|A princess, an archeologist, a mage and a ninja, and a white fluffy bun -and the journey begins…|
CLAMP are a group of female mangaka that have published some of the most popular manga of the past two decades, with works such as xxxHolic, Card Captor Sakura and Tokyo Babylon. They are extremely loved by fans all over the world. That kind of hype though is what always kept me away from their stories. A few years ago I bought and read The One I Love but I never went any further. That was all until about a week ago, when a friend tagged me in a Facebook picture to a CLAMP character (namely Syaoran) from their manga series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles. That was the initial reason I decided to sit down and read the story. In the beginning I told myself today that I would read four chapters, just to have a speedy start and be able to finish the whole thing in a month or two. Three days after I started, I had gone through all the chapters of the 28 volumes and I was officially owned.
|Glass separating two lovers, rumbles and anguish- and that’s the first pages. “The mutual warmth that is unknown, a single glass panel… declares the beginning of everything.”|
We begin the story by witnessing young Sakura, princess of Clow country, visiting her best friend Syaoran, who lives alone after his father passed away. She is determined to confess him her love, but they are interrupted and so she has to wait one more day until she tells him of her feelings. A day after her visit she loses all of her memories that are scattered around in different dimensions in the form of feathers. Syaoran is sent by Clow’s priest to Yuuko, the witch of dimensions. There he finds two men, Kurogane and Fye, and discovers that all three of them need the same power-the power to cross the boundaries of different worlds. The price for such a power is the heaviest one for each of them, but they accept it and with the company of Mokona Modoki (the little white curly creature in the picture below), their journey begins.
The whole idea sounds very interesting and the longer the plot develops the more I felt attracted to the characters’ painful, struggling, intense and joyful experiences. It is truly enjoyable how CLAMP manage to constantly present a script that gives many surprises, can be easily separated into different sections, yet after a while one can notice that certain details that were presented before did have a lot of meaning. The initial pages of the first volume are the most spectacular case, but other details are wonderful, too.
I have to admit that the effort CLAMP putted in order to make the plot full of unexpected events is great, but I think that during the last two parts of the story, they overdid it. Especially during the last saga I could hardly understand what was going on, and I needed explanations from other readers to fully realize what was the final conclusion. I make the situation sound worse than it truly were, for I still felt satisfied with the ending, but that does not mean they could not have avoided these mistakes.
|No, your eyes don’t fool you. You do see some things double.|
The characters were the greatest element of the series. The main couple of Syaoran and Sakura are adorable, but they do have a lot more things than just loveliness. Both of them have the privilege to be full of cliches -Syoran the determined prince, Sakura the princess to be saved- and yet to appear neither predictable nor boring thanks to CLAMP’s little trick and the plot.
Kurogane and Fye are simply amazing. The way the chemistry between them works is simply unique, for they both have great affection for each other, they throw us funny catch lines -I loved Kurogane’s reaction to Fye calling him names. The development in their relationship was unexpected for they went much further than they originally seemed to be able to go. I constantly thought that they were going to stop talking to each, after each major crisis, but the difficulties tighten up their relationship. I cannot imagine the series without them. Mokona Modoki fills the last gaps in the image of the traveling five, for it is one of the most charismatic mascots presented in a manga.
The rest of the cast is again of the same high quality. The trick of presenting the same people in different dimensions is used well, for all protagonists get the amount of time they deserve. Tomoyo was the one that stood out from the rest -her form, her character, her actions made her a fundamental character in this story.
The only exception was the main villain, whose reasons for causing this mess were simply… shallow, namely his unbearable ego and vanity. It was such an obvious weak spot for the series and it could so easily been avoided that it makes me sad to think that this person is supposed to be all against the main heroes.
The talent CLAMP have is unquestionable to anyone that has both sight and even a little sense of artistic quality. But what I liked about their work on Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, is that they do not base their work simply on their talent. There is so much time and effort dedicated to each frame, and the splash pages are so out of this world that I can only pay my highest respect to them. It is a rare occasion that I find myself been stunned, more than twice in each chapter, by such great drawings. What my friends have told me is that Tsubasa’s drawings are the simplest and less complicated CLAMP have designed. I cannot imagine how the others could be like.
This review is not even close to paying tribute to such an awesome manga. All I can truly say is that, if you have not yet given Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles the time it deserves, it is you who are missing a great show, of the kind we rarely find in manga anymore.