Manga Reviews Reviews

Manga Review: The One I Love

The One I Love

Author: CLAMP, 1995

Volume: 1, 12 Stories

The One I Love is one of CLAMP’s most obscure works published in English. And there are a multitude of reasons for that: it’s no sprawling epic like X or Tsubasa; it connects to no other CLAMP worlds; it has never been made into an anime; it is only 1 volume. However, its still well worth a look, and the small size just makes it a quicker read.watashi_cover

The One I Love is a series of short stories in which a female main character has some sort of reflection on or encounter with love, or the person she is in love with. The stories’ topics range from getting married, to a long-distance relationship, to looking cute for your boyfriend. These beautiful vignettes are short and sweet, and it is surprisingly relaxing to read one or two in the midst of a hectic day. If you’re looking for action or tragedy, go elsewhere. Otherwise, most will probably enjoy these stories.

Shonen-ai Note: None.

Continuity Note: Doesn’t connect to anything.

Anime Adaptation: None.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: X|1999

Author: CLAMP, 1992 – 2003
Volumes: 18 (of a potential 21 if ever finished)

The year is 1999, and the millenium is coming to an end.

So is the world.

The seven Dragons of Heaven are the champions of humankind; while the seven Dragons of Earth fight for the planet, for the destruction of mankind to allow the Earth to live. Kamui is the key; he must choose between these two groups. But whatever he chooses, his own world will be torn apart…

X|1999 (X in Japan) is perhaps CLAMP’s most unrelentingly dark series (though Tsubasa‘s giving it a run for its money). Most everything in this manga is top-notch – the fight scenes, the plotline and magic, and especially the characters. This entire series is fascinating, but it is not for the squeemish. There is more than a little gore and violence. Still, the art is beautiful; heavy and relentlessly detailed.

The manga isn’t finished, and isn’t likely to be, but it’s beautiful even in its incompletion, rather like cherry blossoms in bloom, but soon to fall.

Shonen-ai Note: Some shonen-ai is present (two pairings in particular) but even these tend towards unhealthy obsession (in the spirit of the manga) rather than actual romance.

Continuity Note: Sequel to Tokyo Babylon and CLAMP School Detectives. Careful, though, because CLAMP School Detectives is as light as X|1999 is dark. (Emotional whiplash, very much.)

Anime Adaptation: Though I’ve never seen them myself, I believe that there are two different anime adaptations: OVAs and a series. I’ve heard mixed reviews, most probably stemming from the fact that the animes had to write thier own endings for the series. Also, I’ve heard that the anime and the OVA have completely different endings. On the other hand, the art seems to have transferred well from the clips I’ve seen, and the action scenes are a bit more dramatic with motion.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Legal Drug

Legal Drug
Author: CLAMP, 2000 – on hiatus
Volumes: 3 (of 15)

If xxxHOLiC is a full-course Japanese meal and Cardcaptors is cake and ice cream, then Legal Drug is a tantalizing appetizer… for the right kind of reader.

Currently unfinished at three volumes, Legal Drug is predominantly episodic, with hints as to the back story of the two main characters. The story follows the Green Drugstore’s two employees, who bear a striking resemblance to the boys of xxxHOLiC. Kazahaya is essentially Watanuki with blond hair, and Rikuo is Domeki with moderately more expression. They tend to fight like cats and dogs (or rather, Kazahaya fights, while Domeki—er, Rikuo—winds him up). But there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and each of the boys has a special ability, which they use when their pre-cognative boss sends them out on “special errands.”

Despite the characters’ resemblance to those of xxxHOLiC, the story is well worth reading for its own merit. In particular, the reasons for the constant conflict between the two characters is different, and what slight information we have about the two’s back story is extremely interesting. Though it’s currently on hiatus until CLAMP finishes xxxHOLiC/Tsubasa, it may not be too long until more volumes become available.

Shonen-ai Note: Much more prevalent than in a lot of CLAMP’s other stuff. Kazahaya and Rikuo have more than a few “moments,” and the drugstore owner and his friend act like a married couple. Make sure you can handle shonen-ai before you read this manga.

Continuity Note: Legal Drug is in the same world as Suki (some of the characters are the same) and xxxHOLiC. At one point, Watanuki from xxxHOLiC enters the store to get a hangover cure. There’s another link, but it’s more fun to find out for yourself.

Anime Adaptation: None.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura
Author: CLAMP, 1996 – 2000
Volumes: 12 (published in English by Tokyopop as Cardcaptor Sakura 1–6, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow 1–6)

The Clow cards have escaped from their binding, and Sakura must recover them with the advice of the card’s stuffed animal guardian Kero-chan and the technology and fashion of her best friend Tomoyo!

Yes, its magical girl, but it’s CLAMP magical girl, which makes all the difference. The artwork is gorgeous – cute, gentle and upbeat – and the plot line still seems new and interesting despite the proliferation of the magical girl genre. Refreshingly, Sakura doesn’t need to use her magic to boost her self-esteem. Her male counterpart knows about her powers, short-circuiting a lot of the irritating poor-communication/mistaken-identity plot lines.

Although an in-depth analysis of the relationships involved in this manga might disturb the reader, Cardcaptor Sakura is so cute, it doesn’t matter. It manages to be sweet without cloying. It has danger and emotional change without slipping into angst. The magic is well thought out, more or less consistent, and mostly makes sense. Well worth reading by both genders. (Real men read CLAMP!)

Shonen-ai/Shojo-ai Note: Except for one paring, all shonen-ai/shojo-ai inclinations are mild and one-sided. And while some are “You don’t want to think about this too much,” they’re easy to ignore. One pairing is reciprocated. Maybe. Possibly. Only CLAMP could have one guy say to another, “You are my most important person,” and still have that be a debated pairing. All but the most stubborn dissenters acknowledge that the two are a couple. (Though this raises the question, if they dislike slash so much, why are they reading CLAMP?) If there is a rating less than G, then Cardcaptors gets it. Also, yes, I was being annoyingly vague on purpose.

Continuity Note: Things from Cardcaptor Sakura appear in xxxHOLiC. Whether this means they’re in the same world is up for debate.

Anime Adaptation: I’ve seen only a few episodes of the anime. The art transferred surprisingly well, though simplified, and the tone of the series is consistent with the manga. Of course, there are more cards to capture in the anime, as well as additional characters. However, I’m not sure how well the larger plot lines survived. If you’ve got the time, watch it. Nice and heartwarming.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Tokyo Babylon

Tokyo Babylon
Author: CLAMP, 1990-1993
Volumes: 7

Tokyo Babylon is one of CLAMP’s most classic works. The prequel to X, it sets up the back story to two of the most fascinating secondary characters.

The manga starts out episodic, with the medium Subaru dealing with various ghosts, spirits, and supernatural phenomena. With him is his cheerful sister Hokuto and their friend Seishiro. For most of the beginning of the series, it stays optimistic, despite the often serious or depressing nature of Subaru’s cases. However, a dark current surfaces as the tales go on. It’s somehow connected to a certain folktale: that beneath every cherry tree is a corpse; its blood turning the tree’s white petals pink…

Tokyo Babylon is a classic, and for a good reason. Well-written and eerie, it makes for a very interesting read. It is also short enough to keep from being either a large time or money sink. The only problems people might have is with the art style or the clothing styles. Eventually, however, both these things become integral to the feel of the manga and the characters, making Subaru’s shift in clothing at the end that much more startling.

Shonen-ai note: The main pairing, with varying degrees of seriousness, is Subaru/Seishiro. However, nothing romantic happens past a kiss—if that. Definite G-rating in terms of slash.

Continuity note:
Tokyo Babylon exists in the same world as X, Clamp School Detectives, Clamp School Defenders, and Man of a Thousand Faces. Also, at one point in xxxHOLiC, Yuko mentions Subaru in passing, which would put Tokyo Babylon in the same world as Legal Drug; Suki; xxxHOLiC; and by extension, Tsubasa. However, Yuko is also known as the Dimension Witch, and it may not be the same world at all. The characters of Tokyo Babylon also show up in Tsubasa, radically changed.

Anime adaptation: Bad, very bad. Only the most hard-core CLAMP/Tokyo Babylon fans would get any enjoyment from the OVAs. Don’t watch it. Please don’t watch it.