Monday, January 11, 2016

Manga Review: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Series (CLAMP)

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Vol. 1 (Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE #1)Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Vol. 28 (Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE #28)

Series Title: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
Author: CLAMP
Volume(s) Reviewed: 1-28 (complete series)
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 2004 to November 2010
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Adventure
Content Rating: Teen (violence)
Format Read: Paperback (purchased & library)
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To collect the pieces of Sakura's memories scattered through many unknown worlds, Sakura and Syaoran contract world-hopping Mokona from the Time Witch Yuko, and with fellow contractors Kurogane and Fai travel to many worlds. Along the way they discover much about each other and about themselves, and struggle against one who would use the power of Sakura's memories to alter everything they have ever known.

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In a Sentence: A fun and exciting but also serious and convoluted story of just how far someone will go to fulfill a wish.

Story: How far would you go to protect someone you love? To see someone you'd lost just one more time? To see another's desire granted? All these questions are the basis of this epic and complicated saga about wishes, curses, and the prices one must pay to fulfill them.

The first half of the series is a lot of fun with minimal over-arcing intrigue as the group travels to different and fascinating worlds collecting Sakura's memories. We get to know and care for the characters as they get to know and care for each other through dangerous and exciting adventures. What series arc intrigue we do collect comes in bits and pieces and flashbacks that should but don't really prepare you for the sheer mass of multi-layered mystery ahead. Once you get into the mid teens, things take a darker turn that slides into a convoluted second half of mysteries layered upon answers layered upon mysteries as secrets and lies are revealed and multiples of familiar faces come into play. By the early twenties the story moves fast and gets seriously complicated, so be prepared to power through to the conclusion once you hit them or you may get a little lost.

As can be expected of CLAMP, the end is left open not only for the characters to make cameos in other series (according to the Translator, they appeared in Kobato!), but for possible sequel series someday. True to form, Tsubasa: WoRLD CHRoNiCLE started releasing August 2014 in Japan, and has thankfully been licensed by Kodansha for publication in America beginning December 2015!

Setting: Until the second half of the series when the group started lingering in worlds, my favorite world changed with every jump. The Hanshin Republic with its battle-ready, guardian-angel-like Kudan. The Country of Oto with its oni-hunters and Cat's Eye cafe and world secret. The Country of Shura with its endless war. Piffle World with its Dragonfly aircraft race. The Country of Recort, steampunk meets childhood fantasy with a library of magical books I'd kill to visit. They travel to over a dozen worlds that span all time and setting - desert and snow and tropical, tribal and Victorian and futuristic, flourishing and desolate, magical and technological. All show limitless imagination and artistic skill and are worth seeing.

Art: Amazing, as can be expected from CLAMP. This is their sweeter style, with mostly pretty characters boasting lots of personality and intricately detailed backdrops.

Characters: It's hard to go into any depth about the characters in this book because not only do some of them sort of change personality halfway through the series, but others change entire persons. With CLAMP, nothing - and especially no one - is what they seem, and before the end everyone and everything has no less than two gasp-worthy alterations. But no matter their changes, the main group and secondary characters are all interesting and fun to follow through thick and thin and many thrilling adventures!

Favorite Character: Fai D. Flowright, no contest. He begins fun and playful but as his true personality emerges due to time and violence he becomes chilling and thrilling and all the best spoilers!!

Special Note: Make sure to take stock of what every character is doing in every frame, because rarely is someone not doing something interesting! This includes even the extra background characters - you never know who will make a cameo.

Romantic Relationship: Sakura and Syaoran's romance is one for the ages as it spans not only time and space and worlds in this series but flows from its origins in Cardcaptor Sakura. It's sweet and tragic but no matter the obstacles your heart goes out to them and roots for them to somehow be together.

Series Crossover: This series crosses with another of CLAMP's called xxxHoLic. xxxHoLic was released in tandem with Tsubasa in America, and I initially read the two together, more or less (the volume pacing is wildly different). Apparently you don't have to read one to follow the other, but having read both I must say that a deeper layer of the convoluted onion opens up between both arcs so I definitely recommend, while perhaps not reading them "together," reading both near each other. If I had to choose which to read first, I think I would say xxxHoLic, because reading the entirety of Tsubasa first will ruin the mysterious beginning of xxxHoLic. (FYI the Tsubasa sequel series, Tsubasa: WoRLD CHRoNiCLE, crosses over with the xxxHoLic sequel series, xxxHoLic Rei.)

Conclusion: While the plot can get a bit complicated in the second half, with its dazzling worlds and highly engaging characters this CLAMP saga is worth a little confusion as the ladies truly let their limitless imaginations run wild through space and time. Highly recommend for contemporary fantasy manga lovers.

Scribble Rating
4.5 of 5 Scribbles

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