Cardcaptor Sakura: Toya

Cardcaptor Sakura: Toya

Toya

When I first started watching Cardcaptor Sakura, there were several things that immediately impressed me. I loved how spunky and brave Sakura was from the start, how interesting the battles were, and how supportive Tomoyo was. But most of all, I loved the relationship between Sakura and her brother Toya. In most magical girl series, the family of the ‘magical girl’ almost never realizes what the girl is up to or her secret identity. Over the course of Cardcaptor Sakura, however, it becomes clear that Toya is very aware of what Sakura is up to whenever she leaves their house at midnight. At first the signs that Toya realizes what Sakura is up to are subtle, and are mostly shown through his ‘staring matches’ with Kero, who has to pretend to be a plush doll whenever Toya stares at him strangely. Yet as the series progresses Toya is shown watching Sakura’s battles from afar, and he eventually admits to Sakura he knew her secret all along. Even though he’s sometimes mean to Sakura (he always teases her by calling her a monster, which ticks her off), it’s clear that Toya is very protective of Sakura. A running joke throughout the series is that Toya works everywhere – in episode three when Sakura and Yukito go to an aquarium, Toya has a job there feeding the penguins, while in episode 35 when Sakura, Yukito, Shaoron and Meilin go to the amusement park Toya is the waiter at a café they visit. Toya also really dislikes Shaoron, and when Yukito asks him why near the end of the series he says it’s because he knows Shaoran is going to take something precious away from him one day. In many ways, Toya is the ideal big brother, which is lampshaded throughout the series. At one point near the beginning of the series when Toya gets mad that Shaoran tried to attack Sakura, Yukito jokes that Toya has a sister complex.

Sakura, Yukito, and Toya

Yet it’s clear that Toya’s kindness isn’t just directed at Sakura alone. One of my favorite episodes is episode seven, which is when the Mirror card is introduced, who takes Sakura’s form. She tricks Toya into finding something she dropped in the woods, which causes Toya to fall of a cliff. However, right after he falls, Toya tells the girl that he will still help her find what she’s looking for, even though he knows that the girl isn’t really Sakura. In episode 39, when Sakura has a fever she uses the Mirror card to pretend to be her so she can capture the Cloud card (and so Toya won’t realize she’s missing). However, Toya tells the girl that he knows she’s not Sakura and he also tells her not to tell Sakura he’s aware of her secret because he knows she wants to keep it a secret. The Mirror card and Toya meet for one last time in episode 61 when Sakura and Toya were supposed to be Christmas shopping, and Toya sweetly gives the card ribbons because he can tell her ‘true form’ has long hair. I actually loved all of the interactions between Toya and the Mirror card, not only because they show how kind Toya is but also because they bring personality to the cards themselves, which I really appreciated.

Yukito and Toya

But what’s interesting is that outside of his relationship with Sakura, we don’t know a lot about Toya himself. This becomes most obvious with the introduction of Kaho Mizuki, Sakura’s teacher. It becomes clear that not only did Toya and Mizuki know each other because she taught at his junior high, but that they loved each other and were a couple until she left town. When Mizuki returns, Toya seems bothered by her presence but it is unclear why. Although it is probably because Toya was aware that Mizuki was somehow connected to Sakura’s mission as a cardcaptor (how, exactly, I won’t spoil), I always felt there was also a tinge of regret and unrequited love on Toya’s part in facing Mizuki. And yet, what makes me doubt this is the later revelation of the depth of Toya’s feelings for Yukito. In the second half of Cardcaptor Sakura, Toya always shows great concern for Yukito, and when Yukito later mentions that Toya is the most important person to him, Sakura tells him that she’s sure Toya feels the same way. While it’s not exactly surprising for CLAMP to create moments that can be romantically interpreted between two male characters, the depth of Yukito and Toya’s feelings for one another never once felt forced or contrived, and I actually ended up really liking the idea of the two of them as a couple. But what’s most important is that although I was expecting Toya to be a flat character, he ended up not only playing  a much bigger role than I thought he would but he also became one of my favorite characters in the series.

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11 thoughts on “Cardcaptor Sakura: Toya

  1. Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my favorite anime series and Toya was easily one of my favorite characters. You gotta love the caring older brother in anime series. I wasn’t expecting Yukito and Toya to become a couple in the beginning (Sakuras first crush/love goes out with her brother). Hm, now I need to rewatch CCS.

    1. I really think Toya is one of the best older brothers in anime and manga – he’s mysterious, which makes him interesting, and he’s protective, which is really endearing. And like you, I don’t think I was expecting Toya and Yukito to get involved either, which is funny considering CLAMP’s track record.

  2. I always enjoyed the brother and sister relationship between Sakura and Toya. It’s one of my favorite things about the series along with the romance of Sakura and Syaoran. Even though Sakura thinks her brother is a big meanie, he really does care for his sister a lot.

    I was touched when Toya explains why he dislikes Syaroan so much. His fear of losing her is almost how a father feels when his daughter finds a man she loves and he realizes he isn’t the only one who is important in her life anymore. Toya is really perceptive, and just like he knew of her being a Cardcaptor, he already knows Sakura will fall in love with Syaoran and will consider him to be just as important as her family is to her.

    1. I’m a huge fan of sibling interactions in anime and manga, so that’s probably why I love Toya and Sakura’s relationship so much. It’s funny that Toya often acts ‘grumpy’ but is actually very considerate. He’s much wiser than he appears to be, and one of my favorite moments of his was when he talked about Shaoran taking Sakura away from him, because you can see how much he cares about Sakura.

  3. I first encountered the Cardcaptors anime when I was ten years old. Being an only child, I completely adored Toya (or Tori as he’s also known :s) and wished I had a brother like him. As an adult, I can really appreciate the strength and subtleties of his character.
    Cardcaptor Sakura is definitely one of my favourite CLAMP series. Great post.

    1. I also first came across Cardcaptor Sakura through Cardcaptors but I barely remember it. What I do remember about it is in retrospect to learning about how heavily edited it was: apparently they tried to make it seem as though Sakura wasn’t the main character, and they also tried to minimize the romance between her and Shaoran. They failed miserably because I never once doubted that Sakura was the main character and that Shaoran’s feelings for her were romantic. And I definitely agree with you that CCS is one of CLAMP’s best series – I’d argue that it is their best.

  4. I also quite like Touya as the male CCS character, even though I like Syaoran Li more due to his character development.

    Even though I find Touya’s attitude towards Sakura is a bit overboard sometimes, but I actually like the way he cares for Sakura despite of his teasing i.e. calling her “monster.”

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