Tsubasa Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: 15.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tsubasa

Tsubasa Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     January 22, 2008
Release Date: November 19, 2007

Tsubasa Vol. #2
© Revelation Films

What They Say
Each new world offers Syaoran, Kurogane, Fai, and Sakura new adventures, but trouble has found them in this one even before they arrive. Delivered into a land of suffering under evil rule, the noble crew must unite a weary populace to overthrow the cruel feudal lord and his brutal son with the help of a young orphaned rebel. The uprising will prove fierce and the magic astounding, but victory must be achieved before the quest can continue.

Episodes Comprise
6 – Unshed Tears
7 – The Broken Memento
8 – God's Favoured Daughter
9 – The Bewitching Woman
10 – A Farewell Mirror

The Review!
Another disc, another world for Syaoran and his friends to travel to in search of Sakura's memories – only this one has an adversary who presents Syaoran with a real challenge…

Two audio tracks this time around, with Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 tracks being provided – I listened to the Japanese track for this review. Audio comes across as clean & clear, particularly the background music (another excellent soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura), although there’s not too much direction apparent in the dialog. There were no obvious problems.

Video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and is another good-looking release – colours are nice & bright and backgrounds well-detailed. There were no obvious encoding problems.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menus are a simple static affair – the main screen features an image of Tomoyo on the right-hand side, looking suitably regal. Options are provided for Play All, direct access to each episode, language setup and extras. With no transition animations to sit through, it’s all pleasingly quick and easy to use.

There’s a good selection of extras this time out – along with the usual creditless versions of the opening and closing sequences, there’s a character guide (which helps get those alternate-universe characterisations out of the head) which includes production lineart, an World Guide that explains the setting and includes more production artwork, and a CLAMP Cameos feature, which this volume focuses on Cyunyan, previously seen as Chun Hyang from manga The Legend of Chun Hyang.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Syaoran accepts Shogo's challenge to duel using their kudan - Shogo's impressed with the heart that Syaoran has shown in his efforts to protect Sakura, making defeating him a source of major kudos. He's also looking to gain some of that strength for himself. What he hadn't bargained on, though, was Syaoran being an order of magnitude more powerful than anyone he's every faced before. Seeing Syaoran stand up for what he believes in also gives Masayoshi the strength to believe in his own powers - and in doing so, highlights the location of the next of Sakura's feathers.

Later, with one feather recovered, it's time for the gang to move on again - and in the new world they find, the locals aren't exactly welcoming. Some of them, anyway. When Syaoran upsets the son of a local "lord", young girl Cyunyan intervenes and calms the situation. She's also quick to realise that there's something unusual about them - although not in the way she's expected. She'd been hoping they were mitteishu - government investigators, sent to make sure the nobility are behaving themselves. The local lord had come to power only recently, by using the power of a magical artefact, and has been abusing his position. Now it seems that source of the lord's power may be one of Sakura's feathers...

My greatest worry about Tsubasa after seeing volume one was that it was going to turn into some sort of repetitive fighting series – something I didn't want to see its cast of great characters reduced to. After volume two, I can safely say that it doesn't happen. Except that in some ways, it does.

Let's try and explain that. Unlike many series, where each episode forms either a stand-alone story or one part of a series-long arc, Tsubasa is built around short 4-5 episode arcs. Each arc covers the retrieval of one of Sakura's feathers, and in a lot of ways is an extended "enemy-of-the-week"-style story – the gang arrive in their latest dimension, some time is spent setting up how that dimension works and providing the gang with new allies and adversaries, before eventually there's a major battle while Syaoran recovers the feather. Rinse, repeat. That's a fighting formula – but spread out over a couple of episodes as it is here, it's a lot easier to swallow, and the amount of time that's given over to character work along the way means that there's something for everyone to get their teeth into. There's not so much of the "spot the cameo" game to play this volume (a real shame), but the story is strong enough that it doesn't need to rely entirely on its CLAMP connections to work.

There are two arcs worked on on this volume – the end of Masayoshi's arc, which strays into territory that could almost be considered an homage to Ghostbusters, and the new Cyunyan arc, which takes us into a more feudal setting. This works a lot better than the first arc, and has the advantage of having a villain for Syaoran and the others to face who is fighting to maintain his position and manages to appear to be a real threat to the gang. The Masayoshi arc never quite managed that – Shogo had power, but never seemed to be fighting for anything other than the fun of it and never really threatened Syaoran. The new arc also brings Sakura's first real involvement in the story beyond a sort of Sleeping Beauty role – after the return of her first feather, she's awake, knows what has happened to her, and is playing a part in the search, and that's very good to see.

The only downside is that CLAMP titles come with a certain level of hype or expectation that they'll be "wow" titles – in reality, they don't always live up to that, and Tsubasa is one that doesn't. It's technically and visually very good, but in story terms it's simply competent – enjoyable, but not something that makes you want to rush to the DVD player when the disc arrives in the post.

In summary:
This volume of Tsubasa is a definite improvement over the first – the combination of Sakura's awakening and the change in setting help to bring a much more enjoyable story arc to the table – but it's still short of being something special. With these characters, I want special, and I hope that we get there as the series progresses. In the meantime, though, what we get is still perfectly enjoyable & worth a punt, especially if you're already a fan of CLAMP's previous works.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Guide,World Guide,Faces in the Crowd: Cameos for the Clamp Universe,Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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