Japanator (Doesn't) Recommend: Clamp Double Feature


I love how Funimation is supporting Blu-ray by releasing nearly all of their current shows on the shiny, hi-def format. I wish more companies were as ambitious in pursuing Blu-ray, considering a lot of shows that I currently lust over are available across the ocean.

However, that's not to say that everything needs a release on the Rays of Blu. I'm sad to say that the Clamp Double Feature is one of those releases. Follow me after the jump to find out why.

The two features on the disk are the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic movies. These movies aren't part of the overarching plots of either show, so they can be seen even if you are unfamiliar with either series. For those that do stumble into this movie with no knowledge of either source material, there are brief summaries at the start of each movie, though I don't see many people picking this up if they aren't at least passingly familiar with either show. Either way, I recommend starting with the Tsubasa movie, The Princess in the Birdcage.

The Tsubasa movie has our intrepid heroes arriving on yet another world looking for the feathers that contain the memories of Sakura, the princess that Syaoran is attempting to save. The group lands in a forest and is immediately swept up in a struggle between the princess of the Birdcage Kingdom and her uncle, who has usurped the throne. He's get evil plans, Syaoran and company sense a feather, several fights ensue, a giant toucan is summoned, a pokémon is called to fight it, everybody is happy, the end.

It plays out like an extended episode of the show, which is not high praise. It's formulaic, repetitive and predictable. If you've seen a couple of episodes of the show you will be able to tell exactly what's going to happen very early on and be bored to tears the whole way through. The fights aren't impressive until the before mentioned toucan/pokémon battle and even that fizzles out. It's a damn shame too, because I very much like all the characters involved. Just not when they are doing uninteresting things.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the xxxHolic movie, A Midsummer Night's Dream. The film has Watanuki, Yuko and Domeki investigating a mansion on the behest of a client, as well as an invitation sent by an unknown party.The trio arrive to find a room full of collectors, each there on the suggestion that the host has an item that will complete their collection. What follows is an hour of trippy visuals, haunting music and some very tall noodly characters.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is an overall enjoyable experience that's easy on story and complex with visuals. The vistas created within the mansion are beautifully rendered and play with the imagination. Visuals are the strong suit here, which is amusing considering how polarizing xxxHolic's character design is. While it doesn't bother me, I can understand why people would not like the look of the people inhabiting this world. However, if you dislike the deliciously sexy Yuko, we'll have to exchange some stern words.

These are upscales of the original DVD release of these movies, so don't expect bright, crisp visuals. In fact, you should expect the opposite. The Princess in the Birdcage looks substantially dated even for the year it came out, while A Midsummer Night's Dream still manages to look pretty good, if not too impressive. You aren't getting a significant improvement in visuals if you buy this instead of the DVD and the audio quality, while pretty good, isn't anything that you couldn't find on a standard DVD release.

Like their respective manga, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Princess in the Birdcage share some common scenes and characters. Several people appear in both films and there are items found in one movie that are the maguffin in the other. The connections end their, much to my chagrin. I really dug the universe hopping nature of xxxHolic and Tsubasa and to see it pointlessly used in these films disappoints me. Considering that the anime adaptations drop these connections very early on, I shouldn't have had my hopes up but hell, a fan can still wish.

Much to my surprise there were a multitude of bonus features for both movies. There are staff and cast commentaries, video of the Japanese movie premieres, recording session outtakes and production stills. It's pretty beefy considering how paltry most anime features are on disk. If you dig the movies then you'll definitely like the extras here.

In summary, I wouldn't recommend picking up this Blu-ray solely because the content provided doesn't warrant the extra money it costs over the DVD. The Princess in the Birdcage is resoundingly bland and run of the mill while A Midsummer Nights Dream is a nice little romp with trippy set pieces and nice animation. The bonus content is nice and helps fill out what could have been a paltry release. Right now the DVD and Blu-ray are both $22 at Right Stuff. If you have a Blu-ray player, I'd suggest getting the Blu-ray if only to support the medium, but if the price gets any higher than the DVD then I say go for the cheaper option.

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reviewed by Pedro Cortes


Pedro Cortes
Pedro CortesAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Pedro Cortes has been known to swoon at the sight of a robot. This is understandable, as robots are pretty awesome. more + disclosures



Filed under... #Blu-ray #clamp #Japanator Recommends #reviews



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