A 10-volume manga series by CLAMP, notable for being their debut work, and named after the ancient Hindu hymn collection the Rigveda. The series borrows elements of Hindu and Buddhist mythology for its setting and characters.
300 years ago, the general Taishakuten rebelled against the Heavenly Emperor, killing both him and the guardian god Ashura-ou and installing himself as the king. The Ashura clan was thought to be destroyed until the god Yasha-ou found the remaining child sealed in a forest and began to gather the Six Stars, a group of individuals said to be the prophecied bringers of a celestial revolution.
Back then CLAMP consisted out of 7 members. It started with 11 and ended up with the fabulous max quartet as we know it today. RG Veda is almost a manifesto of the art quality the quartet produces and the themes CLAMP love to talk about: Mokona’s style gets established, a definite bishoujo-bishounen eye candy; and wishes for which individuals go to limits (see Taishakuten and TRC’s Syaoran), dangerous wishes that come at a cost (see Ashura-ou and the customers from xxxholic), fate can be changed (see the end of the manga as well as TRC), loves of all forms (see shounen-ai between Taishakuten and Ashura-ou, shoujo-ai between Shouma and Kendappa, filial love between Gigei and Ashura, – CCS offers even more), mirroring and duality (see Ashura and Kujaku, later in X to a maximum), eye fetish (here we are presented with an extra, third, eye, but usually we get an eye less…), multiple twists are indicators you are reading a CLAMP work.
Lastly there are some plot holes that bothered me much, for example Ryu-ou’s role in the story (was he simply a comedic relief or the bubbly persona or even just one extra person to fill in the prophesized number of Stars?) and how everything progressed from sad to tragic, maybe only for drama’s shake (why couldn’t CLAMP find a more peaceful way to resolve things? Were all the massacres really needed?). As a debut work had some flaws, like awkward lines and dialogues – CLAMP obviously have some regrets about this part and they would do it very differently, if they could now.
Character development was superficial due to the short time span of the story and the lack of more slice-of-life moments. I refer mainly to Yasha’s and Ashura’s feelings for each other that seem to grow strong and fast without much reasoning. Kendappa-ou’s personality is one that stands apart from the rest for its multiple layers that lead to the weirdest decisions and probably for her being equally hated and admired by fans. The problem with her is for me her no-ground conviction of with whom she sides with.
In spite of all its flaws, RG Veda is one of those manga that you can’t leave from hands until you reach the last page. There are plenty pretty characters to choose from as your favorite one and sympathetic pairs to root for. My favs are the dynamic and beautiful lesbians, Kendappa x Souma, the sweet Shara x Rasetsu and the main pair of Ashura x Yasha which here is presented with familial tones rather than erotic ones as seen in TRC (hm…aren’t they better in TRC? ). All in all, RGVeda isn’t a bad read, but if you search for deeper meanings, plots that make more sense or something not plagued by successive disasters and deaths, I wouldn’t recommend it. Generally if you aren’t a CLAMP fan addicted to shoujo prettiness and you don’t have time to kill, you wouldn’t be interested. I think there are manga that in every section could outdo this work.
There is a 2-episode OVA that naturally doesn’t cover the whole story and from the reviews I’ve seen around the net, it isn’t a material worth watching. The narration starts in media-res and anyone who hasn’t read the manga is at lost at what’s going on.