Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: December 2008
“The Mafia-run world of Infinity would be a dangerous place even without the death-defying “chess” tournament that Princess Sakura and her companions have entered. But Sakura has decided to risk everything – even her friends’ lives – for the contest’s secret prize.”
While several books ago you may’ve thought this series was getting rather repetitive, the last few couple of volumes have certainly gotten the ball rolling in a big way. Here in volume nineteen, its one revelation after another as Sakura puts her own friends’ lives on the line in order to win a mysterious prize in the warrior chess game they find themselves battling in.
If I ever thought I found Tsubasa little boring, books like these toss thoughts like that out without a single moments breathe. Sakura’s independence flourishes here as she cuts herself off from the new Syaoran, distances herself from Kurogane and Fai, and seeks a path on her own towards a hopeful salvation for the group. How she is now is a far-cry from the sleepy, dazed Sakura that we had most of the series and the progression to where she is now through a series of tragic, eye-opening events and a return of her memories is nothing short of awesome. The intensity in her eyes speaks volumes as we watch her consort with Yuko, the Space Time Witch, in order to bring about her own future.
Though Sakura’s role in this book is large, there still remains the other characters who’re no less intriguing. Fai and Kurogane know that something is up, and while they don’t know exactly what, they try their best to prepare, including some subtle comfort for the torn Syaron who no longer has his place at the Princess’s side. The tension that built up behind the fight scenes (each more incredible than the last!) leads readers along to what you know is going to be something big. If epic battle scenes between some familiar faces, flashbacks to Fai’s disturbed past and a Princess on a mission don’t do it for you, then the viciously gorgeous two page spread at the book’s climax will leave you stunned, and likely flying through the few remaining pages.
Volume nineteen of Tsubasa is also easily one of the strongest books visually in the series, with a distinctly darker flair than some of the series’ earlier volumes. From the subtle yet powerful looks in the character’s expressions, to some high-action fight scenes, and character designs that remain a real treat for the eyes, I loved going back and taking the time to stare at each and every page. Books like these work as a good reminder as to why CLAMP is as successful as they are. A lot of hard work, experience and passion went into these pages and you can certainly feel it as the story is pulled along to dangerous, but enthralling, territory.
Fans of the series are no doubt waiting eagerly for each volume during this pinnacle story arc and volume nineteen should not disappoint. Its only real fault? Making the wait for volume twenty that much harder.