Tsubasa Character Guide Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 236
  • ISBN: 0-345-49484-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Tsubasa Character Guide Vol. #01

By Sakura Eries     February 16, 2007
Release Date: November 30, 2006


Tsubasa Character Guide Vol.#01
© Del Rey


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:CLAMP
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:

What They Say
All is revealed in this look behind the scenes Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE! This book includes details on the characters, worlds, and mysteries of Tsubasa spanning the first seven graphic novels, including info on those famous characters from CLAMP's other works that always seem to appear in the background. It also includes a brand-new Tsubasa short story, an interview with CLAMP writer Ageha Ohkawa, games and quizzes, a fan section, pre-production artwork and more!

The Review
Packaging:
The style of the cover design and materials of this book are comparable to those Del Rey used for their Tsubasa manga releases. As such, you could put this character guide on a shelf alongside your Tsubasa manga, and it would blend right in. While that might be appealing to some, I found it disappointing. I am used to anime/manga artbooks and guides in the larger A4 size with color prints, glossy pages, and crisp printing. At the time that I was writing this review, I was also reviewing the Samurai Champloo Roman Album, which does have all those aforementioned elements, and when I held it next to the Tsubasa Character Guide with its smaller size and total of nine color pages, it just made me shake my head. Not to mention, out of the guide's nine color pages, there were only one foldout illustration (not nearly large enough to be counted as a poster, in my opinion) and five single page illustrations. The remaining three color pages were used to display various Tsubasa related goods and prizes -- only available in Japan, which I found a strange choice of page allocation. CLAMP has such a large and impassioned following in the United States (and trust me, I witnessed that first hand at the Anime Expo CLAMP panel last summer), I am truly surprised that Del Rey did not splurge a bit more on the production of this book.

To Del Rey's credit, the character guide is reasonably priced at $12.95 (only two dollars more than a Tsubasa manga), and you do get a lot of material packed inside this 236 page B6 sized paperback, even if it isn't in a flashier format. However, even then, Del Rey could have done a better job on its production. The print runs much too dark throughout most of the book. The chapter frontispieces are designed with the word "Tsubasa" running vertically in the background, but because the print is so dark, you can barely see it. In addition, the text comes out grainy and spotty, especially where white text is printed over a black or gray background.

As mentioned previously, the cover design matches the tone of Del Rey's Tsubasa manga releases. The front cover features a jumping Syaoran against a background of blue sky and white clouds with Mokona in the foreground. Syaoran is wearing modern styled clothes, a black sleeveless top and matching hat with an orange vest and orange pants. Above the pair is the RESERvoir CHRoNiCLE TSUBASA logo that should be quite familiar to Tsubasa manga fans. To the lower left is the book title "CHARACter GuiDE" in the same yellow and sienna color scheme as the RESERvoir CHRoNiCLE bar at the top of the cover. To the lower right is authors' credits in black-and-white.

The back cover design is predominantly white. At the very top is the teaser "Tsubasa: Behind the Scenes!" in sienna letters, followed by the content description in black squarish letters. Arranged alongside and beneath the content description are four panels displaying line drawings of the main characters against a light blue background. At the very bottom are rating and publishers' icons.

Artwork:
Regarding artwork, I did not provide a grade as nearly all of the featured artwork are drawings from the first seven volumes of the Tsubasa series or rough sketches (although the book does include a four-page omake style mini manga that was created specifically for this character guide). It is worth mentioning that the character guide also includes 16 pages of fanart created by Japanese CLAMP fans and some tribute drawings by manga artists Oh!Great and Kazuki Yamamoto.

Text/Translation:
The text reads awkwardly with some verb tense problems and a few grammatical errors throughout the text. In addition to the text, there are some issues with the layout of this guide. On pages 146 and 169, captions are placed beside the wrong images. In addition, there are a couple of mislabeled headers. For instance, on page 83, the entry describing the Castle of the Ryanban is mislabeled "Kudan." I also found the formatting of the headers of the story digests on pages 14 through 25 confusing. These digests are 2-page spreads summarizing the Tsubasa cast's adventures in each world they encounter. A phrase summarizing each adventure spans across the two pages, and the placement of the words becomes confusing when the phrases exceed 2 rows. (For me, the natural tendency would be to read rows of words left to right, straight across the break between the two pages; however, all of the words of the left-hand page are to be read before reading the words of the right hand page.)

Content:
As you can probably guess from the title, this is a guide to the characters, worlds, and mysteries of CLAMP's Tsubasa manga series. As most Tsubasa readers are aware, this title is currently ongoing in Japan, and as such, this character guide only covers the details presented in the first seven graphic novels. Although there is an anime by the same name, this guide sticks exclusively to the material presented in the manga.

In addition to the standard illustration gallery, story digest, character files, and preliminary sketches found in such compilations, this guidebook also contains an omake style original manga and a number of other features certain to please the die hard Tsubasa fan. There are the personality profile questionnaires to help you discover which Tsubasa personality you most resemble and which country best suits you as well as the Tsubasa quiz to test your overall knowledge of the series. Fai provides words of wisdom for his fellow characters in "Character's Advice Column Café Cat's Eye" while Kurogane rates the strength of the other warriors in Tsubasa in the "Character Battle-Strength Report." For those interested in a behind the scenes look at the production of this manga, the guide provides an extensive interview with CLAMP team writer Ageha Ohkawa and Tsubasa series editor Kiichiro Sugawara.

And of course with a following as huge as Tsubasa's, there's plenty of fan material! Included in the guide is Fan's Square, which presents the results of polls and fanart contests that were held by Shonen Magazine in 2005, and there's even special contributions by manga artists Oh!great and Kazuki Yamamoto paying tribute to CLAMP!

Comments
This character guide covers the adventures of Syaoran and company from the beginning of the manga until they leave the Kingdom of Edonis (although pictures of Ashura-O and Yasha-O snuck into the fanart section). As mentioned earlier in this review, I, as a CLAMP fan, was disappointed by how Del Rey handled the production of this book. Production preferences aside, there is quite a bit of material in this character guide to make any Tsubasa fan happy. The character profiles are extremely detailed with parameter charts (like those made for video game characters) and individual "Journey Chronicles" for our main characters and shorter character profiles in the world guide for 50 secondary characters.

While the extensive fan section (pages 147 through 183) only features fanart from Japan and the results of Japanese popularity polls, English-speaking fans will also enjoy this section. The fanart transcends any language barriers, and the poll results which include "[Which Tsubasa character] could be your ideal friend or lover?" and "Best Couple and Best Pairing" are certain to be of interest to non-Japanese fans as well.

This title is rated "13+" for fight scenes.

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