Tsubasa Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, May 12, 2005
Release Date: Saturday, January 15, 2005
Translated by:William Flanagan
What They Say
Young Syaoran embarks on a worlds-spanning adventure to restore the memory of the most important person in his life, the princess Sakura - even though he knows that she'll never remember her love for him. The trail leads to a small town reminiscent of Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, a place where the ghostly image of a golden-haired woman comes in the night to steal the town's children. Syaoran and his band of outrageous friends - affable Fai D. Flowright, loose cannon Kurogane, the odd creature Mokona and Sakura herself - mount their horses and venture into forbidding, barren woods to solve a mystery, rescue the children, and retrieve one more piece of Sakura's missing memories.
We have another solid cover here featuring Kurogane and Syaoran dressed for battle and a picture of Fai and Kurogane on the back cover. The logo's been moved down to accomodate the picture and I like it a lot better striped across the middle than I did at the top. This way, the focus is more on the actual picture than the logo itself. And, to please fans of the original version, the result is that the cover looks exactly like the original tankoubon of vol. 4 right down to the logo placement - just the logo's in English. Extras include the translation notes, a preview of volume 5 in English 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.
Del Rey provides what seems to be an excellent translation here with the SFX subtitled.
Content (may contain spoilers):
Sakura receives her feather from Koryo after the Ryanban is defeated and has memories of a birthday party. We then see exactly how Sakura's new memories have erased Syaoran from them. During the birthday party, it shows an empty chair where Syaoran would had been and Sakura is talking to him, or rather the now empty place at the table. This confuses Sakura, but before she really gets a chance to question it, she passes out.
The group leaves in time for the real Amen'osa to show up, who just happen be Nokoru, Suoh and Akira from CLAMP Campus Detectives. Thus far, we've gotten a little aftermath with each dimension the group has visited, and I'm glad that we got this little epilogue with Chu'nyan. She's a character I hope will be revisited sometime in the future.
Syaoran and company next land in a country where there is a large lake with a mysterious power coming from beneath it. Exhaustion finally claims Sakura and she passes out. When she wakes, she's alone with Syaoran, What follows is a very touching scene that has Syaoran filling in the rest of the memory in his mind while Sakura muses over the person she can't remember and we learn that Syaoran can identify with Sakura's current situation better than we think. As the power lashes out around them, Sakura starts to regain a few more of her memories and we learn more of their past together when they were children. Syaoran realizes that Sakura is still Sakura, even without her memories.
They quickly move onto the next dimension, where Sakura manages to use her gambling talents (discovered in the last volume) to net the group some money for food. They hear a legend about children disappearing due to a princess growing very powerful from a feather - pretty much a twist on the traditional Hansel and Gretel fairytale. The group decides it's one of Sakura's feathers and sets out to find it. They reach the northern town, where they are taken in by a doctor for the night. Sakura falls asleep again, but wakes up in time to see the golden-haired princess they're looking for.
Syaoran gets a chance to use the skills that he learned from his father to obtain a history book and they study the reign of Princess Emerald 300 years earlier. We're starting to see more of Syaoran's relationship with his adopted father and how that shaped him into the young man he is today, and he's putting those skills to good use - proving he's as skilled of a negotiator as Fai is.
Sakura vows to keep awake and notices the princess once again that night. She rushes out after the princess and the latest group of disappearing children and manages to see that they're going to the abandoned castle, but her strength gives out before she can fully do so.
This series is definitely getting better as time goes on and this is the first volume I can fully give an A grade to. Much of this volume centers on Sakura's growing role in the series and I'm glad that she's actually doing something and not just sitting on the sidelines. While Fai, Syaoran and Kurogane are respectful of Sakura's position, they treat her as an equal member of the team. I am starting to wonder if the end result of this will be Sakura falling in love with Syaoran again despite not remembering him from her childhood, or she'll put the pieces of the puzzle together herself and realize that Syaoran is the one gone from her memories. It will make an interesting showdown with Yűko later on if this is the case.
This volume mainly focused on the character relationships with little action, and it's an interlude that is needed after all of the fighting in the past two volumes. I also like how not every dimension the group hits has a feather in it - lending some credibility to their search. It can't be too easy for them.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left