Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (2005-2009) RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (2005-2009) is a Japanese fantasy/science fiction anime that takes place in an alternate universe. It takes place in the same fictional universe as many of Clamp's other manga series, most notably xxxHOLic. It is based on the shonen manga series written and illustrated by the manga artist group, CLAMP. It includes a TV series of 52 episodes and two OVAs, Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations and Tsubasa Spring Thunder Chronicles.

The plot begins with two close childhood friends, Sakura and Syaoran. Sakura is the princess of the Kingdom of Clow, and Syaoran is a young archaeologist. When Sakura visits Syaoran in the ruins, her spirit takes on the form of a pair of ghostly feathered wings that disintegrate to other dimensions. As she descends into a catatonic near death state, Syaoran meets the Dimensional Witch, Yuko Ichihara (a main character from xxxHOLic), to whom he begs for help to save Sakura. Yuko is also visited by two others who each have their own wish: Kurogane, a ninja who wishes to return to his home world after being banished from his world by Princess Tomoyo to allow him to learn what true strength is; and Fai D. Flowright, a magician who wishes to never return to his home world, Celes, to avoid his king, Ashura-o. In exchange for the ability to travel across dimensions, Yuko demands that each pay with that they value most: Kurogane offers his sword; Fai offers the tattoo that suppresses his enormous magical strength and power; and Syaoran offers all of Sakura's memories that involve him. YĆ«ko then presents them with a creature named Mokona Modoki that sends the group on a journey across dimensions in search of Sakura's feathers. After obtaining the first feathers, Sakura awakens from her catatonic state and starts recovering her memories. As they travel, they learn that the feathers have their own unique abilities and can bestow several supernatural abilities to those who possess them.

I must admit that the film, Blood-C: The Last Dark, encouraged me to finally finish this review. I had been postponing it for several years, but I realized it was time that I write about it so I don't have any regrets. I was waiting until more Tsubasa Chronicle videos come out, but I think it's safe to assume now that the production crew has moved on to other CLAMP projects. This summer, I promised myself that I will catch up on anime and book reviews.

The Tsubasa project was conceived when four Clamp artists wanted to create a manga series that connected all their previous works. They took the designs for the main protagonists from their earlier manga called Cardcaptor Sakura. The last half of Tsubasa coincides with the xxxHOLic project since both series take place in the same universe. Since the main characters have to participate in adventures across several dimensions, it can be difficult to keep up on their progress and location. After rewatching Tsubasa for a second time, it became much more clear to me what happened to both Syaoran and Watanuki (another main character in xxxHOLic). The plot can be convoluted for those not familiar with both series. It is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, the Tsubasa soundtrack is excellent! The compilation, Future Soundscapes I-IV, were written, arranged, and composed by the highly-talented Yuki Kaijura (you can hear her music on My HiME and Code Geass). I had the special opportunity to watch some of her work in a 2008-2010 live performance in Japan featuring Eri Ito, and FictionJunction KEIKO, which was spectacular. My favorite songs, "A Song of Storm and Fire" and "Ring Your Song" (sung by Eri Ito) are on the album. Other favorite instrumental songs are "Hear Our Prayer" and "I Talk to the Rain" (which are so beautifully chilling). Five years later, the music never gets old. The songs are that good with Yuki's trademark sound. If you don't get the chance to watch the anime, I highly recommend the soundtracks!
Opening: "Blaze" by Kinya

Ending Song: "Loop" by Maaya Sakamoto

Live perfomrance of "A Song of Storm and Fire" by Yuki Kaijura featuring Eri Ito and FictionJunction KEIKO

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