by Melissa Harper,

Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE

G. Novel 8-10

Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
After failing to recover one of Sakura's feathers for the first time, Syaoran and the gang find themselves facing more and more challenges. A mysterious world brings into question Mokona's feather-finding power; the group then finds themselves transported first to different places, then to different times! Separated from Fai and Kurogane, Sakura and Syaoran must attempt to find the feather on their own, but the search is made more difficult when Syaoran encounters none other than Fai and Kurogane on the opposite side of a battlefield. Are these just look-alikes, or are Fai and Kurogane fighting against Syaoran for real? Once that mystery is solved, the group moves on to a more futuristic world that proves Tomoyo is the same no matter what dimension she is in!
Consistent readers of CLAMP's crossover series, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, should be familiar with the flow of the plot by the time they reach the eighth volume, and thus will know pretty much what to expect. The gang travels to a new world and is immediately thrown into some kind of problem, more than likely caused by one of Sakura's missing feathers. They put clues together, get a little bit of action, stop the bad guy if there is one, collect the feather, then move on. Volumes eight, nine, and ten offer little variety on the format; there's enough to keep long-time readers coming back for more, but really nothing to prompt new readers to pick it up, except one thing in the tenth volume.

If you picked up Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoniCLE a while ago, and decided it wasn't enough like its inspiration, CardCaptor Sakura, then you might want to give the tenth volume a try. While volumes eight and nine deal almost exclusively with a fantastical world populated by characters from CLAMP's debut manga, RG Veda, volume ten puts the group in a world called Piffle. Piffle offers a fresh, futuristic setting after all of the fantastical ones the group has been visiting lately, and a story arc chock full of all the stuff that made CardCaptor Sakura great, including plenty of love for Sakura from Tomoyo, and a very kick-butt Sakura. So if you have gotten tired of the sleeping beauty role Sakura has been playing in the series so far, volume ten offers some much-needed character development in that area.

Volume eight foreshadows this development briefly with a stop-over in a cute, bunny-filled world where Sakura absolutely insists on being a part of the action, but then the story takes a very long detour to a world that fills half of volume eight, all of volume nine, and another half of volume ten. Some important plot points are covered through this trek, especially involving the nature of the Dimension Witch's powers, and there are plenty of action scenes, including a series of fights between Kurogane and Syaoran. Also presented is the possibility of interference with, as well as a limit to, Mokona's dimension traveling powers, as the group gets separated during one dimension jump, landing in different places, and ultimately different times. Unfortunately, there is also quite a bit of useless filler material, with various fan-service elements, such as cross-dressing Syaoran, that really detract from the flow of the story. The plot that is present moves rather slowly, and is a bit confusing; as with many arcs so far in this series, one feels that if they'd only read (insert-cross-over-series-here), they'd understand the plot much better. So, on the level of advertising tool for older CLAMP series, these novels work as well as the previous volumes.

After the characters are separated in volume eight, volume nine focuses almost entirely on Sakura and Syaoran. The volume feels a little uneven without the banter of Fai and Kurogane; you really feel their absence by the end of volume nine. The relationship between Sakura and Syaoran really doesn't have much room to develop, although volume nine does offer a little treat that longtime fans have been waiting to see in that area; their excitement level as junior mystery solvers is a little below par. CLAMP hints at what might be going on with Syaoran and his mysterious other self a bit in volume nine, but other than that, it really moves quite slowly, and is frankly a bit boring.

Visually, these three novels keep up with the standards expected of CLAMP. There's no arguing the artistic skills of these ladies. Older characters are modified to fit the look of this current series, getting a great makeover in most cases. The wardrobe department also keeps up to speed; with each country comes a new style of dressing, and new opportunities for the ladies to come up with outrageous costumes. Each character looks great in each world, and each world is in turn filled with visual interest.

The Del Rey releases also include the bonus materials that have been in previous volumes. The translation notes are extensive in all three volumes; with the crossover nature of the series, the information included there is nearly vital to understanding the plot, so that is definitely a good feature. Two of the three volumes also include omake, funny bonus stories that feature Mokona. The one in volume eight is particularly funny; it presents the group at a sushi bar, and their various opinions of the dish. No matter how you feel about sushi, this bonus will make you smile.

It's nice to finally see Sakura being a little bit cool; she was such a strong character in CardCaptor Sakura that her lack of involvement in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has been disappointing, so far, so this is a nice change of pace. Tsubasa looks good as always, and while some of the story moves rather slowly, you don't want to miss the great characters from RG Veda, or a couple of great moments between the two couples in the series.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : A

+ Some character finally get some action and the spotlight.
Too much filler; slow pacing.

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Production Info:
Story: CLAMP
Character Design: Mokona
Satsuki Igarashi
Tsubaki Nekoi

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Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (manga)

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