Another anime review for you today, covering the first season of Tsubasa, based on the manga series I’ve been reviewing off and on.

Cast and Crew

Daisuke Namikawa as Fai
Mika Kikuchi as Mokona
Miyu Irino as Syaoran
Tetsu Inada as Kurogane
Yui Makino as Sakura
Kouki Miyata as Yukito
Maaya Sakamoto as Tomoyo
Shinichiro Miki as Touya
Chiemi Chiba as Yuzuriha Nekoi
Hiroki Touchi as Seishirou

Directed by Koichi Mashimo
Written by Hiroyuki Kawasaki
Adapted from the Manga by CLAMP
Animated by Bee Train

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf.com

The Premise

The short version is that the first season of the show adapts CLAMP’s successful manga up through the Oto arc, with some occasional filler episodes.

The High Points

Bee Train (who isn’t the usual visual adapter of CLAMPs works, with Production I.G. usually taking on those duties), does a really good job of animating this, with the fight scenes in particular looking really good.

Also, the filler episodes we get here fit in with the theme of “worlds based off of episode and series concepts” that we got with some of the Worlds from the Manga (the world based on Mito Komon, the world based on MMORPGs). In particular, we literally get the Tournament Arc world, and take what would otherwise take a whole season of an anime, and get it done in one episode.

The Low Points

My one concern with some of the filler episodes, is that since several of these episodes do in just one episode what CLAMP might take several chapters of the manga doing (when they got around to those concepts), I did find myself concerned that if we did run into a Tournament Arc later in the Manga, we wouldn’t get that in the series, because of the filler episode.

Also, the end of the series felt a little tacked on. It felt like that they had to fit in Standard Anime Ending #42 (a.k.a “I Got This“), without any build-up or justification. Considering the episode immediately before was the end of the Oto Arc, I can’t help but feel like they should have put another filler episode earlier in the series, and let the series end with the conclusion of the Oto arc, giving us something of a cliffhanger.

Content Notes

No significant nudity or violence. There is a not-insignificant amount of Ho Yay between Fai and Kurogane,

Scores

Originality: This is very much an adaptation. That said, while there is filler, the filler fits with the tone of the material from the manga, without disrupting the series itself much (by having the main characters regain additional feathers). 4 out of 6.

Animation: The animation looks great, with the designs being faithful to CLAMP’s original work, while staying within the budgetary constraints of a TV series. 4 out of 6.

Acting: The acting is generally good, with Fai and Kurogane’s voice acting in particular being fantastic (or, in Fai’s case, fabulous). 4 out of 6.

Story: The series is a very good adaptation of the manga, and the filler episodes we get mesh well, tonally, with the rest of the series, and still retain the same level of good characterization that the rest of the series has. 4 out of 6.

Emotional Response: Very good. The manga itself did a good job at tugging on your heartstrings in just the right moments on its own accord, but the anime amps this up with a very good collection of Image Songs, used properly. 5 out of 6.

Production: The sound design here is fantastic, with the music in particular playing a major role in setting the mode for several episodes. 5 out of 6.

Overall: This is a fantastic adaptation of the manga, and definitely worth your time. 5 out of 6.

In Total, Tsubasa Season 1 gets 31 out of 42