Sakura Kinomoto (木之本 桜 Kinomoto Sakura?) is a fictional character, the heroine of Clamp's manga series Cardcaptor Sakura. In the English anime adaptation of the series, Cardcaptors, her name is changed to Sakura Avalon. For all Japanese-language productions of the anime (including movies, audio CDs, and video games), Sakura is voiced by Sakura Tange. For English-language productions, she is voiced by Carly McKillip through Cardcaptors and the first movie. She is voiced in the second movie by Kari Wahlgren.
Creation and conception
Sakura's character design for the manga was originally developed by Mokona of Clamp. She was designed to capture the image of Mokona's then two-year-old niece Kawaji. Kawaji wore short hair in pigtails much like Sakura does in the anime and manga.
In Cardcaptors, Sakura was originally going to be called "Nikki," but Nelvana kept her given name because of the reception of the Cardcaptors adaptation plus the difficulty and expense of editing out numerous appearances of her name in rōmaji in the series. However, her family name was changed to "Avalon". Her first name is also pronounced differently from the original Japanese.
Her many magical costumes were introduced as CLAMP felt it was "sad" for a girl to wear the same magical costume all the time.
Sakura is a ten-year-old girl who lives in the fictional town of Tomoeda in Japan, near Tokyo where she attends Tomoeda Elementary School. At the beginning of April, shortly after her birthday, Sakura finds a mysterious old magic book called The Clow in her father’s study which contains a deck of 19 (52 in the anime) powerful magical cards. Upon touching it, Sakura awakens one of the card’s guardians, Cerberus, who was sleeping on the front cover guarding the Clow Cards. After awakening, Cerberus emerges from the book and admits to letting the cards escape while he slept. Realizing Sakura’s magical potential, he cunningly tricks her into becoming the "Cardcaptor" and thus becoming duty-bound to reclaim the missing cards under her control. In addition, the ceremony secretly marked Sakura as Cerberus's chosen candidate to become the next master of the Clow Cards and their guardians.
In the anime, the series presents a slightly altered chain of events. On the afternoon after her first day of fourth grade, Sakura hears a mysterious sound coming from her father's library in the basement. She arms herself with her cheerleading baton and nervously goes downstairs. On a table she discovers the false book The Clow with all of its cards still inside. After opening The Clow, Sakura picks up the top card and reads its name aloud which activates it, summoning a powerful wind which blows the remaining cards away and scatters them across the town. After all the cards but "Windy" have been blown away, Cerberus emerges and forces her to undergo the ceremony to retrieve them. This was most likely added to not only give Cerberus a more justifiable reason to send Sakura on her mission, but also to give her an easier time at completing it, as she now begins her adventure with one of the cards, Windy, already under her control, as opposed to starting with no cards at all as in the original manga.
Sakura is an extremely energetic and cheerful character. She is very athletic, being a member of her school's cheerleading squad and excellent at track-and-field activities. Her "invincible spell", "I'm sure I'll be all right.", has carried her through innumerable trials and obstacles as she masters her magical skills. She often comes across as naïve, clumsy, and clueless, but she has her perceptive moments on occasion.
Sakura's optimistic and trustworthy character allows her to be friendly with everybody, and the entire series focuses on the friendships she creates with people, whether strangers, loose acquaintances, or rivals. In fact, her personality is a dominating factor in her relationships, especially with Syaoran.
Sakura's most sacred and important items are most likely her sealing wand and cards, since they are her main weapons in magic. Throughout the series, Sakura's magical powers get progressively stronger. This is mostly verified by Cerberus at random points in the series, as Sakura would otherwise appear to have equal expertise in each capture, when she summons Clow Cards. Throughout the Clow Card arc, Cerberus's comments seem to imply that Sakura's magic grows as she battles and captures more Cards. This is also implied in the corresponding anime. In contrast of this, in the second half of the series we are reminded of Sakura’s inexperience as she often collapses after transforming the cards. However, as she grows progressively proficient in changing Clow Cards into Sakura Cards, she becomes less tired and more aware of Clow Reed's presence. She also remembers more details about her prophetic dreams. During the last of Eriol's trials, she is able to transform several cards at once. This sequence of events during the second arc is more or less true in the anime version of the series as well, with only a few changes made. The most obvious of these is that Yue (a character who, in the original version of the series is shown as becoming much closer to Sakura throughout Eriol’s trials to the point of accepting her at least as a valued friend ) is shown throwing her a constant stream of criticism as a reminder of Sakura’s lack of experience. Another interesting change made in the anime variation is that, by end of the series, she, subconsciously, manages to create a new Card, the nameless card (named The Hope in the English version), which would later serve as a major plot point for the second movie.
After the Final Judgement, Clow Reed tells her that her magic is not drawn from the sun nor from the moon, but from her own star, which may start small, but is ever-shining with its own brilliant light. However, like Clow Reed's magic, Sakura's is a balance of sun and moon magic. Eriol gave half of his powers to Sakura's father, the other half of Clow's incarnation. This made Sakura the most powerful magician in the world, even surpassing her predecessor Clow Reed.
Appearances in other media
In the first Cardcaptor Sakura film, Sakura wins a trip to Hong Kong, where she meets Syaoran's family and encounters the spirit of a woman angry at Clow Reed who mistakenly calls Sakura to her because of her being the holder of the Clow Cards. In Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card, she learns that there is a 53rd card, the Sealed card which was created to balance the positive energy of the other cards. While searching for the card, Sakura also struggles to tell Syaoran that she loves him.
Sakura is a playable character in eight of the Cardcaptor Sakura video games, and her character design is featured in the series' version of Tetris. The character design of Sakura Kinomoto is reused in the Clamp series Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, which presents an alternate world story that also uses characters from many of the group's previous series. In Tsubasa the design is used for several characters named Sakura, including the central character named Princess Sakura.She appears briefly in Tsubasa to give "Sakura Li" the sealing wand. The wand would later be handed to Yuuko Ichihara as a price to allow "Syaoran" to go to Clow Country.