12 July 2006
So, just to get this site kicked off, I thought I might review a couple of anime, seeing as that seems to be an important ingredient of any useless site on the internet. No, really, no need to thank me, just doing my duty.
The second season of Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicles started airing recently in Japan, so now seems like a good time to look back on the first season. For those who are unfamiliar with the manga and anime, here's a quick summary of the story: In an incident in the first episode, Princess Sakura, who possesses an unusual power, loses all of her memories, which are then scattered across dimensions in the form of mysterious feathers. Her childhood friend and most cherished person Syaroan visits the dimension witch Yuuko who sends them - along with Kurogane and Fai D. Flowright - dimension-hopping in search of these feathers. To travel dimensions, however, requires a steep price - in this case, it is Sakura's memories of Syaroan, which she will never regain even if they reclaim all of her scattered memory feathers. The anime already has one season, a TV special, a movie and is now entering its second season, all spawned from the manga created by CLAMP; creators of titles such as Chobits, X/1999 and RG Veda. The manga and anime also feature familiar characters from their other titles in a variety of roles in various dimensions, often in different roles every time - in fact, Sakura and Syaroan are better know as the lead characters from Card Captor Sakura, just older and in a completely different universe.
Sound an awful lot like any other 'gotta collect them all!' anime that spans for 200 episodes? That isn't far off. Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicles is quite possibly CLAMP's biggest gimmick yet. No one else could possibly get away with writing a series comprised entirely of alternate dimension versions of their existing characters, but because it's CLAMP, people actually get excited about it. I want to hate it too, I really do, especially after realising that not only does it re-use old character designs, but the storyline is designed in such a way that it can go on forever, much in the same manner Inuyasha does. Unfortunately, there's just enough to like about this series that I'm willing to tolerate it. It crosses over with xXxholic for one, which has stolen my soul, pun not intended.
So far, I've only seen the first season and the movie, and I plan to keep it that way, because this is the sort of series that really could go on forever without any actual resolution. This sort of scenario is forgivable in longer-running series like Naruto because the plot and characters actually continue to develop, history is made, and each climax continues to outdo the previous one. Tsubasa Chronicles, however, fools you into thinking that something cool is going to happen, then chickens out at the last minute. The ending to the first season wasn't even really a proper ending - there had been cooler endings to some of the smaller arcs earlier in the series. And while there are some really interesting undercurrents in the story that keep you watching, the frustratingly slow and infrequent development of these elements will drive even the most patient fan mad.
Furthermore, the animation in Tsubasa Chronicles really looks awkward. The animators tried to imitate CLAMP's thin and lanky character style, but most of the time the characters just look disproportioned. It's a mixed bag - sometimes they pull it off well, especially in the higher budget action scenes and dynamic shots, but the rest of the time it winds up looking like the work of amateurs. However other than that one visual criticism, the anime overall is quite pretty, as is typical with CLAMP's material, and some of the character design work (for what original characters are present) is really good too.
I say all of this, but at the end of the day, anyone who watches Tsubasa Chronicles will find themselves fooled into thinking the series is awesome by the glorious soundtrack. Yes, Yuki Kaijura, best-known for her work on .hack\\ series and Noir, has outdone herself yet again, and while her music style is still immediately recognisable, there are some really amazing pieces of epic music in this series (particularly 'The Song of Storm and Fire') that will create an emotional state in you so powerful that you�ll actually think that you're excited by the anime itself, rather than its great soundtrack. DON'T BE FOOLED BY THIS. Find a copy of the soundtrack somewhere, listen to it for a while, and you'll soon find that your desire to watch the series slowly evaporates. This is possibly the only way of saving yourself from sitting through over 25 episodes of a mildly decent anime that will quite possibly never have a resolution.
Overall: Five thumbs up out of ten, though three of those are for the great soundtrack and two are because I'm such a sucker for CLAMP stuff.
YOU WERE WARNED.