Cardcaptor Sakura was the first CLAMP series I ever read and it continues to remain my all-time personal favorite mahou shoujo manga. I just love everything about this series! All the characters are loveable, you even get attached to the characters that you start off hating at first! Sakura also breaks all the stereotypical mahou shoujo heroines! Most heroines are usually very clumsy, always late to school, like to procrastinate, and drool over every single guy they see, but Sakura is actually quite atheletic, usually on time, does fairly average at school, and the only boy she has a crush on is her brother's best friend, Yukito. She doesn't rush into battle without any plan of attack yet come out completely unscathed, unlike most mahou shoujo heronies, either. Sakura actually plans a strategy to capture the Clow Cards, proving that she has brains as well as guts!
The best example I can think of for this is in the Watery card chapter of the manga. Sakura has to capture the really powerful Elemental card, Watery, but at this point in the series she only has three Clow Cards she can use to capture it with, and none of them are powerful enough to do it on their own. So, Sakura lures the Watery card into her school freezer with the Fly card, then freezes it by trapping it with the Windy card and is finally able to capture it! Cardcaptor Sakura also doesn't bore you with lengthy transformation sequences or "I will punish you" speeches either, as Sakura relies on her best friend Tomoyo to design all of her battle costumes for her, which can also provide plenty of cosplay ideas! The artwork is really good too, as always with CLAMP, and the pacing of this series is perfect! Not once did I ever feel that the storyline was rushed or dragging! Although Cardcaptor Sakura does follow a formulatic approach at times, there are plenty of plot twists to keep the reader always on the edge of your seat and some of the chapters don't even involve Sakura capturing the Clow Cards at all! Heck, even the entire last volume of the manga has practically no magic in it, which goes to show that Cardcaptor Sakura is more about its storyline and characters rather than action.
While personally I prefer the anime's version ending, the manga's ending wrapped things up nicely and is probably one of the sweetest CLAMP endings I've ever read. Not only is this an excellent series, but Tokyopop has even given this manga a five-star re-release! When the Cardcaptor Sakura manga was originally released in English, Mixxzine flipped all of the artwork, Americanized a lot of Japanese food and the dialog, changed it so that everyone called Yukito "Yuki" instead of just Touya, goofed up on what Shaoran's surname was, mispelt Mizuki-sensei's name as "Mitsuki-sensei", replaced any Japanese text with English text, and generally did a sloppy job on it.
However, this re-release fixes all of those problems! Not only is the artwork unflipped and the translation revised, but they even got the characters' names right, left in all of the original Japanese culture (and included a nifty culture encyclopedia in the back for newbies), and even left in all of the Japanese honorofics! This is probably the best English manga release I've ever seen! Sigh, if only all manga was released like this. Anyway, Cardcaptor Sakura is a fantastic manga that surely won't disappoint you, especially with this perfect English release! Cardcaptor Sakura is a good introduction to CLAMP because it features all the important themes of friendship and love that are practically staples of CLAMP manga without a lot of the angst stuff you usually find in their series. It's also a good introduction to anime and manga in general with it's not overly-simplistic yet not overly-complex storylines! Cardcaptor Sakura is undoubtedly a classic series that any self-respecting anime and manga fan abosuletly has to read! If you haven't read it yet, go pick it up now! If you've already read the flipped manga of this series and are unsatifised with the quality of it, show your support for unflipped manga by buying this perfect English re-release today! And if you liked Cardcaptor Sakura, you may also like Sailor Moon or Tokyo Mew Mew!