Foreign Friday: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle

“Syaoran, your price is…your relationship. The thing you value most is your relationship with her. So that is your price…Even if this child’s memories are completely restored…the one memory you will never retrieve will be her memory of you. That is my price. Will you still pay it?”     – Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle

This week’s manga series will be Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by the manga group CLAMP.

The Story

Sakura is the princess of Clow – and posessor of a mysterious, misunderstood power that promises to change the world. Syaoran (pronounced Shao/ ron) is her childhood friend and leader of the archaeological dig that took his father’s life. They reside in an alternate reality…where whatever you least expect can happen – and does. When Sakura ventures into the dig site to declare her love for Syaoran, a puzzling symbol is uncovered – which triggers a remarkable quest. Now Syaoran embarks upon a desperate journey through other worlds – all in the name of saving Sakura.

The Characters

Syaoran is the hero: he will stop at nothing to preserve the life of the girl he loves. A serious-minded, logical young man with a surprisingly innocent air, his determination has you cheering him on from the first chapter. Sakura is a cheerful, well-loved princess who personifies “kindness.” She is likeable, but the nature of the plot leaves her character arc fairly shallow. By the end of the first volume, they are joined by three companions; Kurogane, a ninja from an alternate “Japan,” Fai D. Flourite, a wizard from a third world, and Mokona, a creature created for the express purpose of aiding their journey. Kurogane is serious and stalwart, but is easily irritated by Mokona. Fai acts lighthearted and easygoing, but possesses great powers that he refuses to use, and keeps many secrets, in true tragic-hero style. Mokona is the comedic relief.

What I Thought

Tsubasa starts out as a fairly typical quest-driven plot. In fact, I thought it was going to get boring after the first few volumes. CLAMP, however, would never write something so straightforward. The plot moves pretty straightforward for the first half…and the second half twists so radically it left me bug-eyed and breathless until the very last page. By the time you finish volume 17, you realize why the series was labeled for older teens. By the time you hit volume 20, you may wonder if a degree in philosophy would assist you in figuring out what in the world is going on. Every character goes through change, every character has a past, and nobody has all the answers until the veeeeeery end. In terms of plot and character development, I would say this is incredibly deep and complex. There is a lot of questions left to the reader to interpret, intricate relationship ties, and a lot of missing eyes and desperarte wishes. Fortunately, Tsubasa is a completed work, with all 26 volumes available in English in the US.

CLAMP has some of the greatest art in manga. Tsubasa was their first shonen (action style) manga, which caused them to alter their drawing style, making it blockier than some of their other works. Because of this, some of the earlier action scenes are a little hard to follow. The two main characters, Sakura and Syaoran, are based off of characters from one of their previous works, Cardcaptor Sakura. They aren’t the only ones to appear from other CLAMP stories, however. In every volume there are cameos of previous characters. If you have read any of those titles, then you will enjoy seeing their moment in the spotlight. If you haven’t, the translator’s notes in the back of the volume will point it out and tell you what series the character is from.

One of the most exciting things about this series is the fact that it crosses over with another series that CLAMP wrote simultaneously, xxxHolic. You can read the two series separately, but you won’t get the complete picture unless you read them both. Below is a picture of some of the Tsubasa characters with Watanuki, the main character of xxxHolic who also plays a part in this series.

Tsubasa also boasts of an anime series which ran for two seasons. The anime is geared more for younger viewers than the manga series, toning down a lot of the violence. The first season follows the manga faithfully, but the second season ventures off it to lighter episodes, ending the show before the major plot twist that occurs in volume 17.

An excellent series! Next week will be another one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: