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Tsubasa Syaoran Clone

The Syaoran clone holding Princess Sakura

Syaoran is a main protagonist of Clamp's anime and manga series Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. The name 'Syaoran' is given to two distinct characters in the series, the other being "Syaoran" Li. This article pertains solely to the characterization of Syaoran.

The Manga version of Syaoran is based on an earlier character of the same name developed by Clamp for the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise (See Li Syaoran). In the TV anime he was designed by Bee Train artist Minako Shiba, [1] and in the OAV series - and up and coming OAD series - he was developed by Production I.G artist Yoko Kikuchi[2]. He is voiced by Miyu Irino in the Japanese version, and by Jason Liebrecht in the English version.

Syaoran also appears as a guest character in the Clamp's other on-going manga, xxxHolic and as an alternate version of himself in another Clamp series, Horitsuba Gakuen.

Character SynopsisEdit

Syaoran is a clone of “Syaoran” Li, that was created by Fei Wong Reed in order to collect Princess Sakura's feathers.

He is only a body clone, however, and was created purposefully without a heart so that he could gather feathers without any emotional restrictions. In order to give his clone a chance to create his own heart, “Syaoran” Li seals his own left eye along with a piece of his own heart into his clone's right eye. The heart enables his clone to feel emotion for himself but with no guarantee these emotions will remain when the seal breaks, while the eye allows "Syaoran" to watch his clone's journey.

Before being separated, “Syaoran” Li gives an ultimatum to his clone, telling him that if he doesn't create his own heart by the time the seal breaks then he will kill him.

Although Fei Wong didn't plan on his clone having a heart he's satisfied that the clone will collect feathers either way. Syaoran knows nothing about his origin or his true purpose and aimlessly wanders the streets where he's eventually found by the archaeologist, Fujitaka. At that time Syaoran had no name, no memories of his past, and no sight in his right eye because of the seal. Fujitaka readily adopts him as a son and names him 'Syaoran'. The two travel to many countries for excavation work which leads Syaoran to meet Princess Sakura of Clow Country. Even though Syaoran is blunt and emotionless from his mysterious past, Sakura takes an immediate interest in him. Her kind heart and open personality draws Syaoran to her and she very quickly becomes the thing Syaoran cherishes most in life.

The first half of the series revolves around Syaoran's quest to save Sakura by traveling to alternate worlds to collect Sakura's heart in the form of feathers. Syaoran is affectionately protective of Sakura on their journey, and goes to all lengths to keep her and her feathers safe. Despite the fact that Sakura doesn't remember him the two share an intimate relationship.

During the journey the seal on his eye breaks and Syaoran loses his heart, becoming emotionless once more. He abandons Sakura and doesn't meet with her again until he accidentally stabs her with his sword. Shortly after she disappears Syaoran deceives Fei Wong Reed in a sham killing of “Syaoran” Li, resulting in his body shattering into pieces and fading into a dream. Because Syaoran is a created being he's unable to die or go into an afterlife, instead he will disappear completely from existence. [3].

Main CharacterizationEdit

PersonalityEdit

As a child, Syaoran often feels he is a burden to others because of his inferiority and is constantly concerned about worrying his father or upsetting Sakura when he hurts himself. He's more concerned with the medical bills that his father has to pay instead of the pain he has from an injury. He also tries to unsuccessfully hide his injuries from Sakura, preferring to bear the pain instead of making her sad. Even later in the journey Syaoran hides his true feelings because he doesn’t want to trouble others or make them sad.

Despite this Syaoran is generally known for his very kind but passionate disposition. He’s portrayed as rather shy, innocent, and open, despite his past and his straightforward approach to situations. Because of this it’s a gag-shock to the group when he suggests something that’s ordinarily deemed as morally ‘bad.’ Such as lying or stealing to obtain the feathers [4]. Like Syaoran Li and “Syaoran” Li, his seriousness is often the mark of his personality.

When the seal on his right eye breaks, Syaoran's personality changes from kindhearted and cheerful to cold and indifferent. He only cares about collecting feathers and will do whatever it takes to get them, including injuring those who care for him. Kakyō and Seishirō both comment that he ignores pain of the body and the heart[5] in order to achieve his goal, making him impossibly strong but horribly ruthless. He is thereafter depicted as an emotionless figure covered in blood while he stands in the devastating aftermath of the worlds he effortlessly destroys for feathers.

After striking Sakura with his sword Syaoran regains a heart and his affection for her. Though no longer able to feel any body pain, he acts as a shadow of his former heart in his actions and words. After severely injuring his body by sacrificing himself to protect “Syaoran” Li, he apologizes to everyone and thanks them before his body shatters and disappears into a dream.

SkillsEdit

Heavily due to his bond with his adoptive father, Syaoran is an aspiring archaeologist with the attendant skills and experience of a hardened adventurer somewhat reminiscent of Indiana Jones. One of his character quirks is taking an overly animate interest in history and books. This knowledge and his ability to read multiple languages is useful in finding leads on Princess Sakura’s feathers during their journey.

In Syaoran's childhood there's an incident where he's cornered in a marketplace by large men trying to steal a book he had purchased for his father. He stubbornly refuses to give up the book to them so one of the men attempts to strangle him to death but Seishirō intervenes. Syaoran is surprised to learn that this strong fighter is also blind in the right eye. Because Seishirō is unable to read the foreign language the book is written in, Syaoran offers to translate it for him in exchange for fighting lessons so he too can become strong despite his blind eye. To compensate for his lack of reliable depth perception Syaoran's style is centered around his kicks. Syaoran is shown throughout the series to be an excellent hand-to-hand fighter despite his blind eye.

In Ōto Syaoran's fighting isn't enough so he also asks Kurogane to teach him swordsmanship so that he can become even stronger. The sword Syaoran uses is called Hien, "scarlet flame."

At the beginning of the series, Syaoran has no magical powers but he later gains the power to use magic by eating Fay D. Fluorite's left eye. [6] Syaoran combines the power of his fighting skills with Hien and Fay's magic to destroy worlds in his pursuit of feathers. As with Fay, each time he uses the magic his power increases. When Syaoran returns the magic to his companion, Fay comments that he took good care of it, even under the circumstances that it was being used.

Relationship with SakuraEdit

The PriceEdit

After Sakura's heart is transformed into feathers and scattered by Fei Wong Reed, Syaoran is sent to Yūko Ichihara. Here Syaoran is told that if Sakura remains without her feathers she will die. But in order to gather her feathers he has to pay a price to in the form of the thing he cherishes the most in life--his "relationship" with Sakura. He’s told that even if Sakura regains all her feathers she will never remember him or any of the memories they shared together in Clow Country. Syaoran tells himself that Sakura is his number one most important person and that even if Sakura never remembers him she will always be most important to him. He'll do whatever it takes to protect her even if it means sacrificing his relationship with her in the process.

Tsubasa Syaoran Sakura

Syaoran and Sakura

Syaoran’s relationship with Sakura has had a major impact on his life. Throughout the first half of the series there’s flashbacks of important turning points in his life that revolve around his relationship with her, such as Sakura giving him her birthday so they can share it (April 1), smiling for the first time, and learning to say thank you instead of sorry when someone worries about him. Her smile has a powerful impact on him and Syaoran has told his father that when he sees Sakura smile his chest is filled with warmth. [7]

It's obvious in the first chapter that Syaoran and Sakura are both in love with each other romantically and though Sakura is on the verge of confessing, Syaoran seems embarrassed at her wish to be called "Sakura" instead of "Princess" and he tells himself it's wrong to be in love with a Princess. He even turns down Sakura's offer to live in the castle with her after Fujitaka dies, because he said only people with royal blood should live there.

Body and Heart MemoriesEdit

According to Yuuko there are two kinds of memories, body and heart. Although body memories aren't explained until Sakura unconsciously kisses Syaoran's sore eye [8], they can be seen much earlier in the series. Sakura isn't supposed to know him but she intimately takes his hand, leans towards him, or touches his face.

After Syaoran loses his heart he treats Sakura and her pain indifferently. He ignores her pleas of not leaving and continues on to other worlds without her. While searching for feathers in the Dream World Syaoran impales Sakura with his sword but his body refuses to kill her completely because of his body memories. He aims to kill “Syaoran” Li for the feathers instead but Sakura throws herself directly in the line of both their swords, resulting in Syaoran inadvertently stabbing her through the heart. Sakura begins to say "I love you" but disappears before being able to. For the first time since the seal on his right eye was broken, Syaoran shows emotion by clutching onto one of the cherry blossom petals that remains of Sakura and screams in misery.[9]

It's Syaoran's regret over not hearing Sakura's feelings that awakens his lost heart.

Connection to other SyaoransEdit

In volume 2 of xxxHolic Yuko explains to Watanuki that in other worlds there are people who have the same soul as people from his world. She explains to him that the Syaoran and Sakura from Clow Country have the same soul as the Syaoran and Sakura (of Cardcaptor Sakura) who exist in the world that Watanuki currently lives in. The soul is the only thing that they share, however, and their heart, destiny, and life are not comparable.

In contrast, Syaoran and "Syaoran" Li only share a body but because "Syaoran" Li rewound time Syaoran and his original have a comparable childhood with small nuances:

  • Syaoran traveled with his father to Clow Country and met 6 year old Sakura, while "Syaoran" Li traveled to Clow Country and met 6 year old Sakura because his father told him his mother had a dream about him.
  • Sakura gives Syaoran April 1 as a birthday so they can share it together, while "Syaoran" Li's birthday is naturally April 1.
  • Syaoran travels to many countries to discover new things as a hobby, while "Syaoran" traveled to many countries in order to find a way to cure Sakura's curse.
  • Syaoran has a picture of him and his adoptive father on his desk, while "Syaoran" Li has a picture of him with his mother and father on his desk.

Along with certain aspects of their life, their interaction with Sakura is paralleled. Syaoran and "Syaoran" also live in the same house in their respective Clow Country time-lines, and wear identical outfits.

Appearances in Other MediaEdit

Syaoran appears as himself in the manga series xxxHolic. His first appearance is at the end of volume 1 and the beginning of volume 2, mirroring scenes from the first chapter of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle where he arrives at Yūko's shop. He also appears throughout both the xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle time-lines via Mokona, who acts as a communication apparatus for Yūko.

Syaoran also appears as an alternate version of himself in Horitsuba Gakuen. His characterization is comparable to how he's portrayed in the first half of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle as someone who's shy, naive, and openly affectionate towards Sakura. The first drama surrounds mainly around him and Sakura. Syaoran doesn't know about Valentine's Day and is told by the teasing Yuko that Valentine's Day is all about battles and conspiracies, where girls put their life on the line with chocolate as their only weapon. Syaoran doesn't realize that it's a joke and becomes very worried that Sakura too will have to fight since she hinted she would be making chocolate. The next day Sakura takes him aside and asks if he will accept the chocolates she made for him. He doesn't understand that accepting the chocolate is accepting her affection. Instead, Syaoran accepts the chocolate and vows to fight with her so she doesn't have to risk her life alone, confusing Sakura.

In the following dramas Syaoran and "Syaoran" Li appear as twin brothers.

Syaoran also appears as himself in CLAMP in Wonderland 2.

TriviaEdit

  • In The Hanshin Republic of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Syaoran's kudan is identical to the mashin Rayearth of Magic Knight Rayearth.
  • Syaoran Li's cross-dressing in Cardcaptor Sakura, where he played the role of Sleeping Beauty in a play, is repeated in Tsubasa when Syaoran stays with the performing Troupe in episode 33 and 34, and also in the manga.

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