Creator: CLAMP
Publisher: Del Rey
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy
RRP: $10.95
Tsubasa v1
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

Here’s an interesting ditty: Tsubasa may be the first manga series I’ve come across that’s intentionally continuity-heavy . . . despite remaining mostly continuity-free. Now how does that work?

Well, as a pretty well-established group of creators, Clamp has quite a number of series under their belts, and have endeavored to draw characters from all their various series into Tsubasa. For example, the star characters Syaoran and Sakura are lifted directly from Cardcaptor Sakura, while Chi from Chobits makes a cameo appearance. But then, I can’t imagine that fans of clamp haven’t heard of Tsubasa and haven’t flocked to it already.

Where does that leave the casual reader who’s never read a Clamp book before? Not in the dark, thankfully. Even though Syaoran comes from Cardcaptor Sakura, his personality in Tsubasa couldn’t be more different, and he’s twice as old as his earlier appearance. For all intents and purposes, these are all new characters who simply bear the names and appearances of older ones. What’s more, Clamp has provided a handy guide in the back of the book to explain each character’s roots in other series and how they differ in Tsubasa, so new readers can follow the references even if they can’t appreciate them. Pretty neat.

It is, however, a somewhat self-indulgent exercise, and while Clamp fans will be overjoyed, casual readers might ask why things couldn’t be a bit simpler. There’s also a preface in the book stating that one scene crosses over with Clamp’s other ongoing publication, xxxHOLiC, and while it’s not necessary to understand it, readers of both series will be treated to the same scene from different perspectives. Intended or not, that still comes across as a warning that Tsubasa can’t be properly enjoyed without being well-versed in the Clamp universe.

Interconnectivity aside, this series is off to a strong start. With Sakura’s life hanging in the balance, Syaoran carries her to the guardian witch at the nexus between worlds. There he’s paired with two other world-jumpers on their own quests: Kurogane, who’s trying to return to his own world, and Fai, who wants nothing more than to escape his own. They set off on a collecting quest to restore Sakura to health, which would sound dull if not for the fact that the quest involves traveling to other worlds. Western comics readers should be reminded of Exiles, another reality-hopping series. The difference with Tsubasa is that, aside from fans who recognize all the guest appearances, the basis for variance in the alternate earths all revolves around the main characters introduced in this volume – at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

No one wants to be left out of the loop of continuity, and manga usually doesn’t present that problem. While the first volume remains accessible, it remains to be seen how well the premise will be utilized. But it’s a pretty great premise that’s executed well enough thus far.


11 October 2007
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