Sakura Kinomoto is widely regarded as one of the cutest characters in fiction. Her show Cardcaptor Sakura has widespread acclaim from the anime community, even from those not usually fans of theMagical Girl Genre, and a good part of this comes from Sakura herself.
In the 90s a revolution had occurred in the Magical Girl Genre led by Sailor Moon, and followed by Wedding Peach, Clamp’s previous MG Series Magic Knight Rayearth, and others which questioned all the old roles of the Magical Girls before. Yet in this age of MGs so different from their predecessors, Cardcaptor Sakura arose as the exception, the last for a long time in the line of Classical Cute Witch shows, and widely believed to be their pinnacle, Cardcaptor Sakura embodied as a show and as a character of what being a Magical Girl traditionally meant.
Cardcaptor Sakura is seemingly a remarkable innocent girl. Well-liked by her peers, athletically gifted, good in some school subjects and not so much in others, she is your traditional well-adjusted schoolgirl but what sets her apart is her optimistic and hopeful personality. Sakura will never accept that things will end bad as her catchphrase “Zettai daijoubu da yo” (Everything will surely be all-right) attests to.
In the context of her universe it is her endless hope for the future, her belief in the infinite potential of the future to be whatever you make of it, that allows her to do literally miraculous deeds.
In the manga she was able to capture The Shadow, a card even Clow Reed struggled with, a collection of cards that it was supposed to be “impossible” to capture The Shadow with. She did it anyway, because she believed it could. And this really captures her character, she stands for the power of human progress, our ability to create for ourselves the future we want and in that way, she stands as the pinnacle of the old way of Magical Girls, for which the overarching theme was that the power of the heart’s desire to create a better world for loved ones could transcend the physical realm and enter the realm of magic.
It was her hope and willing to preserve no matter the situation that allowed her to surpass the legendary sorcerer that controlled the multiverse, Clow Reed. It was this that allowed her to turn the Clow Cards into her own Sakura Cards, changing the very concepts of the world into her own conceptions, that earned her Clow Reed’s blessings as his heir.
It is her boundless hope that allowed her to go on when The Nothing itself erased every single Card she had and erased all her family and friends to make her feel the loneliness it had felt, and that same hope that allowed her to redeem The Nothing into her own greatest Card The Hope, which can overcome and nullify any magical power, even the power of The Nothing.
Because of my connection with the Magical Girl Genre, Cardcaptor Sakura serves as a pinnacle of not just the Magical Girl Tradition but of what it means to be a hero itself. She is the one who will never accept evil and will always believe in a better world.