Story: RFTM is a gaming acronym that stands for “Read the Freaking Manual.” Why do I mention this? Any DVD of Tsubasa Chronicle Season 2 (a.k.a. the Second Series) should have RTFM stamped on its cover, only it would stand for “Read the Freaking Manga.”
For those who do not know, Tsubasa Chronicle the Second Series picks up where the first one left off; the five man band enters yet another parallel universe in search of one of Sakura’s feathers. They encounter multitudes of other crossover CLAMP characters and face opposition from every villain in the world who wants to exploit the feather’s magical powers. Each arc is a couple episodes long to develop the side characters and plot of that particular world before the band jumps to the next one.
On the surface, this may seem like any typical monster of the week anime. However, Tsubasa Chronicle is one of the most complex anime/manga franchises of all time, but this is not reflected at all in its second and final season. Instead, the directors decide to focus on the development of numerous side characters that we never see again as well as the main characters of the five man band (canonically or otherwise). While this may seem like a boring premise that is bound to be laden with filler, the pacing of the first half of the second series is actually surprisingly entertaining. The themes of memory and friendship are explored more deeply, and the characters’ pasts begin to catch up to them as they approach their goal.
The major issue with the plot is the ending. Firstly, the ending was non-canon, which in of itself isn’t an issue since that’s what usually happens when an anime catches up to the manga. The issue was its blatant cheesiness and lack of closure. It literally seemed like the budget ran out and the directors couldn’t pay a good writer to bring the anime to a definite close. It’s clear that at some point during the production, the attitude changed from believing that there would be a third season to realizing that there would not. This forced a rushed, disappointing, substandard ending to what otherwise could have been a top anime for fans.
Animation: While not terrible, the animation does not seem to push the envelope like some of its higher budget partners did. Overall, the animation was smooth and character designs were good. However, the animation seemed to suffer from the budget. Its clear from the TV series’ successors (the OVAs) have the potential to have groundbreaking animation. However, that was clearly not the intention of the artists of the TV series. At times, there were flashes of brilliance, but there were moments of repetition, numerous flashbacks, and instances of pure laziness that counterbalanced them.
Sound: As with the original series, the sound is where the anime absolutely sparkled. From orchestral fanfares to sweet string quartets, Yuki Kajiura composes an amazing variety of music for the soundtrack. There is absolutely no doubt that the music enhances the viewer’s experience of the anime as a whole. As for the voice acting, it was spot on in both the original and the English dub. My only issue with the sound was the OP and especially the ED, neither of which I particularly liked. However, the rest of the soundtrack more than makes up for where the OP and ED are lacking.
Characters: This is CLAMP. How could there not be well developed likable characters? The dynamic of Sakura and Syaoran’s relationship deepens in the second series, and Kurogane finally receives a background of his own. Fai remains the mysterious magician he had always been, but even he receives some development during the course of the series. Many more CLAMP characters are introduced, which will provide numerous bonuses for CLAMP fans. For those who are not, don’t worry; the characters’ roles in this series may have absolutely nothing to do with their role in their own series.
The only character that probably should have received more development was Fei Wang, but since he hadn’t really been developed in the manga yet either, one can’t really blame the makers of the anime.
Overall: Despite the solid foundation of characters, animation, and sound, Tsubasa Chronicle the second series was disappointing overall. The inconclusive ending and massive filler really killed what could have been a superb anime. My suggestion is to NOT watch the series in its entirety. If you want to truly understand the Tsubasa Chronicle franchise, you can either read the manga entirely or do the following.
It was truly a privilege to read such a heartwarming, yet exciting franchise. Unfortunately, the second series detracts from the quality of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle as a whole.