Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tsubasa, Volumes 3, 4 and 5

Teenage Syaoran is determined to recover all of his beloved Sakura's lost memories, and he and his team of alternate-dimension-traveling friends are working together toward that goal. The price Syaoran has paid for the ability to travel from world to world is that - no matter how many powerful memory "feather" he gathers, Sakura will never regain any memories of him. Still, he values Sakura so highly that he never once hesitated to pay that dreadful price.

In the third volume of the series, they travel to a village in which a traveling magician suddenly attained mysterious powers after killing the town's most powerful warrior and protector. Each of Syaoran's companions also paid a price to travel among the dimensions, and Fai - once powerful magician - has given up his powers. So the friends must find a way to defeat the powerful mage, because it is clear that his power comes from Sakura's missing memory feather.

I enjoyed watching the friends learn to work as a team, using each other's strengths in order to achieve their goals - and learning to trust each other as well. Sakura is becoming more alert and aware as the memory feathers are returned to her, and she begins to play a more proactive role in the story.

The fourth and fifth volumes contain a single story arc. Syaoran and his friends find themselves in a new world in search of another of Sakura's memories. They are in a village reminiscent of a late 19th-century German town, and they are approached by hostile, suspicious villagers. The friends learn that the children of the town have been mysteriously disappearing, and strangers are unwelcome there. Only the town's doctor seems unconcerned by their arrival. From him they hear about an ancient legend in which the golden-haired princess of the nearby castle, now a ruin, kidnapped the town's children. The villagers believe it is happening again. So the friends tell the villagers that they are investigating old legends in order to write a book. It appears that the mysterious disappearances may be related to Sakura's missing memory - and even if it isn't, they feel compelled to find the missing children if they can.

The book ends with a cliff-hanger, and the tale resumes in Volume 5 of the series, picking up where the action left off. The two-volume story is a fun otherworldly mystery, full of adventure, excitement and lots of creepy fairy-tale atmosphere.

Upon solving the mystery, the friends transport to yet another dimension. In this world, magic is commonplace, and otherworldly travelers are common as well. They are greeted by a singing, dancing welcoming committee composed of lovely young girls. One of the committee members explains to them how the country of Oto works, and the travelers find themselves a place to stay - and even some lucrative work. The little magical critter Mokona, who enables them to travel among the dimensions, senses one of Sakura's feathers, but isn't sure where it is. Adventures, action and mayhem, interspersed with the usual humor, ensue.

I'm having a blast reading this creative and immensely entertaining series. I enjoy the interplay among the characters, this random team of misfits, each with their own background and skill set that comes into play, depending on the situation. Syaoran's travels with his father, for example, have given him the ability to think on his feet when dealing with unfamiliar people and cultures. I also enjoyed the fact that Sakura is moving away from the passive princess who needed to be rescued, and she's insisting on pulling her weight and doing her part along with the rest of the group. She is a strong character (not surprising in a CLAMP novel), and it is hard for her to deal with the limitations placed on her by her memory loss. She is an endearing character, enthusiastic and optimistic, and a peacemaker as well.

The interplay among the characters is amusing and lends welcome comic relief to the darker, tension-filled scenes. Finally, I have to say that I am continually impressed by the artwork of this series, particularly the depiction of the characters' clothing. CLAMP has a penchant for designing whimsical, intricate, and lovely outfits, and in this series in particular, they have lots of fun designing the different kinds of clothing found in each world. I look forward to following Syaoran, Sakura, Mokona and their friends on their next adventure.

Books reviewed in the Tsubasa series:
Tsubasa, Volume 1
Tsubasa, Volume 2

Tsubasa, Volumes 3, 4 and 5 by CLAMP (Del Ray/Ballantine Books, 2004, 2005, 2005)

4 comments:

  1. I love, love, love the art from this series. Some of the panels are so gorgeous. As soon as I'm done Ranma 1/2, I'm making a beeline for this and XXXholic...

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  2. Kiirstin - And as soon as I finish this and xxxholic, I'm going to read Ranma. We can compare notes. :-)

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  3. Kind of sounds like a video game lol. Very neat though!

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  4. Ladytink - Now that you mention it, it does sound like a video game. I'd like to play it! Maybe they'll make one some day. :-)

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