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

May 20, 2010 by  



CLAMP’s “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two” continues the action and adventure.  With a much better storyline and also better video quality compared to its first season, fans of the “Tsubasa” anime series will no doubt be entertained by this latest release!

Images courtesy of © 2010 CLAMP/KODANSHA/NHK-NEP. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two

DURATION: Episodes 27-52 (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: May 11, 2010

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 is 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. Feathers 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.  And the popular CLAMP series received its High Definition treatment in the Nov. 2009 with the first season (26 episodes) released on Blu-ray and now here we are with the second season of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”.   It’s important to note that released simultaneously on Blu-ray is the Tsubasa/xxxHolic double-feature on Blu-ray which ties into the series and also released is “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Blu-ray Collected Memories” which collects the first two seasons plus the Tsubasa-only feature (xxxHolic film is not included).

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”).

To recap “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” Season 1, the series 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.

Both seasons of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” features a race for Syaoran with Sakura, Fay and Kurogane to get the feather of Sakura’s memories before anyone else is able to and taking on various evils and encountering alternate versions of people they know in these different worlds.  Will Syaoran, Sakura, 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 Two” features the following 26-episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 27: Dangerous Race – The group lands in a futuristic world in which a feather is part of a 1st place price during a race.
  • EPISODE 28: The Three Badges – Tomoyo of the Piffle Princess Company warns the group that someone is tampering with the Dragonfly race.
  • EPISODE 29: Goal of Glory – The person responsible for tampering with the race is revealed.
  • EPISODE 30: Sorrowful Miracle – Another feather is found but it’s on a dragon.
  • EPISODE 31: A Young Man’s Resolve – The group land in Portoria Country in the middle of an ocean.
  • EPISODE 32: A Date With a Wizard – The group land in Fort City Brit, a city that uses magic.
  • EPISODE 33: The Origins of Ashura – The group arrives in Shara County but this time, the group is separated from each other.
  • EPISODE 34: Endless War – An earthquake hits Shara County.
  • EPISODE 35: Two Memories – The group visit Shura County and learn the story of Ashura and Yasha.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 36: Love That Transcends Time – The story of Ashura and Yasha is continues.
  • EPISODE 37: Mokona the Artist – The group land in a super-deformed world and only Mokona can help the group.
  • EPISODE 38: Dangerous Road – The group lands in the Principality of Dargoa but gangsters terrorize a group of passengers on a bus.
  • EPISODE 39: Parting of Beginnings – The fight against the gangsters.
  • EPISODE 40: Black Steel – The group lands in Rekord County and discover a book with Kurogane’s past.
  • EPISODE 41: Secret of the Library – The group finds out that Syaoran has read the original Book of Memories.
  • EPISODE 42: Faraway Homesickness – The group are now in the Country of Clow and look for anything living.
  • EPISODE 43: The Fifth Oath – Kurogane wants to learn more about his past and Kurogane starts learning more than he should about his travel partner.
  • EPISODE 44: Kero and Mokona – The group take a break and go to sleep and when they woke up, everyone shrunk to an inch tall.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 45: The Second Hardship – The group arrive in Koryo County, to discover things have changed in their homeland.
  • EPISODE 46: The Secret of Hijutsu – Kishim tells the group about a hidden country known as Kiishimu that runs parallel to Koryo County.
  • EPISODE 47: Sakura Works – The group land in Ragtime World and the group must get the feather but end up getting in a fight with a gang.
  • EPISODE 48: Feather-King Chaos – The group land in Tao Country which is ruled by King Chaos.
  • EPISODE 49: A Warped Wish – Sakura has a dream of her childhood in Clow Kingdom and is attacked by a worm, but who is the mysterious person that saved her?
  • EPISODE 50: Determined Friends – Chaos tries to kidnap Sakura but is miffed that she cares so much about Syaoran.  So, Chaos challenges Syaoran to a duel.
  • EPISODE 51: A Frozen Spirit – Kurogane trains Syaoran before his fight against Chaos.
  • EPISODE 52: Wings Toward Tomorrow – Final episode. The final conclusion between Syaoran vs. Chaos and Sakura makes a revelation of who Chaos really is.

VIDEO:

I was a bit hard on my review for “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One”.   Granted, it was a TV series but there was major aliasing, discoloration blobs and for the most part, I have to admit that it was a bit of a downer that the picture quality for the series was not that great.  BUT with “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two”, things are much more different.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9), one will see that this season looks much better than the first.   The artistic backgrounds and characters have a good amount of shading but in some way, it’s not the best looking anime series though.  CLAMP series are typically known for their character designs and storytelling but in terms of PQ, don’t expect a tremendous leap in quality from the first to the second season.

First, because this is a TV series, let alone a series released back in 2005-2006, you’re not going to get a superb HD release of an anime series released in late 2008-present.  The series does feature plenty of colors and at time is quite vibrant.  In fact, the video is much, much better than the first season.  I didn’t notice any discoloration problems and I didn’t see many artifacts or aliasing (they are there) compared to the first season.

Overall, I’m glad to see that FUNimation fixed the video problems they had with the first season release as this release is much, much better.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Where the season did shine for the first season was its English dub soundtrack and the same can be said of the first. One thing you will notice about “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two” is the utilization of the surround channels of the series.  Good use of special effects in this second season.  You hear the vehicles flying through the air, the panning of speed from left to right surround channels and also, the action sequences being utilized through the surround channels including crowd ambiance.

But all is not perfect.In fact, similar to the first season, once again, the center channel seems low that I felt I had to adjust it constantly.

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 Two” 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 Two” 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.

I will say that I did prefer the Japanese version a bit more.  When it comes to the background music, for the English dub, they opted to go with the instrumental version of the theme music, while the Japanese version features the Japanese vocals.  It makes more sense to have it with the vocals because otherwise, the English dub version sounds like it has an electronic instrumental soundtrack and personally, it just didn’t seem right.  But this my opinion and others who dislike J-Pop will more than likely be happy the Japanese vocals from the songs were taken out during the action sequence.

Subtitles are only in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

  • Character Guide – A text based bio for the main characters of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two”.
  • 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.

EXTRAS:

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two” comes with a cardboard slipcase.

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”.

I will say that “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” looks much better than the first season and for audio, once you have your surround system up and center channel configured, the series does sound great.  But I will be truthful with you and tell you that this is not the best looking or sounding anime TV series on Blu-ray.  But its strength relies on its characters and its adventure storyline.

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).

For those expecting some closure with this second season of “Tsubasa” are probably going to be disappointed. Similar to the other CLAMP series “xxxHolic”, the anime series was shown on television before the manga was wrapped up.  So, if you want to know how things end for the series, you’re not going to find it in the anime series but only in the manga.  Also, the five Tsubasa OVA’s have yet to be released on Blu-ray or DVD, so its a shame that we haven’t seen that release just yet.

Not sure if there are any plans to bring the final chapter of the manga for an anime series but overall, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season Two” is no doubt an enjoyable series, let alone an enjoyable season but I hope someday that the anime series would receive another season in the very near future in order to close out the series and give it a true ending.

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