Manga Review: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Volume 19

A young man named Syaoran is in love with Princess Sakura from the country of Clow. After Sakura loses her memories through an unexplained event, Syaoran goes on a journey to different worlds to try to find and regain Sakura’s lost memories. Unfortunately, as part of his journey, he had to make a deal with the space-time witch Yuko in order to receive her help. Syaoran had to agree that Sakura would never regain her memories of the time she had spent with him. Syaoran is accompanied by Fai, Kurogane, and Mokona on his quest.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Volume 19
Written by: CLAMP
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Release Date: November 18, 2008

Volume 19 reveals that both Fai and Sakura are trying to hide things from the others in the party. Fai gets Sakura to start opening up about what she’s hiding, but as we learn later, she doesn’t open up entirely to him.

We see Sakura and the others win the next “chess” tournament and move on to the final round. Before the final match, though, Sakura is invited to have dinner with the chairman of the chess tournament and the head of the Vision family. It’s at this dinner that the audience learns what Sakura’s been hiding: in addition to the prize money, the winner of the tournament can also gain the ability to travel to another dimension by themselves.

I was genuinely surprised to not only learn that this was an additional prize for the “chess” tournament, but by the fact that Sakura wants this so badly. We learn through flashbacks that as Sakura has regained her memories, she has also started to regain a minor precognitive ability she had before her memories were taken from her. Through this ability, she sees a future that she wants to avoid, which she thinks she can do if she can go the next world by herself.

Over the course of this volume, we definitely see a more confident and determined Sakura than we had since she had lost her memories. She’s become a strong character in her own right and is no longer the fragile girl who needs to be protected by the others all of the time. I also had found it interesting that we’ve seen Sakura dressed in black since we first saw the group in this particular dimension back near the end of Volume 18. Having her in that color ends up being a way to foreshadow events that happen later in Volume 19, as well as to start giving a visual indication to the reader that Sakura has changed.

The remainder of Volume 19 sees the final round of the “chess” tournament, where each side can only have one player. The other Syaoran volunteers to be the player for Sakura, and the other side has an automata, which is a robot that is this dimension’s version of Hikaru, the “Angel” battle doll from Angelic Layer.

When it comes to crossovers, in addition to Hikaru from Angelic Layer, we also see Chi from Chobits. It’s kind of ironic that elements from both of these series make an appearance in the same volume, since Angelic Layer and Chobits are set in the same universe.

The volume climaxes with the end of the tournament. But I have to say that the ending of this volume becomes rather strange. I know I said the story had started getting strange back around Volume 16 of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, but the events at the end of Volume 19 kicks the strangeness factor up another notch. I’m hoping the series doesn’t get too much stranger than it is now before the conclusion. To be honest, I’m really not sure how much more of these strange turn of events I can take.

If you didn’t mind the tonal shift between Volumes 15 and 16 of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, then you may not be too terribly bothered by the story becoming even stranger at the end of Volume 19. But even though the story continues to become stranger, I’m still planning to stick it out to the end of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE in order to find out how this story will ultimately come to an end.

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