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Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 3, 2009 by  



Quite Addictive!  CLAMP’s “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is one of the better anime series available on Blu-ray.  It has all the elements of fantasy, adventure, action, science fiction incorporated to its storyline and the characters are just  fun to watch.  Definitely an anime series worth owning on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of  © 2008 CLAMP/KODANSHA/NHK-NEP.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One

DURATION: 26 Episodes (640 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV PG

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2009

 

Originally Created by CLAMP

Directed by Koichi Moshimo

Screenplay by Hiroyuki Kawasaki

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Minako Shiba

Art Director: Shin Watanabe

Sound Director: Toru Nakano

Executive Producer: Hisako Matsumoto

Anime Production by Bee Train

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Daisuke Namikawa/Vic Mignona as Fay D. Flourite

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

Miyu Irino/Jason Liebrecht as Syaoran

Tetsu Inada/Chris Sabat as Kurogane

Yui Makino/Monica Rial as Sakura

Kouki Miyata as Yukito

Maaya Sakamoto/Amber Cotton as Tomoyo

Shinichiro Miki as Touya

Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuko Ichihara

J. Michael Tatum as Seishiro Sakurazaka

A true and noble heart holds much power, stronger than the hardest fist and mightier than the most potent magic. Four disparate travelers begin an epic journey; their goals different, their destiny the same. Along the way, the past will meet the future in the present. Of all the paths of every life, mingling in the dimension between dimensions where a foe has the face of an ally, and an ally the face of a monster.

At the center of this heroic undertaking, Syaoran: a young man called upon to save his fated, the princess Sakura. Her memory has been shattered, the very essence of her soul sent adrift across the universe. Feather’s float down on strange lands, torn asunder if only to prove the power of love.

With fellow travelers Kurogane and Fai, a warrior and a wizard, an epic quest begins. One of danger and mystery… The possibilities are endless.

 

The fantasy shonen manga known as “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” by the well-known mangaka group CLAMP (“X”, “xxxHolic”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Angelic Layer”, “Chobits”) was created in 2003 and has been featured on Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen through October 2009.  In 2005, a 52-episode anime series aired through 2006 and included five OVA’s released between 2007-2009.

The series was featured on FUNimation Entertainment’s “Funimation Channel” in 2008 and had been released on DVD previously in the US back in 2007.   Now, the popular series receives its High Definition treatment with the first season (26 episodes) released on Blu-ray in Nov. 2009.

The series is directed by Koichi Mashimo (“Sorcerer Hunters”, “.Hack” series, “”Dirty Pair: Project Eden”, “Noir”) and features a screenplay by Hiroyuki Kawasaki (“Irresponsible Captain Tylor”, “Martian Successor Nadesico”, “Sorcerer Hunters”, “Sakura Wars”, “Tekkaman Blade”).  Music for the series is courtesy of Yuki Kajiura (“Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “.Hack” series”, “My-HIME”, “Madlax”), character designs by Minako Shiba (“.Hack” series, “Noir”, “Kuroshitsuji”, “Darker than Black”) and art direction by Shin Watanabe (“Arc the Lad”, “Batman: Gotham Knight”, “Diamond Daydreams”).

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” is about a young man named Syaoran who returns home and meets up with his friend Sakura (who really likes him).  She has wanted to confess her love to him but due to circumstances, she has to go back to the castle.  While Syaoran goes back to the ruins, he sees Sakura who seems to be levitated in light.  As he goes to rescue her, small feathers of light disappear and Sakura is left unconscious.

In order to save Sakura, Syaoran along with a unconscious Sakura, a magician named Fay D. Flourite and a ninja named Kurogane are transported to present day Japan in which they come in contact with a dimension witch (Yuuko Ichihara of the CLAMP anime series “xxxHOLIC”).  Yuuko explains that they were brought together for a reason and that in order to get home, they would need to travel to various alternate universes to find their way back home.  And in each universe, Syaoran must find these feathers which represents Sakura’s memories and are now scattered in various alternate universes, he along with his two compatriots must travel these alternate universes but must find these feathers and return them back to Sakura. After finding each feather(s) for that universe, they will then go to another universe where things are different than the last.

But in order to begin their adventure for Syaoran to revive Sakura and for each of them to return back home, Yuuko must collect payment and that is for each of them to give up something precious.  Syaoran makes the biggest sacrifice in which if he is able to revive Sakura, she will no longer have any memory of Syaoran.  So, the four embark on their trip to various worlds where familiar faces from their own world are different people from different backgrounds and occupations.

Meanwhile, as Syaoran and the others try to find the feathers, an enemy rival named Fei Wang Reed has interest in obtaining the feathers.  He will kill anyone and anybody to obtain Sakura’s feathers.

So, the first season is race to get the feather of Sakura’s memories but at the same time, confronting challenges of powerful enemies and rivals from various universes.  Will Syaoran, Fay and Kurogane survive their adventure?

The main characters of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” are:

  • Syaoran – The main protagonist from the Kingdom of Clow who likes a girl named Sakura.  But when Sakura’s memories are lost, he has made it his mission to find each feather of her memory and bring her back to life, even if she will no longer remember him.  Syaoran is an aspiring archaeologist and in each universe, seems to have developed certain supernatural or fighting skills.
  • Sakura – The princess of Kingdom Clow who has always loved Syaoran.  On the day she was to tell him that she loves him, she loses all her memories and magical powers and left unconscious.  Only when Syaoran brings back a feather of memories and returns it back to her does she start to get better little at a time.
  • Fay D. Flourite – A  magician from the country of Selece.  He has sealed King Ashura and has run away from Selece, never wanting to return back home.  He gladly accepts traveling with Syaoran and Kurogane but unlike them, he has no intention of going back home.  He gives up his treasured item, a tattoo as payment to Yuuko.
  • Kurogane – A ninja who is always fighting and shows no mercy.   And because of this, Tomoyo sends Kurogane (without his approval) to where Syaoran and Fay.  But also cursing him  and that if he kills anyone, his strength will decrease.  Tomoyo’s goal is for Kurogane to learn what true strength is and let him know that it is not about his sword or killing people that brings strength.
  • Mokona Modoki – Two bunny-like creatures that are given to the three by Yuuko Ichihara.  The white creature allows for teleportation to the alternate universes, while the black creature allows the three to keep in direct contact with Yuuko.  But both can also sense Sakura’s feathers of memories.

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” features the following 26-episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 1: Destinies Converge – Something has gone wrong in the Kingdom of Clow, leaving Sakura unconscious.
  • EPISODE 2: The Power to Fight – Syaoran (with Sakura), Fay and Kurogane are whisked to a new world.  What will be their mission?
  • EPISODE 3: Sword of Demon Destruction – The first alternative universe places Syaoran and the group in the Hansin Republic where people have their own powers.
  • EPISODE 4: Innocent Wandering – Sakura has gone missing.  Will Syaoran be able to find her?
  • EPISODE 5: The Battle of the Mage – The gang leader Shogo challenges Syaoran in a Kudan battle.
  • EPISODE 6: Unshed Tears – The fight between Syaoran and Shogo begins.
  • EPISODE 7: The Broken Memento – The group travel to their next world, the Koryo Country and learn from Chun Hyang of an evil group known as Ryanban.
  • EPISODE 8: God’s Beloved Daughter – Sakura is drawn to the local castle for some reason.
  • EPISODE 9: Princess of Shadows – The gang encounter the Ryanban and learn about their famous weapon.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10: Mirror of Separation – Syaoran vs. the Ryanban leader’s son.
  • EPISODE 11: The Chosen Tomorrow – The Ryanban takes control of the villagers.
  • EPISODE 12: A Warm Smile – The group are whisked into another world that consists only of a large lake.
  • EPISODE 13: Advocate of Illusions – The group visit a new world, the Jade Country in which the princess is supposedly has a magical feather.
  • EPISODE 14: Truth in History – A ghost princess visits Sakura.
  • EPISODE 15: A Heart That Believes – Sakura tries to rescue children from the castle with the help from the ghost princess.
  • EPISODE 16: Strength in Kindness – The group now goes to the Storm Country in which a fight tournament is taking place.
  • EPISODE 17: Demon Hunters – The group reach Oto Country in which they are attacked by oni.
  • EPISODE 18: Cats and Dogs – Fay and Kurogane learn a secret of Syaoran.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 19: Resolution to Live – Syaoran wants to learn how to use a sword and asks Kurogane to teach him.
  • EPISODE 20: The Afternoon Piano – Kurogane trains Syaoran on how to use a sword.
  • EPISODE 21: The Demon’s True Face – The gang encounters the oni Seishiro (from the CLAMP anime/manga series “Tokyo Babylon”).
  • EPISODE 22: Indelible Memory – Syaoran and the group try to protect Seishiro from the town hall.
  • EPISODE 23: The Fading Life – Seishiro starts to attack Syaoran and the others.
  • EPISODE 24: Blade of a Desperate Fight – The group learn that they are in a virtual reality world leading to a battle between Kurogane and Seishiro.
  • EPISODE 25: The Ultimate Game – The battle between the Oni heats up, meanwhile Syaoran tries to get the feather from Seishiro.
  • EPISODE 26: The Last Wish – The group end up in a new world, Tsarastora County where the group learns that if they can reach to the top of a blessed temple, the would be granted a wish.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9).  So, far with some of the upconverted anime series from FUNimation Entertainment really looking gorgeous on Blu-ray, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” has its moments of vibrancy and sharpness with beautiful, colorful backgrounds and the noticeable CLAMP character designs but on Blu-ray, you also see compression artifacting.  There are times where you can see the artifacts quite clearly on a larger television set (I have a 52″, so it really stood out and I would imagine those with larger screens will also see it become more prevalent).  It’s not too distracting as it doesn’t happen throughout the whole episode but you do notice it from time to time.  And in terms of animation, when it comes to CLAMP animated series, there is always less emphasis on the actual look (in fact, one thing you’ll notice with certain characters in “Tsubasa” are similar to “xxxHolic” with characters sporting the long arms, long bodies, long legs, etc.) but more emphasis on the storyline and how the character design and artistic background compliments it.   So, PQ wise, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is not going to be the greatest look anime series on Blu-ray but it compliments CLAMP’s storytelling quite nicely.

But where the series does shine is its immersive soundtrack.  One thing you will notice about “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” from the first episode is how much utilization there is for the surround channels of the series.  You literally hear audio all around you and the series during its action sequences, really take over the soundscape all around you.  But all is not perfect.  Front channel music and surround sound good…but it’s almost a similar to the “Grease” effect (for those who have the Blu-ray of the movie “Grease”) where the front channels overpower the center channel.  The sound effects and music are much louder than the spoken dialogue when your volume is low that the only way to get things to sound right is to increase the volume of your receiver or by increasing your center channel volume. Otherwise, once fixed…you realize that “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” does sound awesome and it’s great to have an anime series taking advantage of actions sequences involving explosions and various sound effects.  And as always, the quality of the English dub courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment is well-done with this series.

For those who were hoping for a lossless Japanese audio soundtrack, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is presented in Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 only.  For those who have a modern home theater receiver, this can be easily remedied by selecting stereo on all channels but I can understand for hardcore anime fans who prefer the Japanese dialogue wanting lossless Japanese audio.

Subtitles are only in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Cast Auditions – The cast auditions (audio only)  for those who provided the English dub for the characters Syaoran, Sakura, Kurogane, Fai, Mokona and Yuko.
  • Faces in the Crowd – A text-based character bio.  Featuring a variety of characters that have appeared in other CLAMP manga/anime series.
  • Character Guide – A text based bio for the main characters of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One”.
  • World Guide – A text based guide to the various worlds featured in the anime series.
  • Textless Theme Songs – Textless opening theme song “Blaze” and closing theme song “Loop”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

Let me first say that I have been a big fan of CLAMP-related anime and manga series.  When “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” was originally released, I felt that the appearances of characters from various CLAMP series was just awesome.

With that being said, I’ve always felt that CLAMP series although known for their character designs, the overall enjoyment of their work is how well written the stories are and how much they focus on character development.  So, with that being said, for those looking for a series that features a well-written storyline that is quite addictive, you’re going to enjoy “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”.

But those who are looking for the best looking anime on Blu-ray, you may find yourself disappointed that the upconverted anime series has its share of compression artifacts from time to time and is not exactly an anime series that is known to showcase picture-quality via anime on HD especially when compared to other previous upconverted television  anime series on Blu-ray from FUNimation Entertainment such as “Full Metal Panic! – The Second Raid” and even “Burst Angel – The Complete Series”.   Also, I can see those who want lossless Japanese audio being disappointed that there is only a 2.0 Japanese audio track and last, the special features are mainly text-based special features with no major featurettes.

Personally, I feel that those who want an entertaining anime series will enjoy “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”.  It’s too good of a series to pass up on Blu-ray, especially with its enjoyable and addictive storyline.  Especially how the series features many characters (and alternate versions of them) plus, you also will see CLAMP cameos of characters from other anime/manga series.  Definite cool!  And for those who do enjoy English dubs, you will enjoy the lossless audio as surround channels are well utilized and overall, a pretty solid soundtrack during its action sequences (despite the front channels slightly overpowering the center channel during a lower volume setting).

I do feel that among the current offering on Blu-ray in terms of anime television series, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is definitely one of the better series out there.  It has all the elements of fantasy, adventure, action, science fiction incorporated to its storyline and the characters which are fun to watch.  Definitely a series worth owning on Blu-ray!

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