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. ^_^