Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Manga — Final Thoughts

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Manga — Final Thoughts

NOTE: This review goes to the end of the Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE manga, so if you are only reading the Del Rey releases, there are spoilers here!

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE MangaI first heard the announcement on some anime board of some kind or other that CLAMP were doing a new manga and that said manga would feature a teenaged Sakura and Syaoran from Cardcaptor Sakura. I had not read the Cardcaptor Sakura manga at that point, but I had seen the anime and loved it. So the idea of a sequel featuring the two as teens appealed to me. Then came word that it REALLY wasn’t the same Sakura and Syaoran, but rather alternate universe versions of them and that Sakura spent most of her time in the manga asleep. I was a little disappointed but when Del Rey licensed the manga, I decided to buy it just the same. Talk about a roller coaster and not all good.

CLAMP starts things off with Syaoran and Sakura who live in what is known as Clow Country and who have known each other since childhood. One day, Sakura is drawn to some nearby ruins and sprouts wings who’s feathers molt and disappear, leaving Sakura unconscious. After the series villain Fei Wong Reed sends an attack on Clow Country, the mage-priest of the land sends Sakura and Syaoran to the dimension where the so called Time-Space Witch, Yuuko-san, resides where she will give them help.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE MangaElsewhere, the mage Fay seals his king and leaves to have his wish to travel granted by Yuuko-san. In Nihon Country, the ninja-samurai Kurogane is seen to be too bloodthirsty and so his master, the powerful miko-princess Tomoyo, sends him to Yuuko-san’s place after placing a curse on him to teach him to not be so bloodthirsty. As a result, all four travelers arrive at roughly the same time. For Sakura and Syaoran, the goal is to travel to other worlds and gather Sakura’s lost feathers which contain her memories. For Fay, the goal is to stay on the run since his king will eventually break free. For Kurogane, his goal is to eventually return to Nihon and to Princess Tomoyo’s side.

The first nine and a half volumes are dedicated to these light adventure tales with a bit of mystery, romance, and comedy on the side. Each world they visit ends up with Sakura obtaining a new feather and more of her memories. They aren’t a bad read, but it isn’t anything too special either. For CLAMP fans, the biggest fun from this part of the manga comes from seeing various characters from other CLAMP titles show up in different worlds. These characters aren’t identical to the originals, just as Syaoran and Sakura are not the same Sakura and Syaoran from Cardcaptor Sakura. So it is fun seeing old characters in new roles.

Basically, the manga at this point is enjoyable for what it is — light adventure tales with a side of comedy.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE MangaIn volume 10, CLAMP starts the Piffle World arc and things slow down tremendously. Two and a half volumes are dedicated to Sakura winning a flying vehicle race and it gets rather tedious. If I remember correctly, one of the members of CLAMP had suffered an injury which is why the manga drug out here. Regardless, the pacing of the Piffle World arc is so slow so that by the time volume 12 is over, I was ready to drop the manga completely. After all, if the rest of the manga was going to be this uninteresting, then there would be no point in continuing.

While reading the linked manga, xxxHOLiC, it was revealed that interesting things were happening again in Tsubasa, so I started reading Tsubasa again. Sure enough, volume 13 has the manga turn dark, violent, and bloody but also very interesting as CLAMP explores Kurogane’s past. Also, CLAMP ramps up the mystery behind the two Syaoran’s which comes to a head in volume 16, where CLAMP pulls a big plot twist. It is here that CLAMP changes Sakura’s personality from bright and cheerful to dark but determined. CLAMP continues to keep things dark and heavy as they eventually explore Fay’s tragic past.

By the time CLAMP gets the group back to Nihon Country in volume 22, they go for a second major plot twist. From here to the end of the manga series (volume 28), CLAMP takes the audience on a roller coaster ride that becomes more and more of a confusing jumbled mess. One gets the feeling that CLAMP simply grew tired of Tsubasa and decided to just wrap things up and in doing so, caused all this mass confusion.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE MangaThat’s where the manga ultimately fails for me. Even as CLAMP attempts to provide answers to Watanuki’s (xxxHOLiC) connection with Syaoran and Sakura as well as Yuuko-san’s and Fei Wong Reed’s connections with everything, they end up muddying the waters so badly that it is frustrating. Folks should not have to reread things just to try to get a handle on what all is happening and still not be satisfied by what you are reading. I don’t like reading a manga who’s ending leaves me unsatisfied.

Speaking of unsatisfied, the character of Xing Huo, the female at Fei Wong Reed’s side during the first half of the manga, turns out to be a complete waste of space beyond freeing a Syaoran. I wanted to know more about her but instead, CLAMP kills her off. I guess they didn’t know what to do with her other than the one thing she did at the end of her time in the manga. Well, CLAMP did use her as a sounding board early on, but that role was taken over by others.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE MangaThe epilogue in volume 28 has a Syaoran, Kurogane, Fei, and White Mokona continuing their travels with the implication that they’ll now return often to Clow Country (and Sakura) as well as Yuuko-san’s shop, now run by Watanuki. I rather doubt that CLAMP attempts to do more stories because there would only be a “been there, done that” aspect, but considering that CLAMP did not end xxxHOLiC, who knows what will happen.

Speaking of xxxHOLiC, the crossover aspects of the two manga titles is kept to a minimum. As such, for most of the Tsubasa manga, one does not need to have read xxxHOLiC. However, as the series nears its end, it gets harder and harder to not follow both titles as there are details in xxxHOLiC that may make things a bit less confusing for the reader.

In the end, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE is an example of how CLAMP can and do go all over the place when it comes to their manga. They start as a standard shounen comedy-adventure series, then turn dark and violent enough to just about qualify Tsubasa as a seinen title before throwing in plot twists and enough confusion in attempting to resolve plot threads that frankly left me getting ready to sell off my entire Tsubasa manga collection.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Manga

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22 Responses to “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Manga — Final Thoughts”

  1. I think that the CLAMPs started smoking Marijuana from the 12th volume… xD

  2. AstroNerdBoy says:

    *LOL* That explains everything. ^_^

  3. mastermack0 says:

    Worse manga ever. No one understands what happened. Clones gave birth to their originals?! What?!

  4. AstroNerdBoy says:

    The whole clone aspect got way, way out of hand. From the start, we’d seen there were two Syaoran’s so having one be the fake and one be the real McCoy was not a problem for me. Twisting it so that the fake one was the one we saw from the beginning was unexpected but I was completely fine with that. Once Sakura became a clone is where things went south for me there. Combine that with the terrible aspects of CLAMP attempting to wrap up the story and it is no wonder the manga ends badly.

  5. Meroko says:

    I love Clamp, but Tsubasa…I have not read much of the manga, but the anime felt kind of slow, confusing, and just not watchable. Good to know the manga is the same.

  6. AstroNerdBoy says:

    The TV series focused on shounen adventure aspects and did what it could to avoid the dark stuff. As such, the anime bored the crap out of me at times.

    The manga did have good parts after volume 13 which makes how whacked the manga became in the end so disappointing.

  7. Meroko says:

    Sadly it seems that happens alot? Things for dumbed down in anime to try to reach younger age groups or some crap.

  8. O-chan says:

    I pretty much agree with everything you said about Tsubasa with the exception of selling off my manga collection. But this is one of CLAMPs biggest failures in terms of writing and probably a good example of how you DON’T make complicated plotlines. They really need to relearn how to tell a good story after this.

  9. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I don’t mind complicated stories IF they are set up properly. In many ways, “Negima!” is somewhat complicated. However, it is clear that Akamatsu-sensei has thought out his story well so that when certain revelations happen, the groundwork had been laid earlier.

    CLAMP did lay out some groundwork with the two Syaoran characters, but pulling stuff out of the air for plot twists and then seemingly just doing whatever it took to end the story threads no matter how complicated and confusing it was. *_*

    xxxHOLiC has suffered a bit from this, though due to the fact that xxxHOLiC does not have as many chapters/volumes, CLAMP didn’t make it quite as complicated.

    Which reminds me, I have two xxxHOLiC volume reviews still to write.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I stuck on with Tsubasa and this is what they hit my head with. *need a Band-Aid*

    I will make an alternate ending (acceptable by my own logic) within the time-dimension of my brain.

    1) Syaoran and Sakura should ask Watanuki to grant their wish of having their clones revived

    2) The clones being created beings should be able to live within Yuuko’s shop. Their time will stop there but at least they will be together.

    3) Payment: Real Sakura and real Syaoran never meeting ever agn.
    Reason: They were never going to meet agn anyway (clone Sakura dream of it but couldn’t stop it from happening).
    Anyway, I’m desperate for at least clone Syaoran/Sakura pair to be together and happy. Our adventures were with them.
    I DEMAND justice for them *sniff*

  11. atdhejlik says:

    i got to read a bit of this manga and watched the whole anime series… i don’t think their point is that they should have a very good plot. what they want for the audience is i think the “feeling” and the lessons in life ^^ geez.. this is a cross-starred lovers’ love story. if you’re in love you have to watch this, friendship? same.. i thank THAT’s what CLAMP wants us to see. the moral lessons..i read mangas and watc animes :p

    i don’t really care about their storylines, as long as i GET SOMETHING out of it.. even the worst animes ever are the greatest examples…..peace!

  12. crazywuzhere says:

    For those of you who just don’t like Tsubasa, clearly you haven’t grasped the full concept.
    Tsubasa is CLAMP’s greatest work by far! What is wrong with you people? The fact that they could even come up with a plot like that… I’ve never seen anything like it. It was beautifully written, first starting out as shounen, then slowly turning into shojo. It was incredibly powerful and heartfelt. Near the end of the series, we learn that Fei Wong Reed isn’t necessarily “bad” but just trying to fufil Clow Reed’s wish– To bring Yuuko-san back to life. But in order to do that, he needed to void the rules of the universe and also to the point where time had no meaning. The one ‘rule’ that could never be destroyed (which Fei Wong attempted) was the fact that no matter what you do, no matter how much you wish for it, once a person dies that person can never come back. This concept was repeated over and over in the series. The people that suffered the most were the main characters, and throughout the series, we see the hardships they had to endure, and the sacrifices that they had to make. As a major bonus, CLAMP “recycled” many of the characters and settings from their previous works, giving the reader interest in some of CLAMP’s other works. The best part of all, is the fact of the possibility of seeing Syaoran, Fai, Kurogane, and Mokona in CLAMP’s future works (which has already happened in xxxHOLiC and the Kobato anime).

    It is truly CLAMP’s best work.

  13. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Heh! I’m not sure if this is brilliant tongue-in-cheek stuff, trolling, or serious. ^_^;;; No matter which way, thanks for writing. ^_^

  14. crazywuzhere says:

    I’m dead serious.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m tempted to read the manga, so I will. If its terrible like you said I will tell you. If not terrible, I will still tell you. But currently I’m expecting it to be terrible because of what I’ve read. I’ll probably watch the anime also.

    P.S. NEVER watch Card Captor Sakura with the English dub. It sucks and all the editing is ridiculous!

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      It isn’t all terrible. It starts out fun and adventurous, moves to the boring for a bit, then turns dark and interesting before ending up a complete and total mess. ^_^;

      As to Cardcaptors, I never watch anything English dub any more unless I’m given a review copy of something to watch.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Ok, continuing from the last post (mine), I have started reading Tsubasa up to the 9th chapter (I think) and am so far enjoying it. There were a few minor confusing parts in the beginning but I still liked how everything was happening. I’m reading online and am not surprised that Syoaran has a powerful Kudan. I’m glad Sakura woke up a little while too! So kawaii! I will post again later on!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hello again! Its the little annon girl again. I am continuing from my last post. Ok so I just finished chapter 15 in the manga Tsubasa, and the first thing I have to say is, “It’s about time you went to a new country!” Yet again, Sakura has woken up but I was sad when all her memory vanished. Poor Shaoran had to explain everything. Oh how it sucks. Now they’re in this new world and already had bad stuff happen. Though it is still very enjoyable. I could completely understand everything in this bundle of chapters. Up to this point I’m changing my original thought of terrible to enjoyable because everything so far, to me, has been pretty good with no real complaints. Well, see ya next time!
    -Anon Girl-

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Thanks for the continued updates. ^_^ I look forward to more.

      I think that at this early point in the manga, you will continue to enjoy things for quite a few volumes. ^_^

  18. I agree with your review. I think CLAMP got themselves in a Kudzu Plot and didn’t know how get out of there, so they end up pulling things out of thin air to resolve everything, expecting that readers won’t understand it or that they simply didn’t care.

    The manga started Great, but after a little pass the middle the plot got so contradictory, that end up breaking my Willing Suspension of Disbelief. From that point onward the story ranged from incredible predictable to utterly ilogical.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Yeppers, though I didn’t think the manga started off great. It was just a fun, shounen action series with some comedy and a bit of romance on the side. When it turned dark is when I thought it turned great, but then that greatness vanished with all of the tropes you cite. (And as an aside, I should read the entire trope site someday.)

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