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Reservoir Chronicle: Tsubasa, Book 3
CLAMP
Del Rey, 190 pages

Reservoir Chronicle: Tsubasa, Book 3
CLAMP
CLAMP is a group of four women who have become some of the most popular manga artists in America -- Satsuki Igarashi, Mick Nekoi, Mokona Apapa, Nanasa Ohkawa. They started out as doujinshi (fan comics) creators, but their skill and craft brought them to the attention of publishers. Their first work from a major publisher was RG Veda but they are perhaps best known in North America as the creators of Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits. In Japan, CLAMP is currently publishing xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa with Kodansha, and Gohou Drug with Kadokawa.

SF Site Review: xxxHOLiC, volume 3
SF Site Review: xxxHOLiC, volume 2
SF Site Review: xxxHOLiC, volume 2
SF Site Review: xxxHOLiC, volume 1 and Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 1
SF Site Review: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 2
Del Rey Manga

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Kit O'Connell

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As Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 3 begins, Syaoran, Fai, and Kurogane have finished their mission in the Hanshin Republic. The recovery of her first feather means that Sakura has awakened with just a single memory of her life. Now, the group travels to the town of Ryonfi in the medieval fantasy world of Koryo where CLAMP set up a fairly standard good-vs-evil confrontation. Aboji, a wandering magician deposed the former ruler of the country (or Ryanban as they are called) and now uses his magical prowess over the elements to unjustly subjugate the people and destroy their livelihoods through inflated taxes and thuggish enforcers, including his towering son.

Of course, our heroes find themselves fighting Aboji, but not because of his misdeeds. His power stems from another of Sakura's feathers. Time moves differently between the realms and, though Sakura only lost her memories recently, a year has passed since the feather arrived in Koryo. The course of Aboji's rise and fall is fairly predictable, and I'm afraid that I did not find this volume as exciting as the previous one -- the magic here is just not as wild and madcap as the towering Kudan of the Hanshin Republic.

The authors still redeem the book somewhat by including some fantastic action sequences -- in particular, Syaoran's battles in the first two chapters had me eagerly flipping pages, and the art is dynamic and visually exciting while still rewarding the reader with a clear grasp of the action. Yuko, xxxHOLiC's resident witch, provides some assistance to the group and this is one of the first instances where the crossover proved truly rewarding to this reader -- I found it fun to reflect on how a minor element from a pivotal moment in the other series had been turned into a crucial plot device in this one.

However, the denouement of the latter part of the graphic novel was disappointing. The extended battle sequence over a pond of flesh-melting acid felt contrived and forced, particularly when a moment's dip in the liquid seriously injures a character one moment, but then two others practically shrug off a steady rain of the stuff pages later. Also, the book's ending feels abrupt and the story less complete than Volume 2; this is just a side-effect of where each volume breaks up the chapters but is unfortunate nonetheless.

Since this takes place in a totally new world, it is unlikely to confuse new readers, although eventually they will want to go looking for the first two in order to pick up the back story. As always, the translation is excellent and the extra notes from translator William Flanagan are illuminating, including everything from tips on how to properly pronounce "Ryanban" to a brief digression on the history of acupuncture. Also, CLAMP seem to have greatly tempered their cameo-fever which cluttered parts of earlier stories with too many appearances by characters from other CLAMP series.

Overall I was a bit let down by Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 3, but readers who are already interested in the story will still want to get it and will still find it enjoyable. With the ever-changing nature of the adventures, it is likely that if one volume isn't to your taste the next might be more enticing. I look forward to seeing what new direction CLAMP will take Tsubasa in next.

Copyright © 2005 Kit O'Connell

Kit O'Connell is a writer and bookseller from Austin, TX. When not malingering about his apartment, he enjoys rolling dice, especially ten-sided ones. He usually makes his saving throw vs. rains of acid, then gloats about it on his sporadically updated journal at todfox.livejournal.com.


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