Syaoran Li is one of the main characters from CLAMP's anime and manga series Cardcaptor Sakura. He is the love interest of Sakura Kinomoto.
In the Japanese version, he is voiced by famous voice actresses, Motoko Kumai.
In the English version, he was first voiced by Rhys Huber in Clow Card Arc & the first movie, Jordan Kilik in the Sakura Card Arc, Candace Moore in the Animax dub, Mona Marshall in the second movie and Jason Liebrecht for the Clear Card Arc.
Normally, Syaoran wears the uniform of his elementary school, but in combat, he can be seen adopting a more Chinese-style wear. He has short brown hair and large amber eyes, He is short in height but appears to have grown in Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card. In Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card , he is given a set of green battle robes from Tomoyo Daidouji to match with Sakura in the battle to finding the antagonist (the sealed card) which turns out the card is only confused by emotions.
As a member of the famous Li clan of sorcerers from Hong Kong, of which Clow Reed's mother herself was also a member, Syaoran had firmly believed that he should be the one to capture and inherit the Clow Cards, not Sakura Kinomoto. He first appears as an antagonist in the story, capturing a few cards for himself in the anime. His initial attitude towards her was cold, critical, and socially awkward, to the extent of never even addressing her by her first name until the second season, and often criticized her bluntly for her flaws and clumsiness. He was also portrayed as somewhat of a loner, given that he had been taught to be independent and self-reliant since childhood. However, as the series progresses, and especially after Sakura is officially deemed the new mistress of the Cards, Syaoran drops his antagonistic attitude towards her, and becomes a reliable ally and a beloved friend. He also opens up more to others, especially Tomoyo Daidouji, to whom he confides in a well-guarded secret: his feelings of friendship for Sakura had deepened into love, to the extent where his blushes in Sakura's presence became increasingly often, and he becomes madly jealous when she pays more attention to any other male. However, the naive and innocent Sakura is completely oblivious to these feelings, and thinks of him simply as an intimate friend. It was only after their final magical duel with Eriol did he find the courage to confess to her how he truly felt about her. By the end of the series, he has completely mellowed in comparison to his initial attitude.
In the beginning of the series, Syaoran is extremely antagonistic towards Sakura, spawned from his belief that they should compete for the cards to see who is worthy of wielding them. On his first day at Sakura's school, before he even knows her name, he glares hatefully at her, causing her to worry. During recess, he proceeded to say she was hopeless as the cards' holder and physically attacked her in an attempt to steal them but was thwarted by Toya and Yukito. This was the start of a rocky relationship between the two for some time. Syaoran would ignore Sakura and reject her constant attempts to befriend him, seeing her as nothing more than a rival. Despite this, he does at times save her in critical moments and provides her with information about the cards. This and trying to capture the cards at the same time, gradually allows the two to learn to work together and they build a friendship that Syaoran doesn't fully recognize until halfway through the series. In episode 27, he blushes when Sakura hugs him and the following episodes show him being shy around her and growing increasingly worried for her safety and well-being, something that confuses him. After the Final Judgment, Sakura is declared the new master of the Clow Cards, leaving Syaoran, essentially, a failure. However, he congratulates her and even smiles for her, showing his respect for her. At the start of the third season, Syaoran plans on returning home to Hong Kong, China now that Sakura is the official mistress of the cards, but he promises to visit her someday. Then, newcomer Eriol Hiiragizawa comes from the United Kingdom and starts charming Sakura, much to Syaoran's dismay and disgust. When Sakura becomes quite sad that Syaoran is leaving, decided to extend his stay in Tomoeda. This was because, quoted by Tomoyo "a new rival" has appeared so going back to Hong Kong has been put off for a while". At this point in the series, Syaoran's feelings toward Sakura have slowly changed from that of rivalry to that of an elementary school crush. Sakura's consistently cheerful attitude and warm smiles cause more and more blushes on Syaoran's cheeks. Much to his surprise, Syaoran finds himself jealous over the fact that Eriol is getting too close to Sakura. As he becomes more aware of his deep feelings for her, his denial over the romantic nature of them also increases. However, with advice from Yue and Tomoyo, he eventually accepts that he indeed loves Sakura and wants to be with her. He tries to confess to her several times, but something always happens. After Sakura confesses to Yukito and is rejected, Syaoran comforts her and assures her that she will find the person she truly deeply loves. While he feels grateful at being able to help her, he is worried that his true romantic feelings for her will be a burden to her and is troubled of whether or not to tell her. Tomoyo manages to convince him that if he does confess, Sakura will really think about it and give him her answer. Some time later, after the final battle with Eriol, Syaoran finally confesses that he is in love with her face-to-face at the end of the next-to-last episode of the series. The news comes as a major surprise to Sakura, who had always viewed Syaoran as a close good friend. Sakura broods over the thought, especially after he tells her that he is glad he met her. At the same time, Syaoran is planning to leave Tomoeda for Hong Kong, China. Sakura hears about his unannounced leave just in time to run to find him at the airport. He is holding a homemade teddy bear, which he had considered giving to Sakura but never found the right chance.
Instead, Sakura asks if she could have the bear in his arms. There is a tradition stated in the series (it is not an actual Japanese tradition) that when one person gives another a personally-made plush, if the receiver names the plush after its creator (the giver in this case), then both people will be together forever. Sakura is never seen giving a name to the bear, but the symbolism of her accepting his bear is enough to suggest that Sakura returns the feelings, despite how sudden they appeared. In the second movie, four months after the final episode, Syaoran returns to Japan with his cousin Meiling Li, who was having secret phone calls with Tomoyo Daidōji who helped plan their return. Tomoyo and Meiling attempt to organize outings for Sakura to tell Syaoran about how she feels but, rather amusingly, she gets interrupted until the end of the movie, where Syaoran sacrifices himself to the Sealed Card's attack so that Sakura wouldn't lose her most precious feeling. In tears, Sakura confesses her deep romantic love, believing that Syaoran had forgotten his romantic love for her. She begins to cry but Syaoran surprisingly replies "Me too, Sakura." Sakura is so overjoyed by the revelation, that she recklessly leaps across a large hole in the floor to reach Syaoran, despite his protests for her safety. The film ends with Sakura halfway through the air, but a still image (a special bonus art poster) released with the film along with it's DVD edition shows that she does in fact makes the leap, right into Syaoran's arms. The manga concludes the development of their relationship differently. Instead, after a major battle, as in the anime, Syaoran finds a quiet moment in Penguin Park to confess his love to Sakura. Sakura, again, is left in a mild state of shock as she tries to absorb the words, while Syaoran, content after revealing his feelings, tells her to be careful going back home and then leaves. The rest of the volume of the Cardcaptor Sakura is focused on Sakura trying to work out her feelings for Syaoran. She eventually runs into Syaoran as he is packing up to leave for Hong Kong, now that the purpose for his coming to Japan are over. After Sakura realizes (with the help of her friends) that she too loves Syaoran, she succeeds in confessing her feelings to him just as he is about to leave for Hong Kong, along with giving him the teddy bear she made. Syaoran promises her that he will return once his work in Hong Kong is finished, and she promises to wait for him as long as it takes. Two years later, a 14-year-old Sakura is (again) late for school. Rushing along the way, she sees Syaoran, who is also dressed in a Tomoeda secondary school uniform, holding the bear that she gave him. Syaoran is happy to announce that he is through with his duties in Hong Kong and is now in Tomoeda to stay for good. There would be no more need for letters and phone calls any longer. Sakura, filled with happiness, jumps into Syaoran's arms and happily exclaims that they can be "together forever".
Before his relationship with Sakura, Syaoran found himself attracted to Yukito Tsukishiro, often blushing madly and abruptly running away at the sight of him. While Sakura had a crush on Yukito, Syaoran would often compete with her for his affections. As he shows no interest in Sakura in the first season, the impression is given that he and Sakura are rivals, for the cards and for love. It is revealed later that Syaoran was magically attracted to the magical energies of the moon, which were residing within Yukito, as Syaoran drew his magical power from the moon. Sakura, although she was drawn to a person that housed "power", truly loved Yukito, as stated by Keroberos (Kero).
In the beginning, Syaoran neither liked nor disliked Tomoyo Daidouji, seemingly preferring to not take much notice of her. However, as he grew to open up his heart to others, they became good friends, though it did not stop Tomoyo from frequently teasing Syaoran about his secret love for Sakura, or provoking his jealousy by pointing out how gallant and charming Eriol constantly is to Sakura. Nonetheless, she proves herself to still be a reliable friend and ally to Syaoran by giving him advice on his feelings for Sakura.
Syaoran and Cerberus did not have a good relationship; they would often get into passionately heated arguments, with Syaoran calling him a "plush toy", or a "stuffed animal", while Cerberus would retort with patronizing terms like "kid", and "brat". It was stated that this was probably because Syaoran draws his magical powers mainly from the moon, while Cerberus draws his from the sun, which is why they do not get along, and is also unlike Sakura, whose powers have a balance of both the sun and the moon. Though they do not get along at all, they put up with each other for Sakura's sake, and were shown to be actually capable of civil conversations, despite the fact that such instances are extremely few and far in between. However, since Syaoran's character development and his personality subsequently mellowing out, most of their interactions have become quite civil, especially by the time of the Clear Card arc.
Since the beginning to the end of both the anime and manga series, Syaoran Li and Toya Kinomoto (Sakura's older brother) never got along well or were friendly with each other at first. Their first encounter was when Syaoran harassed Sakura for the Clow Cards. Since then, every time they met, they'd either have a competition or give each other a wicked stare, like they were trying to pick a fight. Even after Syaoran became close to Sakura, both of them still continued to resent each other until Toya started to like Syaoran and he revealed to Syaoran that if there was anyone that Sakura would want to be with for the rest of her life, he would want it to be Syaoran, thus the two of them became best friends.
Syaoran and Meilin had known each other since they were little kids. Despite the fact that Meilin had no magical powers she trained in martial arts with him. Later on Meilin would lose her pet bird and Syaoran runs out into a storm to find it and after hours pass he returns with it. Meilin later pressures Syaoran into becoming engaged with her. Although Syaoran's romantic feelings for Meilin were minimal or even non-existent, he did care about her a lot and was frequently concerned for her safety and well being when she was helping him search for Clow Cards. He even attempted to rescue Meilin from the wrath of the Fight Card despite himself being injured and barely able to move. Syaoran and Meilin call off their engagement after Syaoran falls in love with Sakura. However the two do remain very close friends.
Powers and Abilities
Senses: Due to his life long tutelage, Syaoran possesses a greater degree of magical sensitivity than Sakura. He is able to not only sense the Clow Cards in a greater area, but is also able to discern their presence even through attempts at cloaking or hiding. He can greatly extend his ability to detect magical activity with the use of his Rashinban.
Swordsmanship: Syaoran is shown, or at least implied, to be an excellent swordsman. He wields a Chinese jian, which takes the sealed form of a hanging pendant. This sword serves as the focus for his magical powers, and can project lightning.
Magic: Through the use of jufu - slips of enchanted paper - Syaoran can summon various elements.
Although he claims certain Clow Cards for himself in the anime, Syaoran does not actually capture any Cards, as the act of capturing can only be performed using Sakura's sealing wand. However, if Syaoran has played a major role in weakening or cornering the Card entity prior to its capture, credit for the capture is awarded to him (as the materialized Card floats autonomously to its owner after capture). While Sakura writes her name in rōmaji on the Clow Cards, Syaoran writes his name in Chinese characters.
- His Japanese Voice Actress, Motoko Kumai also voiced Dokamon from Digimon Universe: Appli Monsters.
- His Fourth English Voice Actress, Mona Marshall is best known voicing as Izzy Izumi from Digimon Adventure series, Terriermon from Digimon: The Movie, Terriermon & his Digivolution forms from Digimon Tamers, Toboe from Wolf's Rain, Konekomaru Miwa from Blue Exorcist and Doraemon from Doraemon: Gadget Cat from the Future.
- His fifth voice actor, Jason Liebrecht, also voices his counterparts: Syaoran and Tsubasa Li from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Train Heartnet from Black Cat, Finnian from Black Butler, Haruitsuki Abeno from The Morose Mononokean and Kunimitsu Tomoda from Fruits Basket.
- A major change to Syaoran's character in Cardcaptors involves elevating Li Syaoran to become the male lead character, rather than a supporting character for Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura. Here, Li is also referred to as a Cardcaptor, while he has no such title in the original series, as Keroberos never selected him, and he has no initial ability to seal cards for himself.
- Syaoran's four sisters are mentioned in the anime, and are only seen in the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie. His sisters are Fuutie, Shiefa (alternative spelling Xiefa), Fanren and Feimei. His mother and sisters are briefly mentioned in the Cardcaptor Sakura manga when Sakura, Tomoyo, and Syaoran are trying to capture the Maze card. His mother's name is Yelan.
- A common theme in fan fiction is that Syaoran is a prince (with Sakura taking various roles). It may have been this which at least partially influenced Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
- Syaoran's father is said to be deceased. In the anime it is implied he is responsible for the wealth of the Lis.
- Syaoran's voice actor Motoko Kumai sang Syaoran's theme called Ki Ni Naru Aitsu (That Girl I Can't Ignore) which was first in episode 57 of Cardcaptor Sakura
- As stated in the seventh chapter of the original manga series:
- His favourite color is green
- His favourite food is chocolate and Dim Sum and least favourite is Yam Jelly
- His favourite subjects are gym and math and least favourite is Japanese
- His blood type is O
- Syaoran's name (meaning "little wolf") sounds similar to Shao Long, "little dragon", which is one of famous Bruce Lee's surnames.
- His hair was blonder when he was first seen in a cameo at the end of episode 7.
- Other than the Sand and Twin Cards, all the Clow Cards Syaoran had fall under the power of the Moon; the same as his magic.