The Inevitable Crossover: A Cross-Examination of Shunraiki and Shunmuki

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Finally, two animes perform something that it should have done since it started airing.

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It was quite unfortunate that the anime version of Tsubasa Chronicle and xxxHOLIC had to (in a matter of speaking) “divorce” each other during its air because of anime studio differences. But now, with Production I.G. (xxxHOLIC’s studio) having taken over Tsubasa Chronicle, it can only be expected that the two animes will form a strong, tighter relationship and finally the story that has started to intertwine can be realized for the growing and much-anticipating fans of the two CLAMP hit shows.

And they did.

This year, the beloved characters of Tsubasa Chronicle and xxxHOLIC have made a comeback and stronger than before with their stories coinciding with each other in two-part OAVs (OAD for Tsubasa) – a first for the two series. Crossing over each other, one could only expect a bigger story out of the two – a treat for fans who have long awaited an anime continuation to the two stories. But what is this negative vibe wafting in the air regarding some parts of the released videos?

Tsubasa Chronicle: Shunraiki

Tsubasa Chronicle Shunraiki

Summary:
The story takes place right after the Celes Arc in the manga with Fay finally confronting his past. The team survives King Ashura and the inevitable destruction of Celes and land in the country that is closest to Kurogane’s heart (though of course he won’t admit it).

When they end up in Nihon Country, vampire hunter Seishirou reappears looking for the vampire twins and fights the real Syaoran. Fuuma also reappears to give an artificial arm to Kurogane courtesy of Tomoyo from Piffle Country. Fay, on the other hand, loses his magic to pay back Kurogane for saving him.

Clone Syaoran then makes his appearance, looking for Sakura’s feather. The two Syaorans are able to enter the Dream World where Sakura’s soul lay. In a determined fight to the end, the two give their last strike and the middle of the skirmish, Sakura places herself in their midst, taking in the blade of Clone Syaoran’s sword.

As she disappears into Cherry blossoms, Sakura tells the real Syaoran that she is not “his Sakura” and that she is just like Clone Syaoran. As she bids farewell to Clone Syaoran, Sakura finally disappears, cutting off what she was about to say to him for the last time.

Right after the skirmish, Syaoran, Fay, Kurogane and Mokona set out to travel to Clow Country where Fei Wong Reed hides in place where time has stopped moving.

Tsubasa Chronicle Shunraiki screencaps
Review:
Did you notice how pink seems to be a theme color in Shunraiki? From Sakura’s clothing to the tree and much of the background images, most have different shades of pink (well, some are light purple, but it is close enough to be pink sometimes). Not only am I not fond of the color, seeing too much shades of pink really disturbs me, not to mention stresses my cornea.

Then there’s the first part of episode one. This is where a distinction between TRC manga readers and non-readers is marked. For those who follow the story in the manga, the sudden and sharp turn from the Infinity and Celes Arc could be accepted. But how about those who never followed the story in the manga? I think it was unfair for Fay to not have his side of the limelight with his back story. Various things that have happened in the Infinity and Celes Arc would have given light to some of the things unexplained in Shunraiki.

Another thing that is making me uncomfortable is the complicating story of Sakura. Again, for those who do not follow the manga, Sakura revealing herself to be a clone is something that could make them go “WTF!?! I’ve been following the story of a clone all this time?” And now, with Sakura gone, how’s the real Sakura going to replace any feeling of endearment granted towards the clone Sakura? Just when the story is starting to make sense, Sakura’s death creates a beginning to a new story with a new (and real) Sakura.

But then again, this is CLAMP we’re having here. They’ve seem to come up with complicated twists and survive them all. Hopefully all loose ends would be tied before the end of the series. And all that would have to wait.

The visuals may not be as striking as Tokyo Revelations, but Shunraiki sure has its own charm to make it worth the watch. The fight scenes are good enough. Sakura’s last scene was dramatic – and you gotta hand it down to them for having the courage to kill a lead character. That alone is enough to make fans and non-fans watch out for the next installment.

And of course, as proven by Tsubasa Chronicle, the music by Yuji Kajiura simply fits the entire feel of the Tsubasa Chronicle world.

Screenshots available here.

xxxHOLIC: Shunmuki

xxxHOLIC Shunmuki
Summary:
Watanuki and Kohane-chan work on preparing a meal for themselves as well as the fortune teller lady and Doumeki. Doumeki has a gift of expensive sake so the lady says she’ll have to drink it with her best cup. Doumeki and Kohane-chan go to retrieve it. While doing this, Kohane-chan inquires into the relationship between Doumeki and Watanuki since Watanuki is always getting upset. Doumeki recounts how their first meeting had Watanuki kick Doumeki but Doumeki saw Watanuki in a different light when he cradled a dead cat and commented on dying alone. Kohane-chan notes that Watanuki is no longer alone.

Doumeki and Watanuki leave that evening for Yuuko-san’s place, bringing the leftovers. Yuuko-san and Doumeki talk briefly of Watanuki’s accident where he fell out of the school window and after Doumeki leaves to help Watanuki, Yuuko-san reflects further on the aftermath of Watanuki’s accident as well as the moment that the 2nd Syaoran-kun arrived at her shop.

Meanwhile, Watanuki meets with Doumeki’s grandfather (Haruka-san) in a dream state. Haruka-san has a quest for Watanuki, so the following day, Doumeki and Watanuki check out the storage room on the temple grounds. Watanuki is looking for five items, the first being a book. Locating a book, Watanuki finds himself suddenly fishing with Doumeki, apparently having gone to sleep. That evening, the two are packing up to leave when a down burst occurs. They find a Japanese inn right nearby and the young lady who answers the door seems surprised to see them. A group of women inside offer hospitality of the inn to Doumeki and Watanuki, who accept to get out of the rain.

In a room, they dry off when the girl comes by to see them. She warns them to leave. The lamp in their room goes out, so Doumeki and Watanuki go to obtain more oil. They see a well-lit room and discover that the women inside are in fact bird-people (a type of youkai). Seeing they are discovered, the women give chase, planning to eat Watanuki and Doumeki. As they flee, Doumeki throws the fish bait at the bird-women, which causes them to stop in order to eat the bait. Doumeki and Watanuki escape, so Watanuki wonders if maybe the young lady has a bird connection with Doumeki. Doumeki remembers raising some chickens in elementary school, but they ate them all. With that, Watanuki and Doumeki find themselves back in the storage shed, having lived out the story of the book they found.

Summary courtesy of Astronerdboy

xxxHOLIC Shunmuki screencaps
Review:
I love xxxHOLIC, but I don’t know why I don’t feel as much connection to this. Is it perhaps because the story is not very strong and put together? Or perhaps it’s one those independent stories again (meaning not in the manga and sort of like fillers). Well, the first parts were pulled out from the manga but I guess that’s only where I feel excited upon seeing the episode.

I thought the scene with the bird women is a reminder of how slowly the story has moved even in the manga as compared to Tsubasa Chronicle. So in this video, it seems there was no focal point to the entire story or a strong attachment to the cross over that is supposed to happen.

But this is only the first half with the next installment coming out in June so who knows how the entire story is going to fair.

One very noticeable good thing is the visuals – it’s a lot better than in the TV show. And alas! They finally made it cross over to Tsubasa, even for just a couple of seconds. It’s like a prelude of what’s to come in the next episode.

Screenshots available here.

*****JHAJR*****

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