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Tsubasa the Movie/xxxHolic the Movie – Clamp Double Feature (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 8, 2010 by  

Featuring a CLAMP double feature of two films with a connected storyline for “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” and “xxxHolic”.  Featuring a good amount of special features and both sporting vibrant visuals and solid lossless audio in English and Japanese.  If you are a CLAMP fan or a fan of the television series, definitely give this release a chance!

 

Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tsubasa the Movie/xxxHolic the Movie – Clamp Double Feature

 

DURATION: (Tsubasa the Movie) 35 Minutes, (xxxHolic the Movie) 60 Minutes

 

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 13+

 

Release Date: May 18, 2010

 

 

Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom

Originally created by CLAMP

Directed by Itsuro Kawasaki

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Yoko Kikuchi

Background Design by Yasunori Miyazawa

Anime Production: Production I.G.

xxxHolic the Movie: A Midsummer’s Night Dream

Originally created by CLAMP

Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

Screenplay by Jun’Ichi Fujisaku, Yoshiki Sakurai

Storyboard by Tsutomu Mizushima

Music by Tsuneyoshi Saito

Character Design by Kazuchika Kise

Art Director: Shuichi Hirata

Background Art by Yuuko Sugiyama

Anime Production: Production I.G.

 

Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom – Featuring the following voice talent:

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

xxxHolic the Movie: A Midsummer’s Night Dream – Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Kimihiro Watanuki

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuuko Ichihara

Kazuya Nakai/J. Michael Tatum as Shizuka Doumeki

Shizuka Itou as Himawari Kunogi

Hisayo Mochizuki/Brina Palencia as Moro

Kazuko Kojima/Leah Clark as Maru

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

This two-disc double feature contains both the Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE movie and the xxxHolic movie!

From the sweeping universe of CLAMP, two journeys run parallel yet intersect. As two souls seek the mystery of truth, worlds collide where the Dimensional Witch waits. There is no coincidence, only the inevitable…

The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom
Our intrepid adventurers have once again encountered a people oppressed, this time landing in a virtual paradise trembling on the very edge of existence. A princess silenced, but not into submission. An evil king who seeks an end to light and happiness. Only the brave of heart will prevail, rescuing the kingdom from darkness eternal…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Yuko drags her pawns along, invited to a mysterious auction at an intriguing mansion. There, confronted by greed, vanity, and pride, they will navigate through rooms and passages that twist like the souls of holics, the mongers of material satisfaction. As the other guests disappear one by one, the puzzle must be pieced together before they become part of the collection, too.

CLAMP, the all female Japanese mangaka group are known for their manga work such as “RG Veda”, “X”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Angelic Layer”, “Chobits” and also “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” and “xxxHolic”.

With the popularity of both anime TV series adaptations of “Tsubasa” and “xxxHolic”, a double feature of both films was released to theaters in Japan back in 2005 and with the release of the “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” on Blu-ray by FUNimation Entertainment, what best than to release the double feature on Blu-ray.

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.

“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.

For “Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom”, the 30-minute animated film features the four main protagonist and Mokona in another land.  Syaoran and Sakura are separated away from Fay and Kurogane.  As for Fay and Kurogane, they are encountered by the king’s soldiers who are wondering how they were able to enter their land (which is protected by a magical birdcage, no one can get in or out).  Immediately, a fight ensues and both men are imprisoned in bird cages.

Meanwhile, Syaoran and Sakura meet Princess Tomoyo who lost her voice when her uncle, the current king took it away from her.  He is now after her ring which will give him the full power to enclose their land permanently and will be in complete control of the kingdom with his magical power.  With the King having so much power, can Syaoran and friends defeat the king and find the feather for Sakura’s memories?

In 2003, “xxxHolic” charged onto the Seinen manga scene on Weekly Young Magazine and is still ongoing today.  The manga which is originally created by the popular mangaka group known as CLAMP (Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi) who have created series such as “X”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, “Angelic Layer”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Chobits” and many other titles.

“xxxHolic” was first released as a film titled “xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2005.  A 24-episode television series followed in 2006 in Japan and a seconds season featuring 13-episodes thereafter.   “xxxHolic” made its North American debut with the first season airing on the FUNimation Channel in January 2009.  Now all episodes of the first season are collected in a four DVD complete series and is currently available now.

The series is known for its unique character designs in which the hands, arms, legs and bodies of the main characters are quite long.  The series was directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (director of anime such as “Genshiken”, “Kujibiki Unbalance” and various “Crayon Shin-Chan” films) and character designs by Kazuchika Kise (who has worked on anime such as the “Patlabor” and “Ghost in the Shell” films).

The anime revolves around the character Kimihiro Watanuki.  A teenager who attends school and is somewhat a student with not many friends and also a lone child (his parents are no longer living).   He’s also a great cook but his emotions are always high and tends to over-react at things.

Ever since he was younger, he has attracted ghosts (because of his blood) who have been after him and it’s come to the point that it has gotten worse.  One day while escaping from the ghosts, he learns that home/shop somehow banished the monsters.  Drawn to come inside the home, Watanuki meets the owner Yuuko Ichihara.

Yuuko is a mysterious woman who offers to stop the ghosts from following Watanuki but in return, she will need payment.  Watanuki agrees and now his bounded by an agreement to cook for Yuuko everyday.

Watanuki is somewhat bound by his rival, Shizuka Doumeki.  The cool archer who is calm and sarcastic.  Having grown up in a Shinto shrine, Domeki has the ability to exorcise ghosts.  So, Watanuki can see them and attracts them, while Doumeki is unable to see them but his presence scares or exorcises them.

So, in a way, the partnership is a must for both individuals and despite how many times Domeki saves Watanuki, because Watanuki is hard headed and can’t stand Doumeki, he knows that he needs Doumeki.

And as Yuko takes on various cases in which people make their wish, she grants them but at times uses Watanuki and Domeki to work on each case.

For “xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream”, a young woman comes to the mansion and asks Yuko if she can make her wish come true.  Yuko agrees and she is joined by Watanuki, Domeki and Mokona as they head to a mansion in which collector’s are getting together to talk about their impressive collections.

But through their conversations, Watanuki senses something sick among each of the collector’s and as he goes to look for a bathroom to throw up, he finds a trap room which takes him to a hidden section in the house where he encounters a house spirit who is interested in keeping Yuko as part of his collection.

Both films has a special connection to each other which is fully explained towards the end of both films.

VIDEO:

“Tsubasa the Movie” and “xxxHollic the Movie” are presented in 1080p High Definition.  It’s important to note that these two films were released in 2005 and with that being said, I know there are other reviewers who have said these films were both upscaled.  Truthfully, if they were upscaled, then similar to “Fullmetal Panic: The Second Raid” (from FUNimation which looks great despite being an upscale), I’m inclined to say that this film looks great.

Both films are quite vibrant in colors and actually look very beautiful in HD.  Unlike the TV series for “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” on Blu-ray in which I had problems with the aliasing, compression artifacts and discolorization problems but because this not a TV series but a film, I was expecting for much improved video quality over the TV series and sure enough, the movie looks great.  Again, colors are vibrant and the artistic backgrounds for the film look wonderful.

The same that can be said about “xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream”.  I felt the colors were vibrant and the artistic backgrounds for the film look fantastic!

The details of the backgrounds for “xxxHolic the Movie” is quite amazing at times.  A lot of detail when it comes to the backgrounds while on the characters, I did notice some slight edge enhancement but once again, nothing like the TV series on Blu-ray.  And this is a major compliment as both series, especially “xxxHolic” is not known for its detail, especially for its characters.  And of course, I’m sure there are some who will take issue of the body size proportions of the “xxxHolic” characters as their neck, arms and legs are larger in proportion compared to other anime series.  But I’ve always saw that as designs quite unique to the CLAMP series.

Overall, if this film truly is an upscale (and the fact that these two films were released in 2005 and the fact that both films were not released via Blu-ray in Japan leads me to believe this release is an upscale) and despite it being upscaled, the colors and background art for both films are wonderful.

It’s not a picture perfect release as you can see ghosting near the edges of the characters, if you look very close but by no means is this going to hamper your enjoyment of both films.  Both CLAMP TV series were never known for their detail to begin with and CLAMP releases tend to be story-driven, but nevertheless, both films looked very good on Blu-ray.  Again, not perfect but very good for an upscaled Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Both “Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom” and “xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream” features an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and a Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack.  And I have to say that both soundtracks were fantastic.  During the action sequences of the film, there is very good use of the surround channels and also a bit of LFE which I noticed more for “xxxHolic the Movie”.

For the most part, dialogue is understandable and music is crystal clear on both films.  But I was quite pleased to find out that FUNimation did include a lossless Japanese soundtrack with this release.  I also have to add that the music for both film are wonderful!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom” comes with the following special features:

  • 2005 Premiere in Ikebukuro – (8:15) Featuring the main seiyuu cast for both films as they introduce themselves to the viewers at the premiere in Ikebukuro and also answering questions from the host.
  • 2005 Movie Event in Shibuya – Featuring a special screening at Tower Records in Shibuya.  Featuring a music performance by Kinya singing the theme song “Aerial” and guests Yui Makino (voice actress of Sakura) and Miyu Irino (voice of Syaoran) and a video message from music artist Suga Shikao who did the theme song  for “xxxHolic the movie”.
  • Recording Session Montage – (1:59) A brief music  montage with the seiyuu at work and recording for the film.
  • Japanese Staff and Cast Commentary – (35:47) Featuring picture-in-picture audio commentary by Mika Kikuchi (Mokona), Yui Makino (voice actress of Sakura) and Miyu Irino (voice of Syaoran) plus producer Iwasaki from Shochiku.  The producer talksa bout how they made certain animation for the film and the cast being impressed by the final cut of the film.  A fun, upbeat commentary.
  • Additional Movie Event Coverage – (:40) Featuring music artist Kinya commenting about CLAMP’s work.
  • Production Artwork – (6:14) Featuring a music montage with the character designs and sketches for the film.
  • Background Slides – (1:44) Featuring a music montage of the beautiful concept and background art for the film.
  • Origin of Birdcage Kingdom – (1:46) Featuring a music montage about the origin of Birdcage Kingdom (featuring art and the story in Japanese with English subtitles).
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

“xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream” comes with the following special features:

  • Opening Day at Shinjuku Cinema Milano – (8:11) Featuring the seiyuu cast and directors Mizushima Tsutomu and Kawasaki Itsuro at the opening day of the film and meeting with the audience including introductions and Q&A interviews.
  • Recording Session Montage – (1:15) Featuring a music montage of the seiyuu recording their character voices for the film.
  • Japanese Staff and Cast Commentary – (58:08) Featuring audio commentary by Sayaka Ohara (Yuko), Jun Fukuyama (Watanuki), Kazuya Nakai (Domeki) and Shochiku producer Iwasaki.  Featuring a picture-in-picture audio commentary.  An upbeat and fun commentary as the cast discuss how impressed they were with the artistic backgrounds for the film.
  • Character Design Slides – (3:05) Featuring a musical montage with the character design and sketches.
  • Background Plates – (2:10) Featuring a music montage with the artistic backgrounds and 3D renders.
  • Original Trailers – (2:33) Featuring three Japanese theatrical trailers for “xxxHolic the Movie” (with English subtitles).
  • FUnimation Trailers – Featuring the trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

Fans of both television series can expect to enjoy this double feature Blu-ray release.  Although, “Tsubasa the Movie” is short at 35 minutes, fortunately “xxxHolic the Movie” is about an hour long and also both films include a good amount of special features especially those who want to know more about the promotion of the film in Japan (which are features that I definitely enjoyed).

With many anime films that are based on the their anime TV series counterpart having nothing to do with the series storyline, fortunately these two films can be seen as an extra episode to the television series and also to establish that both series do have a connection with each other.  And most of all, these are two films that have much better picture quality compared to its TV series counterpart and as much as I have griped about “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” Season 1 on Blu-ray, I have no major qualms about this double feature Blu-ray release.

Overall, if you are a CLAMP fan and a big fan of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” and “xxxHolic”, especially if you have purchased “Tsubasa” on Blu-ray already, you’re definitely going to want this double feature release for your anime on Blu-ray collection!

Definitely recommended!




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