Reviews: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle

The poster child for wasted potential.

In one of the boldest crossovers in manga, CLAMP tried to weld together their entire archive of works into one giant Kingdom Hearts-esque Massive Multiplayer Crossover. It was brilliant conceptually - it promised a satisfying adventure story for the casual viewer, was a great big goodie for longtime CLAMP fans, and served as a great introduction to CLAMP's work to anyone interested. And, you know, it worked for a while. It started out as a cute, fluffy self-aware series with enjoyable main characters, nice Easter Eggs and appearances by supporting characters, and lovely, lovely costume and scenery porn. (Except for the horrendously dry Shura/Shara arc.) This all comes to a head in my personal favorite, Piffle World, where everything is happy and racing and more appearances by previous characters!

I'm not really too bitter about Acid Tokyo. I don't mind Cerebus Syndrome and neither do I generally mind the Deconstructor Fleet. Even with all the Cloning Blues and Eye Scream, it could still have been good. I like Fai's tragic backstory, despite how much CLAMP did not so much hint as shove it in our faces in previous arcs. It's just that all the aforementioned drama could have just been handled better. My main problem with TRC is that the turn to darker material is not so much a turn as a plunge, so sudden that it seems the series didn't know how to recover from it. Suddenly we have Alternate Self, My Own Grampa, time travel fuckups, Oedipus Complex, turning what was formerly a lightheared Gotta Catch Em All story into something of a rollercoaster. It was like CLAMP tried to shove twist after twist in our faces, maybe hoping that doing so would distract us from trying to figure out the Mind Screw or wondering if they actually planned all this out from the beginning or just made shit up as they went along. At the same time, it alienated the casual viewer while leaving dedicated viewers banging their heads on the nearest wall.

Looking back, it could have been so much better, but instead we're left with an epilogue that avoided explaining anything (When was Sakura cloned anyway? and other such dangling plot holes) and the plot of XXXHOLiC dragged down with it.