Finally got around to reading the latest chapter (hadn't seen the spoilers, and was wondering wtf everyone was freaking out about and how incest was involved). I'm really, really relieved that R!Syaoran isn't CCS!Syaoran, which would have annoyed me a lot (and also would have made the time line... complicated, not that it isn't already). So at last count, there are 3 Syaorans (CSS!, R!, and C!Syaoran) and 4 Sakuras (CSS!, Princess!, C!, and... New!Sakura...?), which does seem a tad excessive imho, but oh well. I have to say that Clamp's plotting is getting excessively convoluted here, although I suppose it's been like that for a good deal of the series now, and it's not their fault if I'm too stupid to fully understand what exactly's going on. I seem to be having that problem a lot lately -.- I really want to know who this new Sakura is. Perhaps she's just the princess, and there are only three Sakuras after all? I'm starting to think that by the end, Kuro-puu will be the only one who doesn't have a clone/twin/imaginary friend. Pooooor Kuro-pon, he's all alooooone.... (Oh well, he has Fay :D)
Not relevant to this chapter really, but I'm still hoping to see C!Syaoran regain some measure of consciousness/soul/what-have-you. It would be kinda depressing if the kid we're supposed to be rooting for in the first 15? 16? volumes turns out to be an essential nonentity, then eventually probably dies. (Okay, admittedly they did already kill C!Sakura, but that didn't have much of an impact on me. She's so not-there for a good deal of the time that she sort of already felt like a non-person.) Plus, I also just think he looks cooler with his heterochromic eyes, even if they're not really his.
I am starting to have a major issue with Tsubasa (and even more so with xxxHolic) that was cemented further by this chapter. I understand that Clamp's intention with these two series is to tie together their past works, which I think is a great goal. But at the same time, it's starting to get to the point where I feel like these two series are basically having the exact same thing happen to them as has been happening to Sakura and Syaoran this whole time: namely, they're losing all of their autonomy and individuality. Case in point: I have read Cardcaptor Sakura (and am glad I did, omgYukitosquee), but if I hadn't, I would have been so majorly confused in this last chapter. Yes, obviously CCS is going to be relevant to Tsubasa's (and therefore xxxHolic's) plot, since both series share two of the main characters. But since Tsubasa's Sakura and Syaoran are introduced as alternate versions of the CCS characters, there is no reason to assume that there's a... I guess that continuity is the right word... of any sort here. If these were, say, "The Continued Adventures of Sakura and Syaoran," then it would be reasonable to assume that the reader has already read CCS. But since they are alternates, the base assumption ought to be that no prior knowledge of the characters is actually required. So I'm annoyed that events and items that were previously peculiar to CCS (a confirmed S/S relationship, Sakura's wand) are now becoming important points to the plot of Tsubasa. Imho, Clamp is mixing their canons way too much.
Look guys, unless you are writing one tightly plotted series with only a specific number of books/episodes/etc. etc. in it (eg, Harry Potter, Death Note, His Dark Materials), it's unfair (and unrealistic!) to assume that your reader will know all of the history that you feel like including in your work. In fact, even in series that stand by themselves (instead of Clamp's dogpile of manga that they're assembling), most series with large canons do not require that the reader know the entirety of the previous canon. For instance, Terry Pratchett has many recurring casts of characters in his Discworld series, but it's perfectly possible to read and understand Thud! without having read Men at Arms, even though they both center around the Watch. Another example: Doctor Who. Characters from the Classic Who canon have certainly been finding their way back into the new series (for which I am actually extremely grateful), but you notice that when the new Master is introduced, it's not necessary to know that the last time he was seen in the official series canon was when he got burned up on that one planet. (What happened again? I've forgotten.) Why? Because it would be stupid.
Imho, it's hubris to automatically assume that your reader has read (or in some cases, is even aware of) your past works.
I have to say that of all the random inclusions of past characters however, the thing that annoys me the most is the random insertion of Kamui, Subaru, Seishirou, and Fuuma. They obviously aren't the same as the characters in X, who I do know are not vampires even thought I haven't read the series, and (hopefully) shouldn't have any practical relationship to them. Obviously, we're going to find out eventually what exactly is going on with them, since they have not tied in firmly with the main plot yet, but I just don't see why Clamp couldn't have created new characters to fullfil whatever function they're eventually going to have. It's very irritating to feel like I ought to be reading Tokyo Babylon and X, just to realize that it wouldn't actually help me understand what's going on here. D< To be honest, I can't help but think that Clamp's really just getting too attached to their characters, and had to include them just for their own amusement. Contrary to popular belief, this =/= good plotting or good judgement.
For me, xxxHolic has a similar problem, even though it isn't tied as firmly to CCS as Tsubasa is. Although it is starting to have its problems, Tsubasa is for the most part a perfectly readable story on its own; for me, xxxHolic just isn't. I feel like I ought to admit my bias before I start: I'm probably partially prejudiced against xxxHolic just because its story-telling style doesn't sit right with me and the only character I honestly feel any attachment to is Yuuko. (I guess that I prefer more drama and more of a set plot, whereas so much of xxxHolic is just character interaction between Watanuki, Doumeki, Himawari, and now Kohane that I keep on waiting for something definite to happen plot-wise, and it doesn't seem likely any time soon. I mean, for me it's like, I think that Watanuki's interest in Kohane and his desire to help her make him a good person, but why should I care?) Anyway. I find it really damn obnoxious that the plots of Tsubasa and xxxHolic are supposed to intertwine, yet it seems to be a one-way street. Things happen in Tsubasa that require someone to buy a wish from Yuuko's shop. The reader might wonder what's happening in that shop and think it looks like an intriguing place that they'd like to know more about, but none of that is strictly necessary to their understanding. All they really need to know is that Yuuko was in fact able to grant the wish.
On the other hand, since part of xxxHolic's plot is concerned with the gathering of the items necessary to grant the wishes (such as the water that went into Acid Tokyo's reservoir), I would expect there to be some knowledge of a) why are these items necessary, and b) what happens to them once Watanuki procures them. Instead, all he (and someone who was only reading xxxHolic, without any knowledge of Tsubasa) is told is "The people on the other side need this." So, random weird people show up at the shop, go around to other worlds, and then they need stuff. Uh, great. I'm sure that if Watanuki were able to quit, he would've by now, because as much as I like her, Yuuko is rapidly becoming the single most annoying employer ever to grace the face of the earth. Of course, I understand that there is most likely a compelling reason why she's keeping Watanuki in the dark, but there's really no need to do the same to the reader. I'm sure that it would be okay for us to see things that are being hidden from him, even if he is the main character.
Tl;dr-- Dammit Clamp, you're being morons. Stop it.
In other news, new D. Gray-Man happened as well. Rhode was almost heart-breakingly adorable, and this chapter reminded me of why I love her so. And everything we learned about the Heart was very interesting and, uh, heartened me greatly.
But since today's theme is bitchiness,
First off, I like Lenalee; in fact, she's one of my favorite characters. And to be honest, D. Gray isn't doing anything uniquely or egregiously bad with her; to some extent it's just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But as much as I like her, Lenalee makes my inner feminist want to start throwing things. She's just so much the stereotypical female lead that it's really getting on my nerves. She's cute, more concerned with her friends than her own personal success, has powers that are interesting but do not fit the standard definition of "strong", blah blah blah. I just feel like this is a repeat of the same old "acceptable" girl traits. It seems like she's in danger of becoming a "girl," instead of a real person. (For my part, I'd rather see more female characters with personalities like any of the male leads in D. Gray.) It sucks because I know that the author can do better; for instance, even though she's timid and dependent, Miranda's not at all a stereotypical female (imo, at least). So I remain annoyed.