Tag Archives: CLAMP

Cardcaptor Sakura

cardcaptor sakuraMangaka: CLAMP

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Ten-year-old Sakura is basically your average girl–cheerful, fun-loving, bad at math, a little overly prone to sleep too late–but she also has a secret. You see, she has magical powers, and she’s been chosen to retrieve and master all the Clow cards, a set of magical cards that manifest as beings or phenomena in the physical world when released as they were at the death of their former master, Clow. Sakura is aided and guided in her quest to capture all the Clow cards by Kero, one of the guardians of the cards, and all her exploits are costumed and videoed by her best friend Tomoyo. But don’t think for a moment that Sakura spends her whole life devoted to capturing the cards–actually you could probably say she doesn’t devote herself enough. She actually has a busy life full of school, family, friends, and the hope of love. Sakura’s a pretty incredible girl.

I’m probably one of the few people who can say they didn’t grow up watching Cardcaptor Sakura at one point. I actually only discovered the manga after I fell in love with CLAMP’s writing and read several of their other manga; I’ve never watched the anime. I have to say that I really love this manga though. It’s so cheerful, even when it gets dark–and yes, at points it does get dark, especially in the second half. But Sakura’s such an optimistic character that she keeps the story bright throughout. And I love that even though this is technically a mahou-shojou/cardcaptor series, it’s fleshed out to be much more than that. There are numerous enjoyable facets to Sakura’s life that are presented here, as well as a number of really sweet love stories besides her own. This is one area in which I have complaint against the series, however; one of the fourth-grade students has a romantic relationship with one of the teachers, which is a totally CLAMP thing to do and is presented in a sweet and innocent way, but still NOT okay. And that, in addition to some of the complexities of the other relationships, is the primary reason that I can’t see this as a middle-school girl’s manga, even though it’s usually presented that way. It’s cute and sweet and funny, and yes, middle-schoolers would probably love it . . . but still. I do think there is a lot here for older teens and adults to love, though. Like I said, sweet story, great characters, and by the way, incredible art throughout. Absolutely beautiful. So in all, in spite of a few things I’m uncomfortable with in the story, I think Cardcaptor Sakura is an adorable, delightful manga that I would definitely recommend.

Note: I’d recommend getting the Dark Horse omnibus editions if you’re buying this. It’s only 4 volumes that way, and the binding is really nicely done. Plus, there are some incredible color pages included.

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CLAMP School Defenders Duklyon

Mangaka: CLAMPCLAMP School Defenders Duklyon

My rating: 4.5 of 5

As you should know, CLAMP school is an incredible place that fosters learning and fun for students of all ages from kindergarten through graduate school. But there are forces out there that would prevent the smooth operation of the campus. And that’s where Duklyon comes in. Under the leadership of their mysterious “General” and with the heavy-handed assistance of the lovely Eri, Kentarou Higashikunimaru and Takeshi Shukaido defend the school and its students from evil of all sorts. Which mostly means beating up whatever absurd creature the Imonoyama Shopping District Association decides to throw at them this time before Eri beats them up for being too slow. Fight on!

Taken as a serious sentai manga, Duklyon would be pretty much awful. But I can’t imagine actually reading a sentai manga to begin with, and this is so much better! Because Duklyon is essentially this huge parody of sentai stories. The Kentarou and Takeshi are cute and interesting characters–the dynamic between them is very amusing!–although they are also somewhat useless, as becomes more and more apparent as the story progresses. Then there’s Eri, ever ready with the big comedy hammer to pound them . . . well, except for when Sukibayashi-kun is around. Then she’s too busy acting the blushing maiden to be any good to anyone. Never mind that Sukibayashi is very obviously the villain. It’s a miracle any of them keep their identities the secret they’re supposed to be! Maybe it’s a tribute to the obtuseness of the people around them. . . . It’s fun having the CLAMP school detectives in on the fun too. For one thing, the General is oh-so-obviously Nokoru (wearing sunglasses, which totally disguises his identity). Even better (probably my favorite episode of the entire story) is when Duklyon faces off against the Man of Many Faces–the one time they are soundly defeated. I do love Akira-kun; so cute! So basically, the entire Duklyon manga is this big comedic parody, but it actually is very funny and cute–hey, it’s CLAMP. Recommended particularly for CLAMP fans and notable for being appropriate for younger audiences than most of their manga, probably fine for elementary readers and older.

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Miyuki-chan in Wonderland

Mangaka: CLAMPMiyuki-chan in Wonderland

My rating: 4 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience

There are plenty of girls who would love some excitement in their lives. Miyuki-chan? Not so much. She’d be happy to be able to just go to school, work her part-time job, and hang out reading and playing video games like a normal girl. But Miyuki-chan has . . . a unique sort of problem. Adventure just seems to find her–and drag her into the midst of it, whether she wants to go or not. Whether it’s falling down the skating bunny-girl’s hole into Wonderland on the way to school or getting dragged straight into her video game to be the heroine, Miyuki-chan’s been there and done that. And probably will again. . . .

I may have mentioned before, but I love CLAMP’s manga, always. Having said that, Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is a bit different from anything else they’ve ever written. It consists of a series of short chapters (7 in all, fitting into a single manga volume), each focusing on a single, bizarre episode in Miyuki-chan’s life. I really like the character of Miyuki-chan; in a lot of ways, she’s your average high-school girl, only I’d say that she’s generally just a bit more blonde and go-with-the-flow in character than most. Overall, a nice kid though. The folks she runs in to on her adventures . . . not always so nice. And I must give the warning: this whole story is kind of yuri. I mean, there are some pretty sadistic individuals that Miyuki-chan encounters, all of them female. So, the end effect can be sort of hentai. One of the reasons I don’t like this one as much. But . . . Miyuki-chan always makes it out okay, so it’s not as creepy as it could be. And the situations she ends up in are certainly varied and imaginative–you kind of get the impression that the CLAMP members were just having fun and went with whatever they felt like writing at the time. On the plus side, there are some fun references, including references to other CLAMP works. (Oh, and I’ve mentioned this before, but check out Miyuki-chan making cameos all over the place in Tsubasa!) I guess I would mostly recommend Miyuki-chan in Wonderland to older readers who are familiar with CLAMP’s work and who enjoy something a bit off the wall (a more limited demographic than usual, I know).

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Shirahime-Syo

Mangaka: CLAMP

It is said that the falling snowflakes are the tears of the snow maidens. But ask a snow maiden, and you might get a different story altogether. In fact, she might tell you stories similar to the ones a young traveler heard when he spoke to a pale, beautiful woman out in the snowy wilderness . . . you might even hear stories to make you weep yourself.

I love the way in which Shirahime-Syo is both very unique for CLAMP and is yet quintessentially theirs. This is a single volume of manga containing three short stories that almost resemble folk tales. This feeling is enhanced by the art style which is, again, both extremely CLAMP and yet different from their norm, evoking a more traditional Japanese painting style. It’s very beautiful, haunting almost. The style fits the stories perfectly. All three tales are of old Japan (or somewhere that looks similar), out in the wilds during the deep snows, and in each story, there is an initial impression  of a man-versus-nature sort of story. Yet somehow in the midst of that, the stories get turned back upon man, showing that we are our own worst problem. The stories are poignant and beautiful, tragically lovely. I’m sure not everyone would enjoy them, but I truly think all readers would benefit from reading Shirahime-Syo at least once; it’s a moving experience.

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Legal Drug

Mangaka: CLAMP

At rather a bad point in his life, Kazahaya finds himself literally picked up off the street (and out of the freezing snow!) by the tall, dark, and grumpy Rikuo. Shortly thereafter, the two find themselves rooming together (however unwillingly) and working for the lovely pharmacist(?) Kakei at the Green Drugstore. Which would be all well and good if their work were limited to doing stuff in the store. But between Kakei’s shady side business and the boys’ own unusual abilities, they always seem to get dragged into the odd, the paranormal, and the occasionally frightening–basically they’re a pair of paranormal odd-jobbers, pulled by every sadistic whim of Kakei’s. It’s a good thing that Saiga’s there to keep Kakei in line at least a little (when he’s not sleeping on the job!).

I’ve probably said this before (just maybe?), but I really love CLAMP’s writing–it’s always fresh and unexpected. Legal Drug is honestly one of their manga that I come back to most frequently. It’s an intriguing combination of shounen ai (sort of?), fantasy/paranormal, and work story/slice-of-life. It’s probably most similar to xxxHOLiC of all CLAMP’s other manga, and actually crosses over with said manga when Watanuki visits the Green Drugstore for a hangover medicine in xxxHOLiC. But there’s enough difference between the two series to make them both significant and interesting in their own right. The character blend in Legal Drug is certainly an amusing mix–their interactions are always good for a laugh. And speaking of characters, those of you who have read Wish might recognize certain individuals (although they are kind of hiding their identity for the moment). There are several other crossovers throughout the manga for those who pay attention. Of note, this is one of the few manga in which CLAMP’s chibi artist Mick Nekoi is actually the lead artist; the style’s not quite as polished as, say Tsubasa Chronicle, but I like the overall feel that it provides. Sadly, Legal Drug was dropped after the third volume, so it’s currently incomplete . . . but (I am sooo super excited about this!) after something like eight years, it is now continuing in the manga Drug & Drop which basically picks up where Legal Drug stopped. Happy! Anyhow, I think Legal Drug is a fun, mysterious manga that is widely enjoyable as long as you don’t mind a bit of shounen ai (but it’s really mild and kind of mock shounen ai almost)–seriously, check it out!

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The One I Love

Mangaka: CLAMP

Anyone who’s been in love can tell you it’s a wonderful thing. But love isn’t all happiness and comfort–it comes with uncertainties and fears. Will this continue? Am I the only one who feels this way? Sometimes, it seems the more you are in love, the worse your uncertainties become. . . .

In this delightful collection of shorts, CLAMP unpacks some of the issues that come up frequently in relationships. While The One I Love is set up in a different format than their typical works, it features a topic that seems ubiquitous to all of their manga–a topic about which they always have something interesting to say. In this volume, Mick Nekoi (usually the chibi artist of the group) creates 10 manga shorts, each featuring a different girl and the specific love-problem she is facing. Following each manga, lead story writer Nanase Ohkawa has a short essay discussing her own opinions and experiences about that same love-problem. The manga are cute and meaningful, and I think the discussions are interesting, relevant, and helpful. The One I Love probably isn’t for everyone, but for CLAMP fans and for those interested in some insight into their own uncertainties, I think it’s an enjoyable collection.

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CLAMP School Paranormal Investigators, vol. 1

Author: Tomiyuki Matsumoto

Illustrator: CLAMP

The renowned CLAMP school may be famous for its world-class facilities, beautiful grounds, and superior education. Or perhaps, to those who know it more intimately, for the charming elementary student council or the daring gentleman thief who roves its grounds. Less well known, through no fault of their own, is a small group of creative, scientifically-minded students who have dedicated themselves to researching the unusual (and possibly supernatural) events that occur around the campus–namely the CLAMP School Supernatural Phenomena Research Association. Now if only they could convince the powers that be to recognize them as an official club!

Being a huge CLAMP fan, I found reading the first volume of the CLAMP School Paranormal Investigators to be both fun and fascinating. It’s basically a couple of short episodes chronicling some cases the five members of the Association investigate. The stories are fun (kind of remind me of the CLAMP School Detectives, but with a more supernatural aspect). And the characters are quite good–I particularly enjoy Yuki in all of his/her dramaticism. (Is it just me, or does anyone else see Tamaki Suoh in Yuki’s pose of the cover?) I find it intriguing that both the idea for the story and the characters come from a game the members of CLAMP used to play together–and it’s even better since they do the art for this book, including a mini manga! My one complaint is that this light novel jumps into the storyline after several episodes were already published in magazine-only format. So it feels a bit like you’re jumping into the middle–because you are. But I would consider that a minor fault compared to the overall enjoyability of the book. CLAMP School Paranormal Investigators is a story I would recommend especially to CLAMP fans, but also to anyone who likes an unusual, light, and somewhat mysterious school story.

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