Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Chapter 232: The End?


How should I put it... This ending leaves a lot more wanting. I had a firm belief that Tsubasa could become and epic manga or it could become a huge disappointment for me simply because I have invested so much in the characters of "Sakura" and "Syaoran" since Card Captor Sakura days. Either way, I'll refrain from making a final judgment until I see the final epilogue chapter and how xxxHolic unfolds.

Ever since the whole Clone controversy began, I began to feel a little cheated. Because Tsubasa has been the story of the clone's journey. I haven't followed Tsubasa that carefully and I think it could do some good to read everything through without all the interruptions.

There are lots of parallels between TRC and some Jungian principles; I recommend Carl Jung's Synchronicity as a start. Hence, I feel confused when I read TRC whether there is deeper meaning or whether the ending is simply rushed or there is just a lot of explaining to be found in xxxHolic.

Maybe it was naive of me to think there could be a happy ending for the clones. I knew clone Sakura and Syaoran meeting in the alternate modern day Hong Kong world in Chapter 222 was too good to be true. My heart broke a little bit in Chapter 223 when I learned that Syaoran's surname in that world was also Li. I think CLAMP indicates that the memories of the Clones will live on through real Sakura and Syaoran, hence they are not truly gone. But then, they are gone and at the end of the day, while I initially thought that Tsubasa was a manga about the epic journey of a boy who wants to recover the memories of his most beloved person, it is actually the story of a glitch in time, the story of how duplicates of the real Sakura and Syaoran escape from an infinite loop. It was never a story about characters but rather archetypes. I have a feeling we'll probably be seeing the vampire twins (they'll probably get their own spin off someday) and KuroFai in the future (truthfully, I feel more sorry for these two than anyone else in the manga--they lose arms and eyeballs and find out that their travel buddies are clones that disappear in the end, not to mention that they've had quite crappy childhoods on top of that).

From the beginning, I decided to differentiate between CCS!Sakura and Syaoran and TRC!Sakuras and Syaorans. I don't know why CLAMP wrote this manga. I initially thought it was fanservice, reintroducing characters we knew in a big, grand universe and showing us the interlinking of CLAMP worlds. The second half of TRC seemed to then twist into a torture-fest of how much we can make our main characters suffer as much as possible. I can't tell if this ending is the true ending that CLAMP intended for TRC (though obviously we'll understand more through xxxHolic), or whether they just grew tired of this project and wanted to move on to other projects (that would likely get a more decent animation production).

I read TRC eagerly to see glimmers of further insight of characters I am familiar with. Truthfully, though TRC!S+S are not CCS!S+S, nonetheless, this story has made me reevaluate the dynamic between Sakura and Syaoran. I'm not sure I can ever look at the beautiful ending of the CCS manga where junior high Sakura and Syaoran hug, finally reunited without thinking of a very similar composition in TRC where clone Sakura and Syaoran are reunited in Hong Kong. Furthermore, it is indicated throughout TRC that CCS!Sakura and Syaoran are aware how much suffering their alternate world alter-egos are undergoing.

I've been working on a TRC AMV recently, but now I feel like I'm going to cry if I see poor S+S.

Anyhow, does anybody feel like it's time for some Kobato-healing?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

xxxHolic 籠 186 Review

SPOILERS>>>>> XXXholic Rou (Cage) again with the bird in a cage analogy...

Wow, I really was not expecting a time jump. It's strange seeing how much Watanuki has changed, especially when he's lying Yuuko style on her couch, wearing a draping kimono and smoking a pipe in this languid, laid back manner that you never saw from him before. I keep thinking back to how Watanuki was such an irritable, cranky, slightly boisterous and very silly boy. His eyes were so expressionless in that panel that it was rather heartbreaking, and I constantly applaud CLAMP's artistic execution of the full two-page spread of the "new Watanuki" to give us the full impact and also eye-candy. It is like Watanuki has taken on as much of Yuuko's characteristics in order to keep her alive within himself.

The bright side of this chapter was Doumeki's appearance and his interactions with Watanuki evokes the faint traces of the old Kimihiro Watanuki that still remains in him. Doumeki is now a folklore major? It was funny because I thought the same thing as Watanuki; that image really doesn't fit Doumeki but also reality hits how four years have already passed in the world outside. People outside are changing, developing, but Watanuki is forever trapped in one moment in time, in one mindset, with one strong desire. I'm personally very interested in Doumeki's folklore professor. Who knows if there is anything significant about this professor or not. Of course, our favorite CLAMP professor will always remain Kinomoto Fujitaka aka Clow Reed's half-reincarnation. But again, there is the painful reality that time outside of Yuuko's house is moving and shifting but for Watanuki, he is always trapped inside that house frozen in time, just waiting. It reminds me of poor Syaoran trapped inside the glass cylinder with his time and freedom sacrificed. It's also reminiscent of Princess Emeraude from Magic Knight Rayearth who was so lonely and trapped because of Rayearth's pillar system. Hence "cage" I guess.

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles is coming to an end very soon with only a few chapters left. I'm actually surprised it's ending so soon because I feel like there are so many loose ends to tie, and I was hoping that all the numerous characters would be able to get some resolution. Unfortunately, I feel like Kurogane and Fai have only become a backdrop to the whole Sakura and Syaoran plotline. The part of Tsubasa that I actually enjoyed the most were the little character interactions in between all the chaos like Fai and Sakura's mutual understanding (Fai is like the sister Sakura never had in my mind) or Kurogane and Syaoran's mentor and student relationship. I'm hoping that Tsubasa ends with a satisfying conclusion. I have a feeling that it will be XXXholic's role to tie all the loose ends that Tsubasa does not manage to tie up. I'm just going to trust CLAMP to let the stories come to a fitting end without fans having to rip their hairs out in agony.

On a side note, I finally watched the XXXholic Shunraiki OVAs, and I was sort of peeved at the difference in animation quality between XXXholic and the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Shunraiki, especially because of the overlapping scene in the dream world. I have to admit, the battle between Syaoran and Syaoran in Tsubasa Shuraiki OVA 2 was awesome. But all the budget seems to have just gone to that particular scene. Also, I loved all the Tomoyo and Kurogane interactions. It makes me wonder if the rest of Tsubasa would ever get animated properly. It's a pity because Tsubasa could have become an epic anime with the right direction, supervision and budget.

I have high expectations from XXXholic's ending because for me Tsubasa was all about chaos and in-your-face shocking plot devices whereas XXXholic's strength was its restraint, gradual character development and the unique strange, artistically melancholy and mysterious ambiance of the manga. I wonder if we'll get a time jump in Tsubasa at one point as well. I'm still waiting for CCS!Syaoran and Sakura's appearance before the end of the series. It's a problem when I'm looking more forward to getting lots of pretty Sakura and Syaoran artwork in the next couple chapters than having a happy resolution. I'm also waiting for Clow Reed to make an appearance, and even more so waiting to learn that Watanuki actually becomes Clow Reed in the future and we'll have a big incestuous circle of S+S being Wata's parents, and Wata/Clow Reed being Clone!Sakura's father and we get an impossible eternal loop. Lol. I'm joking. Half. After all, I'm a fanfiction writer. It's just that as I was coloring Watanuki in this particular frame, I thought how much he resembled Eriol-kun. Anyway, who else thinks Watanuki aged very well? ^_^

Oh well, if all fails, then I'll just eagerly await glimpses of Kinomoto Touya in the upcoming Kobato anime. ^_^