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Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 2
CLAMP
Del Rey, 200 pages

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 2
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 1 and Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 1
Del Rey Manga
Cardcaptor Sakura
Tsubasa
xxxHOLiC

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Kit O'Connell

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Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE got off to a rocky start in the first volume. An alternate world sequel to CLAMP's popular Cardcaptor Sakura epic, we now find Sakura, actually princess of the land of Clow, in a coma after losing all her memories. Her beloved, Syaoran, is on a quest to retrieve them across the myriad worlds upon which they have been scattered. Although theoretically a self-contained story, the first volume at many times seemed more like a series of cameos designed to entertain fans of CLAMP's many other series than a tale of interest to the less devoted manga reader.

Fortunately, the creators seem to have hit their stride in the stories collected in volume 2 and I can confidently say it's now worth it for even the non-CLAMP fans to get on board (though you might want to dig up a copy of volume 1 first). For one thing, Syaoran and his traveling companions, Fai D. Flowright and Kurogane, begin to entertain both as individual characters and as a team. Each has a real personality and it is especially fun to see them played against each other by the skillful authors, especially with furry sidekick Mokona as a comic foil.

Secondly, this is quickly becoming an action packed manga, and CLAMP excel at depicting exciting, magically-charged fight scenes both attractively and clearly. Though they are just visitors to the violent Hanshin Republic, each of the three is given a Kudan, a god-like, awakened representation of their souls which can materialize and fight in dangerous battles with the Kudan possessed by the realm's normal inhabitants. Since one of Sakura's lost feathers has been captured by just such an entity, this happens frequently and spectacularly.

The bargain Syaoran struck with the witch Yuko Ichihara in the first crossover with CLAMP's xxxHOLiC is further explored here as well, as he questions the cost of giving up Sakura's memories of their relationship in return for her continued survival. If anything, the authors are so skilled at manipulating the reader's emotions that I found it a bit frustrating when they resorted to obviously false drama, such as a few occasions when one of the main characters is briefly obscured by an explosion. We are supposed to wonder if they survive, but it is clear to even a beginning comic book fan that a major protagonist won't get killed off so easily, so early in this series.

Complaints like these are relatively minor when Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, volume 2 is otherwise so rewarding. As with the other manga from Del Rey I have had the pleasure of reviewing, the translation is wonderful and well-supported by the extra materials in the book -- this time around, the translation notes at the end even include a handful of entertaining Japanese tongue twisters. For its beautiful art, increasingly engrossing story, and ample helpings of humor, this book belongs on a manga fan's holiday wish list.

Copyright © 2004 Kit O'Connell

Kit O'Connell is a writer and bookseller from Austin, TX. Not just a book critic, his poetry has seen print on Storyhouse Coffee Cans, among other places, and he has survived Burning Man twice. He is sporadically at work on short fiction which he won't tell you anything about, but you can read his regularly updated journal at todfox.livejournal.com.


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