Information "During an excavation at the mysterious ruins in Clow Country, Syaoran discovers his childhood friend, Princess Sakura, appearing on the site with wings that disperse into many feathers. As the feather's disappear to different dimensions, so does Sakura's memory. In attempts to save Sakura's life and restore her memory, Syaoran travels through to another world to find a solution. There's only one thing left he can do: travel through to different dimensions to collect Sakura's feathers. Helping out with the quest is Kurogane, an exiled ninja from Japan Country who wishes to return to his world, the runaway magician, Fay, who desires to jump between each world never to return to his own and the white meat-bun shaped creature, Mokona." - MyAnimeList
"Tsubasa Chronicle is an anime adaptation of the manga, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by the animation studio, Bee Train. Its first season aired Saturday nights on NHK-E from April 9 to October 15, 2005, spanning 26 episodes. The second season aired from April 29 to November 4 2006, spanning another 26 episodes. Both seasons were written by Hiroyuki Kawasaki and directed by Kōichi Mashimo, with Hiroshi Morioka joining on as co-director for the second season. The music for the series was composed by Yuki Kajiura. Two DVD box sets were then released on October 26 and November 25, 2011." - Wikipedia
This shall be the review hub for the two anime seasons, one movie and two OVAs of Tsubasa Chronicle, and the entire manga of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. It will contain no spoilers, so feel free to proceed to get a grasp of whether you might enjoy this adaptation.
Review Adaptations of any kind have the challenging task of being both faithful to the source material and entertaining on its own. Fate/Stay Night, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, and of course, Tsubasa Chronicle. These adaptations have been universally panned for being "terrible adaptations" that are a disgrace to the original work.
But I beg to differ. People tend to exaggerate when it comes to criticisms of adaptations, and this was no exception.
Story: 7 Crossovers are fun. They span across multiple genres and multiple universes. That's the main hook of Tsubasa Chronicle's story, that you would rarely know what's in store for you. It can lead to many possibilities and much variety as you travel to various worlds. Tsubasa's story of Syaoran traveling across dimensions in search of Sakura's precious possessions is the perfect excuse to dive into such fun storytelling, so CLAMP has done a good job in this.
Best of all, the story can go into some very heartbreaking, tearjerking, and downright depressing moments. You'll be shedding tears half of the times, I'd imagine, while laughing along the nonsensical banter during the other half. Being a shounen manga, these are some of the familiar things you can expect: tears, heartfelt themes that teach children something meaningful, and a large amount of action.
If you have followed the manga as I did, you will be confused by the chronology of the story in the anime as a lot of events were jumbled up and out of order. But that is a minor concern in my opinion, as not only did it not affect the story in negative ways, it even improves upon it. There are a couple of changes made to the story; some changes made certain scenes more powerful and emotional, such as what happened to that treasured object of Chu'nyan's mother, while others withheld important information till later to retain the mystery and suspense.
There were some censored content, however, due to the anime's unfortunate airing hours, and it resulted in the removal of certain scenes involving alcoholism and gambling. Those scenes, in my opinion, are superfluous. The characters being drunk were funny and charming, but not important.
What truly hurts the story isn't the mixed up timeline of the story, but the filler episodes. There are technically only two filler episodes if you don't count the extra backstory they added to supporting characters (I'll get to that good point later). To put it simply, those fillers, as with any kind of filler, suck. They are mediocre content that's a bore and a chore, adding nothing new and nothing interesting other than to take up the precious time the anime already lacks. In fact, my biggest concern for the anime wasn't the wrong order of the story, but the lack of time the anime has for such a lengthy manga. I heard that the anime didn't manage to adapt everything from the manga, and seeing these fillers, it's not hard to imagine why.
Finally, some of the "next episode previews" practically spoil the story ahead of time, so avoid them if you haven't read the manga.
Character: 9 There's a reason why I put such a high score for this aspect. Of course, CLAMP is known for their excellent characters in their stories, and Tsubasa is no exception. You'll find familiar characters from CLAMP's other tales like xxxHolic, X/1999, Magic Knight Rayearth, Chobits, and of course, Cardcaptor Sakura. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as we are already familiar with what kind of person those characters are in spite of the slight changes in their personality here.
Syaoran is as you see him in Cardcaptor Sakura; brave, athletic and a close friend of Sakura, but unlike CCS, he isn't brash or rude towards Sakura, but respects her as the Princess of Clow. His fate in Tsubasa is the most tragic fate thus far as you'll see in the series. I'm hoping for a happy ending for him, but things don't seem bright in Syaoran's future.
In spite of being the possessor of the show's MacGuffin, this version of Sakura doesn't have a very big role so far. Oftentimes, she feels like a plot-device, a damsel to be rescued. When she does get moments of her own, they do not portray her as a very interesting character. She was in love with Syaoran, she's grateful to him, and she's kind to everyone - that's all you need to know about her. Unlike Syaoran, Sakura seems shallow in comparison, but that might change in the future as she regains more of her memories.
Then we have Kurogane, one of the two main characters not from any of CLAMP's previous work. He's a ninja who is exiled from his version of Japan by Princess Tomoyo (yes, that Tomoyo from CCS). He's your typical masculine hero with wise words about manhood to offer for Syaoran, but is often teased by the other new main character, Fai D. Flowright.
Fai is the more interesting of the two, as he seems to be one of those people with a tragic past but is smiling all the time. So far, nothing explicit has been revealed about his past, and I hope to learn more about him in season two.
And the main reason for my high score here: the anime improves the characters.
Regarding the "filler content" that is the additional backstory of supporting characters, those were interesting and gave us more context as well as made us care more about these otherwise ignored side characters. They even made the anime more endearing as we learn how Sakura resolves certain conflict with her kind heart early in the story. These are important moments that I could only wonder why CLAMP didn't spend time writing about.
Art: 5 Yes, we know the artstyle sucks. It seems to be a trend among anime made in the 2000s to have such mediocre animation (till they improve later on in the late 2000s and early 2010s when high definition became more common). Much like Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the animation is blend, boring, and simplistic compared to the source material. Tsubasa in particular removed comedic expressions the characters had while saying certain lines, making them more somber and serious during those moments. That was a bad move that merely made things more dull and less energetic. It contradicts the tone of CLAMP stories (fun and energetic) and is definitely a disgrace to the manga, albeit its only disgrace.
That said, the action scenes are easier to comprehend here than in the manga. I never liked fight scenes in manga. Due to their black-and-white nature, making out what is happening in manga fight scenes can be difficult sometimes, especially if the artist decided to get creative with the scene and added visible sound effects or those streaks in the air you normally wouldn't see in a fight in real life. The anime does make it less of a pain to watch the fight scenes... but it didn't necessarily improve it. It's still simplistic and definitely no Ufotable's remake of Fate.
Sound: 8 It's Yuki Kajiura! Of course it's amazing! Operatic music tends to create powerful emotions in the audience for some reason, and it definitely works here with a story of such epic scale. The sound is also the main and biggest reason you should watch the anime. I've always preferred anime over manga because of the music, especially when the music makes the story much more emotional. Some people consider it a cheap illusion for you to get emotional because of the music rather than because of the story. I feel that to be a stupid criticism, as the music is no more an illusion than the writing. It's more of a combination of the two, the music and the story coming together to make you cry. If the story is bad, I wouldn't shed a tear even if it's Kajiura.
Alas, the music does get a tad repetitive over time. Many of the same tracks are used throughout the series, and you'll undoubtedly come to recognize them (especially the iconic "sad music"). Thankfully, there remains a wide variety of scores for the various worlds our heroes travel to, leaving an even wider variety of tone and atmosphere that make the story more interesting.
Enjoyment: 7 Due to the many reasons stated above, I quite enjoyed this anime series so far. It's not the most amazing story ever, and I'd be lying if I said the manga was an addictive page-turner that kept me hooked till the end (I had to put it on-hold at one point), but it's an entertaining adventure and a heartfelt story you could go to whenever you need something to cry or laugh about.
Overall: 7 As an adaptation, I've seen much worse. Adaptations are always hard to make. You have to please the fanboys of the original source material while ensuring the story works on a different medium. So when someone makes it remotely decent, it's always something to praise about. Tsubasa Chronicle works for me as an anime and has my seal of approval. Its added backstory especially (minus the filler episodes) makes this a worthwhile anime to check out for fans of the manga. In spite of its flaws, Tsubasa is a decent work, and I didn't regret watching it.
Tsubasa Chronicle: The Movie - The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom
Premise "In their continuing journey to find the feathers that are the fragments of Sakura's lost memory, Syaoran, Kurogane, Fai, and Sakura move through time and space with Mokona. Here, they visit the "Land of the Birdcage," a seemingly peaceful country where people and birds live together, each person having a bird companion. After a boy named Koruri confuses Syaoran and Sakura for "bodyguards" and attacks them, they learn that the king of the country possesses a mysterious power. Princess Tomoyo, Koruri, and the other oppressed citizens, having had their birds taken from them, live in hiding within the forest. In order to take back Sakura's feather, Syaoran and the others stand up against the scheming king." - MyAnimeList
Ho boy, this movie is a disaster. It started out promising, but went spiraling down into a boring sloppy mess that could barely be called a movie. This is the worst movie I've ever seen this year - even by comparison to the '99 GTO movie!
Story: 3 (Poor) On paper, the premise of the movie showed some promise, specifically due to the fact that Princess Tomoyo (from a different dimension than the one Kurogane is from) makes an appearance. We haven't seen much of Tomoyo in both the anime and manga when this movie was released, so this is a potentially interesting story where we not only get to see Kurogane interact with this version of Tomoyo, but also explore a minor character who only appeared in the first chapter of Tsubasa, right? Nope.
Instead, the story goes through the motion of a formulaic plot. Be aware that for a movie, it is very short (lasting only 35 minutes!), so there's not much plot to begin with. Something bad happens to Tomoyo, Syaoran and the gang tries to take down the tyrant king, they acquire the feather, the end. That's it! I wish I'm joking, but aside from the convoluted lore of this country and the convoluted motivation of the villain to bring darkness into the world - neither of which were explained, presumably because they ran out of time in the 35 minutes - there's really nothing interesting here, and you won't miss anything.
Character: 1 (Pathetic) That's right, pathetic. Character development is none, because there's not enough time to do any of that in the 35 minutes. The dialogue is brief and thin, so you won't learn much about Tomoyo's personality in this world, and the other minor characters are uninteresting plot-devices existing merely to move the plot along. We don't learn anything about that little boy that joins Syaoran's adventure either, Koruri. He merely mistook Syaoran as the bad guy at the beginning and becomes practically invisible throughout the rest of the movie (till the very end in the very last scene). Syaoran and Sakura are just trudging along as they always do, having no special development that's specifically made for the movie. What kind of writing is this? I've seen better character writing in Transformers movies!
Worse of all, Kurogane, the one who's supposed to have the most feelings towards someone who looks like Princess Tomoyo (irregardless of whether if it's the actual person or not) only appears for about TEN MINUTES of the entire movie! Ten minutes! Kurogane and Fai are left behind as side characters! What the hell is going on?!
Art: 6 (Fair) Being a movie, the art is thankfully much better and more detailed than the TV series. But there are also slight variations and some weird changes that make the familiar characters you know look awkward. For example, Mokona looks thinner for some reason, and all of the main characters have slightly different faces from the TV series. The fight scenes are the highlight because of the improved visuals, but that's about it - a pretty but hollow thing.
Sound: 4 (Decent) The music is functional. It keeps the movie from being too boring, and certain movies (like GTO) do have very awkward scenes where there's complete silence that makes it a dull experience, so at least this movie has the decency to add workable music. But that's it, workable and functional. Yuki Kajiura's sounds were recycled from the TV series, and if she added any new themes here, they were uninspired and didn't stand out.
Enjoyment: 2 (Dreadful) Needless to say, I was left in shock when the movie ended. I kept waiting for a more interesting development to happen, something that might add layers or offer us new perspectives of the familiar characters we know, but nope, it just ended. What a slap in the face.
Overall: 2(Dreadful) This feels more like an advertisement for the Tsubasa anime and manga than a movie. Stay away from it, do not waste your time. There's nothing to offer for any kind of audience, both new and old fans of Tsubasa. Stick with the TV series, or better yet, the manga.
"Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of".
— Kurt Vonnegut, "Eight Rules for Writing Fiction"
Many might have wondered why Bee Train and NHK failed to adapt the glorious game-changing story arc that is Tokyo in the Tsubasa TV series. But even if you didn't look it up on TVTropes the reason behind this, it's not difficult to tell why NHK (producer of the fluffy and romantic Cardcaptor Sakura) refused to adapt the arc... after you have watched this OVA series. Disclaimer for the faint of heart: Tokyo Revelations is brutal, visually and emotionally.
"The Tokyo Arc" features probably the most important character development in the entire story thus far, and it also surpasses all prior arcs in quality. Most impressive of all is its deconstruction of itself and the cliche of "band of adventurers conveniently tagged along by companions with the proper skills and resources" found in countless adventure stories. It also answers the question of what would happen if Sakura deprives a country of a feather that's an important power source to its citizens, a question that some viewers like myself have probably pondered prior to the Tokyo arc, I'm sure.
Understandably, NHK refused to adapt such a radical story arc that literally changes certain characters entirely - some of whom literally becoming unrecognizable from their prior self. After their refusal to compromise, CLAMP proceeded to disown the anime and terminate their business partnership with NHK and Bee Train as the artists felt the anime had trod down a path that's vastly different from what they had in mind following the Recort arc. And what CLAMP had in mind was not to continue on some merry journey having light laughs while teaching platitudes for the kiddies and offering gratuitous fanservice. Instead, what we have here are some very cruel character development that's true to Vonnegut's advice: Sakura is no longer a naive Mary-Sue, Fai ironically falls into deeper despair than right before Tokyo (when he had become more cheerful), Kurogane finally learns important information regarding his mother, and Syaoran... oh, poor Syaoran. If you thought Syaoran had it bad before in regards to Sakura's memory of him... his character is literally destroyed in this OVA. In short, the Tokyo arc is darker, edgier, and far more depressing than anything Tsubasa has dished out before.
The animation team of Production I.G. behind the Tsubasa movie has returned, and with it the more detailed and crisper expressions. Aesthetically, everything has also become more graphic - and this is in spite of the censorship still present within some scenes. Blood is present now, as it should be since several scenes in the arc just don't carry the same emotional impact when you don't witness the grave injuries certain characters suffer. Even the OP theme is darker in tone with its melancholic lyrics and melody, signalling to the audience that from this point on, nothing will be the same ever again.
While far more faithful to the manga than Bee Train has ever been, some content was yet again cut out for either censorship or time-constraint reasons. Being a standalone OVA, it's understandable that they had to cut down certain scenes and exposition that are unnecessary to understand the plot contained in this OVA, specifically Yuko's explanations regarding Fei Wang Reed. That said, along with the censorship still existent in an OVA, it's quite a disappointment they didn't manage to incorporate certain important plot elements in here, including the aforementioned explanation.
But that's a nitpick at best, for Production I.G. has truly stood out with this amazing OVA that carried the same emotional resonance as the manga. The pain and suffering of the characters here (and boy, is there pain...) are beautifully animated in details. Along with its amazing voice work, I believe this is the best way to experience the Tokyo arc first hand as you'll undoubtedly grab for tissues crying along with our struggling heroes.
Man this brings back memories I watch the two seasons years ago I really enjoyed the series it’s a shame they didn’t finish it as the manga went much further.
Yeah, it's a damn shame indeed. Tokyo Revelations showed just how amazing an anime adaption of the story arcs after Recort can be. Things really became serious business after Tokyo, and it's a tragedy we won't get to see the other arcs adapted. I just finished reading the Infinity arc, and the story remains as exhilarating (and depressing) as Tokyo. Now I'm on the Celes arc. Can't wait to watch Shunraiki.
My Movie Reviews Watching: Kino's Journey (2017), Tonari no Seki-kun, Zankyou no Terror
Premise "Syaoran, Sakura, Kurogane, Fai and Mokona's journey through to different world's continue as they search for Sakura's feathers. The fated journey slowly becomes more complicated for our travelers, as they find themselves diving deeper into more dangerous worlds. Takes place immediately after the first season. Based on the manga by CLAMP." - MyAnimeList
Review When I first reviewed Tsubasa Chronicle's first season, I was curious as to where all the negative reviews came from. The anime seemed like a faithful enough adaptation at first glance. Aside from its mediocre animation quality and the two filler episodes, I just couldn't see why it received such a enormous backlash.
Then 2nd Season happened.
Let's just sum up everything wrong about Tsubasa Chronicle 2nd Season: 1) The chronology of the manga content is even more jumbled up than before. 2) The censorship being more prevalent and obvious. 3) Lapses in logic (AKA plot-holes) and otherwise alterations of Tsubasa's lore. 4) Half of the season is filler. 5) More than half of the fillers are boring or pointless. 6) No manga content were adapted after Recort arc. Anime's story ended with an ambiguous ending that suggested that the characters' journey continues with no end in sight.
Some time during production, I'd assume, Bee Train was forced into a rushed production by NHK. They also had to cut out the Tokyo story arc and beyond because of their mature content in order to pander to a younger audience. But even with that consideration, I have no idea why they switched the order of the story around. Not only does it spoil certain story content ahead of time, it also causes certain plot-holes to appear. These plot-holes were aggravated by the fillers replacing certain manga story arcs, including the Idol arc, and this probably made adapting the rest of the manga even more difficult for the studio when certain plotline didn't make sense due to these alterations.
It would be one thing if all the fillers were as amazing as the first handful of them in 2nd season. I was actually rather impressed by the first three filler episodes of the season. The first one corrected the plot-hole the previous season created, which is that the dead could never be brought back to life, no matter how much power you have. Not only did it correct that lore, it also included a cruel irony involving Sakura causing a tragedy she could've only prevented with a specific memory she retrieved at the end of that episode. That's rather brilliant writing for a filler. The other two episodes showed the main characters' interactions with others who looked like people they knew. This resulted in some decent interaction as we get to see more of how the characters felt towards those people, even if they are not the same person.
Unfortunately, the rest of the fillers were nowhere as interesting or insightful, as they are either pure fanservice material (Kero of CCS makes an appearance), or just boring story arcs that shovel the story along, resulting in no interesting lessons, message, or character development of significance. And there truly isn't much character development indeed because they strayed away from the Tokyo arc, a story arc that involved major plot-development and significant changes to the main characters. As a result, most of the main characters lost their opportunity to grow beyond their boring and cliched archetypes, especially the Mary Sue Sakura that could do no wrong. There's a reason why this band of heroes seemed like your typical shounen heroes - it's so that CLAMP could deconstruct these archetypes in the Tokyo arc. Unfortunately, because the anime didn't get to do that, we are left with the cliches and none of the deconstruction. Sakura, especially, was left behind as the dull and annoying Mary Sue who could do no wrong, when in the manga, she became more battle-hardened and independent. Kurogane also never got to learn the meaning of true strength because the Celes arc never happened in this anime, so he ended up as a typical grumpy antihero we've seen a million times. We never got to learn why Fai chose not to use magic, or why he seemed to have a death-wish in the first season.
I also really don't like how Sakura's feathers came with memories that were conveniently related to the theme of each episode. Very contrived and lazy writing. The final filler arc in the season also contains some of the worst fillers of all the episodes, not just because it's boring, but because it's riddled with the most amount of plot-holes and bad writing. For one thing, many of Sakura's feathers had conveniently fell into the country of Tao without any explanation at all; for another, Fai's curse was not triggered when a certain being of enormous magical capacity had appeared, thus breaking a major rule about Fai that surfaced in the Infinity arc (of the manga). And don't get me started on that stupid ending where the journey goes on forever and ever. What is this? Pokemon?!
There are just so many changes to the storyline that Tsubasa is ultimately butchered and bears little to no resemblance with the manga version of the story after Recort. CLAMP is partly responsible for springing such a game-changing deconstruction in the Tokyo arc, I guess, but I wonder why they didn't bother to hash out these developments properly behind the scenes before allowing Bee Train to adapt the anime.
In conclusion, drop the anime after the Recort arc, and don't bother with the fillers except the first three. Stick with the manga after that. I only bothered to finish this series just so I could review it properly, but I was so glad when it was finally over.
After the amazing Tokyo Revelations, everyone expected Production I.G. to be the savior of this dying anime series. Unfortunately, those expecting a full-fletched adaptation would be disappointed. Shunraiki merely adapts the Nihon arc and a brief recap of the conclusion to Celes arc.
While the Tokyo arc was undeniably amazing for what it accomplished, not just among anime but storytelling in general, the Nihon arc is nothing as groundbreaking and merely offers a lot more exposition. Convoluted exposition in fact. If the Tokyo arc was renowned for its deconstruction, then the Nihon arc would be known for its confusing plot twists. There is yet another plot twist in this arc, but rather than cry to a particular scene relating to the twist at the end of episode 2 like most people did, I was merely left with mixed feelings. I guess that, amidst all these confusing turnabouts, all these sudden revelations that weren't explained much (most of it would probably be explained much later, in parts of the manga this OVA doesn't cover, and there probably won't be future OVAs that explain it either), I just felt like it's all too much to absorb at the same time, and I ended up with more confusion than enjoyment.
Those following the anime are out of luck if you haven't read the manga. Your confusion will be even bigger than those who did, because there's a time gap between Tokyo Revelations and Shunraiki, a gap that involves the Infinity arc and the Celes arc. Having no prior context (important context at that), you won't be able to understand certain elements of the plot, and why the main characters ended up where they are now in this OVA. Sakura is probably the one anime viewers would be most confused about, as her situation in Shunraiki largely involves events from prior arcs.
Being a stricter adaptation of the manga than Tokyo Revelations, I feel like there's only one reason you should check this out instead of just reading the book: the animation, or rather, the fight scenes, which flow better and are more engaging here in animated form than in the manga. There's also a beautifully animated scene involving Sakura at the end of episode 2 (the aforementioned scene that people cried to). That's about it. The music is decent as always, but ironically, I didn't hear anything more memorable than the soundtrack of the TV series.
I think my biggest problem with this OVA and why it seems like I'm not putting much effort into the review is that, as beautifully animated as it is, it feels very awkward as a standalone anime. On one hand, you need prior context to appreciate the plot in this OVA, meaning you can't just watch the anime and have to go out of your way to read the manga. As someone with great appreciation for all forms of film (and not much appreciation for books), it just feels disappointing that Production I.G. and CLAMP would pull something lazy like this, telling the audience, "Go read materials not part of this film to understand what the film is about."
And on the other hand, there might not be a continuation of the story. This OVA was only released with the limited editions of the Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC manga. Does that mean we won't get to see future continuation of the story in anime form till there's another limited limited edition of something? What? How does it work? It feels like you are buying a half-finished product if you haven't read the manga - and even if you did, it's still a story half-told and a story that might never be finished in anime form.
Also, there's a lot of exposition scenes in the OVA. This is an example of how not to adapt a comic book. That's why you don't see superheroes having internal monologues the way they do in the comics. You don't adapt the expositions verbatim. Film is a visual medium, not a text-based medium; show, don't tell. Show the exposition in the characters' actions, regardless if whether it's faithful to the material or not.
For this OVA, I would suggest just sticking to the manga. I don't think the OVA is worth much value outside of the animated fight scenes. I can't recommend the purchase.
Crossovers are fun. They span across multiple genres and multiple universes. It can lead to many possibilities and much variety as you travel to various worlds. It allows you to witness interactions between your favorite characters of different stories that lead to interesting results. Certain creators have done this in the past with the characters they own - Marvel Cinematic Universe, Penny Dreadful, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - and CLAMP has done the same in spades. One of the reasons I fell in love with anime in the first place was because I got to see the different worlds anime brought me to, whether it's some post-apocalypse city, the outer space, or even the middle of the desert, anime had managed to tap into many worlds and settings. Tsubasa's story of traveling across dimensions in search of a MacGuffin allows the perfect excuse to exploit this glorious part of anime by traversing across many worlds with its audience.
Story: 7/10 The premise at first glance seems like your average adventure tale; a band of heroes are gathered together in pursuit of their various desires as they travel across multiple dimensions. The tone of the story certainly fitted that premise in the first-half of the manga; light-hearted, comedic, occasionally tearjerking with heartfelt lessons about heroism and true strength. That was of course till the infamous "Tokyo Arc" arrived and changed everything, making the whole manga grimmer and darker. You could tell from the chapters after the Tokyo Arc ended that things became a lot more depressing. It's as if you are reading an entirely different book.
To be honest, as much as I enjoy dark and gritty stories, I would have been fine if the manga kept the same tone before Tokyo. In spite of the comedy, there were numerous emotional moments in the story even then. The moments that came to mind especially were those from the Koryo Arc (regarding Chu'nyan's mother) and the Recort Arc (regarding Kurogane's past). The manga maintains its characters' likability all the same and even managed to insert interesting character development. But when the Tokyo Arc did arrive, CLAMP did something rather impressive. It deconstructed its main characters and turned their weakness against them. Much like Captain America: Civil War, the unaddressed concerns we had about the story and characters in prior story arcs were acknowledged there. Such deconstruction of itself is not easy to pull off and requires careful planning before the first chapter is written, thus making it all the more impressive when it's done so brilliantly. And while deconstructing overused cliches is nothing revolutionary, it's still often satisfying when I see it, that act of bringing something new and clever to something that's trite and hackneyed.
Unfortunately, CLAMP overplayed its hand in the final arc of the story throughout its last 30-50 chapters. While there were complex threads tying the story together before, things were never really got as confusing as the final stretch of the story when the manipulation of time and space came into play, not to mention figuring out who is a clone and who is the real deal. It gets worse when Easter Eggs of CCS were thrown in for good measure, throwing readers off into thinking that the two franchises (CCS and Tsubasa) are directly connected when they are really not (aside from a few cameos). I've always hated this form of storytelling as I personally felt that it served no enjoyment on my part, merely confusion. Serial Experiments Lain and Ghost in the Shell (specifically Stand Alone Complex) are two prime examples of such convoluted stories that I didn't enjoy because I was too busy trying to figure out what was going on, but at least those two had the excuse of being convoluted from the beginning, not suddenly dropping a bomb on my head in the middle of the story.
And when it's not confusing me, some of the arcs can be quite boring, specifically the Piffle Arc. The Dragonfly Race was a snooze, and also the main reason I dropped the manga many years ago. A generic obstacle course with the race rigged by the bad guy. Not exactly original or refreshing. Due to its subversive nature, the manga can also be inconsistent sometimes, specifically its lack of continuation on its "Mokona Extra Chapters". Those bonus material are short comedy skits involving Mokona fooling around. Naturally, after the Tokyo Arc, such antics and extras began to disappear entirely.
Character: 8/10 Since CLAMP did a disservice by mucking up the story near the end, the strongest element of Tsubasa lies with its characters and brilliant character development. As mentioned, the best part about Tsubasa is seeing how it subverts the expectations one has towards these cliched archetypes, and that surprise element always delights me. The manga follows the standard technique of making the characters likable with comedy in the first-half and inserting horrible tragedies in the second to make us care deeper about them. Standard, but effective.
The most obvious draw for most people when it comes to Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE is probably the two familiar main characters, Syaoran and Sakura of their Cardcaptor Sakura counterpart. That's what first got me into reading this too. Characters already being familiar to us makes them easily accessible for the audience, and while some might call it lazy storytelling, I think of it as more of an effective form of storytelling as we easily lost most of the exposition. In Tsubasa's case, there are certain changes to the personality and background history of these familiar characters as they are not the same person, but for the most part, they've stayed the same.
Much like her CCS counterpart, Sakura is the kind-hearted angelic child you remember, minus much of the temper she had towards Syaoran and her brother. Unlike the CCS version, Sakura here is an even more blend Mary-Sue who could do no wrong and loves everyone around her. Thankfully, this cliche is intentional, much like the others, and she later becomes a more independent woman who could fend for herself.
Syaoran is your typical shounen hero: brave, honorable, and he refrains from killing - which also makes him the most boring character of the bunch. Out of the entire cast, Syaoran is the one with the least development, because his "development" came in the form of a plot-twist that's more about his identity than his personality, so I don't really count it as a character development more than it is a plot development. When his "identity" was affected in the Tokyo Arc, he becomes someone else who's also quite generic. Ironically, Syaoran is the only main character who's more interesting prior to the Tokyo Arc than after. The cruel price he had to pay to save Sakura was the most interesting part about his character... and then that plot point was left meaningless near the end, and the price never mattered anyway.
Mokona is a white pork bun- I mean a white and adorable creature who serves as the mascot of the story. He's cute, he cries when the main characters are injured or worse, and he spits out from its mouth whatever the plot (and Yuko) needs it to; pretty much a walking plot-device, really. But that's all fine, since his cuteness warms my heart to no end.
Kurogane is one of the two new characters not part of CLAMP's universe prior to Tsubasa. He's a ninja who was sent away by his master, Princess Tomoyo, because of his ruthless actions and ill regards for life. Initially, Kurogane didn't catch my attention much beyond being a powerful and hammy comic relief. This quickly changed after the Recort Arc, when his past was revealed, and you learn why he is so angry all the time (much like Wolverine). His heroics increased even further after the Tokyo Arc, especially with the sacrifices he made for one of his teammates...
Fai D. Flowright is the second new character to be introduced in Tsubasa. He's a Stepford Smiler who keeps his dark past concealed behind that friendly face. While it's hard to say whom among the main characters carry the most sorrowful feelings (they all have heavy burdens), Fai is undeniably the most self-loathing for good reasons revealed in the Celes Arc (an arc that should really have been adapted as an OVA over the convoluted Nihon Arc). The banter between him and Kurogane remained amusing before and after the Tokyo Arc, and either of these two characters just wouldn't be as charming to watch without the company of the other.
Then there's a whole string of cameos by characters from the CLAMP universe, ranging from X/1999, Magic Knight Rayearth, xxxHolic, RG Veda, CLAMP School Detectives, and of course, Cardcaptor Sakura. Most development involving these guest appearances are superficial, but like any good crossovers, there are some plotlines that give a deeper perspective into the relationships of these familiar characters. Therefore, this manga is a MUST-read for any die-hard fans of the CLAMP universe.
Art: 6/10 I've complained various times in the past about my disdain for manga art, especially those in battle scenes. Streaks of black and white meshed together make for very incomprehensible drawings that can be a pain to read. CLAMP's art is even worse, not just because of the existence of clones and whatnot, but also because the magical powers the characters are spewing out are more focused on than the illustration of the characters themselves. What I mean is that in a large scale battle, it can be hard to see whom is shooting that beam at the opponent you cannot make out either (because they are both tiny, miniscule). Honestly, with colors, this is less of a problem. Just look at American comics.
Enjoyment and Overall: 7/10 While Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE has its faults (like any great stories), its clever deconstruction and emotional writing makes it an entertaining read for any fan of a good story. As long as you can stomach the last 30 chapters of convolution by referring to footnotes written by fans (only after you finish the manga, mind you, since those notes contain spoilers), then you shouldn't have a problem enjoying the journey.
And with CLAMP bearing a sequel to RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE - Tsubasa: WoRLD CHRoNiCLE (what's with the fancy wording though, seriously...), there's even more of that journey to look forward to. So in a way, it's kinda like the TV anime's ending, the journey never ends - minus all the plot-threads left hanging and undeveloped.
My Movie Reviews Watching: Kino's Journey (2017), Tonari no Seki-kun, Zankyou no Terror
Old Man Dream: ...later titles in the Macross franchise can finally come stateside with all involved parties finally coming to a truce over how to handle things with the Macross trademark and all later anime in the franchise associated with it.
Apr 9, 2021 10:26:05 GMT
Taka: I see. A global release will benefit it. Gundam did pretty good. The only few franchises that are only popular in Japan but not popular in the west - Yokai Watch comes to mind.
Apr 10, 2021 1:55:16 GMT
Master Menos: F for Respects. DMX did all his work while suffering from a drug addiction, and I almost never knew until a point. I hope his next life treats him far better.
Apr 10, 2021 15:30:45 GMT
HungryWorld: Sorry for taking so long for the things i have to do, have been suffering from some health issues (including mental health deterioration). Anyways hope i can be a bit more active here soon enough once i am properly patched up again.
Apr 27, 2021 17:45:38 GMT
Taka: No worries, health, family, school, and work take priorities first.
Apr 28, 2021 7:41:52 GMT