Tsubasa Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Release Date: Saturday, January 01, 2005
Translated by:William Flanagan
What They Say
Sakura is awake, but she remembers almost nothing - certainly not Syaoran, who has sacrificed everything to help her. Accompanied by the happy-go-lucky Fai, the intense Kurogane and the strikingly odd creature Mokona Modoki, Sakura and Syaoran make their way into a new universe where a traveling magician has suddenly become frighteningly powerful and is terrorizing an entire town. Only a few independent-minded stragglers remain to battle for control of their own lives. Fai, the lone magician in the group, traded his magical powers to the dimension witch, xxxHOLiC's Yűko, before the journey started. Without a weapon with which to fight, can the extraordinary group of friends defeat a master magician who can control the Earth's elements?
This cover isn't so busy as the second volume and features Sakura and Syaoran this time around, along with the two Mokona Modokis. The back features a faded image of Yűko with one of the Mokonas, once again reminding us that this series is crossed with xxxHolic. Extras include the translation notes, a preview of volume 4 in Japanese and the honorifics guide at the beginning of the book.
You get a range of art styles in CLAMP works, ranging from extremely pretty in Cardcaptor Sakura to pretty rough in works like Suki: A Like Story. Tsubasa falls middle of the road here. It feels like the characters are stuck in that awkward age of puberty where they are very lanky and gangly. After seeing some of the characters featured in works like CCS, it's a bit of a shock to get used to the new style. Reproduction here is solid, without the slight fading that went on in the first volume from ink rubbing off.
However, there is a lot of fight scenes in this book and they're not very easy to navigate through. There is a lot going on during them and the characters actions are obscured by the background at times. While this is common in shounen manga, it's crowded to the point where I can't tell what move has been performed to defeat an enemy and it's a bit annoying.
Del Rey provides what seems to be an excellent translation here with the SFX subtitled.
Content (may contain spoilers):
With Sakura now awake, the group finds themselves heading to a world where they meet young Chu'nyan, a girl whose mother has been killed by a magician a year earlier when he suddenly became extremely powerful and brainwashed nearly the entire country.
Sakura and Chu'nyan bond immediately, which is pretty cute to see, and provides both girls a moment of lightness in the burdens that they carry. But when Syaoran and Chu'nyan try to prevent a townsman from getting taxed extra, the magic that is used on them nearly gets them into a lot of trouble. The group realizes that the master magician, or Ryanban, may have one of Sakura's feathers. Syaoran, Fai and Kurogane decide it's time to go after the master magician and are forced to give up Fai's staff to Yűko in order to get some magic strong enough to get inside the castle. At the rate this group is paying Yűko, they're going to run out of items soon.
A constant thread through this volume is how tired Sakura always is, and it's linked to the fact that they only have two of her feathers. In a moving scene, Sakura tells Chu'nyan that the only thing she remembers is her name and some memories of a desert town. Because of this, the guys leave the girls behind as they set off to the castle. Once inside, Fai and Kurogane face the Kiishim who killed Chu'nyan's mother while Syaoran goes ahead to battle the Ryanban and his son.
The fighting proceeds pretty much as a typical shounen fight would, but mixes the scenes of the Syaoran fight equally with Fai and Kurogane's. Fai and Kurogane manage to defeat the Kiishim in a scene that reinforces why they are on the quest for Sakura's feathers and how good of a team the two of them have become. They move forward to join Syaoran in time for the final showdown against the Ryanban, and they get some unexpected help as well.
Tsubasa is a series that is improving as it goes forward and we get to know the characters better. It's taken the first couple of volumes to shake the feeling of wanting to see Cardcaptor Sakura's Syaoran and Sakura every time I look through the book and I can now appreciate the characters for who they are. It's also taken a bit to get used to Fai and Kurogane, but this book has them working together in a way that is both hilarious and touching. Chu'nyan is a good, temporary addition to the group and actually reminds me a lot of Mei Lin from the CCS anime. She's very spunky and full of energy and it's a great contrast between the more reserved Syaoran and the exhausted Sakura.
The thing that prevents me from pushing this toward the A list is that it's hard to tell what's going on at times. During the fighting in the castle that occurs in the second half of the book, it's hard to tell what exactly Fai and Kurogane do to get out of the dangerous situation that they're in. This takes away from the enjoyment of the series for me, because I'm unable to describe what they did and how they overcame their limitations to do so.
But Tsubasa is getting better and I'm enjoying it a lot more than I was in the second volume. Now, if only someone would just take Mokona Modoki and toss it away...
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left