Manga Reviews

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Licensed by Del Rey

Topics: Magic, Fantasy, Action

Syaoran is a young archeologist excavating the ruins of the Clow Country. His father convinced the king to start excavation of the ruins a little over a year ago, but he died before it could be finished. As a result, Syaoran has taken on the project. One of his childhood friends is the princess of the country, Princess Sakura. Although she can't admit it, Sakura has feelings for Syaoran. One day Sakura ventures into the ruins and touches an ancient glyph, activating a burst of energy. As this energy courses upwards, wings spring out of Sakura's back and then shatter, sending the feathers flying.

Apparently, certain individuals have discovered that Sakura has great magical potential buried within her, and that those feathers each contain immense power. Combined, they have the power to cross dimensions, although why those individuals want that power is uncertain. Unfortunately, those feathers also hold Sakura's life and memories within them. To save her, Syaoran is sent with her to the Witch of Dimensions, a powerful lady who can help them traverse the multiverse in an attempt to find Sakura's feathers.

At the same moment, two other people appear before the Witch as well: Kurogane, a ninja who was banished from his dimension to learn not to use excessive force, and Fye a powerful magician who's fleeing a king in his country. All three of them have different motivations for wanting to be able to travel the dimensions so the Witch takes each person's most valuable possession and provides them with Mokona, a furry little creature capable of randomly transporting them through the dimensions. Now Syaoran must wander through the dimensions, correcting the wrongs that the powerful feathers have created, and returning them to Sakura so that she might live. However those in possession of the feathers are not so willing to part with them, and there are more sinister forces also trying to collect the feathers. Will Syaoran, Kurogane, and Fye have enough power to fix the mulitverse?

This series draws on characters from almost ever CLAMP manga imaginable (such as XXXholic, Card Captor Sakura, and Chobits etc.) As the characters wander through the dimensions, they encounter plenty of characters from other series, although often just in passing. Luckily the plot avoids the easy way out. Rather than relying on the other characters and intertwining with their pre-existing stories, Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle has it's own elaborate story, and the other characters are merely mentioned in passing or drawn in the background. It's fun to see them without having them detract from the plot progression.

The character art is typical CLAMP fare, if you've read any other CLAMP series, you'll know what to expect. If you haven't, try it out, either you'll love it or you'll hate it. The background art is very elaborate, with plenty of 2-page panoramic views and bursts of energy that are drawn with more than speed-lines.

The main characters don't get much backstory development but that's alright because their motivations are completely transparent. Also, their actions are always inline with their characters rather than warping to the situation, which is a nice change from mangas where the heros always power-up sufficiently at the last moment. The side characters, though very few exist, get no development. The nature of the manga is for the protagonists to wander through the multiverse, meaning they'll constantly be meeting new people in every dimension they travel to. As a result, the side characters are never elaborated upon. This makes for a very fast-paced storyline, flitting from one dimension to the other. Usually this works but there are few dimensions where the story is either drawn out or compressed too much. Nonetheless, Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle is an interesting story that breaks out of the typical molds.

Rating: 7.5/10.0


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