The secret to the mysterious Tsubasa is revealed in this final volume!
Writer/Artist: Natsuki Takaya
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Adaptation: Soo-Young Kim
What They Say
Amid the foreign country of Japan, Kotobuki and the team encounter an old professor bearing the legendary secret behind Tsubasa! Meanwhile, the Colonel prepares his malicious attack as the relentless army draws close to Raimon who waits for Kotobuki's return to Ruan. Will Tsubasa's true identity be exposed? And what is the destiny of Kotobuki and Raimon?
As mentioned in the review of Volume 2, the story has taken more of a science fiction than a fantastical bent, and it continues along those lines as the power of the Tsubasa is explained. Apparently, the Tsubasa amounts to, as Raimon puts it, "a souped-up brain," and the mysterious boy that rescued Kotobuki has more to do with technology and the Army than magic. Actually, it gets a bit gross, especially when the Japanese professor shows them some failed Tsubasas floating in his laboratory tank.
Just as all this is revealed, Kotobuki learns that the Army has captured Raimon to create a new Tsubasa. What follow are two action-packed arcs. In the first, Kotobuki and friends go against all odds to rescue Raimon from the Army compound. In the second, a confrontation between Kotobuki and the Colonel triggers the awakening of the Tsubasa. In the midst of the fighting, Takaya-sensei squeezes in flashbacks from the Colonel's and Raimon's past.
Both arcs very much have an evil-maniac-on-the-loose note to them, and predictably, all that hate and anger is overcome by Kotobuki's determined hopefulness. Despite the Army's immense firepower, none of the "good guys" are harmed during Raimon's successful rescue, and Kotobuki ultimately stops the rampaging Tsubasa from destroying humanity. In this volume especially, the characterization of Kotobuki is quite similar to Tohru from Takaya-sensei's Fruits Basket while the Colonel is the Akito equivalent, trying to force his darkness onto others.
I enjoy the theme of good triumphing over evil, but things work out too conveniently to make it satisfying. Everyone has a happy ending, even the Colonel. Considering the number of deaths he's responsible for, I find it highly unlikely that he'd wind up with his occupation of the story's conclusion.
Another thing that bothers me about Tsubasa is the details of its futuristic world. For instance, the Army essentially plugs Raimon's brain into its computer network, and when Kotobuki & Co. rescue him, they forcibly yank him from a supposedly delicate system under a hail of gunfire. Yet he recovers almost instantly with no ill effects (in time to rescue Kotobuki from her next misadventure, of course). Then there is the blatant fanservice in the last section of the book. Unlike the male half of the Tsubasa who appears fully clothed to the outside world, the female half makes her appearance completely naked. Plus, in the final scene, she becomes weirdly large (think Ayanami Rei from the end of Evangelion). Between inconsistencies and dissatisfying plot developments, I'm glad to see this series close.
Takaya-sensei seems to enjoy characters that bring hope to everyone, no matter how far gone they are, and Kotobuki's influence gets everyone to a happy ending, bitter humans and incensed artificial intelligence alike. However, the details of Takaya-sensei's science-fiction world are weak, and it's a letdown to discover that the fantastical elements of her world are really remnants of a previous generation's technology. For those wanting something akin to Takaya-sensei's Fruits Basket, some elements in Tsubasa are similar, especially in the Kotobuki and Colonel characters, but the premise and execution don't come close to the quality of her later work. As such, I'm glad to see this story reach its conclusion.
Extras include splash page art, the four-page video letter, and a closing note from Takaya-sensei.