Tsubasa Syaoran at (More Than) a Glance – aka Vikki Likes Angst
I have never seen so many pathetic smiles on a single character in my life.
Syaoran Li – or in his more recent incarnation, simply Syaoran – just can't get the girl easily. In Card Captor Sakura, most of the angst was self-imposed, but this time … fate just doesn't like him much.
From the moment I finished the first two chapters of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, I knew this was a series I was going to adore. I've been fangirling for Syaoran since the end of the second manga of Card Captor Sakura when he protected Sakura from The Shadowy (and thereafter proceeded to mock her, but at the time I was reading a Chinese translation and had no idea how mean he was. ^^;; ). He's a sweetie, no matter how hard he tries to hide it, and as the CCS series progressed, his sweet side just became more and more evident until he was the most perfect man for Sakura, ever.
And now he's back, and the star of the show.
For the translation from CCS to Tsubasa:RC, Syaoran underwent a number of changes. If you're on this webpage you're probably already aware that Syaoran is now the son of an archeologist, playing commoner to Sakura's princess. He is older, too, and his hairstyle is even more untamed than before. His personality changes are even further pronounced. He's not unrecognizable, but this newer Syaoran is polite to a fault, less cocky, gentler, and more in control of himself.
So why has Syaoran changed? Is it simply because he's older? The obvious answer is that it's convenient to CLAMP to give him these traits, and while I believe that played a role in the choice of character, it's not hard to follow in terms of story where the changes come from. Tsubasa Syaoran is very much like CCS Syaoran after he acknowledges to himself that he loves Sakura, but has resigned himself to not saying anything. Not too surprisingly, Syaoran from Tsubasa has also resigned himself to never confessing his love for Princess Sakura. Additionally, his upbringing is different. Rather than being the youngest son in a strict Chinese family with four older sisters, a mother, and no father, Syaoran's only family is his father – and a very polite, sweet father at that, if Fujitaka was at all like his CCS self. Surely some of that sweet, polite nature rubbed off on Syaoran. Since Syaoran has been traveling all his life, Fujitaka was likely the only major influence on his life for a significant period of time, too. Of course, until they moved to Clow Country … and Syaoran met Sakura.
But Sakura's hardly a bad influence, anyway, and having a princess for a best friend is certainly going to have the effect of making one either haughty or very polite. Luckily, Syaoran falls into the latter category. It seems that Sakura has been his best friend for many years – maybe even a decade – since they were quite young. The cute little snapshots the manga gives of young Sakura and Syaoran interacting suggest that Sakura was the leader between the two of them, with Syaoran following her about marveling at her carefree attitude and the things she had to show him. One just has to wonder if Sakura and Syaoran would have been this adorably close in Card Captor Sakura if they had grown up together.
On the matter of love, however, some things just never change; he is still hopelessly in love with Sakura, and he is willing to do anything for that love.
It's not a big choice, really, between letting Sakura die and losing his relationship with her forever – either one is the same for himself, but of course his love for Sakura extends beyond whatever selfishness he may have (he never seems to display any. I can't believe I didn't notice until now), and he wants her to live, even if it is painful to him to watch her live without knowing who he is. Which is where the pathetic smiles come in. He offers them a lot.
And here we've come to the spoilers of this rant.
Sakura's awake now, and Syaoran's … depressed? Probably more than he lets on. She doesn't remember him. He knew it was coming, but it's still quite a shock to his system. I think he takes it pretty well, considering; he only goes out to cry in the rain for a while, and then afterwards he's somehow able to paste on that smile of his when Sakura's around, and continues to retrieve the feathers.
A moment that I found interesting was in the middle of chapter 16, when Sakura is recounting what little of her life she actually remembers. Syaoran's face is downcast, as if it's painful for him to realize how little she remembers. I personally think it was a moment of realization for him – it may be hard to know that Sakura will never remember their previous, tight relationship, but it must be harder, in a way, to not be able to remember anything, forced to trust that those around you are telling the truth. I think Syaoran realizes at that moment what a hardship it is for Sakura to endure as well, and I think that knowledge helps give him the strength to carry on.
Speaking of strength … Syaoran is apparently a master fighter, using a style composed exclusively of kicks. Where did he learn that? I thought he was an archeologist! But remember, he did say he'd traveled to many different countries with his dad. Maybe he learned martial arts along the way. Or maybe Fujitaka was a fifth degree black belt all this time. Who can say for sure? CLAMP hasn't given us the details yet.
And despite the declaration that Sakura's memories would have to be taken away, it seems that Sakura is already developing a fresh, new opinion of our young hero. By the end of this tale, who is to say that Sakura will need her old memories to fall in love with Syaoran?
After all, Syaoran is just that loveable.
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article by vikki
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