Tsubasa Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: 15.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tsubasa

Tsubasa Vol. #4

By Bryan Morton     April 04, 2008
Release Date: April 21, 2008


Tsubasa Vol. #4
© Revelation Films


What They Say
Mysteries swirl like a sandstorm around the enigmatic ruins of Sakura's homeland; a site of unknown power, clearly coveted by forces both dark and light, evil and right. Syaoran and his noble friends, Kurogane and Fai, are observed from on high. Destiny's finger might not be the only force pushing them through their hunt.

From world to world, a hero's adventure unfolds across the dimensions; their path unmarked yet well defined. Lands of legend and history, contests of magical strength, friendly days and hostile nights... Syaoran must stay constant or all is lost. Feathers float down from the stars, torn asunder if only to prove the power of love.

Episodes Comprise
15 - A Heart That Believes
16 - Strength and Kindness
17 - Demon Hunters
18 - Cats and Dogs


The Review!
One mystery resolved, and a new one to work on for Syaoran and the gang - with a little gratuitous violence along the way. With two episodes that almost had me thinking I was watching Black Cat, you certainly can't accuse Tsubasa of sticking to a formula...

Audio:
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:
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.

Packaging:
Another cover appearance for Syaoran and Sakura, as Syaoran holds her protectively while Yuko looks on almost menacingly in the background. The rear has the usual promotional blurb, screenshots and technical information, while the reverse of the cover, visible through the clear keepcase, has a collage of character artwork for you to enjoy.

Menu:
Menus are a simple static affair - the main screen re-uses the image of Syaoran and Sakura from the cover. 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.

Extras:
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, a World Guide that explains the setting and includes more production artwork, and a CLAMP Cameos feature, which this volume focuses on Soma - originally from RG Veda.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Syaoran believes he's figured out the truth behind the missing children, and confronts Dr Kyle with his theory - that Kyle had hypnotised his victims before kidnapping them. At first Kyle protests his innocence, but the evidence is overwhelming and he eventually confesses to his actions. It was all part of his plan to seize Sakura's feather for himself - but inside the castle, Sakura's already been reunited with it, and the ghostly woman there who's protecting the children has decided to help her escape. But Kyle's not going to give up on his goal quite so easily.

Back in the Land of Clow, Touya is still recovering from the wounds he received while helping Sakura and Syaoran begin their journey. Since then, the land has been plagued by a series of unseasonal sandstorms - one of several signs that something's not right. Being cooped up in his castle gives Touya time to think - about the warriors who came after Sakura at the temple, and about the unease he's felt about Syaoran ever since he first met him. While he accepts that Sakura and Syaoran are soulmates, there's also something there that bothers him immensely.

Later, Syaoran and the others have arrived in Outo, a country that's no stranger to dimensional travellers and has very strict rules on how they should behave. With their names registered and lodgings arranged, the gang can turn their attentions to searching for Sakura's feathers again - but before they get the chance, they're attacked by a mysterious creature. Turns out that Outo has a Demon problem, and that defeating them pays quite handsomely. The boys have just found their new occupation...

The main event on this disc is the gang's arrival in the Country of Oto, which makes sure that all visiting dimensional travellers earn their way by putting them into gainful employment. The dynamics of that - and the false names that Fai uses when he register's the gang's identities, rather than purely in story terms - really did give those two episodes something of the feel of Black Cat, just in the way events were playing out and the characters were getting on with each other. That's not a bad comparison to make, and the similarities were enough to make this my favourite volume of Tsubasa so far.

Of the other episodes, 15 ties up the arc carried over from volume three with little in the way of fuss or surprises, while 16 takes the show into shounen fighting territory for a while. One episode fortunately means there's no time to parody the long pauses, endless fighting, and 2-episode breaks while life stories are exchanged (yes, I've been watching Naruto recently, and I'm still bitter), and the greatly-distilled fight scenes, combined with Sakura's encounter with the locals, make the episode more enjoyable than it probably has any right to be.

Away from the main events, there are a few interesting nuggets buried through the episodes that continue to hint at darker things going on in the background - events back in the Land of Clow since Syaoran and Sakura left, Touya's concerns about Syaoran's true nature, the nameless group positioning themselves behind the scenes, and the role of Yuko, the Dimensional Witch in all of this. While there's nothing stated outright that she has a role, I can't help but feeling that she's the lynchpin to a lot of the show's events. The problem with the background plotting is that the scenes showing it are so short that it's easy to forget that they're there at all, but they do seem to be worth paying attention to.

In summary:
Okay, so I mis-spoke when I said that you couldn't accuse Tsubasa of having a formula - it does, but only at the very basic "visit dimension, solve mystery, retrieve feather" level. The current arc looks to be one of the longest yet, as there's no hint of a feather yet, but as it's also the most enjoyable arc so far I'm not complaining. Add in the apparently increasing scheming the background, and you get the best volume of the series so far. More, please...

Features
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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