Stereotypical Characters in Tsubasa

I bought a Tsubasa art book at the last con I was at. I was staying at my aunt's house and my cousin and I were looking through it and talking about the art. Somehow or other we got to talking about Fai and Kuragane's personalities.

I said, "Fai's the always happy, optimistic type and he acts dopey but he's a actually a pretty somber character and is a strong fighter. Kuragane is the strong, don't-bother-me kind of guy. He's something of a softy though."

"It's always like that," my cousin said. "It's so predictable."

And then it hit me: what my cousin was saying was true. How many times had I run into a character that acted one way but was actually the complete opposite? The list could go on forever.

Now, I'm a huge fan of Tsubasa. I recommend it to just about anyone who shows any interest (even some that don't) and consider it to be one of CLAMP's best works. That said, I got to thinking about what my cousin had said.

Yes, the character types that Fai and Kuragane embody are used--A LOT. And because they're used so often it's probably safe to say that that type has become "predictable." However, those same types are not "flat" character types, where they are one-dimensional, easy to know everything about, consistent, however else you'd like to describe it. No, these are "round" characters, meant to surprise us with a new quirk.

So when did round become flat? It seems to me that these types have become almost as expected as the character types in video games (healer, warrior, mage etc). It certainly makes building a fresh character personality difficult, and that's putting it lightly.

Thinking it over, one might say that all the character types are somewhat "predictable." I've already discussed Fai and Kuragane. Syaoran is portrayed as a very normal kid (as "normal" as one can be in Tsubasa), fiercly in love with his best friend but unwilling to admit it except to himself. Sakura is the girl with the infectious bubbly personality that makes everyone care for her. On top of that she's got a big heart and a secret power to boot. I wouldn't necessarily call them original.

Despite all that, I find that Tsubasa is nothing short of a great story with great characters. The writing, in my opinion, is so fantastic that even the personality twists don't seem out of character. Even if they're completely gut-wrenching new levels of the character that we've never seen before, somehow it doesn't seem odd at all. And who's to say that it needs to be original? Hardly anything is "original" these days, just fresh.

Perhaps the originality and the mark of greatness comes from the ability to reinvent and keep it seamless. Tsubasa certainly reaches this level.