Jarrah's Reviews > Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Vol. 1

Tsubasa by CLAMP
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This review is for volumes 1-7.

YA fantasy manga. This is a companion/crossover series with xxxHolic. Syaoran and Sakura have been the closest of friends since they were children. Now Sakura has been attacked, and her memories scattered as feathers across the multi-verse. Without her memories, she'll die. Syaoran goes to Yuuko, the Dimension Witch, for a way to save her, and is given a creature who will act as a guide through the dimensions: but Yuuko grants wishes only for a price that matches the wish, and Syaoran's price is his relationship with Sakura. Yuuko takes Sakura's memories of Syaoran, memories that no matter how many feathers Syaoran collects Sakura can never get back. The wish is still too powerful for the price, though, so Yuuko splits the price between two other travellers - strangers to each other - who also need to travel through dimensions. These are Fai, a young mage with a sweet smile and a charming sense of humour, whose motives and secrets are an apparently dark mystery, and Kurogane, a violent assassin banished from his own world.

On paper, this seris hits my narrative kinks with such pinpoint accuracy that I ought to be unconscious. The need to save a friend is the plot motivation I come back to in my own writing with unwearied persistence. Amnesia that destroys or twists the relationship between two characters is my favourite cliche ever. Memory in general is utterly fascinating to me, and the idea of gathering up bits of memory in discrete pieces, and reforming your worldview a bit at a time, offers absolutely fantastic opportunities for meta about the inter-relation of memory and identity, which I'm excited about watching unfold.

Despite that, this isn't nearly as good as xxxHolic, mostly because the characters and their interactions are not nearly as cool. Syaoran is plucky and determined and devoted and has an underprivileged background. Sakura is wide-eyed and warm and uncertain and impulsive. The two of them are far too perfect to be truly interesting, and their dynamic so far mostly consists of Sakura being sleepily sweet and oblivious and Syaoran being angsty and determined, which is not everything that I want from an amnesia premise. Fai and Kurogane have a wonderful dynamic, but I haven't read far enough to really see how it will develop yet. I don't love the world/s as much either. I love to see fantasy interweave with the real world, and that's what xxxHolic does, whereas Tsubasa is a parade of funky new worlds. That's fun, but none of the worlds can be as well developed as xxxHolic's Tokyo, by definition.

ETA: Now that I've finished the series, this review badly needs updating, mostly with flailing love and hilarifying angst. Stand by, I guess.
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Reading Progress

06/18/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Astrid (new)

Astrid Heh, are you reading this just to make sense of xXXholic? I've heard that later on down the storyline, the two series start to cross over a lot. Cheap way of manipulating their fans into buying both, really. :D

That said, ahaha, we must talk about your recent fixation on manga. Perhaps I can persuade you to read this boy's love one I have called Antique Bakery?

Jarrah Heh - I probably would have picked it up eventually just because of xxxHolic, but I picked it up a whole lot sooner because oh my god this is amnesia and saving someone who doesn't remember you and alternate reality versions of people you know and waaaah. *Cough* It's not actually as good as xxxHolic, I know - Syaoran and Sakura are kind of Mary Sues - but it hits my narrative kinks like a sledgehammer. Plus Fai and Kurogane are fantastic.

I will need no persuasion at all to read Antique Bakery if you tell me it's good. The only boy's love I've read have been wretchedly bad one-offs. You could, uh, feel free to bring it along tomorrow if you mean that you have it in hardcopy ...?

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