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Syaoran (Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle)

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This article is about the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle protagonist. For other uses, see Syaoran.
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Syaoran as seen in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
First appearance Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle chapter 1
xxxHolic chapter 8
Created by Clamp
Voiced by Miyu Irino (Japanese)
Jason Liebrecht (English)

Syaoran (小狼 Shaoran?) is a fictional character and protagonist in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, a manga series written and illustrated by Clamp. Syaoran is introduced as a young archaeologist who is in love with Sakura, his childhood friend and the princess from the Kingdom of Clow. When Sakura's memories are scattered throughout parallel dimensions, Syaoran goes on a quest to recover them, at the cost of Sakura never remembering him. Later in the series, Syaoran is revealed to be a clone created by Fei-Wang Reed—the sorcerer who caused Sakura to lose her memories. As a seal from his original self placed on the clone's body breaks, Syaoran becomes one of the series' antagonists, moving according to Fei-Wang's will. Syaoran has featured in other works by Clamp, including the manga xxxHolic and the drama CD series Holistuba.

Syaoran's character is based on Syaoran Li, a character from Clamp's Cardcaptor Sakura manga and had several changes to appeal to the series' demographic. The character has been well received by readers of the series, placing high in popularity polls from Tsubasa and manga and anime series in general. He also received positive comments by manga and anime publications. Syaoran's role as an antagonist has also received positive comments; some writers use nicknames to differentiate his antagonistic self from his original self, often calling him evil.


In Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle[edit]

Syaoran is introduced in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle as a young archaeologist who often visits the Kingdom of Clow and is in love with his childhood friend Sakura, the kingdom's princess.[1] Syaoran is the adopted son of the late archeologist Fujitaka, who found him as a child in the street with no memories of his past.[2] Syaoran often accompanied his father on expeditions, and following his father's death, he lived alone while continuing his father's job.[1] After Sakura's memories are scattered in the form of feathers throughout many dimensions, Syaoran meets Yūko Ichihara, a witch who gives him, Fai D. Flowright, and Kurogane—her other clients—Mokona Modoki; a creature that can transport them to different dimensions. Syaoran pays Yūko for the use of Mokona with all of Sakura's memories that involved him.[3][4]

Throughout the journey, Syaoran starts bonding with Sakura again, and becomes friends with Fai, Kurogane, and Mokona.[5] Syaoran specializes in hand-to-hand combat, mainly focusing on kicks taught by hunter Seishirō during his childhood when he had no visual perception of depth because he was blind in his right eye.[6][7] He later trains blindfolded with Kurogane to overcome this weakness.[8] Kurogane also teaches him swordsmaship to make him a stronger fighter, and he gains Hien (緋炎?, lit. "Scarlet Flame")—a sword with magical properties that allow it to create fire.[9][10]

Syaoran is a clone of another teenager; the sorcerer Fei-Wang Reed created the clone to find Sakura's feathers. The original Syaoran placed some of his "heart" within the clone's right eye, allowing the clone to develop his own personality.[11] After the seal breaks, Syaoran loses all his emotions and Fei-Wang uses him to collect feathers in other dimensions on his own, betraying his friends.[12][13] Syaoran becomes immune to pain, which makes him ruthless and strong. Before leaving his former friends, he devours Fai's left eye to gain his own magic powers, which grow stronger every time he uses them.[14][15] When fighting his original self, Syaoran destroys Sakura's soul—which is revealed as another clone who asks Syaoran to recover his heart just before disappearing.[16] Despite being shocked by this, Syaoran is again emotionless when the original Syaoran, Kurogane and Fai go to fight Fei-Wang.[17] In the course of the battle, Syaoran betrays Fei-Wang to help his original self kill him. When Fei-Wang tries to kill the original Syaoran, the clone intervenes and is impaled by Fei-Wang's sword.[18] As his body is about to be destroyed, Syaoran apologizes to his friends—including the original Syaoran—leaving only the eye he took from Fai.[19][20]

Yūko later rebuilds Syaoran's and Sakura's bodies using the remnants left after their apparent deaths.[21] As neither could properly die, Yūko grants their wishes to be reborn as normal humans, which Syaoran accepts because Sakura tells him she wants to stay with him.[22][23] As both grow up as normal humans, they meet and live together. He and Sakura have a son, who is the original Syaoran, creating a time paradox.[24] Because they realize that all the previous events would be repeated and their son would not be able to save the original Sakura, they seal themselves inside a glass tube hidden in Yūko's shop. Being reborn as a descendant of the sorcerer Clow Reed, Syaoran and Sakura break free from the tube and use their new powers to help their friends defeat Fei-Wang.[25] As their creator dies, Syaoran and Sakura vanish, leaving two feathers that merge within their original selves' bodies.[26][27]

Other appearances[edit]

Syaoran appears in other adaptations of Tsubasa, including the animated film The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom, in which he still travels with Sakura, Fai, Kurogane and Mokona across dimensions.[28] He is included a playable character in two Nintendo DS video games from Tsubasa.[29] In the drama CD series The Matinée of the Palace, Syaoran's group perform a play that re-enacts the series' story while searching for one of Sakura's feathers.[30] Outside Tsubasa, Syaoran appears in Clamp's manga xxxHolic, which shows events in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.[31] He does not appear in the animated adaptions of xxxHolic until the original video animation (OVA) series xxxHolic Shunmuki, in which he appears in the Dream World to confront the original Syaoran.[32] In the spin-off drama CD series Holitsuba Gakuen, Syaoran is featured as a new student in a school named "Holitsuba", which includes characters from Tsubasa and xxxHolic. While he shares traits with his Tsubasa persona, such as his relationship with Sakura, he is portrayed as the identical twin of the original Syaoran.[33]

Creation and conception[edit]

Clamp designed Syaoran using the ideas of manga author Osamu Tezuka and his Star System.[34] Syaoran was based on Syaoran Li, a character from Cardcaptor Sakura—another series written by Clamp. Syaoran and Sakura were chosen to be the series' protagonist because their Cardcaptor Sakura counterparts had a happy ending, but Clamp said that the characters would have to go throughout the series to get their own happy ending.[35] At the start of the manga, Syaoran's character was already planned to go through development. The characters Fai D. Flowright and Kurogane were added to provide additional characters who were older than Syaoran.[35] In early versions of the manga, Syaoran was portrayed as a mechanic rather than an archaeologist, with Fujitaka having taught him about machines. In the original design, Syaoran wore a cap, a different outfit and an enormous adjustable spanner.[36]

Clamp said Syaoran became popular with male readers as a hero.[37] After events of the Oto country where Syaoran participated in several battles fighting for the king Ashura and was at disadvantage, Clamp's editor for Tsubasa, Kiichiro Sugawara, wrote that he wondered whether "anything good ever happen[s] to Syaoran"; Clamp said that their publishing company, Kodansha had received demands from readers for Syaoran to become stronger, and advised Clamp to let him have occasional good experiences.[38] In order to make his fight scenes more entertaining, Clamp thought about giving Syaoran named sword techniques like those of Kurogane but in the end this was not added to the series.[37] Clamp originally planned Subaru to be Syaoran's teacher. However, the group later decided to replace Subaru with Seishiro. During the second half of the manga when it was revealed Syaoran was a clone from another character who became the protagonist. Clamp aimed to make both of them equally different based on their actions despite being virtually identical.[39]

In the animated adaptations of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Syaoran is voiced by Miyu Irino in Japanese, and by Jason Liebrecht in English.[40][41] Irino said that ever since the introduction of the original Syaoran—who he also voiced—he sometimes had problems voicing both characters. Fellow voice actress Yui Makino also discussed Irino's role, saying that he was the most difficult character to cast because of the requirement to portray the two Syaorans.[42]


Syaoran was well received by Japanese readers of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. In two popularity polls held by Weekly Shōnen Magazine, Syaoran was the most-liked character. He was also highly rated in other polls, which included best groups and best scenes from the series.[43][44] In March 2010, Syaoran was ranked twenty-third best male anime character of the 2000s by the Japanese magazine Newtype.[45] In the Animage's Anime Grand Prix poll from 2006, he was voted as the twelfth most popular male anime character.[46] In the same year, he remained the fourteenth most popular male character.[47] In the Animedia "2006 Animedia Character Awards", Syaoran was nominated in categories including "Strongest Character Award", "Best Newcomer Award", "Most Heroic Character Award" and "MVP (Most Valuable Player) Award"; his highest rating was in the "Best Newcomer Award", where he was ranked third.[48] Various types of merchandising have been made based on Syaoran's appearance including plush, keychains and patches.[49][50][51] In the 2007 Seiyu Awards, Miyu Irino was a nominee in the category "Best New Actor" for his portrayal as Syaoran, but lost to Tetsuya Kakihara and Masakazu Morita.[52][53]

Publications for manga, anime and other media have commented on Syaoran's character and role in the series. He received mainly positive responses. Ed Sizemore from Comics Worth Reading called him as "the perfect young hero" because of his seriousness, with points given for his care for Sakura.[54] Although Carl Kimlinger found differences between Syaoran and his Cardcaptor Sakura counterpart, he found the traits of the former appealing.[55] Michael Aronson from Manga Life found that while the characters behaves differently from Syaoran Li and act considerably older, it helps readers who have not read previous Clamp series understand the series.[56]

Japanese singer Maaya Sakamoto said that in the animated adaptation of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Syaoran's straightforward feelings and strength to protect Sakura were very touching. Therefore, in the song "Kazemachi Jet"—the closing theme of the second season of the anime—she tried to capture the image of Syaoran growing from his naïve self into a young man through the meetings and partings over his journey and Syaoran's continuing protection of his loved one in spite of adversity.[57] When writing "Saigo no Kajitsu", Sakamoto described Syaoran's fate as sad because he becomes the antagonist of his friends and is a clone.[58] Singer Kinya Kotani also described sadness in Syaoran's strength, and said he had both forwarding-facing and backward-facing characteristics.[59]

The plot twist in which Syaoran is revealed to be a clone and his fight against his original self has been regarded as "a titanic clash" by Chris Zimmerman from Comic Book Bin.[60] Following this, Syaoran was called "evil Syaoran" and "Syaoran's evil clone".[60][61] The twist has been a "potential real upset" because Syaoran is revealed to have been created by the series' main antagonist, Fei-Wang Reed.[62] The relationship between both Syaorans has also been found confusing for some readers to understand;[63] others said that while there was confusion in this scene, the events led to a well-executed ending. They also highlighted the bond both have through their eyes.[62] Sakura Eries from Mania Entertainment said Syaoran's actions after the twist were disturbing because of his violent acts. Syaoran has been labeled as "an agent of destruction" because he ignores seemingly mortal wounds and encounters various opponents in a single manga volume.[64] Eries said that she felt cheated after the revelations of Syaoran's and Sakura's true natures because it changed the readers' views of them.[65]

Mania Entertainment's Megan Lavey said Syaoran's and Sakura's initial relationship is a "pretty simple love story", and liked their personalities.[66] IGN's Jeff Harris said Syaoran's role is interesting because he sacrifices his relationship with Sakura and his own life to recover her memories.[67] Active Anime's Christopher Seaman said the romantic relationship between them is one of the most mature parts of the series, and it helped balance the other fantastic themes, which added more variety for the series' audience.[68] Kimlinger said their relationship made up for some problems in the anime adaptation.[55] Kimlinger also said Jason Liebrecht's role as Syaoran's English voice is better than Irino's work. However, Kimlinger praised both performances because of the way Syaoran's emotions are played.[69]


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