Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 9 – DVD Review

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Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 100 minutes
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: November 11, 2008

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The journey continues … and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am officially an addict.

Having been introduced to the series by fellow reviewer Ai Kano, I was instantly hooked in by this tale of a princess and her escorts/friends crossing dimensions in search of feathers that represent parts of her soul and memories. Their long journey also becomes one of self-discovery as Sakura comes to learn a powerful lesson in loyalty, friendship and love. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Volume 9 continues the journey and, I must say, this one not only tops my Most Favorite Tsubasa Episodes list but also makes our Editor’s Choice Award list.

Volume 9 of this series opens with the most unusual and downright adorable Episode 37 where the travelers cross over to a dimension where they discover that they’re not just in a child’s storybook but they’re actually super deformed storybook characters themselves. The art changes to reflect the cartoon world before them and it’s a treat to see that after all they’ve been through the Syaoran is still taken aback by the strangeness of their situation. They also come to another discovery … Mokona is not with them.

Of course, something or someone is behind the storybook world and it comes to their attention that somebody is manipulating the dimension – bending time and space even – to create this world where everything looks cute. It turns out that there is somebody behind the cute doodles and its somebody who has found one of Sakura’s feathers and has dipped the tip in some ink that makes everything become a living cartoon-like reality. Luckily (and unluckily), Mokona is able to get a hold of the feather and lets his imagination run wild as well.

Crossing to the next dimension, Sakura and the others find themselves on a long stretch of road surrounded by a desolate landscape with no sign of civilization. Before they know it, a truck zooms past them, flicking the feather they managed to secure not too long ago up into the air until it’s caught on the speeding truck. Not able to chase it, a futuristic Greyhound-styled bus that is controlled via a computer makes a stop. A young girl offers to pay for the group to keep her and the four other passengers company as they head for the city.

It’s on this bus that the group begins to discover certain things about themselves … including the growing bond between Syaoran and Sakura. It’s clear to the passengers that the young man is not only protective of her but he also might be deeply in love with Sakura. Then there’s the elderly passenger that strikes Kurogane and Fay as familiar. In fact, a lot of people they have come across are starting to feel vaguely familiar. The feeling of identifiable people is also confirmed when the name of a pop idol is mentioned.

In Episode 39, a motorcycle gang attempts to hijack the bus and despite the fact that the computerized vehicle has a laser defense system, it’s not enough to scare the bandits off. It’s Syaoran and Kurogane who step out of the bus to fight off the gang. Meanwhile, the passengers become aware of the group’s pursuit of the feather and aid them on their quest rather reluctantly at first. In the end, it’s Fay who comes to the conclusion that there’s a hidden reason for the familiar things they’ve seen. Maybe the old man was right. Maybe there is no such thing as coincidence. In the end, these two episodes are memorable and deep.

Surprisingly enough, the last episode brings us back to a more familiar setting where a young noble child finds himself wishing to be as strong as his warrior father in order to protect his people and his mother who protects the land by creating a barrier around it. The boy’s life as a young lord is suddenly interrupted, though, when his father comes back from fighting demons. His sword was shattered and he’s in need of a powerful sword wielded by his clan. The boy’s sickly mother forces herself to set up another barrier but an unseen threat puts an end to her life. As the demons approach, it’s clear that the boy’s father wasn’t able to survive the battle as well.

In the end, we come to discover a startling fact about the boy’s identity. The story that unfolded in this episode was part of a book that Syaoran picked up and its contents affected him to the point that the young hero breaks down. Does he know the identity of the boy is a member of their group? Did the story strike a familiar cord with Syaoran? These are questions that will hopefully be revealed in the next volume.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Volume 9, simply confirms something Tsubasa fans already know … Tsubasa is anime at its most finest. This volume in particular is not only the product of gorgeous animation and fluid storytelling but it also reflects feeling and emotion in only four episodes. I can’t recommend this series enough so believe me when I say that missing out on this series is a big mistake.

 

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN 

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
All four episodes have something interesting to offer from the cartoon-ish cuteness of Episode 37 to the surprising twist of events in Episode 40. One of my personal favorite Tsubasa episodes, so far, just so happens to the 38th episode entitled “Dangerous Road” that simply proves that this series is a fan favorite for a very good reason.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
If you’ve bought past volumes in this series then it won’t come as a surprise to see how excellent the video quality is in this volume.

AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The music is downright gorgeous and the English dub is just as good as the Japanese voice acting in this series.

EXTRAS: C+
A few trailers can be found on the disc but fans and Tsubasa newcomers will appreciate the handy Character Guide and World Guide. You can find the songs sans the text in the Extras as well.

OVERALL: A+
Having followed the series since the first volume, Volume 9 of Tsubasa is – by far – ones of the most endearing and meaningful chapters in the series. In fact, I’ll even go as far as saying that this volume contains some of the best anime you’ll see this year. If you’re not a fan of this series, this one will certainly make you one but if you already are a fan then I don’t have to tell you how much you’ll love this one.

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