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Creator / CLAMP

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L-R: Igarashi Satsuki, Nekoi Tsubaki, Ohkawa Nanase, and Mokona Apapa.

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 before breaking into the professional manga scene in 1989 with RG Veda. The original doujin circle was actually made up of 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 and X/1999, or between Kazuhiko and Suu (or Ora) in Clover as prime examples.)

Their manga work is characterized by a highly-detailed Shoujo 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 Hard Truth Aesop. Their work also runs the spectrum with some being extraordinarily cutesy and lighthearted, others being horrifically gory and violent, 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. 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.

The question of "which of their works is Most Important" can be difficult and contentious; virtually all of their works from The '90s and the turn of the millenium have very devoted fans and influenced fellow creatives in certain ways. The ones with the best arguments, however, are Magic Knight Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura, X/1999 and ×××HOLiC. Rayearth was one of the first Magical Girl Warrior stories to really escape the shadow of Sailor Moon, mostly by way of injecting some Super Robot and High Fantasy elements into the proceedings, and its influence is still felt to some degree today. Much more influential (and for many, the "best" candidate for importance) is Sakura, which became the final Trope Codifier of Magical Girl anime in the 90s; virtually everything produced in that genre in its wake owes something to it.

X is the most contentious, in that it was on the road to being massively influential - its movie version famously won over Roger Ebert - but its indefinite hiatus on a cliffhanger has largely worn away the affection it once inspired, and it has faded from the public consciousness significantly. When it was running, however, it was a massively influential work for its blend of Urban Fantasy and the apocalypse, and its visual style remains an all-pervasive influence on modern Japanese UF (it is very easy to draw a through-line from X to Persona 5, for example). Finally, ×××HOLiC... more or less defies classification. It's this strangeness and flexibility, however, that has left its mark on wider culture.

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 ×××HOLiC.

Some of their works:


Other works

Tropes common across most of their works:

  • Screw Destiny: Many characters in their works like to give destiny the middle finger. Whether they actually succeed in changing their fate is another story.
  • Shōjo Demographic: Most of their works are aimed at this demographic. Despite being primarily associated with shoujo, they have made shonen and seinen manga as well.
  • Significant Birth Date: April 1st is a birth date shared by a number of their characters, it's also the day CLAMP was formed.
  • Side-Story Bonus Art: Enough to fill whole libraries.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Depends of the work, but their most notorious works (Such as Cardcaptor Sakura) tend to be on the idealistic scale. Other works, such as X/1999 tend to be more cynical.
  • Stealth Sequel: Drug & Drop turned to be one to Wish. X/1999 also concludes Subaru and Seishirou's story from Tokyo Babylon.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Sakura and Syaoran in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-. See Mind Screw for more details.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: A few of their works feature this:
    • Cardcaptor Sakura features quite a bit of it; Sakura's parents met and fell in love when they were teacher and student, Toya had a previous relationship with his student teacher Kaho Mizuki (though they didn't start dating until after she quit), and in the manga, Sakura's friend Rika is in a relationship with their homeroom teacher (though in the anime, she simply has a Precocious Crush on him that he's oblivious to).
    • In Chobits, Hiromu Shinbo falls in love with his cram school teacher Takako Shimizu and ends up eloping with her, and later marrying her.
    • In Suki: A Like Story, main character Hina has a crush on her substitute teacher, though he rejects her feelings out of guilt from his past.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Especially in their more recent works, such as Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-.
  • Tokyo Tower: The tower's been used as a key locale in several of their series.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Only for their non-Japanese fans. Chobits assumes that the audience has some knowledge of how information technology has a divergent development path in Japan compared to the rest of the world, and awareness of some social issues facing the country. Gate 7 requires readers to know their history on the Sengoku Period.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Several characters tend to 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.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Completely evil villains are rare in their work. Most of the time, the antagonists are portrayed having very sympathetic motives, being Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, and plenty of them are genuinely good people who are forced to fight against the heroes due the circumstances.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: They were originally a yaoi doujinshi circle (with much of their doujinshi focusing on series such as Captain Tsubasa and Saint Seiya) before they became professional manga artists. While none of their professional works are officially in the Yaoi Genre, many of them feature at least a bit of Ship Tease between two male characters, as seen in their own Ship Tease page. One of their more infamous works is a doujin of Jotaro and Kakyoin having a son that hatched from an egg that Kakyoin somehow laid. They're also Yuri Fans and some of their works also have ship tease between female characters, though their doujinshi doesn't focus on yuri as much and their only true yuri work is Miyuki-chan in Wonderland.