RELEASE DATE:   02/19/2008
  REVIEW DATE:   02/17/2008

A 2-disc set that ties in both CLAMP movies beautifully, Tsubasa the movie and xxxHolic the film both offer very different, utterly captivating adventures and of a completely different timber to each other, yet a thread of fate ties them together for an incredible back-to-back feature film experience.

Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom

In search for another feather memory fragment to restore Sakura’s memories, the group of Syaoran, Sakura, Mokona, Kurogane and Fai find themselves in a strange Birdcage world where birds and humans live tied together by an unknown power and where a mute princess is chased by an evil king for a sinister purpose. The kingdom’s only hope comes in the form of dimensional travelers Syaoran, princess Sakura, Kurogane, Fai, with Mokona. These heroes must evade capture, yet separated upon their arrival, Sakura and Syaoran must find a way to rescue their captured friends, save themselves, regain another of her memory feathers and save this world from being plunged into eternal darkness.

The story is a suspenseful fantasy adventure that immerses you in an incredible world with wonderful story telling and an aspiring orchestral background. The animation is absolutely mesmerising. Every detail in each thing is astonishing. Even the light settling on a simple chain link is exquisitely done, the grooves to a wooden wall, the details so lovingly rendered in the city are each amazing to behold. Visually masterful in its rendering of the rich fantasy tale it presents, the quality and level of detail and imagination is what one would expect in a Miyazaki film, not a TV inspired short film that runs approximately 35 minutes in length. And yet here it is. It dazzles the eye and engages the spirit with its indelible visuals.

xxxHolic the Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Watanuki is a hyper lad who can not only see ghosts, but can feel them. In exchange for some much needed help from the witch Yuko, he now must serve her. When they receive a strange invitation for collectors to the very house a little girl claims she can’t enter and needs their help, the two attend with Domeki joining them. Soon they are trapped in a disturbing mansion where the guests keep disappearing. Now Watanuki must try to unravel the dangerous secret of the mansion before he too is perhaps added to its ghastly collection!

This movie is an amazing supernatural adventure due to its diversity in giving a compelling otherworldly mystery combined with utterly zany humour. Watanuki as the over reactive psychic is hilarious. Domeki is a master of deadpan sarcasm. And Yuko is the mysterious and beautiful witch who you simply can never tell just what she’s up to.

The soundtrack to this was rich and immersing and inspired thoughts of Harry Potter themes. The English dubbing was delicious. Todd Habeckom is a riot as Watanuki, J. Michael Tatum hits Domeki’s deadpan sarcasm dead on, and Colleen Clinkenbeard is utterly scrumptious as the decadent Yuko.

The xxxHolic film runs almost one hour and the animation here is as equally impressive as the Tsubasa film but with an entirely different style and atmosphere. Its captured the spindly character designs superbly. And it evokes the supernatural and at times eerie air and tone of the film well enough to give goose bumps. During a final confrontation scene between Yuko and her adversary, the way she handles herself amidst ghostly beings attacking her at full speed and debris is completely riveting. 

If you pay close enough attention to both the beginning and the end of the Tsubasa movie and then the closing of the xxxHolic film, you will catch what ties both together so cleverly. Although both are inspired by the manga and TVs series that each come from, each film stands well on its own as well as enjoyed together. There is enough information provided efficiently during the beginning of each film to give a first time viewer of either series enough of an idea as to what is happening to enjoy each film completely as they stand.

This 2-disc set has a lovely amount of special features. The set comes with reverse cover art. 

In Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom, bonus features include FUNimation trailers, production artwork, background slides, video footage of the 2005 premiere in Ikebukuro, video footage of the movie event in Shibuya with additional scenes, video recording session montage with the Japanese cast, commentary during the film with Iwasaki (Producer) from Shochiku, and voice actors Irino Miyu (Syaoran), Makino Yui (Sakura), and Kokuchi Mika (Mokona) with a video component where you can watch the actors as they discuss the film while it is playing. There is also the origin of the Birdcage Kingdom told with water color images and underlying text, like a story book.
xxxHolic the Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream bonus features include original trailers, FUNimation trailers, video recording session montage with the Japanese cast, character design slides, background plates, video footage of the opening day at Shinjuku Cinema Milano, and audio/video commentary with Iwasaki (Producer), and Japanese voice cast Ohara Sayaka (Yuko), Fukuyama Jun (Watanuki) and Nahai Kazuya (Domeki). (Note: the names of the Japanese cast in both extra features are given in standard Japanese format of last name first, first name last.). Both audio/video commentaries on the films have the cast shown in a small screen in the corner of the film while they speak with it sometimes changing to the large screen and the film being shown in the small caption when certain moments with the cast are being highlighted. All in all, the total of both lists of bonus features for the films run over 2 hours in total!

The Tsubasa/xxxHolic movie double feature is a cannot miss for CLAMP fans and newcomers alike. Rich fantasy and otherworldly intrigue with stunning animation create two spellbinding films. These are two movies that can be enjoyed alone and together again and again.

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