The four women who make up the manga group CLAMP
(Ohkawa Nanase, the scriptwriter; Mokona Apapa, the lead artist; Igarashi Satsuki, the layout designer; and Nekoi Tsubaki, the character artist) are to manga (and manga turned into anime) what Megumi Hayashibara
is to voice acting. They began as doujinshi artists but went pro in 1989 with RG Veda
. The original doujinka group was actually ten
members (one of whom was a guy), but six of them left (one in 1990, two in 1992, and three in 1993), resulting in the four-woman team we know today. That Other Wiki
has a little more information on their contributions and accomplishments since in CLAMP's article
Since RG Veda
, nearly all of their work has been animated, a list which includes many of the staple series of anime.
A theme that runs through CLAMP
's works is that love transcends everything, particularly that pesky little thing called gender
. Note that this is not a "love conquers all
" kind of thing, as gender/age/being a robot/being a ruthless assassin/etc can be insurmountable barriers to having a functional relationship. No barrier can stop people from falling in love but it may very well prevent that love from reaching a happy resolution. (See the relationship between Tomoyo and Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura
, or the one between Sakurazuka Seishirou and Sumeragi Subaru in Tokyo Babylon
, or between Kazuhiko and Suu (or Ora) in Clover
as prime examples.)
Their manga work is characterized by a highly-detailed Shōjo
art style, though for budget reasons the designs are often simplified for animation. Their style underwent a noticeable change in the late 1990s when Mokona starting ceding more design responsibility to Igarashi and Nekoi. Nekoi's distinctive character designs are responsible for the "noodle people
" description common in fandom. CLAMP also errs on the shojo side thematically (despite being published in an unusually wide range of magazines, including Shounen and Seinen), and thus are very prone to drama
and painful family unfriendly
or broken aesops
. Their work also runs the spectrum with some being extraordinarily cutesy
, others being horrifically gory
, and others still being a mix of the two or everything in between. Being former doujinka, their work is also notable for a deliberately high degree of Fanservice
and Fetish Fuel
. Aside from that, Clamp loves inserting alternate versions of previous characters into other works
, a concept somewhat connected to the fact that their works take place in a large, interconnected multiverse
A quick note about the members of CLAMP
: In July of 2004, they all changed their pen names slightly. Mokona Apapa became simply Mokona, Ohkawa Nanase became Ohkawa Ageha, Nekoi Mikku became Nekoi Tsubaki. Igarashi Satsuki simply switched her family name into hiragana, and her given name into kanji. Nekoi and Mokona had been wanting to change their pen names for awhile; Ohkawa and Igarashi just went along for the hell of it. Ohkawa has since reverted to Ohkawa Nanase for attributions. At least three of them have used their names (partially or entirely) for characters in series
: Satsuki as Yatouji Satsuki in X
, Nekoi as Nekoi Yuzuriha in X
, and Mokona as Mokona in Magic Knight Rayearth
, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
, and Xxx Holic
Some of their works:
Tropes common across most of their works:
- Bishounen and Bishoujo
- Costume Porn: With long, lacy ribbons being a particular hallmark in their promotional art. Oddly, it only occasionally shows up in the actual stories themselves (and almost never in animated versions due to the cost of animating all that billowing ribbon properly).
- Chastity Couple: Only a very small minority of Official Couple's have ever been given a kiss scene, much less anything beyond that. Affection between individuals tends to instead be expressed through gentle gazes, hand-holding, hugging, and kisses given in places that aren't the lips (such as the forehead or cheek).
- Cultural Cross-Reference: When you see terms such as RG Veda, Ashura and even Samsaara, you know they've been studying Hinduism.
- Eye Scream: Because it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
- High School A.U.: The Horitsuba Gakuen omakes, which sics the entire CLAMP universe in an Elevator School, but focuses on the cast of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and Xxx Holic.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Not universal, but fairly common.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: They're really fond of making these. In fact, they're even requested to make clothing designs by other companies.
- Maybe Ever After: Their favorite ending...even in Denouements.
- Mind Screw: Deserves a special award! Their latest works have taken it Up to Eleven frying brain cells across their fandom and leaving a probable legacy of several decades worth of forum discussions, all of which add to the confusion even more. Trying to trace the law of causality after a case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero would cause more brain damage than the combined screws of Quantum Mechanics, Relativity, and Superstring Theory put together!
- Just one of the results was a situation where thanks to incorporating every single type of Time Travel, you can't say if it is Always Identical Twins, Alternate Self, Identical Grandson, Generation Xerox, Cloning Blues, My Own Grampa, Summers Family Tree, Everyone Is Related or a blow your brain combo of all of these put together simultaneously!
- And now look what's happened! After overdosing on this trope, things have reached a point where, now that both Tsubasa & Xxx Holic have ended, even Word of God has admitted that they too are rather confused over how everything turned out and want to re-read it.
- With Xxx Holic starting up again, who knows if it will bring some sense of coherency to this mess, or just further add to it.
- Missing Mom: Characters in their works will often have dead or absent mothers, sometimes plot significant other times not. Nadeshiko Kinomoto in Card Captor Sakura, Chu'nyan's mother in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Shuko Suzuhara in Angelic Layer and Saya's mom in Blood-C. are some examples.
- No Biological Sex: Sexless/genderless characters tend to pop up in their works:
- Ashura in RG Veda is explicitly said to have no physical sex as part of a curse to end the line of the Ashura clan with them. They don't identify with a gender, either.
- In X1999, Nataku is similarly sexless as a result of cloning. In the manga, it's implied that their gender is female, likely due to the fact that their genetic source was a young girl named Kazuki.
- In Wish, all angels are explicitly genderless, although many international translations incorrectly used gendered pronouns, with the Tokyopop translation in particular making them all female.
- Ruby Moon from Cardcaptor Sakura is technically genderless, but chooses to present herself as female because, as she puts it, girls get to wear cuter clothes and uniforms.
- Hana from Gate 7 is strongly implied to be genderless - Sakura calls into question whether or not Hana is female, and then, in response to Chikahito's confusion, neither confirms Hana's masculinity nor offers any form of clarification.
- A Shrug of God has also hinted that the Zashiki Warashi from Xxx Holic may not necessarily be either male or female, playing off old portrayals of the spirits in mythology and artwork, where their gender was often unclear.
- No Ending: Quite well known (and well critcised too) for open ended and unresolved closures.
- Noodle People: They arguably enforced this. When several of their works are in animated form, the character animation design are either good (several works animated by Madhouse) or bad (Xxxholic animated by Production I.G).
- Teacher/Student Romance: Even in elementary school. Where it is treated as wholesome.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Especially in their more recent works, such as Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
- Various Twin Tropes
- Always Identical Twins: Maru and Moro from Xxx Holic, Nene and Nono Motoe from Blood-C, Fai and Yuui from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.
- Horitsuba Gakuen plays with this by making identical characters twins, so Elda and Freya show up as twins, as do Syaoran and his clone from TRC. (Apparently, CCS!Sakura is TRC!Sakura's cousin, further tangling the Tangled Family Tree). Both Fai and Yuui also show up, which leads to tons of confusion as to which twin is which.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Subaru, after Hokuto's death. Fai as well, whose motivations are all centered around his dead twin.
- Creepy Twins: Maru and Moro, Kazehaya and Kei from Drug & Drop, although admittedly that's mostly on Kei's part. Kamui and Subaru from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, by virtue of being vampires. There's also the Motoe twins.
- Evil Twin: Kei, to Kazehaya, sort of. Subverted with Fai and Yuui.
- Half-Identical Twins: Subaru and Hokuto Sumeragi from Tokyo Babylon, and Tachibana and Sugihime from Manga/Gate7, the former of which is an expy of Subaru. Kazehaya looks a lot like Kei, too.
- Theme Twin Naming: Subaru is named for the Pleiades. He and Hokuto were born under the North Star, but as she was born first, the actual name ("hokuto") went to her; both are examples of a Meaningful Name. Tachibana ("wild orange") and Sugihime ("cedar") are both named for trees.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Several characters tend of wear different sets of clothes. Sakura Kinomoto, Yuko Ichihara and Kimihiro Watanuki (who later inherited the shop) are usually the ones who wear different clothes frequently.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Several of their youngest characters exhibit wisdom far beyond what their age would really allow.