"The world is a very small place, but for those who know it...it is very, very large. And the world, when it is viewed by those who 'know'—is far larger than just one world can hold!"
The famous CLAMP brings back the characters from all their creations for an ultimate showdown in this multi-dimensional tale.
This is the story of four travelers, bound by fate and by prophesied future. Sakura is the princess of Clow Country, and possessor of a strange power that promises to change the world. Syaoran is an aspiring archaeologist and her childhood friend. When Sakura is endangered by the plan a certain man has for the future, the princess' memories are scattered across dimensions in the form of feathers, and Syaoran is forced to go on a desperate journey to retrieve them. They are accompanied by Fay D. Flourite, a magician running from the horrible truth of his past, and Kurogane, a rough-mannered ninja trying to get back to his world. However, the ability to cross worlds demands a great price, and each of them must pay the Dimensional Witch with what he or she values most. In order to save his princess, Syaoran must give up his relationship with her. Even if he gathers all of Sakura's memories, she will never remember their past together...
But the world is not so simple. The very moment these four made this decision, their destinies are sealed into a tragic course...as everyone in the group has their own secrets. Visions of the future are seen, and prophesies are made. The cruel future which lies ahead reads only of betrayal, abandonment, devastation and anguish.
Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE was published in English by Del Rey from April 27, 2004 to November 23, 2010. Kodansha Comics USA republished the series in 10 omnibuses from August 19, 2014 to October 18, 2016.
Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, often shortened for the sake of convenience to "Tsubasa", is one of the newest additions to a large body of work by world-renowned manga studio CLAMP. After 6 years of faithfully following this series' serialization, I have come to the conclusion that it is nothing short of a masterpiece.
~STORY~: Tsubasa has an original and fresh story under its belt, which is to be expected from a CLAMP work. The main antagonist (Fei Wong Reed) causes a desert princess (Sakura) to lose all of her memories in order to achieve his dream. Her childhood friend (Syaoran) is forced to go to the Space-Time Witch (Yuuko Ichihara) for help, because only through the Witch's powers can he be sent to different dimensions in order to retrieve Sakura's memories. He is, by a stroke of fate and unmistakable destiny, accompanied by a swordsman (Kurogane) trying to get back to his homeland and back to the princess whom he serves (Her Royal Highness Tsukuyomi). Syaoran is also accompanied by a secretive magician (Fay D. Fluorite) who is running from his mysterious past. However, to pay the price for traveling worlds, they must each pay with the thing they value the most. Syaoran loses his relationship with Sakura forever, Kurogane gives up his precious sword, and Fay parts with the tattoo which keeps his magic intact. Along the way, they encounter corrupt worlds full of war, despair, and lies. They find treachery and abandonment within their very own group. It's a story that sends a refreshing and ominous chill down your spine, especially in the second half of the series. The majority of the series is just savagely cruel..I'm warning you that Tsubasa steadily grows to be extremely dark and depressing. The story plays out to be more than worthy of Greek tragedy. It's a fool's game trying to predict how it ends. I definitely recommend this if you like magical adventures, fighting action, or forbidden romance.
~APPEAL~: CLAMP excels at creating manga series that perfectly mesh the conventional attributes of shōnen and shōjo manga. Tsubasa is, like many of their works, a strong example of this. For guys, there are many badass, wondrously-illustrated fighting scenes, along with fantastic displays of weaponry in the splash pages and in the Infinity arc. The sheer amount of destructive chaos and spilled blood are enough to classify Tsubasa as a seinen manga. For girls, the romance genre will definitely pull them in. There are (literally) about 20 years' worth of crossover bishies who appear throughout the course of the series. Vampire Knight fans will be delighted at the appearance of vampires and their hunters in the Acid Tokyo arc. Shounen-ai fans will be wild over the boys' love teasing that CLAMP is renowned for, specifically interaction between Kurogane and Fay (what their relationship IS remains questionable, but has been addressed by editors at VIZ Media, prominent cartoonists, and professional manga critics). The hints of shounen-ai and minuscule doses of virginal eroticism are so specifically placed into subtext that it's enough to make anyone go crazy. Some worlds resemble feudal Japan, ancient Korea, Victorian London, and post-apocalyptic Tokyo, among others. Did I mention that there's clones, time-travel, and lucid dreaming? Yeah, this is a trippy manga. There's definitely something for everyone.
Tsubasa is, without a doubt, the most incredible and epic crossover series to date. It's not necessary to read CLAMP's other stuff, and it's perfectly all right to read Tsubasa by itself, but you will finish the series feeling empty inside. Let me warn you that you won't enjoy this manga nearly as much. Why read a crossover series if you don't know the true essence of the characters? Why read a crossover series if you are unable to understand the constant references, shout-outs, and cameos? If you are new to CLAMP, the fascinating charm of "bringing back the characters" has no effect on you whatsoever, and the magic of Tsubasa is altered in a very unfavorable way. All of their manga have been given such a unifying tone that you must read them to enjoy Tsubasa to the fullest extent. I honestly cannot stress this fact enough...the more CLAMP series you have read, the more you get out of the experience. Tsubasa was truly made for the fans who sobbed, bawled, and found themselves complete wrecks throughout the courses of RG Veda, Tokyo Babylon, X, and CLAMP's other tragic classics. I have emotionally invested all of my soul into these characters ever since I was a little girl, and to see them appear again at last was absolutely blissful. The least you can do is read Cardcaptor Sakura. If time is of the essence, you can always go straight to Tsubasa after CCS and then re-read Tsubasa later, after you've plown through all of their other works.
~PLOT~: From the very start, Tsubasa grabs interest. However, the pacing begins to slow down due to filler chapters, repetitiveness, and childish innocence. I found it frankly a bit boring, but I didn't drop this series because...come on, it's CLAMP. A joke within the fandom is that anything and EVERYTHING by them will either develop into a dark, bloody, diabolically-slaughter-and-decapitate-every-living-thing-in-sight series, or into a disgustingly cute, fluffy, this'll-give-you-diabetes series. In this case, Tsubasa is leaning towards the former. I don’t argue with those who find the series weakening around the 10th/11th/12th volume mark, but just read a couple more and everything pays off.
At the Acid Tokyo arc, things begin to pick up with wicked plot twists being introduced left, right, and center. These 'twists' had been foreshadowed very frequently before in the storyline. Halfway through, the story takes on a distinctly darker flair, as bucketloads of blood and angst are suddenly deemed imperative. It's around this time that the series morphs from what used to be a light-hearted nakama adventure story to what TvTropes describes as "something out of the drug-induced hallucination of a deranged Sigmund Freud." From this point on, Tsubasa only gets more exhilarating with each successive installment. Lissa Patillo: "You can certainly feel the excitement and suspense as the story is pulled along to dangerous, but enthralling, territory." Some people have a preference for the first half of the series...when no one is dying, Syaoran and Sakura's personalities are yawn-worthy, and the plot lacks promise of depth. Hey, if that kind of stuff floats your boat, you shouldn't be reading CLAMP. They enjoy making their characters go through living hell. But they do this artfully. And they like to torture their readers.
Did I mention that every single time a new chapter came out, people would start panicking and screaming "WTF?! I WAS WRONG!" and then proceed to curse at CLAMP for unleashing yet another plot twist? I admit that even I felt frustrated, as the theories I took months to come up with were immediately disproven and dissolved with a mere statement in the manga. Don't even bother trying to come up with theories. To quote some of my friends: "Even Einstein's brain would implode trying to understand the time paradoxes in this series. The plot's not just deep, it's BOTTOMLESS." "In fact, my brain expired three months ago." "Ohkawa has an even stranger mind than Salvador Dali, Quentin Tarantino and John Lennon put together." The sheer number of storylines that come together will undoubtedly threaten your state of mental health, as they are very confusingly executed. Tsubasa begins to rely so heavily on symbolism that it can only be labeled a huge mind screw. However, CLAMP has been tying up all the loose ends in xxxHOLiC, and I applaud them from allowing the plot unfold at its own natural momentum.
There are still many unexplained questions about this series, but the vast majority of it makes sense if you have the patience to read xxxHOLiC, consider other fans' theories, re-read Tsubasa, and dive in a little bit on symbolism. All the true Tsubasa/CLAMP fans have already done this, while others start trashing this series simply because they lack the potential to understand it. You can't just skim through pages and expect to soak up all the information like a sponge. This is a manga that makes you think. This is a manga that forces you to come up with your own ideas and analyze subtext as you read. I'm quite sure that CLAMP will spoon-feed explanations to lazy fans in xxxHOLiC's ending, so make a note to check that out if the need arises. The two series intertwine very heavily, with emphasis placed on the later chapters. You'll gain an enormous amount of insight this way, and the majority of your questions will be answered.
~ART~: Viciously gorgeous artwork, as expected from CLAMP. It's the typical highly detailed hair, heavily stylized eyes and human figures, and elaborate clothing which remains a unique style to them. Over time, the art gradually undergoes a dramatic transformation. The result is akin to that of X/1999. Tsubasa adopts a distinctly contrasting, black-and-white style, with the panels becoming more polished due to the heavy use of screentones.
Carlos Santos of ANN: "What really matters—when two full pages are absolutely necessary to show how dramatic something is—the visual layouts nail it perfectly." In fact, the most memorable scenes are the ones expressed entirely through art. Words mean nothing in this series...silence means everything. The sheer amount of raw emotion concentrated all into a single panel manages to hit you right in the heart. CLAMP knows their tragedy; they know how to reduce a hardcore fan to tears just by having them look at an isolated, wordless page. C.S.: "Even plain old conversation scenes carry a sort of emotional magic, with bittersweet longing expressed on the faces of the characters as they ponder the changing bonds of friendship."
C.S.: "Raw penstrokes, gravity-defying angles and a bevy of special effects illuminate each fight scene. Thanks to the number of speedline intense, dialogue-scarce action panels ... don’t be surprised if you fly through this [series] quicker than most." The backgrounds might even be too detailed, to the point where it's hard to see what's going on. All in all, the art translates effortlessly onto paper with the story's emotional, psychological, and tragic beauty. I can't praise it enough.
~CHARACTER~: Subtext is huge in this category. Every single time I re-read Tsubasa, I discover something new about the characters. You have to let things sink in slowly, and ask yourself questions. "Why did she decide to do that?" "Why did they exchange that look?" "What went through his mind when he closed his eyes in that panel?" Tsubasa is the kind of manga that you can't read through quickly. You have to analyze and theorize. One of the main reasons that people give Tsubasa a low rating is because they aren't in tune with the characters and don't pay attention to the subtext. The subtle yet powerful looks on the character’s faces reveal everything you need to know. If you look hard enough, that is.
Syaoran, Sakura, Kurogane, and Fay have distinct personalities. They change tremendously. They lie and distance themselves from each other in a way that just breaks your heart. They find the meaning of true strength and break the chains that bind their pasts. They make horrible decisions and end up paying greatly for them. One thing that Yuuko said to Fai was, "To all the young ones in your group, you are no longer someone who passes through their lives and is forgotten. You have become someone very important to them. Your hardships are their hardships too." In short, our characters become extremely well-developed and have radically different ways of viewing the world as a whole. It's impossible not to relate to them, and you are dealt painful blows to the heart with the countless numbers of obstacles that are thrown between them. I would have liked a little more development for Syaoran and Sakura, though. Their love is too "pure" for me, and they're too kind-hearted for their own good. Kurogane and Fay are the ones that truly shine in this category. They're so human that it scares me to death. Lissa Pattillo couldn't have put it better: "The whole [saga] tailors heavily to fans of character-relation dramas, as the connections between emotionally-scarred characters prove to be some of the most sweet, but also chilling, moments of [CLAMP] series in recent memory."
~OTHER~: This is a real treat for CLAMP fans. People who say that the creators were just lazy obviously aren't familiar with them. In a story where countless characters come and go, do you really expect that people will remember their names? What makes these characters memorable is the fact that their personalities and traits were unraveled when they were the main focus of a different series. The very roots of their hearts, or 'souls', are essentially the same. If you've read most of CLAMP's works, you know in exact detail the lives, true natures, and pasts of every single minor character in Tsubasa (in an alternate universe). It's nothing short of extraordinary. Like I sad before, I have been emotionally invested in all of CLAMP's characters, so to have them all again in this tragedy is almost sensory overload. I was struck with waves of nostalgia and a dizzying feeling.
~ENJOYMENT~: I enjoyed Tsubasa tremendously, and am mourning over the fact that it has ended. It was a great 6 years, CLAMP. This manga is definitely worth your time. So why not give it a try? You certainly won't regret it. This metaphorical gem will stay lodged in your mind for a long time to come. A continued recommend read that I cannot stress enough the worth of sticking with.
~FINAL VERDICT~: A great story, appeal for a wide range of audiences, absolutely breathtaking artwork, and good characterization make it a 'must-read' manga. However, the convoluted plot and the extremely depressing scenarios that occur in the second half of the manga will throw readers off-guard (though it's a wonderful improvement compared to the boring, comedic, "gotta-catch-'em-all" feel of the first half). The storyline gradually begins to make sense after months of ceaseless pondering, but once the majority of puzzle pieces are in place, you can't help but love Tsubasa even more. Definitely recommended if you're a CLAMP fan, but definitely NOT recommended if you've never touched any of their other series. All in all, I would rate this series a '9.5'. However, since there's no decimal rating available for reviews, I rounded it to '10'.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS WHATSOEVER regarding this series, or if you need someone to aid you in dissecting that absolutely mind-boggling plot, feel free to message me! (:read more
Story: The story is really original and is somewhat easi to follow even with all the different countries and character secrets you can keep in mind under the tale. I think its impossible to say that the story is bad no matter who you asks.
Art: Yea you have guesed it. Its really CLAMP art in Tsubasa but not negativ at all. all is shown really clear and pretty. I think most people know CLAMPS signature art but I have to say this is best together with xxxholic (:
Character: Gosh! you just cant keep yourself from feeling with all the different characters through the story. especially the main characters. all have outstanding minds and acts just after their head. I can promise one thing: None! of the main characters are flat.
Enjoyment: Tsubasa is the manga I have enjoyed the most. When you first have the manga you just cant stop reading bechause it sucks you right into the different worlds and the characters feelings.. I have felt a lot of sadness throgh the manga but I only think that is good bechause I can relate myself to it so much.
It gets under your skin.read more
I've probably taken about 5 years to actually read this whole manga, but a month ago I decided I wanted to finally read it in full alongside its sister manga, xxxHolic. As a long-term fan of CLAMP, I knew what I was getting into - and yet I'm sitting here now, very breathless but kind of confused.
The first half of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle was absolutely amazing (up to and including Acid Tokyo, for sure). I could probably rate it 10/10 even if I included all the occasional arcs that felt a little too much like filler, as all these arcs were absolutely necessary to the storyline and (beautiful) character development that took place. I remain in awe that something so grand in scale could be brought together so easily, so concisely and so beautifully. Solid 10/10 for story, art, character and enjoyment.
In the second half of Tsubasa, however, the reveals start.. which is still all fine and dandy - you can't really be a fan of CLAMP without being a fan of twists and turns. But with ever more turns - and all at increasing speed - initially MINDBLOWING reveals become convoluted, elaborate and confusing. Still a technically superb manga, but more and more perplexing. I'm unsure if scanlation quality had anything to do with it, but I had to google chapters regularly to understand what was going on and my history is now full of weird and cryptic questions. This is where my enjoyment started to slip (from 10/10 to 8/10ish) and my reading pace drastically slowed down. Even now, having inhaled pages of commentary and analysis, I'm not entirely sure I understand EVERYTHING that happened. But I do know that I liked Tsubasa one hell of a lot and CLAMP are still my favourite mangaka group of all time. I don't know what to do with myself now, and that always says a lot.
I definitely think reading Tsubasa alongside xxxHolic boosted my enjoyment of both. They are long, emotionally draining and confusing series, so the ability to take a break from one whilst not putting it all down completely was a blessing. Note: this is easily done by basically switching which manga you're reading at every crossover scene that occurs. You can also read the rest of CLAMP's early works to understand who all the characters are in all the worlds, but I didn't find that as necessary - besides that odd feeling of nostalgia for old faves.
To summarise this review: Just read it, but don't rush it. Do not rush it.read more
tsubasa reservoir chronicles can be considered one of the most EPIC crossover series to date.
it is clamp's latest work, along with xxxholic (w/c is also amazing, btw). the two stories are connected, and although either can stand alone as its own series, it is also recommended that you read both to completely understand the story.
the opening plot is simple: the princess sakura has lost her memories and it is syaoran's task to get them back. along with a ninja who wants only to return home, and a mage who wishes never to go back (plus mokona, of course), they undertake the journey of a lifetime. on the way, they meet different people (some very familiar to us - especially those who are avid fans of clamp), and experience different things.
but as you immerse yourself deeper into the plot, it suddenly becomes more than a simple adventure story: it becomes the manifestation of all of the themes clamp has made their own: the strength of wishes, the bonds that can form between people, and the power of the deepest kind of love. Of how there can be no such thing as coincidence, only hitsuzen.
the art is simple and yet elegant, and of course, completely original. their bodies may not be perfectly proportioned (a common complaint) - but one can say that it is their signature style. one look and you can definitely identify it as a work of clamp.
there are four main characters (mentioned in the summary), aided by Yuuko, our beloved space-time witch (see xxxholic). some start off as no more than selfish brats, and others are so completely selfless they disregard themselves entirely. there are no mary sues (nor gary stus) in this series - each character has their own flaw, their own imperfections. every one of them is pained by the past.
and as they go along their journey, they grow up - are influenced by each other, and grow stronger as a result. i love how each of them faces their past and destroys the chains that bind them.
i loved the manga - the anime, not so much, except for the ova (see tokyo revelations), w/c was great, and stuck true to the manga plot.
at this point part of me wants to know how it ends (it is now at its last arc); the other half of me wants it to go on forever.
this series is brilliant - clamp never fails to amaze me - and i would definitely recommend it to those who would enjoy a heart-thrilling, mind-bending tale of adventure, magic and love.
i guarantee that this is one series that you will always remember.