5 things I LOVE about CLAMP and 5 things I want to complain about…Since I’m still reading CLAMP works and can ship couples and fangirl over characters, it means that beyond the flaws and weakness CLAMP have exhibited through the years, there are very important traits of theirs that are worth cherishing and that they’ve created some memorable works and subsequent anticipation for more. Thus, I’ll begin this post with what are their strength.
The bright side of life
1. CLAMP have worked really hard over the course of the last 22+ years to make themselves known and in the process they have given up their personal life to pursue their dream and be fully dedicated to their career. Along the way, they’ve also put their health on the line, with many sleepless days in the row, very few breaks and the pressure to please the audience. Lately, it was announced that one of CLAMP members has problems with strained hands, thus their work will slow down. They are really admirable for their perseverance and productivity: they’ve published officially over 140 volumes of manga.
2. From drama and romance to mystery and adventure, CLAMP have explored almost every genre across every demographic group. They’ve written shoujo, shounen, seinen and josei, but perhaps most importantly they’ve managed to tear down their boundaries and as a result a very wide audience can read and enjoy their manga. Works like X and Magic Knight Rayearth have the ornamental art shoujo bear and shounen themes and action. There’s a CLAMP work for everyone: the ecchi otaku and the philosopher geek, the drama-sucker and the hopelessly romantic and the list can go on.
3. I told you about the art, no? The art, oh yes… the art. Even if you don’t like the story, you might want to stick around for the backgrounds and the character designs. CLAMP have mainly two art styles- the highly detailed by Mokona, one might even call it ‘stuffed’, and the pretty minimalistic one by Nekoi (Chobits, Tsubasa) and Igarashi (Legal Drug, Wish, Suki, xxxholic). Another artistic trait of theirs is the use of astonishing splash pages and diverse layouts, that really carry you away. And they aren’t simply experimenting, but they are professionals who know when to use which art style to create the appropriate atmosphere.
4. CLAMP’s illustrations are not only decorative, but there are also cases that tell a story in images and foreshadow plot twists. Let’s take for example the illustrations below that are taken from X.
SPOILERS: The first one talks about Subaru becoming the next Sakurazukamori. CLAMP, instead of reusing the imagery of Subaru embracing the capsule that has Seishirou’s eye and accepting to be its bearer, decided to show his change of sides through a religious coronation amidst skulls during a night with new moon (which stands for new beginnings). Seishirou on the one hand wears white robes, a very unusual color for him, and my guess is that white denotes his death, since in Asia people usually wear white in funerals, while the red ribbon stands for blood and his murderous past. Subaru on the other hand is cladded in black and purple-black like Seishirou used to wear and purple to denote royalty-it’s worth mentioning that he just filled the ‘widowed’ position in the Dragons of Earth team and he’s uninterested in participating in the battle and in killing.
The second and third picture can be read as hints about the manga end of X. Kamui is compared to Ashura from RG Veda, the god of destruction, who, when ready to kill Yasha whom he loved as a kid, stopped and stabbed himself and caged his body. It’s also interesting how Kamui bears angel wings instead of his usual demon ones, while in the third picture we see him tearing down his demon-winged self to let the angel-winged one emerge. This can be interpreted either that Kamui Shirou will change sides or that the ‘other Kamui’, Fuuma Monou, will revert to his initial personality.
4. CLAMP have explored very interesting themes through certain techniques in their works and they keep going. What’s wrong with this? Well, after so many works, it can get too repetitive meaning too boring. CLAMP fans that have read all their works can feel tired from reading about the same old things just in a different setting. There are also times where a technique that was once very fun to encounter, like the crossovers, gets too streched. For example, it reaches ridiculous levels to transform Watanuki into a dog and make him appear in Blood-C to council Saya… The twists in TRC became so complicated that even the creators themselves had problems understanding what they’ve created. The book as a way to reach the protagonist and teach her about herself was great in Chobits, but felt redundant in Suki (but I’m biased here.)
5. With so many works and so many charactersit is inevitable that characters will start to look alike. It’s not completely their fault, yet it’s a bit weird to see a new character and feel you have a deja-vu without really one.
Lastly, they have bad luck with the magazines publishing their manga; Clover, Kobato, X, Legend of Chun Hyang all had either issues with their publication or the magazing hosting them closed down… That’s not something CLAMP can do much about, therefore I don ‘t list it with the other rants about them.
Do you agree? Do you disagree? Anything to add?