- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit); Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: English
- Region: A
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 3
- Studio: Funimation
- Release Date: November 17, 2009
- List Price: $59.98 [amazon-product align=”center”]B002KYIAIS[/amazon-product]
BestBuy.com: Shop with us for more Blu-ray releases at Amazon.comOverall The Series Video Quality Audio Quality Supplemental Materials
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I was excited to sit down and watch Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Season One. I’d heard much about this anime title, but I never had the opportunity to see it until now, so I come to it with fresh eyes. Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Season One is based on the Tsubasa fantasy manga (comic book) series by Clamp in the shōnen style. For those unfamiliar with the anime terminology, shōnen manga are comics that are geared towards a young male audience, roughly 10 to 18. They usually focus on the camaraderie of young males in sports or battle and have highly feminized periphery female characters, if any at all. Other popular anime titles that fall into the genre are Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Full Metal Alchemist.
Tsubasa begins in the land known as Clow Country where a young archeologist, Syaoran, has made an unusual discovery at a site of ruins. Sakura, the princess of Clow Country and Syaoran’s closest friend from childhood, goes to investigate a strange symbol that Syaoran has uncovered at the dig the next day. When she stands on the symbol, she sprouts a set of glowing wings and begins to be pulled into the wall. Syaoran runs to save her, but the wings turn into feathers and scatter across multiple dimensions. Yukito, the high priest of Clow, realizes that the wings were the manifestation of Sakura’s soul and that she must regain all of her feathers in order to regain her memories and to live. He sends the two young adults off to see the Dimensional Witch, Yūko so that she can help Syaoran on his quest to save Sakura and regain her feathers.
Once there Syaoran meets two other travelers, a ninja, Kurogane, seeking to return to his home after being banished from his world by Princess Tomoyo so that he can learn the meaning of true strength and Fay D. Flourite, a wizard who fled his home to avoid having to kill the king of his home world. Yūko then exacts a price from each of the travelers in order to grant them the ability to travel between dimensions. They must each pay her with something they value the most. Kurogane offers his family heirloom, the sword Ginryū. Fay pays with the tattoo on his back that suppresses his magical power. The witch, however, will not accept an object from Syaoran and Sakura. Seeing the importance of the unspoken love between Syaoran and Sakura, she makes Syaoran pay with his relationship with Sakura. No matter how many memories Sakura is able to retrieve, she will never remember him; he will always remain a stranger to her. Yūko presents them with a creature, Mokona Modoki, which has the power to travel across dimensions and also to sense the energy of Sakura’s feathers.
Along their journey, the party faces many different challenges in obtaining Sakura’s feathers. Each world is different. From worlds where gangs battle each other using their inner “kodan,” an energy that manifests in the form of a creature or object to protect its host, or a world where demons hunt the population at nights. There are even a few world in the mix where Sakura’s feathers haven’t landed, but the energy signals were so high, the party was drawn there, such as one world where Syaoran and Sakura discover and entire tiny underwater civilization at the bottom of a lake. One world even offers up a gothic tale of a golden-haired witch kidnapping little children from their homes in the middle of the night.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle offers up an entertaining balance of science fiction, fantasy, and action and even enough of an undercurrent of a love story to add a bit of depth and soul, but not enough to scare away its target audience of testosterone-driven young males. The series is at times little uneven, especially in terms of its comedic aspects. The magical, Mokona, character is used far too often for comic relief that feels very immature and definitely targeted at the much lower end of the age scale. It ruins the epic feel of the series that can develop at times. The ending of Season One also feels a little rushed. After a very slow build up over 25 episodes, episode 26 felt very pieced together, with not much of a cliffhanger and left much unresolved. Perhaps it is necessary to view Season Two for better closure.
Tsubasa arrives in a three-disc Blu-ray set with a 1.78:1 1080p/24 VC-1 high definition encoding from Funimation. It is a difficult production to judge right from the start. First of all, there appears to be a thin veil of some sort over the image that softens detail. It is most likely an artistic choice, but when weighed against other obvious flaws in the transfer like noticeable blocking, some haloing around the line art and a little noise in image fills, Tsubasa is one of the least pleasing transfers I have seen from Funimation to date. At times I was left wondering if it was in fact a true HD transfer or an up-scaled standard definition source.
I was a bit disappointed that only the English dub was available in a lossless variety on this release of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Provided in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) the mix is relatively active with some resounding low frequencies during explosions and fight scenes. Punches land with “oomph,” dialogue is clean and surround channels are often filled with an abundance of sound. High frequencies are a bit grating, however, the midrange can sometimes sound a little muddled and even the low frequencies sometimes get a little distorted. It is not a perfect mix by far, but it is still quite entertaining, nonetheless.
For the purists like myself in the audience, the original Japanese language track is provided only in a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 variety with literal English subtitles.
There are a good bit of supplements provided on this release that should keep fans of the series occupied for a while. Especially useful are the character bios and world descriptions, which truly help keep track of Tsubasa’s quick pace.
The supplements provided on this release are:
- Cast Auditions — English cast auditions (Dolby Digital 2.0):
- Faces in the Crowd — A character guide on the different characters seen throughout the Tsubasa series.
- Character Guide — Character “bios” for Tsubasa’s main characters.
- World Guide — A Guide to the different world’s that the characters visit in the series.
- Textless Songs (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 2.0) — The opening and closing song sequences played without the credits
- Dragon Ball Z
- Bamboo Blade
- Sgt. Frog
- Case Closed
- Dragon Ball
- Ah! My Goddess
- One Piece
The Definitive Word
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Season One is an enjoyable if uneven anime series. It is not top-tier in comparison to other releases I’ve had the pleasure to review from Funimation, but it can still make for a pleasant weekend to sit through and surely won’t be a disappointment to anime fans.
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