but get the feeling that it was being gift-wrapped all these awesome moments of potential and never taking them. I’d have loved to have seen Sakura sheepishly pulling off sick karate moves.
And though this technically isn’t a moment in its favour, The Fight’s defeat was possibly the funniest one in the whole series, with Sakura using The Power and just bonking it on the head with the staff, instantly knocking out. Poor Fight never got much use but it still holds a place in my heart.
4. The Illusion
I’ve spent this article going on about how good some of the cards’ visual designs are but The Illusion is a very odd exception. Its design is great but that’s because it also doesn’t make sense. Look at it. What does it look like? How do you describe that look? It essentially has no actual form, which makes perfect sense because its power is all about taking on the form of something else and tricking you. Similar to how The Dream’s episode was dedicated to the trope of dream sequences, The Illusion’s episode did the same for… well, illusion tropes, which I also love to death, probably for the same reasons because The Illusion gives insight to the characters.
In this instance, The Illusion takes on the form of Sakura’s deceased mother, which is just heartbreaking. Even when Sakura sort of knows it’s not real, her first encounter with it leads to her completely buying into the illusion and she winds up walking off a cliff edge as a result. It shows how, even though she never properly knew her mum, Sakura would love nothing more than to be with her again. It’s just great/interesting to see an opponent that didn’t attack Sakura physically but tried manipulating her through her heart.
3. The Mirror
The Mirror is easily one of the most memorable cards in the show and that’s for one very simple reason – it’s the only card (in the series, at least) to have something of a character arc. Power-wise, it’s very simple – it can mimic another person’s appearance or reflect some attacks. It becomes very handy for Sakura later on whenever she needs to sneak out of the house. But when The Mirror first appeared, it was kind of malevolent and seemingly intent on just causing chaos. It even deceives Sakura’s brother, Toya, by taking Sakura’s form and tricking him into falling off a cliff.
However, since Toya has the power to see spirits and the like, he knows full well that this isn’t his real sister. But he holds no resentment or ill will towards it, assuming that it’s a lost spirit or something, even expressing sympathy. This shocks The Mirror so much that, upon being captured by Sakura (who is super pissed at it for hurting her brother, even to the point where she immediately tries rushing it with Windy and Watery in one of her very few moments of legitimate rage), it apologises to Toya.
From this point onwards, Mirror becomes a faithful ally, covering for Sakura at points, developing something of a friendship with Toya (who knows who Mirror is and even gives her some hair ribbons that she keeps, even in her Sakura Card form) and even emotionally supports Sakura at one point:
“Actually, we are grateful to you since you are trying your hardest to change our magic powers, and we want you to know that we care about you a lot. If anything happens, don’t hesitate to ask for our help. We’ll make our best to keep moving on together.”
Kind of makes me wish all of the cards got the same treatment. An expanded personality and interaction with Sakura would’ve certainly helped some cards.
2. The Shadow
Much like The Illusion, the main reason I love The Shadow is not because of the visual design per se but actually what it lacks. It’s just a hooded robe. Is someone wearing it? Is it just the robe? You don’t know and that’s rather creepy. It’s arguably the only Clow Card to look down-right scary. Whilst The Dark subverted the usual darkness tropes, The Shadow plays them somewhat straight. It just has such a menacing prescence which is so unlike the other cards. I think it’s the lack of an actual face that really cements how intimidating it is.
Yet, once in Sakura’s possession, it immediately became loyal and, while may not have had the same usage as the likes of Windy, it became a fantastic alternative for Sakura early on when dealing with cards that couldn’t be bested with brute force. Considering how early it appeared in the series (only Episode 2), it’s almost impressive how it still managed to hold its place in my heart until the end.
1. The Nothing
The Nothing had an unfair advantage compared to the rest of the cards, considering it got a whole movie to itself. Not only that, but it also had a fully fledged personality and served as a great antagonist to end the show. The Nothing’s whole deal is that it exists to counterbalance the magic of the other 52 cards. Basically, it’s as strong as all of them combined. That’s enough to make a person worried.
It was such a great threat, stealing the now transformed Sakura Cards one by one without Sakura’s knowledge until towards the end. Despite our heroes’ valiant attempts, every one of Sakura’s allies falls to it. Not even faithful Windy; watching Sakura’s go-to card fall to it was such a devastating blow. While many of the cards had caused mayhem before, it was always at a relatively small scale and everything worked out fine by the end. But The Nothing was wiping out whole areas of the town. Even a large number of people were essentially killed by it (though they are returned by the end of the movie so all’s well that ends well).
But like all great tragic villains, The Nothing wasn’t evil. It had been locked away for who knows how many years and just wanted its friends back. In its eyes, Sakura was the villain, stealing her friends away, and its isolation resulted in it kind of going insane as it wanted to cause Sakura the same suffering it felt.
Another thing that works for The Nothing is, of course, its design. It captures both sides of it perfectly – the vengeful spirit and the sad, lonely, little girl. It manages to look innocent, forlorn and oddly terrifying.
Of course, things work out in the end, with The Nothing realising its mistake and taking Sakura’s offer of friendship, eventually transforming into The Hope. It’s kind of sweet, if you think about it. The Nothing was reunited with its friends and gained a new one in Sakura; by becoming Hope, it was as if it had found it after all those years of loneliness. And as thanks for being given said hope, it in turn gave it to Sakura by undoing Syaoran’s sacrifice, allowing the two to fully admit their feelings to one another.
It may be unfair to place The Nothing in the rankings because, again, it had a whole movie dedicated to it. But I feel that there’s no denying that it’s the best Clow Card of the lot, at least in my eyes.