Tsubasa: Those with Wings 3 by Natsuki Takaya: B-

tsubasawings3After a disappointing start and lackluster middle, Natsuki Takaya finally delivers a mostly satisfying conclusion in this, the final volume of Tsubasa: Those with Wings.

We begin with Kotobuki and friends (sans Raimon, who is prohibited from leaving the country by a bomb in his brain) in Japan, where they conveniently meet the Tsubasa’s creator and learn the secrets of its origin. After several tedious chapters featuring characters sitting around and talking, the plot picks up when Raimon is captured by the army. Kotobuki wants to rescue him but lacks confidence so Rikuro, a mysterious boy who has helped her on a few occasions, shows up and replays Raimon’s past for her so that she can see how much she has helped him already. Painful backstories are Takaya-sensei’s forte, and Raimon’s proves to be unexpectedly touching.

From there, the story morphs into an enjoyable sci-fi action tale, with Kotobuki making her way through a sprawling military complex to rescue her love and ultimately facing off against the big villain (who, of course, has angst of his own). Along the way, she lends encouragement to allies and enemies alike, showing a profound resemblance to Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket. Indeed, this quote about Kotobuki could easy apply to Tohru, as well:

She isn’t supposed to have the time to be worrying about anyone else right now. Still… her foolishness somehow always winds up becoming much-needed support for someone else.

Coming back to the same themes and character types might, in some creators’ hands, feel like uninspired regurgitation, but with Takaya it feels more like someone playing with and fine-tuning ideas. If nothing else, Tsubasa: Those with Wings is interesting as a milestone on the way to a greater work.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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