In relation to xxxHolic, we have the sister series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles with equally convoluted plot lines like its fellow running series. Unlike the noodle branded series xxxHolic, Tsubasa ran from 2003 to 2009, at least the original series did. It does have a current running sequel called Tsubasa World Chronicle: Nirai Kanai-hen. This manga did something that changed how CLAMP did their storytelling, it allowed them to reuse old characters from previous stories and manga. The manga was released in America by Del Rey Manga and the anime was licensed by Funimation Entertainment. The series seemed to be popular for the most part, though there was much complaint over the complicated plotline.
The series follows Syaoran Li, previously from Cardcaptor Sakura, Princess Sakura, Kurogane, and Fai D. Flowright. Also annoying mascot character Mokona Modoki. The four are able to travel to other dimensions due to wishes they make with Yuko from xxxHolic. This is all because Sakura’s spirit has taken form and spread out like feathers across many dimensions and Syaoran has to make it right and return all the feathers to her, or she will die. Our other two Kurogane and Fai have similar wishes to one another. Kurogane just wishes to return home, while Fai wishes never to return to his own world. Thus begins the multi-dimensional adventure that could make or break these characters. It also allowed for CLAMP to show new and different sides of past characters because of the different world and dimension aspect. Such as two of the main characters.
Syaoran Li is the adopted son of a late archeologist in the Kingdom of Clow. He is also Princess Sakura’s childhood best friend. He continued his father’s work up until the incident with Sakura’s soul/memories scattering. He fights predominantly with his legs, which is important, trust me. He is also in love with Sakura, oh so shocking, but can’t admit it because she is a princess. He makes a big sacrifice when agreeing to the terms of Yuko’s wish, but he does it for Sakura. Ah, young love. This causes him to go on a search across dimensions to save Sakura’s life, despite the heartbreak it will bring him.
Sakura is the princess of Clow and is sort of… Dull? Like, she’s interesting, but in comparison to her Cardcaptor counterpart I don’t find her as intriguing. She’s also in love with Syaoran, her childhood friend, and planned on telling him, but was unable to as her memories scattered before she could. This leaves her in a near death state for a few chapters. She doesn’t do a whole lot really from what I remember, like she starts to do things, but at times it felt like she was just there for Syaoran’s angst fest.
Kurogane is a ninja from the world of feudal Japan where he served under Princess Tomoyo, who sent him away. This was done mostly because he really liked fighting and was often jumping the gun in favor of violence. He gives up he most precious item, a sword, to try and find his way home. Though after bonding with the group, his wish may change a bit. He is often too serious for his own good and that gets him teased by Fai.
Fai D. Flowright is a magician from the country of Celes. Without any direct help from anyone else, Fai travels to Yuko with the wish to not return to his country. He has to give up his magic for this wish to occur, well technically the seal that helps him keep his magi under control. His the lighthearted good natured character, who is hiding more than he lets on. He cares deeply about all the others in the group, so much so that he starts caring about himself less and less.
There’s a whole bunch of other characters, some original some not, but really a majority of the time they’re either rehashed characters from past mangas or from xxxHolic. This isn’t bad, but at points it feels mostly like its applauding longtime CLAMP fans. Then the original characters all start to feel like cop-outs at times as well, like an easy way out for a corner they may have written themselves into. It always feels like they could have done something more.
The art style is much like its sister in that everything is long and people aren’t supposed to bend like that. However, it actually works for this manga, because it doesn’t have the same jarring affect that xxxHolic did, rather it’s more subtle and allows the reader to adjust. The manga was originally serialized in Shonen Magazine. The only time the art doesn’t work is probably in the anime and that’s because in comparison to other works by CLAMP it felt stiff in the animation and dull. The colors were really dull and not at all near as whimsical as it could have been for the story they had. Bee Train who produced that anime are best known for .hack//Sign, which also had an unfortunate lackluster style to it for such an amazing plot. The anime was released in 2006, which was a bit of a less than impressive time for animation, like with Pandora Hearts to name one. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t feel like the animation flowed nearly as much as the manga did. It felt like it was trying to do something, but it just doesn’t hold up today.
Sound wise, I’ve only heard the dub, and it isn’t bad? Though it is set in this weird area of time for Funimation where they were trying out new lead voice actors and it could have worked. Still, it always could have been worse. Still, this series does suffer because the studio wasn’t sure where to go, at least at times that’s what it appeared to be. Syaoran was voiced by Jason Liebrecht who in the past as played Lavi from D.Gray-man, this was one of his more prominent roles. There’s also Christopher Sabat who played Kurogane, who you might know for his role in Dragon Ball Z as Vegeta and Piccolo. Sabat here really shines, as he often does within his roles. The music in the series was done by Yuki Kajiura who is known for her work in many of the .hack series, Pandora Hearts, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She’s great here with her near ethereal music full of perfectly placed bell chimes and we see it in her current works today. There’s also a dubbed movie called The Princess of the Country of Birdcages. Ultimately though, the anime is an easier time for those who wouldn’t like the constant screaming with Watanuki.
This series isn’t bad, it just feels like it was all over the place at times. The anime is tough to get through because it doesn’t get you to care, at least it didn’t for me, but the manga… Oh man, although the manga can be a mountain to get through it is very good. It does get convoluted at times, but other than that, it is good. It could be better. Like I said with xxxHolic, while this may not be the series to do it with, CLAMP is definitely worth looking into, they have a whole slew of series that may tickle one’s fancy. Still though, it doesn’t have near the amount of pull that its sister does. Tsubasa suffers because it almost feels like it’s trying too hard at times to be edgy and full of twists.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles: 6/10