The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom
|The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom|
Japanese DVD cover
|Directed by||Itsuro Kawasaki|
|Produced by||Hisako Matsumoto
|Written by||Junichi Fujisaku
|Story by||Tsutomu Mizushima|
|Based on||Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
|Music by||Yuki Kajiura|
|Edited by||Taeko Hamauzu|
The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom (劇場版 ツバサ･クロニクル 鳥カゴの国の姫君 Gekijōban Tsubasa Kuronikuru Torikago no Kuni no Himegimi?), known officially as Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom, is an animated short film based on the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle manga by the group Clamp. It was adapted by the animation studio Production I.G and premiered in Japanese theaters on August 20, 2005 in conjunction with xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream, another animated film by Production I.G. It is set between the two seasons of the anime series from Tsubasa by Bee Train, and continues Syaoran's group's journey to find Sakura's "feathers" in different worlds, which will help her recover her memory. In the journey, they arrive at the Country of Birdcages, where one of Sakura's feathers is located.
The idea of the Tsubasa and xxxHolic films was conceived by Kodansha, the Japanese publisher behind both manga. After convincing Production I.G to develop them, the director chosen for the Tsubasa film was Junichi Fujisaku who accepted such role after receiving positive comments about the series. Like in the TV series, Yuki Kajiura was the score's composer and was guided by producer Tetsuya Nakatake. In North America, The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom was licensed by Funimation Entertainment who released it alongside A Midsummer Night's Dream and episodes from the Tsubasa anime. The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom has received mixed responses by publications from manga, anime and other media; while positive comments were made regarding the film's animation and pacing, the short length has been heavily criticized for being just a little longer than the ones used in the TV episodes.
In their continuing journey to find the feathers that are the fragments of Sakura's lost memory, Syaoran, Kurogane, Fai D. Flowright, Mokona Modoki and Sakura move through time and space with Mokona. Here, they visit the "Country of Birdcages," a seemingly peaceful country where people and birds live together, each person having a bird companion. From their arrival, Syaoran, Sakura and Mokona are separated from Kurogane and Fai who are confronted by warriors from the king and ultimately captured. Syaoran, Sakura and Mokona meet a kid name Koruri who introduces them to her princess, an alternate persona from Princess Tomoyo. Tomoyo explains to Syaoran's group that about how the king, her uncle, maintains oppressed citizens, having had their birds taken from them, and plans to use a key to seal the country. They are then attacked by the king's bird-like soldier, who easily defeat the opposing Syaoran and Tomoyo's commander, and kidnap Tomoyo and Mokona.
Syaoran, Sakura, Koruri and the commander proceed to infiltrate into the king's castle to rescue Tomoyo. The king then manages to unleash Dodo, an enormous bird who was sealed in the country, and it becomes the king's subordinate. Fai, Kurogane and Mokona manage to escape from their cages and are confronted by creatures born from Dodo. They manage to reunite with Syaoran's group who go to the upper floors from the castle to stop the king. Sakura gives Syaoran a ring Tomoyo previously gave her, and Syaoran confronts Dodo, realizing it is composed of all the birds from the citizens. Tomoyo's bird, Lei-Fan, appears to aid Syaoran fight Dodo, who is carrying the king. Tomoyo tells Syaoran to use her ring to fight the king which causes Syaoran to be surrounded by fire, and launches himself to destroy Dodo. Syaoran also knocks out the king whose body dissolves into a bird, leaving one of Sakura's feathers behind. However, as a result of using the ring, the country remains trapped in darkness, and Syaoran's group request help to the Dimensional Witch Yūko Ichihara. Tomoyo gives Yūko her bell, sacrificing the relationship between all the citizens and the birds, in exchange of a key that frees the country from its darkness.
Kodansha, the company that publishes both Tsubasa and xxxHolic manga, came up with the idea of developing both films and ended up contacting Production I.G to develop them. They decided to put Toru Kawaguchi and Tetsuya Nakatake as producers from the two films. Considering Tsubasa 's popularity in Japan and the fame from Production I.G. Natakate wanted it to be enjoyable to viewers. The film was directed by Itsuro Kawasaki and written by both Midori Goto and Junichi Fujisaku with character designs provided by Yoko Kikuchi and music provided by Yuki Kajiura. Iwasake first met producer Nakatake who told him about how they were working in The Princess of the Birdcage Kingdom, but still did not choose a director. Iwasake comments that people from Production I.G. had already requested to work in such film but he declines, to which he adds he thinks it was a misunderstanding as he was busy working in an anime TV series. It was Iwasake's first work in an animated film as he was not very familiar with them, but thanks to this, he came to understand the importance of films. He initially had doubts about making a film based on Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle as he noted that nowadays people tended to do it to every popular manga, and he originally wished to focus on less popular series. As he was told by many people that Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle was an entertaining manga, Iwasake decided to read it once the film finished development. As he read it, he was satisfied because it was what he had in mind when making the film and particularly praised Clamp's illustrations and designs. When Yoko Kikuchi was assigned as the character designer, Iwasake stated "[the people in charge] we were very lucky" as he was already related with the works of Kikuchi, who liked working the film due to her attachment with the character of Sakura.
As the film is aimed at younger audiences that the xxxHolic one, Natakate wanted to emphasize its action scenes in order to make it fun. Therefore, he hired young animators with the idea of giving "a brand new look to anime [of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle]." Yasunori Miyazawa was in charge of making the storyboards, something which Natakate appreciated as he pointed that he came up with various storyboards. Following a discussion with director Kawasaki, it was decided the world shown in the film would have a tropical or Okinawa feel. Yuki Kajiura was asked to create a score different from the one used in TV series in order to convey characters' states of mind. He was satisfied with the result, as Kajiura's music ended being what he hoped. Clamp artist Ageha Ohkawa liked how both films were connected, despite both having different themes.
The film features two pieces of theme music. "Aerial" is the opening theme performed by Kinya Kotani and "Amrita" is the ending theme performed by Yui Makino. Before the film's premier, a special event was held in Shibuya Tower Records in which Kotani performed "Amrita" and Japanese casting gave a discussion about the film. Both songs were released in singles in Japan on August 17, 2005. When first creating "Aerial", Kotani described always having the word "aerial" in his mind. He wrote the lyrics by comparing the universe of Tsubasa Chronicle with the everything that he had written so far. Since the film started development, it was already meant to be a 30-minute long title, which made Kawasaki focus in the animation's quality to make it notably better than the one from TV episodes. It also featured more backgrounds expanding the film's world, but such parts to be removed due to the film's length.
Shochiku released the DVD for the film on February 25, 2006 in Japan in both regular and premium editions. Funimation Entertainment announced they licensed the film alongside Tsubasa 's first anime season and the xxxHolic film in the February 2006 issue of the magazine Anime Insider. They released the film on a single DVD in English on February 19, 2009 in North America as a double feature with the xxxHolic film. On May 4, 2010, Funimation rereleased the double feature but in blu-ray format featuring all the extras shown in the original DVD release. In Australia, the double feature DVD release was published on July 23, 2008 by Madman Entertainment. Additionally, it was released alongside a DVD box titled "Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Collected Memories Box Set" of the anime's first season on January 19, 2010. It was rereleased in Blu-ray format on May 4, 2010, including also the anime's second season.
The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom has received mixed critics by various publications. Reviewing it alongside xxxHolic 's film, IGN writer N.S. Davidson found the Tsubasa film as appealing to viewers of the series, despite its short length. He also liked how both films' storylines interacted, allowing parts from Tsubasa 's to be explained in the xxxHolic film, while also found artistic similarities between both of them. Active Anime writer Holly Ellingwood gave praise to the overall film due to its "suspenseful" story and comparing its setting and animation to the ones shown films by Hayao Miyazaki, something found notable despite its length. Carlo Santos from Anime News Network was more critical to the film due to its short length but still called it "good art", praising its animation. Casey Brienza from the same site labelled the two films as fan services to fans from Clamp's series due to the improved animation that both features, as well as possible fillers due to the lack of importance both have for each of their respective series. The film has also been criticized because of its short length, labelled as an extended TV episode. Santos also wondered why material from the film was removed, thinking that if would have been added, its length would have been expanded and the film would be more exciting. While also criticizing its short length, Chris Beveridge, a writer from Mania Entertainment, praised the number of extras that came with the film, making up for the film's short length. He also found the animation for the film appealing as well as how it contrasted with the one from the xxxHolic film. Todd Douglass Jr. from DVD Talk echoed similar comments, stating that despite film's length, fans of the series would like its story and pacing. He found both Tsubasa and xxxHolic similar due to their styles and length, but stated that the latter was better as it offered "a more cohesive story." Douglass gave praise to the double-release by Funimation as the combined length of both film alongside the extras made the release "Strongly Recommended", and helped improve the appeal from both series. Blu-ray's Dustin Somner compared it with the anime series, calling it "a bit stronger than the majority of the television episodes" due to its quick pacing. Although the pacing was enjoyed by Somner, he felt that some important parts from the story would be missed by the first viewings, as he found the plot more complex than what he expected during his third viewing.
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- The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom at Production I.G
- The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom at the Internet Movie Database