Tag Archives: mokona

xxxHOLiC (Volume 5) Manga | My Reviews 17 AUG 2008

xxxHOLiC Volume5Kimihiro Watanuki is the indentured servant of Yuko, the beautiful but completely unpredictable Space-Time Witch. He must work at her bizarre wish-granting shop until he can pay off his own wish: to be free of the spirits that haunt him. Yuko’s latest customer is a rain spirit who wants Kimihiro dispatched on a rescue mission. Little does Kimihiro know that this mission will take him to death’s door!

And that’s not his only problem: A cute spirit has given him a Valentine’s Day present, which means he’s obligated by Japanese custom to return the favour. What do you get a girls who may not even exist in this world?

Volume 5 of xxxHOLiC continues the mystical and spiritual misadventures of the extremely excitable but unlucky in all sense of the word Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student who can see and has been plagued by the spirit world all his life. A chance meeting with the beautiful but unpredictable space-time witch Yuko Ichihara who’s business it is to grant wishes has given Watanuki the chance to finally be rid of the spirit world for good – but in exchange the hapless student now needs to work in her mystical shop where all manner of things spiritual and downright scary abound anyway!

This volume sees Watanuki and Domeki team up once again, this time on the behest of a rain sprite that employs their help in attempting a rescue of something that lies beneath the red hydrangea patch. And of course this being a spirit world request, the danger that lies in wait for them is best left unsaid.

Second up is the mystery surrounding one of the girls that happens to attend the same school as what Domeki and Watanuki do. This girl used to be pretty normal, quiet and reserved, but now there is something a little odd about this girl’s behaviour around other people, particularly when they cause her insult – all of which may just be linked to the strange angel-like feathers growing out of her back!

And then finally it is time for Watanuki to make good on his gift received on Valentine’s Day (Japanese custom dictates boys returning the favour received from girls on ‘White Day’), even if the person he needs to compensate happens to be a spirit that resides all the way out on Reisen mountain.

xxxHOLiC is produced by the super popular, all female mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles to ever reach us out here in the West. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) a while ago but word of their work soon caught on and being of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. Some of their previous credits including Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth, just to name a few!

As always xxxHOLiC’s writing is based in well researched Japanese folklore and then mixed up with some targeted social commentary which is then brought to us courtesy of the loveable Watanuki and his various adventures in the spirit world. For the first time since the series started, the story introduces a new, darker back-story for Yuko, laying the foundation for what surely will be an exciting storyline to follow in the future and a welcome break from Watanuki and company’s usually comedic antics.

The writing is once again well paced and the self-contained story arcs are all satisfying and all have something to say, at the same time continuing to build up the main characters and lay the foundations for the future volumes all at once. The stories keep you guessing and CLAMP do a good job of building intrigue and mystery into their arcs, particularly noteworthy if you consider the length of each self-contained arc in the volume.

There is a lot more of a darker feeling to this particular volume and slowly but surely the stakes for Watanuki’s spirit world interventions are on the rise. However, that said, the writing retains its comical nature and xxxHOLiC will have you laughing out a loud more than once.

Visually CLAMP continue their trademark elongated character proportions which gives xxxHOLiC such a distinct yet thoroughly pleasing look. Character and character costume designs are exquisite as always, though I still feel that they are a little light on backgrounds at the moment. The clean, heavyset lines makes for very attractive visuals and combined with the attention to both simplified facial lines and super-deformed character expressions (where necessary – which with Watanuki happens to be often) makes for a very good looking book, just as you’ve come to expect from the CLAMP masters.

Overall, xxxHOLiC volume 5 really doesn’t put a foot wrong and CLAMP produce a beautiful, easy to read work that is drenched in drama and spiritual mystery but at the same time carries all the humour that makes xxxHOLiC as unique and fun as it is.

Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, you would do well to pick up this volume – as well as all of those that precede it!

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XxxHOLiC

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 5) Manga | My Reviews 25 JUL 2008

Tsubasa 5The End of a Fairy Tale: Following the trail of the stolen children of Spirit Town, Sakura is captured at the forbidden castle, where she encounters the golden-haired ghost! Syaoran and his friends – the sociable magician Fai D. Flowright, the master swordsman Kurogane, and the odd creature Mokona – must now penetrate the ancient stronghold in order to rescue Sakura and the missing children. Will they finally uncover the truth behind the legend of Princess Emerald? And will they recover another fragment of Sakura’s lost memory?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE tells the story of the strong-willed Syaoran, the easygoing magician Fai D. Flowright, the conflict-hungry warrior Kurogane and the strange creature called Mokona, who have all banded together in order to trek across the various alternate planes of existence in the hopes of collecting all of the scattered and missing feathers that make up the soul and memories of Princess Sakura, the former love interest of Syaoran. Of course, in order to gain the ability to make the crossing to all of these new and exciting worlds, each one of the group had to make a deal with the dimension-spanning witch Yuko (from xxxHOLIC), which in turn cost each and every one of them the something that they held most dear. Now stripped of the things most important to them, our heroic trio plus the helpless Sakura must plunge headfirst into dimensional portal after dimensional portal in the hopes that Mokona can lead them to that which they seek the most – Sakura’s magical feathers!

Volume 5 of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE puts us firmly back on track within CLAMP’s mammoth alternate universe-spanning mega-adventure, with the conclusion of the Spirit Town arc which last left us with a mystery as to the village’s rapidly disappearing children as well as the eventual capture and incarceration of Sakura herself! The plot thickens as Syaoran and the rest of the team scramble to solve the mystery of the missing children and in so doing, rescue Sakura from her unknown captor! Meanwhile, Sakura herself is slowly but surely uncovering just what has been happening in the mysterious castle that taunts them so, including the real truth behind the legend of Princess Emerald!

Following on the Spirit Town story arc, the next location to which our intrepid band is spirited off to is a country known as Oto, a seemingly peaceful paradise that seems to suffer from only one small problem – dangerous shadow-like Oni! And seeing as Mokona does sense the power of a feather somewhere within the city, the group is here to stay for a while – meaning that each and every one of them will need to get a job in order to make some money for living expenses!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, basically it is currently the longest-running manga serialization from the super popular CLAMP group of mangaka ladies, a project so big that it pulls in characters and situations from throughout their numerous smash hit titles from before. (And if you don’t know what CLAMP is in fact responsible for, take a look at this list: Magic Knight Rayearth, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer, X/1999 and xxxHOLIC!)

The tone for this volume follows the usual sadness, angst and drama that the previous Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE story arcs have carried, but as usual it is sprinkled throughout with doses of feel good moments, humorous situations and a lot of non-stop action and fighting sequences. This volume fairs better than the previous volume in that it comes across as a more action-orientated journey and because it features the conclusion to at least one story arc, makes it feel a slightly more complete experience. Of course, CLAMP also manage to keep loyal readers interested by introducing some new shadowy figures into the bigger picture and then managing to turn everything around on its head once again by introducing a completely new world for us to explore and makes us salivate in anticipation for the next volume that is to come.

Artistically, CLAMP continues with their distinctive elongated proportions but back these sometimes odd looking poses with some beautiful and heavy line work that adds tons of atmosphere to the proceedings. Despite the heavy line work, CLAMP puts a lot of detail into their characters, especially their rather varied outfits, making for some very fine visuals indeed. Their background scenery on the other hand continues to be fairly sparse, but at least when they do bother to put in some background detail, it does admittedly look pretty damn good.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Volume 5 is a solid addition to this epic storyline that CLAMP are in the process of crafting and manages to satisfy almost all types of readers out there, from action to angst to humour seekers, while at the same time managing to retain that certain something that has made almost all CLAMP works as popular as they are. It looks good, it reads easily enough, and so to sum it all up – what are you waiting for? Go and pick it up already!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 2) Manga | My Reviews 30 MAY 2008

Tsubasa Volume 2Syaoran, Fai, Kurogane and Mokona venture to the Hanshin Republic to find one of the missing pieces of Sakura’s memory, transformed into magically powerful feathers. There, Syaoran meets his ‘Kudan’: a fierce wolf-spirit whose fiery power mirrors Syaoran’s personal strength. But with foes like a pop idol who sings words of pain, Syaoran’s hunt for feathers is no child’s game! And even if he finds the feathers, will Sakura ever wake up from her magical sleep? And since Syaoran bargained away their relationship in a pact with a witch, can their love ever return to the way it was?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE tells the story of Syaoran a young, focused warrior that witnesses his beloved Sakura’s soul and memories get literally pulled out from her body and dispersed in the form of magical feathers across the different planes of existence, rendering her unconscious and lost to this world. Joined by the enigmatic Fai D. Flowright and powerful Kugane, and with the help of the trans-dimensional witch Yuko and her pet Mokona, Syaoran sets out on his quest to cross into the various dimensions that exist in search of Sakura’s feathers in the hopes of one day restoring her back to the way she was. But to complicate matters, each dimension has its own set of rules and the people (and creatures) have their own set of abilities, making this anything but a walk in the park. And then of course there is the question of the sacrifices that the trio needed to make in order get Yuko to agree to help them in the first place…

Volume 2 sees our group in the Hanshin Republic where everyone has their own familiar spirit, called a ‘Kudan’ and of course, bored as always, certain groups of youngsters have started to organise turf wars using their Kudan as living weapons. The problem that Syaoran and the group face however is far more perplexing: Mokona can’t quite seem to get a fix on Sakura’s feather at the moment! It can sense it appearing sporadically but then it disappears again, making the search even more difficult than what it already is. Luckily the group has met some helpful locals to help out, but to be honest, the search for the first feather is looking more than a little bleak at the moment!

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE is the work of legendary ,mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles out here in the West. Previous credits include Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) but soon word of their work caught on and because it was of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. As it is, they are currently publishing three ongoing titles in Japan, namely Tsubasa, xxxHOLIC and Gohou Drug.

As with all their other writing, Tsubasa finds that perfect mix of drama and comedy but as an extra bonus, it comes with a more than generous smattering of action scenes as we get to see Fai, Syaoran and Kurogane put through their paces, even if it is with the aid of their Kugan familiars. The writing is pretty simple to follow but does a great job in dragging you in and capturing your imagination. Dramatic and more than a little heart sore in places, there is a clever little twist lying in wait for you as well, so look out for that!

On the artistic front, CLAMP have left their highly detailed style from their earlier works behind and instead gone for a slightly rougher with heavier outlines look, putting a lot of attention in extending their characters’ basic proportions, going for a distinctive ‘lanky’ look which has now become a trademark of their new style. A lot of background detail are also present and to sum it all up, Tsubasa can only be described as a visual treat. Detailed, beautiful and flowing, it is quite difficult to take your eyes for even a second off the work that the girls have come up with here.

In short, Tsubasa is well written, contains loads of action, drama and comedic moments to satisfy any manga reader and to top it all off, looks simply fantastic as well! A great piece of escapist fantasy and easily recommendable to anyone, be it your avid manga fan or a total newcomer to this fantastic genre.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 4) Manga | My Reviews 25 APR 2008

Tsubasa Volume 4A fairy tale turned nightmare! Young Syaoran embarks on a worlds-spanning adventure to restore the memory of the most important person in his life, the princess Sakura – even though he knows that she’ll never remember her love for him. The trail leads to a small town reminiscent of Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, a place where the ghostly image of a golden-haired woman comes in the night to steal the town’s children. Syaoran and his band of outrageous friends – affable Fai D. Flowright, loose cannon Kurogane, the odd creature Mokona, and Sakura herself – mount their horses and venture into forbidding, barren woods to solve a mystery, rescue the children, and retrieve one more piece of Sakura’s missing memories.

Volume 4 of RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE puts us back squarely into Syaron’s tragic quest of regaining the memories of his most beloved person at the cost of her memory of him. So far Tsubasa has been an epic quest that draws together virtually every character ever created by super mangaka group CLAMP, and certainly has been anything but a disappointment.

With the emergence of the released Kiishim and the subsequent disposal of the corrupt Ryanban, the groups adventure in Koryo draws to a close and they have to say yet another farewell to the people who they have just helped out. After a short unsuccessful trip to a rather misty world which Syaoran has to explore from the bottom of a lake, the new territory that Mokona transports them to seems to be a place and era that is very much based on middle Europe during the beginning of the 19th century.

Fitting into the era is an easy enough task thanks to the amazing luck Sakura inadvertently has at gambling, but finding a trace of Sakura’s feather is proving to be not quite so simple. The only problem is that as wandering travelers, Syaoran and the group aren’t exactly welcome thanks to the current disappearing children phenomenon. Already suspicious and in the throes of grief for the missing children, the villagers aren’t exactly welcoming the group with open arms – particularly when it is Sakura who claims to have seen this ‘golden-haired princess’ that is said to be abducting the children…

The notoriously media shy, four women strong CLAMP group is responsible for Tsubasa and to date this is probably their most ambitious piece of work ever. Already famous across the globe for their titles such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer, X/1999 and xxxHolic, CLAMP needs little introduction to the legions of manga fans the world over.

This fourth installment in the Tsubasa quest wraps up Syaoran and the gang’s Koryo adventure and immediately shifts its attention to the new location and as such the majority of writing for this volume is used to set the tone, mood and story for this new area. As it is, the story is told in heavier overtones that is befitting of the overall tone of the Tsubasa series and despite the frequent insertions of random comedic moments usually featuring the overactive Mokan terrorizing poor old Kurogane, Tsubasa comes across as a rather heavy drama with a lot of angst experienced by the various characters.

Because there are almost no action sequences the story tends to move a little slowly and by the end of the book you can’t help but feel a little cheated that you were forced to read for so long without getting a decent conclusion or anything along those lines by the end of the story. Still, the dialogue is all well written and the character dynamics are well-worked and the little comedic moments are more than sufficient to break the tension and get you to smile every now and then.

As always CLAMP’s signature level of detail in the character designs and their strange, elongated proportions dominate the visual aspect of this book, but it must be said that the art for this volume is certainly not as strong as a person would like to see. Backgrounds are very scant as always and the strange proportions look really poor on certain characters in certain frames, serving only to highlight the shortcomings of the artist on that particular shot. The linework employed is bold and solid, but sometimes this works against CLAMP as the artword feels a little oversimplified in places. Funnily enough though, thanks to the actual lack of action sequences this is one of the clearer CLAMP releases to actually follow and there is little in the way of art that forces you to turn the book upside down to try and see what is going on, a problem that is often apparent in their work where heavy action sequences interact with their particular take on physical proportions.

And as gorgeous as the usual character models (and backgrounds when they are actually present) are, the departure to the deformed and simplified sketches used for the comedic background bits are just as masterfully done and so fun that you will often find yourself sniggering at those little touches going on in the background of the main scene.

Volume 4 is an essential part of setting the scene for the story arc to come, but as it is, the problematic straddling of both the previous and upcoming story arcs means that this volume is a little devoid of action and as such moves at a rather slow and uninteresting pace. Sure all the usual trademark CLAMP is here, but because of all the story elements being outlined, this volume really comes across as nothing more than a gap filler, designed to try and hook you so that you will buy the next volume just to see what is going to happen next. If you are already in the middle of the Tsubasa saga then it is a must read, but it certainly is not the best jumping on point for anyone new to the series.

A little slow and devoid of action, volume 4 is still a solid piece of work, only it is probably best suited to those people already well stuck into the unfolding epic storyline.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 3) Manga | My Reviews 03 APR 2008

Tsubasa Volume 3Can pure determination defeat a master magician? Sakura is awake, but she remembers almost nothing – certainly not Syaoran, who has sacrificed everything to help her. Accompanied by the happy-go-lucky Fai, the intense Kurogane, and the strikingly odd creature Mokona Modoki, Sakura and Syaoran make their way into a new universe where a traveling magician has suddenly become frighteningly powerful and is terrorizing an entire town. Only a few independent-minded stragglers remain to battle for control of their own lives. Fai, the lone magician in the group, traded his magical powers to the dimension witch, xxxHOLiC’s Yuko, before the journey started. Without a weapon with which to fight, can the extraordinary group of friends defeat a master magician who can control the Earth’s elements?

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle is the longest running manga serialization from the super popular CLAMP ladies whom basically anyway who calls themselves a manga fan should know about. Volume 3 of Tsubasa continues the adventures of the unlucky Syaoran who is continuing on his heartbreaking quest to try and help retrieve Sakura’s feathers, the embodiment of her soul and memories that have been scattered across countless dimensions. Their latest dimension jump lands them thick in the middle of trouble and before long Syaoran and the rest of the team get dragged into that’s world’s politics as they befriend a young woman and end up taking on the corrupt self-imposed leader who may or may not have one of Sakura’s feathers at his disposal.

As per usual, the writing style for CLAMP constantly switches from high drama, to heady romance, to action, to quirky one-liners, to all out humour. The storytelling is as touching as what it is humorous and still manages to switch up gears into all out action mode. Volume 3 ends up being a thoroughly enjoyable volume that covers all the bases and pushes Syaoran and the gang headfirst into yet another trans-dimensional action adventure and leaves you waiting in anticipation for the next volume thanks to the cliffhanger at the end.

Visually, Tsubasa carries the trademark elongated character models and it is a style that marks it distinctively as being a CLAMP creation, even if it takes a little while to begin appreciating their unique take on proportion. That said, the line work is as fluid and detailed as always and the entire manga oozes skill and hard work. The fighting scenes in particular are rather well done, and the artists go to great lengths to depict fairly accurate stances and techniques – which is particularly nice if you consider the story is taking place in a fantasy realm.

As always, the highly detailed “normal” artwork gets injected with a lot of deformed characters for the humour sake, but the meld between story and art is so good that the deformed sequences feel completely as if they were meant to be there in the first place.

Tsubasa continues the great work laid out in the first two volumes and seeing as it still continues today, you know it is going to continue growing and evolving into something special from this point onwards. It is a touching, action packed story that contains more than enough humour to prevent it from being dragged down to being just a plain, emotional action drama story and instead gives you something light and fluffy but at the same time substantial enough that you will fall in love with the characters and enjoy a thoroughly entertaining escape from reality.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle