“Cardcaptor Sakura” (aka “Cardcaptors”) is one of my favourite stories of all time. Sakura Kinomoto (or Avalon in the English version) was quite the little fighter in the original series, and managed to become the master of the clow with little assistance. Her friendship/relationship with Syaoran Li is strong and compelling as well. Of course, I was eager to read the manga of its crossover “Tsubasa: RESERVoir Chronicles”. Unfortunately, due to a complete change in Sakura’s character, I finished the first volume disappointed. I still decided to give the anime a try because it looked visually stunning and suspenseful. In the end, it’s a decent new twist on Sakura and Syaoran’s relationship, with the twist emphasized greatly.
“Tsubasa” welcomes back characters from creators CLAMP’s other works, but most of the principle characters are from “Cardcaptor Sakura”. Syaoran and Sakura are in a completely different setting and plot; Sakura is the princess of the Clow Kingdom and Syaoran is from a much poorer background. The series begins with the two childhood friends hanging out as they have growing up. Their feelings for one another are hinted at, and almost brought up. Of course, shortly after Sakura drops the hint, her memories are erased and scattered in the form of feathers throughout different worlds-and they contain a great source of power. Syaoran and his companions, soft spoken Fei, headstrong Kurogane, and “cabbit” (cat and rabbit hybrid) Mokona must find her memories. Either way, she will not remember him no matter what.
Like the manga, it was unfortunate that Sakura’s role was entirely changed. She tries to find her memories herself, but she is first in a coma with nothing to do; sad given the fact she was in control of plenty of magical cards before. Once she recovers, however, Sakura is a caring character who will try to find her own memories herself, and succeed. She tries really hard to remember Syaoran, but even the slightest recognition of her past with him is erased shortly after. At the end, neither of them explicitly reveal how they feel about each other, despite the fact it is the most obvious element in the narrative.
The only benefit from Sakura’s lack of assertiveness is the introduction of many more characters. The protagonists make a great team with different strengths. They come across a variety of memorable characters, some of which even resemble the two childhood friends. Those who are familiar with other works such as “Chobits” will be able to recognize some of the characters. Even Sakura and Syaoran’s personalities are familiar for those who knew them before.
Be prepared for lots of flashbacks in “Tsubasa”. By a lot of flashbacks, I mean nearly every single episode begins with what happened in the last. Various flashbacks from Sakura and Syaoran’s childhood occur from both of their perspectives; Sakura will remember everything except for the fact her closest friend was there. Although it does provide some context, it becomes tiring after awhile-especially during the last half where the viewer should know what’s going on anyway.
The visuals are well done, and suitable for the older versions of Sakura and Syaoran. Instead of the bright and cheerful shades found in the original series, the colours and tones are softer. The colouring fits “Tsubasa” because while there are some comedic moments throughout, the overall narrative is more sombre than “Cardcaptor Sakura”. The score during the battle scenes is especially great. The majority of the soundtrack, on the other hand, is love ballads. The lyrics aren’t anything different or special, and some are slightly cheesy, but the actual sounds of the songs are quite peaceful. After all, this is probably the closest way the pair express their feelings.
“Tsubasa:RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” was a touching story of love and friendship, even if the change in Sakura’s character from her original series was frustrating. She still tried to be as strong as possible, and was recognized for her kindness. Sometimes her care for others even finished potential battles. While it becomes more intriguing with each episode, “Tsubasa” is incredibly serialized and becomes a little dull when it drags on. Whether you grew up with Sakura and Syaoran, or if this anime is your first exposure to your characters, don’t expect a “Cardcaptor Sakura” replica. It is a good storyline nonetheless, so it’s worth checking out.