Manga / Tokyo Babylon

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Where else on earth do so many people enjoy their descent into destruction?

"Do you love Tokyo? "

Tokyo Babylon is a seven-volume manga series by CLAMP. It had two OVA movie adaptations, both independent of the manga, and one Live-Action Adaptation which takes place some years after the manga. It's also a prequel of sorts to X1999, where the characters of Subaru, Seishirou, and Hokuto act the rest of their adventure and reveal their last secrets.

The year is 1990. The city is Tokyo, a busy megalopolis where people are caught in dreams, anonymity, loneliness, sadness and crushed hopes underneath the fevered rush for success and wealth.

Sometimes the high-pitched emotions and acute despair manifest themselves into ghosts and curses. Enter Sumeragi Subaru, 13th head of the Sumeragi clan and a 16-year-old onmyouji. He uses his spiritual power and genuine compassion to help people, exorcise trapped spirits and undo maledictions. In this modern world, where nothing is truly black and white, this is hardly easy, especially because of Subaru's tendency to care too much for people.

His twin sister Hokuto is there to help him, to cheer him up, and to make him wear eccentrically fashionable clothing. Sakurazuka Seishirou is a (male) 25-year-old gentle veterinarian friend of the twins, who professes to love Subaru. Hokuto thinks that making them a couple would be a marvelous idea, even though - or maybe because - she believes that Seishirou is the mysterious Sakurazukamori, an assassin onmyouji said to protect Japan from the shadows.

The series mixes a mood of upbeat cheerfulness with dark social commentary and a deceptively naive tone.


Provides examples of:

  • Act of True Love: In a platonic example, Hokuto does this towards and for both Subaru and Seishirou. Even while knowing Seishirou is dangerous, Hokuto knew from the start that Subaru would fall in love with him so she pushed the two of them together. When Seishirou's true nature is revealed and he shatters Subaru's heart, Hokuto does this again when she takes Subaru's place so Seishirou will murder her instead of her brother. In X1999 it is revealed that she also gave Seishirou both a Last-Second Chance and a warning telling him that everyone deserves love and that if he ever tried to kill Subaru the same way he killed her, the death will be reversed and Seishirou would die by his own hand.
  • An Aesop: The main theme of the series is that no one knows what's in people's heart, and no one can judge others' pain and suffering.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Subaru is easily the cutest character in the manga, and gets broken so bad he's still hurt several years later.
  • Canon Welding: Like most of CLAMP's works, it's been tied and referred to their other works, mainly X1999, XX Xholic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Subverted in that they're mostly used for creepy effect.
  • The City: For once, Tokyo isn't particularly the center of the universe.
  • The Clan: Two of them, the Sumeragi and The Sakurazukamori. They have been around, serving the emperor and protecting Japan since the Heian period. The Sakurazukamori is an interesting case, as it's actually a clan of one person.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: One of the first Clamp series to do this. xxxHolic is in many ways its Spiritual Sequel.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: Most notably on Subaru's clothes.
  • Crossover: With X1999.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Various references to the "Bet", eventually explained in the end.
  • Cult: A sect is featured in one of the "Save" case.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Used several times. Of course, it is part of Subaru's job to have these, and he usually recognizes them for what they are.
  • Destructive Romance: One of the greatest examples ever.
  • Downer Ending: Hokuto dies at Seishiro's hands, and it's not until X1999 that we truly learn the full implications of what she did
  • The '80s: Although set in the early nineties, the atmosphere is more reminiscent of the Eighties flavour - especially the official soundtrack.
  • Evil Phone: Features in one of the cases where girls who abuse magic chat and curse their victims through.
  • Eye Scream: Well, it's CLAMP. What did you expect?
    • First case is in "Save", where a girl who gets bullied tries to stand up but gets stabbed in the eye for her troubles.
    • Later, and more importantly, is Seishirou getting his right eye stabbed by getting in between Subaru and a desperate mother trying to get a healthy kidney for her sickly son.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Subaru has almost recurrent dreams about meeting a teenager in front of a cherry tree as a child. It's not a dream, it's a memory.
  • Foreshadowing: Book 3. Take a guess to what.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Subaru meets Seishirou as he cradles his kill, and they end up making a promise. Years later Subaru only remembers this as a vague dream, and has little idea why Seisshirou has suddenly appeared in his life as a suitor. Unfortunately the memory isn't a very happy one, once it's revealed.
  • Functional Magic: Onmyoujitsu, mostly dealing with curses and counter-curses, kekkai (protective barrier), exorcism, maboroshi (illusion worlds), shikigami (spirit familiars) and other traditional spells.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Despite being Polar Opposite Twins Hokuto and Subaru look almost the same.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hokuto pulls one at the end.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The girls who abuse magic.
  • Kill the Cutie: Hokuto.
  • Klingon Promotion: The Sakurazukamori's succession ritual is killing their predessesor. If Subaru's case is to be taken, then anyone who gets to kill the Sakurazukamori inherits the name and job, bloodline be damned.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Hokuto often inquires as to whether Seishirou is connected to the Sakurazukamori clan, and Seishirou follows up by immediately changing the subject - which Hokuto follows up by telling him he is changing the subject. To make sure we caught that, apparently.
  • Love Epiphany: After a chat with a blind man, Subaru discovers that he holds Seishirou in a highter position that even his sister and is he's only person in the world he doesn't want to hate him and was very scarred that would be the case since Seishirou just lost his eye (and overtime, his eyesight) for his sake. All this let his to realize that, indeed, he has fall in love with Seishirou. And just a few steps intro a room after that moment, he suffers one of the biggest Break the Cutie in the history of CLAMP.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: When the glasses come off, the Sakurazukamori turns on.
  • Monster of the Aesop: When people misuse magic, there's a underlayer of personal issues that often transmit some wisdom over people's troubles and how they deal with them
  • No Antagonist: Despite Seishirou's horrible actions towards Subaru at the final volume, it's clear that the real evil is Tokyo itself, as its bad influence on people was hurting Subaru way before that one man did.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: In this case it's ominous Sanskrit chanting.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Seishirou goes beyond the lines to keep Subaru alive, since he's waiting for the end of the "bet" to see if Subaru is to be killed or not by Seishirou himself.
  • Onmyodo: The main magic tradition utilized in the series.
  • Parental Abandonment - The only 'parent' is the grandmother, who lives in Kyoto. Subaru and Hokuto live on their own in Tokyo.
  • Rape as Drama: Midori, a schoolgirl who's so horrendously traumatized after being raped that she falls into a coma. Subaru has to dive into her consciousness to rescue her.
  • Ripped from the Headlines - Several cases were obviously inspired from recent or common society issues.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Subaru and Seishirou.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: A little ghost girl's last message to Subaru before her departure:
    "Maybe people who do bad things...are just lonely."
  • Thanatos Gambit: As revealed in X1999, Hokuto was pulling one of these when she left Seishiro kill her.
  • Theme Naming: All the main characters are named for stars and constellations.
  • Tokyo Tower: Subaru's second case in volume One is the ghost of a woman who commited suicide, but liked the Tokyo Tower so much that her spirit stayed there.
  • Twist Ending: Somewhere between The Untwist and the Wham Episode, Sure, everyone was expecting for Seishirou to be the Sakurazukamori, but few would expect his reasons for sticking around and the amount of cruelty he displays.
  • Unfinished Business - Usually only requires a visit from Subaru the traveling psychologist.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue - One of the Annex chapters.
  • Will They or Won't They? - Will Subaru succumbs to Seishirou's advances as Hokuto urges him?
  • Winds of Destiny, Change - Horribly played with and possibly deconstructed in the first OAV, where Shinji Nagumo uses his supernatural luck to cause several accidents... of which he comes out unscathed, but his co-workers and superiors come out dead.
  • The World Tree - A rather ominous cherry tree where the Sakurazukamori buries his kills.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko - Grandmother Sumeragi is an older, harsher version.
  • You Are Too Late: Subaru realizes his true feelings for Seishirou just the day Seishirou declares that the time is up and Subaru lost the bet.

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