Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Volume 8

The 8th volume of this fantasy story from CLAMP continues to follow Princess Sakura (of Cardcaptor Sakura fame) as she travels across multiple dimensions in search of her lost feathers.  No ordinary feathers, however, they contain powerful magic and fragments of her own lost memories.  It would be a lonely journey without travelling companions, and she is joined by her childhood friend Syaoran, strong warrior Kurogane, and playful Fai.

Conveniently, we begin the volume with our heroes entering a new world.  It’s a jungle world inhabited by large, talking, rabbits.  But don’t get too comfortable because within three short and uninteresting chapters, the gang enter the jungle, find a feather, and then take off again.  The standard Tsubasa formula is adhered to and at this point, it’s “so far, so dull”.  Luckily, the rest of the volume is a lot more interesting.  After leaving the jungle the protagonists arrive in Shara No Kuni, a world based on elements of Edo period Japan.  Our heroes get split up, and find themselves on opposing sides of a conflict between men and women.  Each side owns a special statue, and the men of the town believe the females’ statue brings catastrophe, while the women stand by their prized idol.

The Shara arc is really interesting, the basics are introduced and the volume ends on a cliffhanger that did leave me wanting to find out what happens next.  But the key thing about this volume that lifts it above previous ones is the numerous hints at a ‘bigger picture’.  There’s even some suggestion later in the volume that the jungle episode wasn’t all it seemed to be (they can’t hide the fact that it was boring to read, though).  The authors are slowly introducing an over-riding story arc, one that seems to be quite dark and sinister.  They don’t reveal much, but some of the characters are becoming aware of being ‘watched’.  By who or what, we don’t know yet.  But it adds a much-needed extra layer to the story.  It’s particularly effective when the normally playful Fai drops his exterior and comments seriously “He doesn’t seem to be watching, but he’s watching.”  Who is ‘he’?  I’m now looking forward to finding out.

This Tanoshimi release is very well presented.  A lovely full size colour illustration adorns the cover.  The artwork inside is very good, the different worlds are rendered distinctly and with different buildings, costumes, etc.  The story itself is complimented by 6 full pages of Translation Notes, adding fascinating snippets of information.  There’s not many crossovers with xxxHolic in this volume, just a few very small references.

An enjoyable volume then, serving up fantasy thrills and hinting at more interesting things to come in the future.

7 / 10