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"Tsubasa Reservoir Chroniclles": The "Gathering Of Fates" Gathers The Wrong Parody

Syaoran and Sakura hail from The Kingdom Of Clow. Thanks to an unfortunate magic whatsit, Sakura’s spirit has been split into feathers and scattered throughout multiple planes of existence. Without her spirit, she’s just a lifeless body. Meanwhile, in some other dimensions live Fai, a magician on the run, and Kurogane, a swordsman banished by Princess Tomoyo to train outside of his home world. These guys each have their own goals, but they must team-up and traverse the Multiverse to attain their ends. Are they a marvelous bunch of “Exiles”, or should I say sayonara to Syaoran?

I know there are people who can’t wait for Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles. It’s supposed to be the big Clamp crossover series. Think “Marvel VS Capcom” or the 52 Universes of the DC Multiverse. Thing is, while I respect Clamp for gaining such a frenetic fanbase, here’s the list of Clamp stuff I’ve seen:

Cardcaptors.

Not Card Captor Sakura, just the basic dub that aired on Kids’ WB and Toonami. So while I do know the basics of characters such as Sakura and Syaoran, and can at least point out that the girl from Chobits makes a cameo, I know little about the characters. Turns out that it is for the best, as the characters have been effectively recast. It’s less like seeing your favorite characters reunited, and more like seeing your favorite actors in new roles.

Instead of chasing after the cards of the Clow, Sakura is a princess of the Kingdom Of Clow, and Syaoran is a childhood friend who is into archaeology. Thanks to some convoluted plot involving ancient ruins, Sakura’s soul has been split into feathers, which then depart for other dimensions. In the first episode, “Destinies Converge,” Syaoran and a lifeless Sakura seek out the Dimensional Witch Yuko (a kind of multidimensional Wizard of Oz), but she’ll help them only if they give her their most precious possession. So Kurogane gives up his sword, and Fai gives up his tattoo. But Syaoran has to give up his relationship with Sakura: though granted passage throughout the multiverse to track down Sakura’s memories, she’ll never recover her memory of the bond they shared.

From there, the three amigos and one near-corpse begin their travels. I’m assuming they’ll actually go to multiple universe, but by the end of the first disc, they’re still in one universe, the Hanshin Republic. Before they overstay their welcome, they end up in a gang fight, meet parallels of people they know at IHOP, and are introduced to something I pray isn’t a standard of the series: Kudan.

The Pokemon of the series, Kudan are creatures from your soul. The more powerful the soul, the more powerful the Kudan. Syaoran has some type of lion thing, Fai has a dragon thing (that lets him fly), and Kurogane gets a replacement for a sword in the form of, well, another dragon.

From there, they get in near-pointless battles with Kudan over the Sakura feathers. They fight gangs, they fight a pop princess… but they don’t fight boredom.

I’ll tell you, I did my best to avoid watching this after looking at the box art. Medieval magic and crap? Characters with ridiculously lanky bodies? I’ll wait until I get my HDMI cable in the mail; at least then the drivel will look pretty.

For a second, it got very interesting. World jumping is a very cool concept. It’s why I read Exiles from Marvel. This could have led to a great “Quantum Leap” style of storytelling; the heroes jump from world to world, one world per episode, and when they find the feather they need, they end up leaping to the next world. The fact that, by episode three they’re firmly situated in a real-world setting (cars and stuff) with a little bit of craziness (the Kudan) gave hope that this would be the case. Will the next world be something like ancient Egypt where they’re forced to play a card game, or a near future where they fight aliens as space cops?

Nope. By the end of the disc, they’re still in the Hanshin Republic using their pokeymans, and I’m crying over missed opportunities.

With this first volume FUNimation could have just given us the five episodes and called it a day. They give us trailers and creditless openings and endings as well, but the real treats come in the form of the character auditions for the cast (something simple to produce on the dub side, like commentaries). On top of those, they go the encyclopedia route and explain the world and characters with line art. One decent idea without a decent execution, though, is the “Faces In The Crowd” feature, which could explain the CLAMP character cameos in the show. When it comes down to it, though, they only show one face, so it seems wasted.

This show could easily take an upswing. The plot was interesting enough for the first half, and showed signs of quality in the second half, but it could just as easily fall apart. I will say, it was better than I was hoping.

Episodes included on Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Volume 1: “Gathering Of Fates”:
Episode 1: “Destinies Converge”
Episode 2: “The Power To Fight”
Episode 3: “Sword Of Demon Destruction”
Episode 4: “Innocent Wandering”
Episode 5: “The Battle Of The Mage”

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