So earlier this year, when my friends and I were slowly but surely making our way through the season-long fight scene between Goku and Frieza in the third season of Dragon Ball Z (which is another post altogether), we saw a preview for a series called Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. Actually, there were several previews, on several different discs, so after about the third time, we turned to each other and said, “Hey, that looks pretty interesting. Let’s put it in the queue!”
(Random word ninja side note: I see so many people getting “cue” and “queue” confused. “Queue” is a waiting list or line. Your Netflix list? A queue. The line at the movie concessions? A queue. If you say something like “queue the music,” you are wrong. The word there is “cue.” Yes, I know “queue” is more fun to spell, but it’s only a verb when you’re talking about getting in line.)
Anyway. We put the whole Tsubasa series on the list, and just finished the last disc last night.
A slight tangent, for a moment:
I don’t know how many of you have watched Full Metal Alchemist, but it’s a series that is much shorter than the manga from which it is derived, and it’s excellent right up until the last three or four episodes. In the last three or four episodes, things go from good to “WTF?” in less time than it takes to say “Edward Elric.” You can practically see where the writers realized that they had about 20 plotlines they needed to wrap up and only two hours of story time in which to do it.
I bring up this because, in Tsubasa, you can see the exact episode where the writers were told that they’d run out of funding and wouldn’t be getting a third season. And you can also see the exact moment where they said, “Ah, fuck it. We won’t even bother to wrap this stuff up. Where’s a big bad guy we can bring in for a decent fight in the last two episodes?”
The series starts out promising. Syaoran is a young archaeologist and the childhood best friend of Sakura, the princess of Clow Country. Sakura is on the verge of telling Syaoran that she loves him when a mysterious noise draws her to the ruins that Syaoran has been investigating. There, Sakura sprouts giant white wings, and starts to disappear into the wall, but Syaoran saves her. The wings shatter into hundreds of feathers and vanish. Turns out the feathers are all Sakura’s memories, and now Syaoran must travel between worlds in order to find them all and save Sakura’s life.
So, they’re sent to Yuko, the Dimensional Witch, where they meet two other travelers: Fai, a wizard who never wants to return to the world he just left; and Kurogane, a fighter who will do just about anything to get back to the world he was just thrown away from. Yuko will give them all the ability to travel between worlds to search for Sakura’s feathers, but they must pay with the thing most dear to them.
Kurogane must give up Ginryu, his family’s katana. Fai gives up a tattoo on his back, which, according to Wikipedia, suppresses his magical power. (Not that I’d know if I hadn’t checked Wikipedia because they DON’T TELL YOU A DAMN THING ABOUT IT IN THE SHOW.) Syaoran’s price is his relationship with Sakura: even if they recover all of her feathers, she will never remember who he was to her before she lost her memories.
They’re joined by Mokona Modoki, a little white thing that is oh-so-cute, who can open portals to travel between worlds. So, now they’re ready to commence with the world-jumping and searching for Sakura’s feather.
However, there are two people watching them: Chick with 50 Lbs. of Black Curly Hair and Monocle Dude. They wear black and apparently have red light bulbs in every light in their lair. Who are these mysterious people? What do they have in store for our intrepid heroes?
Well, I still have no freaking idea, because they don’t tell you until the last episode that the man’s name is Fei Wong Reed. And they never tell you who the chick is (and if they do, it’s dropped in one episode and then NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN).
There are several good story arcs in the first season-and-a-half of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, enough to keep you watching and to make you care about the main characters. Unfortunately, the last 6 episodes drop the ball, and you’re left with dozens of questions even as the heroes bound off for yet another world and yet another feather.
- Who is Fei Wong?
- What does he want with the foursome, specifically Sakura?
- Who is his curly-haired friend?
- What the hell is Fai’s backstory?
- What about Seishiro, another person hunting the feathers?
- WHY THE HELL DID THE WIZARD GO 52 EPISODES WITHOUT EVER USING MAGIC?
- What on earth is the Syaoran with the eyepatch that Fei Wong and Curly Girl have in the tube?
These are just some of the questions; I can think of others, but I won’t list them here. I realize all of these are probably answered to great detail and satisfaction in the manga, but I didn’t read the manga. I watched the anime. And one medium of storytelling should not be dependent upon another for you to understand what on God’s green earth is going on. (Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo manage to tell their stories in fewer episodes and they actually tie up all their plot threads. And Full Metal Alchemist, while going completely freaking crazy in the last three episodes, at least made an EFFORT to tie up the plot threads that were left hanging. This is not an impossible request, people.)
It’s a shame, because for about the first 10 discs, the series is really good. It’s just the ending where it so completely falls apart, and the frustration of it is enough to negate a lot of the enjoyment I got out of the first part of the series.