Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle tells the story of Syaoran and his journey to retrieve his childhood friend Sakura's lost feathers. These however, are no ordinary feathers - each holds a piece of Sakura's memory. It is certainly not as easy a task as it seems, the feathers are scattered across many different dimensions due to a mysterious accident in a ruined temple. In the first volume you are not only introduced to Sakura and Syaoran but also to Fai and Kurugane. All four of these characters meet the Dimensional Witch, Yuko, at the same time, when they are transported to her world. All of them have the same wish to travel across dimensions, but unfortunately granting that wish comes at a cost to each of them, and they must travel together as there is only one transport device available (which comes in the extremely cute form of Mokona). It is Syaoran though who pays the highest price of all, as he sacrifices Sakura's memory of him just so he can save her.
The creator of this series is the famous Clamp group, who are an all female collective of mangakas. They have over their 15 year history created a number of popular anime and manga titles including X, Angelic Layer and Chobits to name just a few. So what makes this manga so compelling? If you are already a Clamp fan and ever dreamed that you could see your favourite character come back again for another adventure, then your wish has been granted. On the other hand, if you have never read a Clamp manga in your life do not be deterred by the large number of old characters returning. No prior knowledge of Clamp's
previous works is needed for you to enjoy this story. It's simply that if you have seen or read any of their previous works you will enjoy it more on different levels compared to someone new to Clamp. An example of this in the first manga, when the group are offered a place to stay in the first world they visit. To anyone new to Clamp's work it is simply a building, fans however will recognise it as a replication of the halls where Hideki lives in Chobits.
The art design of Tsubasa is a step away from Clamp's usual style. Every character seem to be drawn more elongated which can take a while for the eye to get used to. Most of time this style of drawing works well, but there are points within the manga, particularly when the taller characters are put alongside the shorter ones, that they look painfully thin and almost stick like. However, overall the first manga is beautifully drawn and nicely shows the intense emotions going on in this first volume. An example of this is in the first couple of pages where you can see Sakura and Syaoran separated. You can see quite easily Sakura sheer distress at the situation and Syaoran's frustration at not being able to help her.
Overall, this first manga is a great introduction to the Tsubasa world. It is easy to become hooked because of the strong characters and an equally strong story. The first volume leaves you with so many questions that it is difficult not to want to pick up volume 2 in a hope of finding some of the answers. With 15 volumes of the manga already released in the UK, it should not be long before I read more of this great adventure
At the end of Tsubasa volume 1 you find a detailed description on each of the main characters. What is particularly useful here is that it tells us the anime / manga they have been featured in previously. Handy if you are a newbie to Clamp or simply wish to be reminded
The second part of the extras is the translation notes which are tend to be found in all Tanoshimi Manga. In here it gives you examples of things that may not necessarily translate into English. For example, the importance of not using honorifics (e.g. san, sempai) in some names. Finally, there is a small sample of the next volume, which is unfortunately in Japanese!