Tsubasa 28

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2009 – 28 volumes

UGH. Wow, so things got way more convoluted than I could have possibly imagined. Time travel was really scrutinized and explained in a very explicit, complicated way, and I… just didn’t enjoy it very much. I felt like I should be able to write a thesis after I finished, or something. It was all very technical. And unfortunately, the characters were lost in the explanation. They were the best part.

Was it worth it? I hated the later volumes, because the explanation for the simple things that I enjoyed early on was near-incomprehensible. But I do love the characters, and I loved all the cute stories and dimension hopping, and I loved Fai. The first half was worth it, at least, and if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound I guess. And it’s hard not to grow attached to something you’ve followed for years.

For non-fans of CLAMP, it’s probably not worth it in the end, and the experience in the early volumes is definitely enhanced if you have at least Cardcaptor Sakura under your belt. There’s a lot of cute shoujo moments pulled from CLAMP’s earlier series, mixed with a lot of swooshy abstract shounen action. It’s pretty gender-neutral, and for everybody, but it’s hard for me to believe that the crowd this was probably originally intended for could wrap their heads around the explanations.

Now, I’m going to cut and talk myself through this finale. If you don’t want to be spoiled silly, don’t read below the cutoff.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tsubasa 27

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2010 – 28 volumes

Okay. A few things about this volume.

- Lots of abstract fighting and magical swooshes. This is both very climactic and appropriate, and also too nonsensical to really mean anything. It also makes it a very, very quick read since there’s a lot more magic drawings than there are words, or even drawings of people’s bodies.

- Once again, I feel cheated out of explanations that I should have had in XxXholic, and would have been better off there. Yuko is little more than a background character in Tsubasa, yet her elaborate scene from volume 14 and her reason for existing at all in front of Watanuki are explained in this volume. They are awesome reasons, to be sure, and she illustrates a point in the ongoing finale here, but I would have loved this to pieces in XxXholic. While it’s true the reason for Watanuki being shown briefly are in XxXholic, his side of the conversation is cryptic and confusing. It makes me angry the whole story is in Tsubasa, which I feel is the inferior series.

- Christ, I wish this made sense. Another version of Sakura and Syaoran are pulled from… somewhere. Not even copies. Apparently they are… not Cardcaptor Sakura versions. Syaoran original seems to recognize them, but I don’t think the explanation is that simple. To make things more confusing, both the CCS version of one of the characters and the copy versions enter the story one more time. Ugh. Why. Why why why is the story growing more convoluted in the second-to-last volume? There is nothing to foreshadow.

- Fei Wang’s wish is made clear, though the reason behind it is not. The fight scene that stretches through the entire volume is basically a battle of abstract magical force as he pushes on Syaoran, Syaoran pushes back, Fai sort of pushes from the sidelines, Yuko does something, other Sakuras and Syaorans do things…

It had been getting better the last two volumes, too. While… the finale probably needs to be this drawn-out, it’s too abstract to enjoy, and I wish they’d speak in plain terms and finally just get down to brass tacks. Maybe it will make sense in the last volume.


Tsubasa 26

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2010 – 28 volumes

Okay, so I’m riding the good vibes from last volume, where we got information in the form of an easy-to-process flashback and a fun story that recalls good things from Cardcaptor Sakura. We’ve… still got some of that going on in this volume, but it’s getting hard to follow again. Which isn’t important, because a big chunk of the ending is an elaborate and surprisingly epic fight scene.

Once again, my questions are answered. Watanuki’s situation is explained in great detail. It makes me angry to see it here, rather than in XxXholic. Why wasn’t that explained in the series where he was the main character? Because Syaoran is better than him? The original? Likely because it was more relevant to the plot of Tsubasa, but the fact that the explanation wasn’t suitable for XxXholic makes it pretty poor. What I found most interesting was the language Fei Wang used to describe Watanuki. He called him an anomaly in space and time. Interesting because of what he became and the role he now fulfills.

We learn… just what happened to time, and why, though the explanation is still a little tenuous and hard to grasp. Why was that point frozen while everything else was allowed to move? Why wasn’t it turned back as well, so that Syaoran could just step in? Was it a safeguard? I guess?

There’s a whole lot of melodrama here, piled on from the last volume, concerning the future of the relationship between Fai, Kurogane, and Syaoran. I’m not sure who Syaoran thought he was kidding, but that was a lot of needless suspense.

The fight was… simultaneously boring and amazing. As nice as CLAMP art is, and they do draw some amazing pages, the fight itself relies too much on big panels and flashy shounen manga explosions. It doesn’t really matter who’s hitting what or what magic’s being used. There’s just a fight. Parts do look impressive, though, and I do like the climax of the story hinging on Syaoran’s fight with his opponent here. There were some crazy pseudo-X-type panels towards the end of Syaoran’s fight, plus a great fake-out. A REALLY GREAT fake out. Never let it be said that this fight doesn’t end spectacularly. It’s probably my favorite thing in Tsubasa so far. Even better, it’s completely wordless, which makes the impact that much greater. We don’t really need characters yelling and protesting. We can see what’s going on.

I’m… not sure how the ending can stretch out into two more volumes. Let’s see how this goes.


Tsubasa 25

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2010 – 28 volumes

Guys. You won’t believe it. This volume of Tsubasa… not only was it enjoyable to read, it made sense of the story from the previous volume. Some of my questions were answered. I was shown, rather than having a character sit down and explain it to me.

It was amazing. Or pretty good, at least.

This volume is almost entirely a flashback. We learn when and why Syaoran met Sakura, and it was indeed the seventh day before her seventh birthday. We find out why Syaoran went to Clow, and why he grew up there, and what the deal was, and a whole lot of other things. And there are a ton of heart-meltingly adorable scenes between Syaoran and Sakura. We also find out what happened to Sakura, and just what Syaoran’s wish is.

In fact, the biggest question I have now is just what Fei Wang’s wish is, and what exactly Syaoran… must’ve given him to fulfill his own wish? If that even happened? There’s a very interesting twist here.

Actually, there’s all sorts of other questions. Why two Syaorans? Why two Sakuras? How does Watanuki figure into all of this again? Is it significant that he had to hold Syaoran’s place in modern Japan? Was he even doing that, since he has no memories?

Boy, is it creepy to see Yuko up and around, too. That was a little jarring. I forgot that this is a little… earlier than the volume of XxXholic I’m on right now.

I’m… looking forward to the ending of Tsubasa? I’ve been dreading it all year, but I’m planning on finishing it off over the next few days. Maybe… maybe it won’t be as bad as I thought?


Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 24

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2009 – 28 volumes

This was a pretty fun volume, and more in the spirit of the earlier part of the series.  The group makes their way to the country of Clow.  Since they have to be there “at a specific time,” they find themselves stuck in a space of several hours that loop over and over again, complete with people they interact with.  The group realizes that interacting with the people to break the loop causes the people to disappear, possibly killing them (this is left ambiguous, they sort of melt).  I especially like that Miyuki-chan is missing from the city scene the third time it’s shown, as if Syaoran and company have somehow vaporized her through their efforts.

The second half of the volume is a flashback to when Syaoran and Sakura first met.  This story makes a little more sense, because I wasn’t sure whether the real Syaoran had travelled to Clow and when exactly he had been kidnapped and replaced with “Syaoran.”  The thing with who Watanuki is makes a little more sense this way, too.  Syaoran seems to be acting on destiny here, maybe moreso than anyone else in the series, since he (and everyone else) is so sure that he and Sakura are meant to be together.

I also like that Syaoran and Toya still don’t get along.  That made me laugh.  I also liked that Sakura asked right off to call him Syaoran, with no honorifics.  I believe it took her all series to use his first name in Cardcaptor Sakura.  We also get to see Fujitaka and Nadeshiko, though for some reason I thought that Fujitaka was Syaoran’s father in Clow.  Maybe I remember wrong, or maybe that was a different Fujitaka, or a different Clow, or a different time, or something.

The one thing I was curious about is that… Syaoran mentions that he’s always known Sakura, from the seventh day before her seventh birthday until his body “reached this age and form,” or “always.”  He mentions that he turned back time as part of his wish, because he wanted to meet Sakura right at the moment they met again.  Or… maybe he’d been kidnapped and aged to adulthood, and wanted to go back to being young and go back in time so that young Sakura would still recognize him?  He’s aged some since he was seven, but… I don’t know.  I also wonder when Sakura was switched for “Sakura,” and how old she is?  Hmm.

Now I have to wait for the rest of the volumes.  I think I’ll save them up and read them all together again.  Tsubasa really does read better in big chunks.


Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 23

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2009 – 28 volumes

Oh, flagrant abuse of past CLAMP scenes continues!  I believe there’s a double-page spread that mimics one of the last pages of Cardcaptor Sakura, save for the… you know, the circumstances.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that particular spread though, so I could be wrong.  There’s also a confession along the same lines that mimics a similar unspoken one in X, again, the scene at Rainbow Bridge.  Again, I am a big geek, and these things are amusing to me.

I knew this business with Sakura was coming, but I was hoping it would be handled in a more… tasteful way.  Somehow, I thought it would be less confusing this time.  It was far, far more confusing, but thankfully, there was actually stuff going on while the explanation was running this time.

This is getting a bit too metaphysical for my taste.  If it gets too much further out there, even reading the volumes back to back like this, I really will lose my firm grasp of what’s going on.  Now the group is going to start time-traveling, I guess, which is going to add whole new layers of confusing, but at least it sounds like they’re finally going to confront Fei Wang, and the series will be cycling down and moving into its final story arc.  I don’t even want to think about the nightmare of time travel in the future, but it honestly can’t get much more confusing than it already is.

One thing I do like is CLAMP’s use of the non-evil villain, something they’ve done in the past, too.  Fei Wang’s wish was revealed last volume (sort of), and while he is viewed as evil by all the people he’s been using all this time, and he probably is, his wish isn’t the usual world domination pitch.  It’s got a softer reason behind it.  Of course, in order to do this thing, he needs to obtain a great deal of power, hence the journey.  So I guess he’s still evil.  But still.  I guess he can be likened to Mr. Freeze, or something.

At the very least, the fight between Syaorans and the subsequent collapse or whatever dimension-hopping happened was pretty exciting.  I was a little bummed the fight didn’t last longer, but I can’t help but like that awesome scene that happened to end it.  That’s been the highlight of the series so far for me, that and Sakura hoisting the trophy at the end of the Pifffle Princess races.  Totally sweet CLAMP moment right there, and one of the reasons I keep coming back to their series, but it would have been a little better if there weren’t… you know, four people involved or whatever, instead of two.

So let me talk through this again…

spoilers…

spoilers…

spoilers…

spoilers…

Okay, so technically, “Syaoran” wins the fight between Syaorans.  Sakura protects Syaoran to prevent him from being killed though, and “Syaoran’s” body refuses its orders to kill her.  Fei Wang offers commentary that it doesn’t really matter if Sakura’s soul is killed or not since all he needs is the body.  Yuko’s comments are that “Syaoran’s” body remembers where his heart does not.  The fight continues a little more, and Sakura winds up throwing herself in the path of the swords and getting skewered and killed by both.  Cue the Cardcaptor Sakura scene with the X dialogue, which is definitely the best thing about this volume.

While dying, she reveals that she also is a “Sakura” that Fei Wang made as an insurance policy, in case anything happened to the real Sakura.  Unlike “Syaoran,” who was a clone with Syaoran’s real soul, both Sakura’s body and soul are cloned from the real one, so she is not Syaoran’s Sakura, but “Syaoran’s.”  Later, the characters explain that her attitude towards Syaoran and her standoffishness, along with her affection for “Syaoran,” were because she finally got her memories back about this and knew that she was a copy like “Syaoran,” and also knew not to let Syaoran fall in love with her since his Sakura was still out there.

Anyway, her soul dies in the arms of “Syaoran” in the world of dreams.  The two Syaorans had also been fighting over a feather, which is suddenly snapped up, along with “Syaoran” and “Sakura’s” body, by the little-boy-looking Kazuhiko servant of Fei Wang and spirited away to the evil wizard.

Bizzarrely, Fei Wang reveals that the real Sakura, body and soul, does not exist anymore.  I’m almost positive this isn’t true.  If it is, I’m willing to bet that it’s Sakura that he wants to bring back from the dead with his powers over space and time.

Interestingly, the characters begin discussing the merits of wishes in this volume.  It is revealed that Fei Wang’s wish is the same as Fai’s, that he wants to bring someone back from the dead, and he needs to be able to manipulate time and space to do this.  Yuko’s greatest wish is also to join her great love in the afterlife, as revealed in xXxHolic, but as the “Time Space Witch,” I suppose she knows that the only way to do this is if she dies herself, and I suppose with her powers, she was the most suited to counter-acting Fei Wang’s elaborate plot to gather power to resurrect.  Interesting that she foresaw all his insane moves far in advance, but whatever.  We also find out, unsurprisingly, that Seishirou also has some wish concerning both Subaru and Kami, but I wonder how that will play out with only so many more volumes left.  Also, one of the characters also notes that all happiness and unhappiness stems from desire, and that’s why mankind will continue to make their wishes.  So there you go.

Anyway, after all this business with Sakura goes down, the party is down to just Kurogane, Fai, Mokona, and Syaoran.  All want to go after Sakura and get her back.  They make a wish to Yuko to be sent where Sakura is, and the scene reflects the one from the beginning of the series.  Yuko reveals that the price of the wish will be similar, that is, the toll will be memories.  Except, then she says that Watanuki has paid the price for their wish long ago, when he offered all his memories to the Time Space Witch.  I am extremely, EXTREMELY curious how this works, and I hope the story will get back to it sooner rather than later.  Even knowing that Watanuki is a replacement for Syaoran in his timeline/dimension, I would desperately like to know how he got caught up in all this anyway.  Also, why he always seems to get stuck paying for other people’s wishes and doesn’t seem to get anything in return.  How is he not king of the universe with all that good karma he’s saved up?

Also, I’m curious about something else.  The theme of XxXholic is that “There is no coincidence, only hitsuzen,” which implies that everything happens for a reason to serve the greater good.  But the themes of Tsubasa all seem to be about changing one’s destiny (which, to be fair, has been forged by Fei Wang for almost all the characters in that series).  Even Yuko mentions that there are branching paths in the journey now, and that she hopes the travelers find the right one.  Pulling a theme from another series, “Their destiny is foreordained.”  Is hitsuzen this kind of foreordained destiny?  Or is fate in that sense, not determined, but hitsuzen is the force that drives people in the direction “it” wishes?  Or maybe hitsuzen is merely the cosmic force that determines wishes and makes paths for their payments in advance?  Perhaps I am over-thinking these themes?

So the three boys and Mokona get to travel back to Clow, but to the specific point in time where Fei Wang is hiding.  And that’s where we’ll pick up next volume.


Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 22

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2009 – 28 volumes

Yeah, I knew they’d explain things right away.  So… yeah, now I know all about the business with Kurogane’s arm.  But again, why couldn’t they just explain this while the action was happening?  Why did we have to sit through another explanation two or three chapters later?  Because it makes for better cliffhangers in the magazine?  And while I’m at it, what about all this weird business with Yuko’s fees, and how we have to hear what everyone paid for every little thing?  Bah.

This volume was much better than the past couple, and the action and story more-or-less resumed (as much as I assume they can at this point) when Fuuma and Seishirou show up and stir up trouble.  Seishirou is still in possession of a feather, so Syaoran has to fight him for it.  It’s a pretty awesome fight, and there’s even a little bit of fanservice when the boyish and young Seishirou pulls out his glasses for the fight.  He’s not using his Sakurazukamori powers, unfortunately, but I can’t have everything, I suppose.  I also like the chipper and happy Fuuma used in Tsubasa, while I’m at it, and I love that they’re brothers.  Seishirou has business with Fai since he’s… you know, a vampire now, but he goes all-out in his fight with Syaoran first.

I did like that we got a little bit of a breath after all that business in the past couple towns.  The team winds up in Japan, and it seems that they rested and relaxed quite a bit before the story resumed with Kurogane waking back up.  There was even some silliness among the characters, something I miss quite a bit.  I’d love to see Fai regain his sense of humor eventually.

The end of the volume is a little bizarre, and I’m not sure how the story will resolve the… split.  I’m sure it’ll take at least a volume to resolve the confrontation we see here, but I don’t mind since at least the two are fighting and not talking to each other.


Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 21

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2009 – 28 volumes

THEY DID IT AGAIN.  Absolutely nothing happened in this volume.  They went to Seresu, and then they went to the castle and sat around and listened to Ashura-oh talk?  Maybe?  Maybe he was showing them a vision, or maybe Fai was talking?  And what does all that past story amount to?  Why should we care what Ashura-ou’s wish was after the end of this volume?  There was a bunch of setup for Fai to grant his wish, but then Kurogane did instead, and something terrible happened and the second curse activated and… what?  That last page?  What was even going on there?  I know it’ll make sense next volume, but I was pretty frustrated with the unclear action scene in this volume.

Secretly, I was hoping Fai would grant his wish and activate the curse of the Ashura-ou.  That seemed to help Taishakuten, anyway.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’m trying to parse this volume out in my head, but it’s just not working.  I’m too angry.  When will things go back to normal?  When will they start going to worlds and going on adventures to find feathers again?  Never?  Are we just going to keep getting talked to like this until the end of the series?  I’m so sad, too, because I’ve been waiting all this time to see Fai’s past, and it just doesn’t make any sense.  He doesn’t even get to be a wizard any more because his second eye’s gone, and even then, the story would explain things like his magic power grows with use, and then take it back at the end and say that his magic power doesn’t grow with use and that he can use it all up.

ARGH.

My anger was lessened by some of the similarities between the Ashura/Fai scene here and the one between Seishirou and Subaru at Rainbow Bridge in X.  Some of the same images are used, and I think it even uses some of the same goddamn lines (“You musn’t shed tears for one such as I” is an old CLAMP line, and my memory is only letting me plug it into that scene).  I hate myself a little for liking it a lot more because of that, but then, why else am I reading Tsubasa?

Again, I’m going to try and talk through this, so stop reading if you don’t want spoiled.

Spoilers…

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Spoilers…

Okay.  I can’t figure out what’s going on, or what the point of this big flashback is.  Is Fai showing this out of anguish?  As a way of explaining himself to Kurogane?  Is Ashura doing it to torture him?  So we know that Fai’s wish is to bring his twin brother Fai back from the dead.  We learn that he commits a tremendous number of spells to memory, but can never master healing or resurrection magic, things that would bring his brother’s corpse back to life (the corpse, by the way, is being kept fresh by a feather, and isn’t alive like Ashura-ou made it seem last time.  Was he just holding it up in that scene, or what).  Ashura rescued Fai and took him with him knowing that he was cursed to kill the first more powerful magician that crossed his path.  Because they both thought that Fai’s power grew with use, Ashura-ou gave him that tattoo he traded to Yuuko at the beginning of the series as a way to cap his magical strength.  Because Ashura-ou was weaker than Fai when they met, but Ashura-ou knew that he would grow more powerful, and his wish was to activate the curse and have Fai kill him, which he couldn’t do if Fai’s magical power kept growing.  He also made Fai swear that he would kill anyone who brought death and destruction to Seresu.  Ashura-ou, being a god of death and destruction, knew he would eventually go on a rampage and kill every soul in the country in order to feed his power, so he hoped Fai would kill him.  Fai couldn’t bring himself to kill Ashura-ou, who was the first person to show him kindness, so he put him to sleep, then told Elda to let him know when he woke up and went on his merry way to Yuko’s place.

This sets the stage in the current timeline, where Ashura-ou still wants Fai to kill him.  Fai can’t, however, with only half of his magic.  Ashura-ou tries to provoke him by hurting and attempting to kill his companions, and he tortures Fai a little bit as well, so Kurogane goes ahead and does the deed, which costs him his ward of protection from Princess Tomoyo.

Fai’s wish is either to bring his brother back to death or to die in penance for choosing his own life in place of his brother’s.  He was planning on killing himself with Ashura-ou, which is the other reason Kurogane intervened.  Ashura-ou says Fai would never be able to kill himself before bringing his brother back.  Killing Ashura-ou caused the feather in Fai’s twin to combine with the soulless body of Sakura, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t Sakura’s memory.  It was the brother’s memory, letting Fai know that he offered his life in exchange for Fai’s.  They’re still talking in third person though, and they have each other’s names, so I’m not 100% sure that’s what’s going on, but it seems to work here.  Whatever.

The second curse, in Fei Wang’s words was “If you can’t force yourself to kill Ashura-ou with your own hands, you will be forced to go somewhere against you will.” Which would mean he’s known he was supposed to kill Ashura-ou before Ashura-ou even showed up?  Or do I remember a line where Fei Wang told Fai he would forget this second curse?  Hmm.  Anyway, after all this horrible stuff happens, obviously Fai wants to kill himself.  I took that curse to mean that the travelers, or at the very least Fai, would be thrown off the path of the journey.  Except, instead of being forced to go someplace against his will, Fei Wang makes it sound like the world of Seresu trapped and was about to kill them.  WHAT.

Fai uses the last of his magic to send Syaoran, Sakura, and Mokona outside the trap, but doesn’t have enough magic left for Kurogane and himself.  Mokona tells Syaoran to use its earring to break the cage, and… uh, Fai tells Kurogane to go without him, and then Kurogane cuts off his own arm and grabs Fai anyway?

What.

Just… what.

I’m not sure how this works, but now I have to read the next volume RIGHT NOW.  That made me madder than anything, but even so.  I need more.  I need to know how this stuff works out and goes on.  I am a ridiculous CLAMP addict.


Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 20

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2008 – 28 volumes

While I am still enjoying this, I realized the problem with the last few volumes has been that it has ceased to tell the story and is merely explaining to the reader what is happening.  Ame pointed this out in the comments, but one of the reasons I gave up on this the first time I was reading was that every volume really is an information dump.  The characters will do something cryptic, and then Yuko will show up to explain what just happened.  I’m following along pretty well, and I realize the story isn’t very well-suited to this, but it would be much better if… I don’t know, maybe the characters were shown actually doing things, rather than just having Yuko tell us about things that they’ve done in the past, or tell us about what’s going on behind the scenes that, for whatever reason, the reader isn’t privy to when the scene played out just a few chapters before.

For instance, instead of the seal in “Syaoran’s” eye shattering and pulling the real Syaoran through for no reason, then having “Syaoran” go on a rampage, perhaps it would have been better for the travelers to stumble upon Syaoran in a world, discuss the implication of this, maybe be given some explanation or warning about the seal breaking before it actually happens, and then going through the big battle and the rest of it.  That’s still pretty cryptic stuff, and I realize that the best thing going for the series right now is the fast pace and action, but it would be a lot clearer.

This volume starts with an explanation of the cryptic Sakura business.  While I understand what is going on, I’m not even going to pretend that it’s clear or makes for an easy read.  I’m very troubled by all this exposition and this sudden downturn in mood, which makes all the characters do things that are extremely out-of-character.  Sigh.

A big chunk of the next part is an explanation of Fai’s past.  This follows all sorts of cryptic business about his magic and curses and lies and whatnot.  I still like Fai best, but he definitely crosses the teaser line and ventures into confusingly vague territory for stuff we are and are not told about him.  Again, the story about his childhood makes things clearer, but I nearly ripped my hair out trying to figure out what was going on because DAMMIT HE HAS A TWIN AND APPARENTLY TOOK ON HIS NAME?  WHAT.  That does not help tell a coherent story.  Also annoying is the fact that a big part of the… theme of their story is the fact that the two don’t know much about what’s going on in the country (being completely innocent and guilty of simply being born), and consequently, neither does the reader.  Great.

Now that the group is in Seresu and following up a plot element that’s been laid out since the beginning, I’m hoping the story will start moving forward and we won’t need any more of these Yuko Fireside Chats.  Whatever.  I thought that last volume too, but then Sakura had to go and do all this complicated business because she’s a dreemseer now… I weep, but understand.

Let me talk myself through this a little, just so that I have notes and can keep everything clear.  In other words, here are some VERY CLEARLY MARKED SPOILERS.

Spoiler…

Spoiler…

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Spoiler…

This explanation is not short, but it is written out in the most logical way I can manage.

Okay, so the feather Sakura got back in the X apocalypse kingdom contained some of her magical powers, specifically the ability to see the future in dreams.  With this power, she saw that, at the end of the Chess/Layer Battle tournament, she would gain a feather containing more of her magical power, and this would trigger a curse that had been put on Fai.  The curse states that if Fai ever comes across a magician more powerful than himself, he will kill them (there’s a total BS explanation as to why the curse didn’t trigger when he met Yuko).  In the dream, Fai killed Sakura, then slayed Syaoran and Kurogane, then killed himself.  To prevent this from happening, Sakura asked Yuko for a wish.  She wished for the power to travel dimensions by herself, partly to escape that gruesome future, and partly to be in a place that “Syaoran” would eventually be.  Her fee for this wish was her good luck (given to her for being a daughter blessed by the Gods and the one thing protecting her from a lot of harm the whole series, ie those races a few volumes back) and the use of the leg she injured last volume.

When they finally win the tournament, Sakura is awarded the prize, which is the persocom Freya.  Freya can take Sakura to one world, not of her choosing, and is also made out of one of her feathers.  When Sakura is given Freya, Freya resonates with Chi/Elda, the persocom that Fai made in Seresu before he left, and Elda appears in front of Sakura.  Elda is made out of another of Sakura’s feathers.  Coincidentally, both feathers contain the rest of Sakura’s magical powers.  In one of the most cryptic scenes of the series, Elda, Freya, and Sakura float in midair, linking three dimensions together (the current world, Seresu, and the one that Sakura wants to travel to).  Sakura absorbs the two feathers and gains all her magic back, thus triggering Fai’s curse, so Fai stabs her.  This causes her soul to separate from her body, and her body is pulled to Seresu with Elda and her soul to the world of Dreams, where Sakura wanted to go in order to wait for “Syaoran.”

Deep breath.  Kurogane stops Fai from hurting himself and others, and Yuko shows up to explain all this to the reader.  Fai wants to go and get Sakura’s body from Seresu, and offers to pay the price for his wish with the vision in his one remaining eye.  The others stop him, and they all four decide to go together, the price being their winnings from the Chess Layer tournament (notably, Sakura had lied to the others about wanting to win the tournament to get this money in order to restore the world “Syaoran” had laid to waste, when what she really wanted was Freya.  The money came in handy anyway, because there is no coincidence, only hitsuzen).

Deep breath.  Fai had lied about a great many things, including the extent of his magical power (he has enough magic to travel the worlds by himself, without Yuko’s help), not knowing anything about the feathers (he had brought one with him to the meeting with Yuko, and lied about pulling it off Syaoran), and even his name.  Nobody holds this against him.  In Seresu, the entire land has been laid to waste.  There is not a soul alive anywhere.  The four make their way to the castle we saw in volume one, where Ashura-ou is waiting for them (he looks like Yasha-ou, but Fai calls him Ashura-ou.  Perhaps he is Ashura’s father?).  Ashura-ou is in possession of Fai’s long-dead twin brother… er, Fai.

Cut to a flashback.  Two twins are born, Fai and Yui.  The birth of the twins trigger a lot of bad luck for the kingdom, death, famine, all sorts of nasty stuff.  So the two are banished to a valley of purgatory where time stops, the two remain ageless and bodies don’t rot.  Eventually Yui goes insane and Fai wishes for death in order to save his kingdom.  Eventually, they become the only living people in the world, cursed to remain forever in the purgatory.

Enter Fei Wang Reed.  He tells Yui that there are other worlds, but that only one of the twins can live if the other is to escape.  Yui asks that it be him (I think, he’s referring to himself in the third person here, which is kind of weird), and Fai is hurled from the top of the tower and killed, with the promise that someone will show up and take him away, and that by going with him, he’ll be able to bring Fai back to life.  Enter Ashura-ou.  He comes to take Yui away in order to grant his own (unspoken) wish.  Yui lies and tells him his name is Fai, and goes with him.

For the price of valuing his life above his twin, currentFai is cursed with the spell that made him stab Sakura, and another, unspoken curse.  For whatever reason, Ashura-ou has the still-living body of pastFai and is torturing him with it.  So now we know that Fai has been traveling with the group, perhaps to stay away from Ashura-ou, but also because Fei Wang Reed promised him it would lead to the resurrection of his twin.  Notably, Fai stabbing Sakura at that moment in the story was the first serious deviation from Fei Wang Reed’s master plan, as he had planned to have Fai stab Syaoran when he got his magical powers back later, or perhaps Yuko, on the off chance she was unaware of the curse and did not guard against it at the beginning of the journey.  For what it’s worth.

Whew.  On to the next volume.


Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 19

CLAMP – Del Rey – 2008 – 28 volumes

The Hikaru doll blew my mind.  Wasn’t expecting it, but probably should have given the fact they were fighting in the layer and all.  Plus, you know, Eagle Vision and Hikaru Shido are totally OTP.  The only thing that could have made that better was if somehow, it was Icchan that transported them between dimensions.  That would have worked on a lot of weird levels, especially if he had shown up in addition to what actually happened.  And then claimed he was Fei Wang Reed.  That would’ve been so tight.

Anyway.  This volume throws a few random curveballs our way.  I’m pretty sure I understood pretty much everything that was going on, but even still, these curveballs felt a little over-dramatic and unnecessary.  The first one, dealing with Sakura, seemed completely unnecessary and against the spirit of what has been going on post-clone Syaoran, even given her justification for doing it.  The second curveball was just brutal, and we’ve hurt Fai enough already.  I know we’ve got more punishment to dish out to him later, and we’ve only really touched the tip of the Fai iceburg, but that double-page spread is still one of the biggest shockers in the series.  I mean, there’s just absolutely no reason for it.  Poor Fai.

There’s lots of little touches to develop Fai’s character in this volume.  Both Sakura and Kurogane give indications that they don’t like it when he hides everything and pretends things are peachy, and we also begin to see his world creeping in since… well, the thng he asks for is starting to happen.

I still like Sakura’s luck.  That’s a pretty nifty plot element, even if it’s something we may never see or hear about again.  Apparently… she got what she wanted?  I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the three dimensions being mentioned.  There was… Freya and Elda at work, one was in a different dimension, and one was in the dimension that the story is currently taking place in.  Since Sakura was using Freya, there was a partial third dimension being drawn in while Freya and Elda were resonating?  Hopefully that didn’t spoil anything, but it always helps to talk these things out for me.  Hopefully it’ll make sense to others later, as well.


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