Young archaeologist Syaoran has been friends with Princess Sakura since childhood, and it’s clear that both are beginning to feel more-than-friendly feelings. But that’s before the ruins Syaoran’s team is excavating release a strange power, drawing the princess to them in a kind of trance. A pair of glowing wings appears on Sakura’s shoulders – and a pack of fierce, otherworldly soldiers appears to attack the ruins. When Syaoran rushes to save the princess, her wings burst apart, scattering into feathers, which quickly disappear. The soldiers, unfortunately, don’t vanish so easily – and Princess Sakura is unconscious and won’t wake up.
The High Priest of Sakura’s kingdom assesses the situation and uses his magic to send Syaoran, cradling the unconscious princess, to the one person who can help them: Yuko, the Dimensional Witch, who lives on another world. They arrive at the same time as two others: magician Fai, who needs the witch’s help to avoid a danger from his own home world, and ninja Kurogane, who was sent to the witch against his will when a magic-wielding princess in his home world became concerned about Kurogane’s violent tendencies.
Yuko says that the solution to their problems is the same: they must travel between worlds. This will help Fai stay ahead of his pursuers, eventually return Kurogane home, and allow Syaoran and Sakura to collect the scattered feathers of her wings – which, Yuko tells them, contain the princess’ soul and all her memories. The witch requires a price of each traveler, however. Syaoran’s is an awful one: even if Sakura finds all of her feathers, she will never regain her memory of Syaoran and what they were to each other. Along with a cute little creature called Mokona, who gives them the ability to travel between worlds, the group sets off.
This is all setup. The rest of the season revolves around the journey to wildly different worlds. These include one like medieval Europe; a modern city where every person commands a spirit-creature with special powers; one that turns out to be a virtual reality game; and one that seems to have no inhabitants at all. Sakura regains her memories one feather at a time and charms the others with her bubbly personality while growing close to Syaoran all over again. Cheerful Fai and brooding Kurogane develop a strange friendship. Meanwhile, the party solves various problems in the worlds they visit. This last is a frequent theme: Sakura’s feathers are magical items that can grant incredible power, so they often cause trouble in the lands where they appear by falling into or tempting the wrong hands.
As far as the production quality, the voice talent – both Japanese and English – is great, and the subtitles readable and seemingly natural. I don’t speak Japanese, so I can’t speak for their accuracy, but at least they make sense and don’t make the dialogue seem stilted. My only real complaint is the frequency and length of flashbacks. They are so common and long, especially at the beginning of episodes, that I once started accidentally watching an episode I’d already seen and didn’t realize that it wasn’t just beginning with an extended flashback until the episode was halfway over! There are also a lot of shots without movement, which simply show us Syaoran’s determined face or Fai’s whimsical smile up close for awhile – especially in the middle of combat scenes.
That said, this isn’t a terribly serious issue. I enjoyed the season’s twenty-six episodes and this edition’s special features, which include cast auditions (fascinating to hear what the voice actors sound like when they’re not doing their characters’ voices!), a character guide (which offers interesting tidbits about the characters who appear in other CLAMP series), and more.
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Season One
FUNimation Entertainment, 2010
directed by Koichi Mashimo, Hiroshi Morioka
640 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, Season set
Company Age Rating: PG
Related to: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP