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Current Manga Reads: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and Takane to Hana

I know I’m supposed to write Reservoir Chronicle with some crazy intercapitalizations, but just no. Also note that the “to” in Takane to Hana is the Japanese for “and.” In the English version, it’s represented by an ampersand.

Years ago, I started reading Tsubasa and even watched some of the anime. As a huge fan of CLAMP, it seems like it should have been exactly my thing. But I couldn’t get into it. Now, some ten years later, I’m trying again. I’ve made it through 18 volumes… Which leaves me some 10 more to go.

Tsubasa reads like CLAMP doing AU fan fiction of its own work. It features favorite characters but in different settings and literally different worlds. Some of it I really love, like the interactions between Kurogane and Fai. But as someone who never really understood why everyone love Sakura so much (she’s too perfect to be interesting), and who never got into the Sakura x Syaoran thing… Well, Tsubasa leans heavy on that. Meanwhile, my favorite characters, such as Touya, Yukito, Subaru, Kamui, and Seishirou, are [thus far] extremely ancillary.

Also, some of the plot has gotten a bit convoluted. It’s been semi-explained but… Maybe it’s just the translation, but I feel like I’m missing some of what’s happening. It might also be because the battles are often illustrated in such a way that I can’t actually tell what’s going on. I’ll keep reading, mostly in hopes of more Kurogane + Fai, and in hopes of seeing my other favorites return at some point, but right now this one doesn’t hold a candle to Cardcaptor Sakura or Tokyo Babylon.

As for Takane to Hana, well… I really dislike using the term “guilty pleasure” because I do believe we shouldn’t be ashamed of things we enjoy, but in this case, given some of the problematic foundation of this story, I do feel pretty guilty about it. Hana is a 16-year-old high school student whose older sister forces her to sit in on an arranged marriage meeting in her stead. The prospective groom is 26-year-old Takane, wealth heir to a major corporation. What follows is Fifty Shades lite. There’s no sex, of course, but we do have a bossy rich boy and a naive young lady. Then again, I haven’t read Fifty Shades, so I could be way off the mark. Hana doesn’t hesitate to sass Takane; that’s the very reason he’s taken an interest in her. She the first person not to chase him for his money and status. The result is something that is part endearing friendship and part… er…

When I was sixteen, I went out with my mom’s friend’s college-age son a few times. That was weird enough (though not all the reasons for the weirdness were age related). Takane is past college and working, so… The manga tries to paint him as juvenile in attitude, thereby making the gap not quite so yawning, but it’s still a bit… Like, if a 26-year-old guy were hanging around my teen daughter, I’d think he was trying to sell her drugs or planning to kidnap her and traffic her or something. Hana’s parents don’t do that because her dad works for the company Takane is heir to and he wants to keep his job. Nothing like an additional threat of unemployment to spice up a romance, right?

And yet. AND YET. This manga (of which I’ve only read the first three volumes) manages to walk that very thin line so that the relationship, such as it is, does not come off as creepy. Or maybe I’m just desensitized to it. Maybe I should feel even worse than I do about it. Like, this is something I feel like I should not enjoy, should even be protesting, but I can’t stop reading it. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

God, I hope they have the next few volumes at the library tomorrow.

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