Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Volume 1 Comparison (Del Rey and Chuang Yi)

Today, I give you an overview of the differences between Chuang Yi and Del Rey releases of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle volume 1. The tale of the ongoing struggle of one boy and the measures he was forced to resort to in order to restore his childhood friend's memories. Teaming up with a foul-mouthed swordsman and an easy going sorcerer, he travels through the different parallel worlds looking for these memories all the while knowing his friend will never remember the bond they once shared due to the price he paid to save her.'s the anime equivalent of "Sliders"! 

This is the manga artist group, Clamp's, first voyage into the shounen genre and an interesting parallel story to another of their titles, xxxHolic, which crosses over with the story multiple times. Some also consider it a spin-off of Cardcaptor Sakura due to the reuse and reference of many of its characters. 

I was given a first taste of Clamp's work, when I was 12, with the Cardcaptors dub which had been accidentally recorded along with Digimon Zero Two. Yes, I know what the general opinion of the dub is, but let's not get into that...yet. Anyway, this led to me not only discovering one of my favourite anime of all time but years later discovering this rollercoaster of a series, which has succeeded and acknowledged it.

But enough of my blabbing!

Important Note: Because I don't own a copy of the Japanese volume nor have any knowledge of the language, aside from the covers, I will not be comparing the English releases to the original Japanese.  

Also, there may be spoilers, but I'll try my best. 

The Covers

  The prize for being closest to the Japanese cover goes to Del Rey this week with only a logo change and colour fix really separating them. The contrast is also significantly stronger on Del Rey's cover. It might just be the image I found, but the original Japanese cover looks really washed out compared to it's English counterparts. Chuang Yi's window-boxing the image of Syaoran and Sakura, unfortunately, obscures the artwork and prevents us from seeing what is visible in the other two covers. Though the Chuang Yi logo keeps the wing symbol behind the title, it also has that vertical strip of white going down and along the bottom. I'd imagine that's probably to make the text easier to read. Sadly there's no way for us to know if the text is an accurate translation or not.

Well, they all use green, I'll say that much. It's funny how Del Rey was closer to the original with their front cover, but by recycling the same images and a similar layout to the Japanese, Chuang Yi have brought it to a tie with their back. Finally, BLURBS, the Japanese back cover actually has a blurb this time around. You live long enough, you see everything.


Del Rey
Chuang Yi
Cover Design
Eva Lee
Touch-up and Lettering
Dana Hayward
Word Image Pte Ltd

Colour pages?!!!
No, your eyes do not deceive you. The first 4 pages of the Chuang Yi release are in full colour, which is a really nice bonus. To Del Rey's credit though, they printed their manga light enough that all the important details are still perfectly visible. In fact, once you get into the story, details like the fine crosshatching are much easier to see in the Del Rey release while in the Chuang Yi it sometimes looks faded as though it was printed too lightly.

Translation and Terminology

Del Rey
Chuang Yi
Anthony Gerard
Sharon Ho
Anthony Gerard
Josclynne Kua
Flora Leow P. C.

What attracted me to the Chuang Yi release, in the first place, was the rumour that all the Japanese honorifics had been translated unlike Del Rey, who choose to leave them in. After a long search, I finally got a copy and was ecstatic that the rumour was true.  Don't get me wrong, I don't avoid manga that leaves in Japanese honorifics, but in my own personal opinion: this is an English translation so give me the full English experience. The only person who has a reason to use Japanese honorifics is Kurogane, but he doesn't seem to bother. Fai comes from a world that doesn't use kanji so why would he address people with 'san'.

Once again, we run into the same problem where most of the sound effects remaining untranslated. The Del Rey release isn't perfect in this regard either with many sound effects being bizarrely translated or possibly even just being romanizations of the Japanese. The few that Chuang Yi does translate are done fairly well and win the prize for being more understandable then Del Rey's. It's just a pity that they are few and far between.

Annoyingly, the Chuang Yi release has no contents page making it difficult to find a specific chapter and speaking of the chapters. Though I will give praise for a nicer looking font, Chuang Yi has called both chapters 1 and 5 by the same name. Awakenings of some kind do occur in each of those chapters, but you'd think they'd try to come with something different. It could be a mistake. 

Hitzusen is mentioned in both versions and I can't help, but question why it isn't simply destiny or fate. Chuang Yi even translates it to that in the second speech bubble as inevitable. I suppose "hitsuzen" does have more of a ring of mystery to it.

Character Notes
Just thought I'd include this as it feels like there's more passion.

How couldn't he guess her feelings from a greeting like that?!
Nothing much to say as Sakura hasn't really changed much. 

I must mention though that they reference the title a lot more in Chuang Yi's version, often talking about Sakura's Tsubasa rather than her wings or feathers.

Oh, where to begin with Kurogane.
Shall I start with how Chuang Yi left the last letter off the name of his sword and move on from there?
Kurogane! You're from an alternate version of feudal Japan, what with this dialogue?! He throws out quite a few more curse words then Del Rey, but these word choices!!!!!
Wait, what?! She's not firing you into the air. You know it's bad when I have to look at another translation to figure out what on Earth he's saying or meant to be saying.

A simple respelling of his full name that my research tells me is an acceptable version of his name. I think with his polite manner of speaking, the translator wanted to make him sound more refined. However, that notion falls apart in later dialogue.

 This happens with many of the characters almost as if the translator was eager to show how many different English words they knew that meant the same thing. Mission accomplished, but they've failed to understand the context in which those words should normally be used and it vastly changes the tone of the panel.

Oh and not forgetting his little assistant.

The super annoying cuddly anime sidekick that guides them through the portals and occasionally speaks in the third person. annoying in both versions.

Princess Tomoyo
In some bizarre way, I want that on a t-shirt. Maybe the translator thought with Princess Tomoyo's expression that she was joking.

Again, this is Japan so why are french words here. I accepted that with Shigure, in Fruits Basket, because that was modern day Japan. This is feudal Japan which to my knowledge, has had no contact with France. Still, it's a different universe so maybe they have.

Yuko is still the sleuth combination of a sorcerous and saleswoman, but she has a different title in each release.


The term kudan is still used, but the master of flames actually gives his name.

Del Ray's Strengths

The entire book is Del Rey's strength. There are too many to list, but I'll try.
I keep wondering if that could've been something like"I will protect her, my world, with my own hands" (complete guess). It probably would have been Chuang Yi's strength in that case. Considering it got a full page, it was probably a deep meaningful declaration, but Del Rey simplifided it and Chuang Yi fumbled it.
Though this is explained fairly well by Yuko in both releases, Chuang Yi confuses the reader by constantly swaping in the word 'world' for 'realm' and 'dimension' while Del Rey just sticks to 'world'.

Chuang Yi's Strengths
This panel made more sense to in Chunag Yi's release, if you can believe that. After all, why address a king that was already asleep.

Story Inaccuracies

To my own shock, I only found a few in Del Rey's release, though I suppose you could almost count most of Chuang Yi's release as such due to it's characters that are always switching between formal and casual dialogue. The soldiers that attack the kingdom of Clow at the beginning clearly have swords. No bows and arrows to be seen.

Fai's name is also spelt differently in the notes at the back of Del Rey's release.

At the End of the Day

Del Rey is probably the one to read as it's quality is consistant throughout and it maintain the nuances of the characters nicely, though at times the dialogue does feel a bit stilted. Chuang Yi had a promising start until it unexpectantly derailed right before my eyes. However when Chuang Yi got something right, it really got it right, but there's not enough of it to balence out the strange word choices. The sad thing is most sentances would have been good if not for a word or two. Most. Unfortunately, I have seen the future and know what's ahead and things will definitely get worse before they get better.

Hope you'll stick it out and join me for volume 2 in the near future.


  1. Hi!
    Nice to read about all these differences, I'd like to get the Chuang Yi version myself sometime.

    A few notes:
    I've never seen it myself, but I've been told that the first edition (and only the first edition) of the Del Ray version had the colour pages too. I've never managed to track one down though, and the Tanoshimi (UK) version didn't...

    Chapter titles: the Chuang Yi translation of chapter 1 is presumably a mistake, Del Ray has an accurate translation.

    Faiye: CLAMP apparently intended for his name to be spelt "Fay D Fluorite", but didn't tell anyone until the English versions had already started being released. He's compared with a Flourite crystal later, so Flowright is wrong, but nobody could've known but CLAMP. :/

    "I will not let Sakura die!": This is all the Japanese says, Chuang Yi's worlds in hands seems to have come out of nowhere.

    "He was hit with the poisoned tip of an enemy arrow!": The Japanese does say blade, so Chuang Yi's better here.

    "The princess' Tsubasa has taken flight!": Japanese has two words for wing, 'tsubasa', meaning wing, and 'hane', which can mean wings or features (as you can see in Chapter 3's title comparisons), and is the usual word used for the memory feathers. The odd thing is, the word used here in Japanese is 'hane', not 'tsubasa'...

    "I am... Rayearth.": No name is mentioned here in Japanese, the Del Ray version is an accurate translation.

    As for the covers, here's a translation of the Japanese ones:
    Front: I'll protect you to the very end. For you are my love.
    Heading: The journey of a boy searching for "Tsubasa" (Wings) begins!!
    Synopsis: Syaoran and Sakura are from Clow Country (Country of the Eternal Tower). They overcame their respective classes and were about to speak their feelings, when assassins suddenly appear and cause a change in Sakura, making her lose all her memories!
    —There is only one way to save Sakura—
    "You must find Sakura's 'feathers', which have been scattered in other worlds."
    Image: The "Tsubasa" (Wings) that will guide you

    Hopefully this helps. :)

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. It's a big help!
      So Del Rey got it right then, guess I shouldn't be surprised considering all the funny dialogue in Chuang Yi's version. CY gets a translator change further down the road so I guess people probably complained. Their quality control is all over the place and it seems to be pot luck whether a title gets a good editor or not.
      Hope you'll stick around for more updates.

  2. Nice work, had planned to get Chuang-Yi release, but your post has given me something to think about, as I can now have a comparison.

    -the logo: one of the reasons I was interested in getting this version, that and a dust cover,
    -the back cover: synopsis keeps in mention of Sakura's feather, and their importance, heading is faithful to Japanese version, and so are images,
    -the volume title: faithful to original, at least in meaning.

    Del Rey
    -Honorifics: translations to retaining honorifics,
    -Liberty: exact translations.

    I assume from your post, that CY does not provide dust covers for this release? They have done for other series, like Pokémon Adventures, and apparently Full Metal Alchemist.

    DR seem to do a lot of targeting CLAMP readers, mentioning Chobits on front (although as different publisher, I'd assume they'd incur a charge for that), exclaiming “Sakura and Syaoran are back” on back, the line in the synopsis of “whatever you least expect can happen” (sounds like a re-wording of “expect the unexpected” to me, to avoid copyright), and the mention of the crossover with ×××HOLiC. CY appear to only have one instance of referencing, mentioning Rayearth's name early to linking Magic Knight Rayearth.

    Thanks to anonymous for translation of Japanese volume title, “you are my love”, reminds me of a song from the anime, it's interesting how faithful CY's version is on the cover, but it takes a number of liberties in the manga itself, like “fight for your right”, although amusing, I prefer exact translations to point that, even though I prefer single volumes of manga (and anime), I'd pick an omnibus that had an exact translation; Angelic Layer was originally released in single volumes by TokyoPop, and changes the song Ichiro's singing whilst Misaki's practising from the first opening of Card Captor Sakura, to Whitney Houstin, Darkhorse's Omnibus does not.

    It's interesting that the synopsis for DR and CY are quite similar, given both mention “puzzling symbol” and “alternate reality”, whilst the Japanese version mentions neither, I know in some cases with CY this is because they've bought the US translation to use, but well, as you've mentioned a translator for CY, and the differences you've uploaded, it's not the case here; if I'd known the CY version of Pokémon DP Adventures was going to use the US version, I wouldn't have imported it. I would call shipping on CY's synopsis, in regards to soul mate, but it's true.

    Problem with removing honorifics is sometimes they decide to translate them, and in some instances they're terrible, like in Bleach, changing Ichi-chan (or something like that) to Ichy in both Viz's manga and anime subtitles, although honorifics in dubs should not be used, as they get elongated, “-chan” becomes “-charn”, but I digress.

    Think I read the reason “hitsuzen” wasn't translated was because it didn't technically have an English equivalent, although it could be translated as destiny or fate, that'd be simplifying it; wonder if Darkhorse's Card Captor Sakura uses hitsuzen, that said, can't remember if TokyoPop did, just know how much liberty US publishers took when manga was still new to the west.

    In regards to French in Nihon, think CY's trying to separate Nihon and Japan, although would've used French for Japan, as feels less out of place, however Yuuko's shop has serious air in Tsubasa (not HOLiC though), so perhaps wouldn't fit there either. Guessing original had Nihon and Japan using different writing languages (kanji and katakana), to separate them, which English can't emulate, although in later chapter, English tries, best it can, think uses Webdings; dub anime scene, ironically uses French.

    Syaoran's speech in CY's version was bit overkill, true was emotional, but also great liberty, plus looks like speech bubble was enlarged too. Speaking of overkill, my post is overkill, so will stop here, and try to check out any other comparisons you make.

    1. I don't mind I love long posts.
      Sorry, CY does have a dust cover on it. I must have forgotten to mention that.
      Good eye! I missed the enlarged speech bubble. I don't think Cardcaptor Sakura uses "hitsuzen" or at least Dark Horse and Tokyopop didn't.
      Personally I believe that by altering the sentance structure and type of language used is how you would properly translate a Japanese honorific into English, but we'll see as we get further in. I'll keep going with Tsubasa.
      Thank you so much for reading.

  3. Thank you for this comparison, it's really interesting to see the differences between both versions. I discovered CY's version when I already had some volumes from DR so I never bought one of them and also because I don't like the cover x3
    About the color pages, as a person above said DR had colored pages, I bought most of my volumes second handed and the 1st one has them because it's the first edition (I just found out), I leave a link with a pic as proof :)

  4. I'm honestly dying over "fight for your right to party" and "Do the hustle". Like..what? What do these references to music have to do with the characters and what they are saying???

    1. I'm honestly still trying to wrap my head around it.

  5. The one from Spain (norma editorial) its exactly like the japanese one, even the letters from the title are in the same style