Thursday, July 26, 2012

MMF: CLAMP and Me


I found anime and manga relatively late--at least what's considered late now. Kids today have way more options then I did growing up, and more ways to find out about anime and manga. At the age of 12, during winter break 1996, I found a show called Sailor Moon. Three months later, during one of sickly runs I had often as a youth, I'd be awake at 3am and find a movie called EYES of Mars and some time later I found Tenchi Muyo in Love (the first movie) and then on July 11th, 1997 my dad took me to a comic book store (thanks to my brother) and I found MIXXzine.

I didn't buy Mixx that day (I spent my entire allowance on Sailor Moon artbook 3 in hardcover), but I made my dad take me back the next week and I picked up all the issues they had (the first 3 I believe). Inside was Magic Knight RayEarth, Sailor Moon and Parasyte--my first real taste of manga. Oh Mixx. Just like some people have a fondness for those old dubs with horrible sync issues, bad transfers or weirdly censored images, I have a great fondness for Mixx.

I fully admit to not quite being in love with Magic Knight RayEarth then. I was very much more into Sailor Moon and Parasyte (could they be more different?), and it would take a good half dozen issues for me to even do more then flip through MKR.

Somewhere in 1998 I found Anmerica Extra--likely because I found the anime Fushigi Yugi (and fell in love with Tasuki)--and the beautifully violent manga X/1999. X was more my speed back then--gorgeous visuals, lots of blood, lots of impossible fight scenes.

MIXXzine became SMILE, and brought a new CLAMP series--CLOVER, which is and will probably always remain, my favorite title of theirs. By this point I had read about half a dozen of CLAMP's titles, was looking forward to half a dozen more and had begun what would become an obsession with manga/anime in earnest.

MIXX became TokyoPop and with it more additions to my collection: Angelic Layer, Chobits, Suki Dakara Suki, The One I Love, Shirahime-syo, CLAMP School Detectives, Man of Many Faces, Tokyo Babylon, Chung-hyang, Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, Legal Drug, Cardcaptor Sakura, and CLAMP School Defenders Duklyon (I totally mis-spelt that).

I remember the first time I heard/read about Tsubasa. I was a member of the yahoo group Rosetta Stone Cafe (mostly for the Fruits Basket translations, as this is before TP picked it up) and someone posted a small picture of Li and Sakura, musing that the advertisement said it was a new CLAMP series. Speculation abounded--it wasn't a large picture and it clearly showed them a) older, b) in different costumes then CCS and c) Li was holding the Staff of Power.

Eventually we'd find out it was Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, a multi-verse epic fantasy that featured most (if not all) of CLAMP's many creations in a way we'd never seen before. I was in love. Simple as that. While CCS is a manga I enjoy, its not my FAVORITE and at the time I didn't appreciate it the same way I do now. But the blurbs that came out promised heartbreak, beautiful outfits and ANGST.

Long before Del-rey optioned it I was reading fan translations, importing the special hardcover editions and trolling every forum, message board, livejournal group and scanlation group for news about it. It was a certain obsession.

Now whether or not my early obsession panned out is for another day, I'll just say that there were ups and downs with that series and a feeling of confusion was pervasive.

More recent CLAMP works have been...all right. I didn't like Wish--and Kobato reminded me of that for some reason. Gate7 is pretty, but I don't feel a connection to it (it feels like an amalgamation of so many of their characters in other series ). xxxHolic, which I initially refused to touch (I HATED Watanuki with a passion), then became entranced by (Doumeki!!!), but ultimately I didn't like the direction it took. I suppose because it began as not quite as connected to Tsubasa, then gaining a significant connection that never felt like it MATTERED, before just...meandering for so long and ending on a sigh...it was annoying.

Here's the thing, I love CLAMP. As I said CLOVER tops my favorite mangas (of all time) and I genuinely enjoy at least looking at anything they create, even if I don't enjoy the series itself. Fantasy, slice of life, violence, mythology, scifi, romance, friendship, family, school troubles and comedy--they do everything under the sun, sometimes in the same series.  But I fully acknowledge CLAMP isn't for everyone.  That's okay, I'll continue to love them for some time and continue to try and convince others to.

What I Own

Graphic Novels:
Magic Knight RayEarth I and II - 6 volumes
Cardcaptor Sakura - first and second omnibus (6 volumes)
X (in Japanese) - 18 volumes
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles (English) 27 volumes + 1st Char Guide
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles (Japanese) 15 vols (hardcover) + 2 Char Guides
Clover (English) - omnibus + individual volumes (4)
Clover (Japanese) - 2 omnibuses, 4 individual volumes
The One I Love - 1 volume
Shirahime-Syo - 1 volume
Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland - 1 volume
CLAMP School Detectives - 3 volumes
CLAMP School Defenders - 2 volumes
Man of Many Faces - 2 volumes
Suki Dakara Suki - 3 volumes
Chobits - 8 volumes
Angelic Layer - 5 volumes
Legend of Chung Hyang - 1 volume
xxxHolic - 9 volumes

DVDs:
Clover Music DVD (import)
CLAMP in Wonderland 1 and 2 DVD (import)
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles seasons 1 and 2 + movie
X TV series DVD
RG Veda DVD
Tokyo Babylon DVD
Cardcaptor Sakura movie 1+2
Chobits series DVD
Angelic Layer series DVD

Artbooks, Etc:
CLAMP no Kiseki - 12 issues
CLAMP School Paranormal Investigators - 3 volumes (light novels)
Cardcaptor Sakura Artbooks 1+2 (TP edition)
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Artbook (Japanese edition)
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Artbook (English edition)
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle season 1+2 anime guidebooks (import)
xxxHolic season 1 guide book (import)
Magic Knight RayEarth artbook 1+2 (TP edition)

CLAMP as a group makes up a the majority of my manga collection.  Yumi Tamura comes in second, Chie Shinohara and Chieko Hosokawa come in third and Naoko Takeuchi and Kyoko Hikawa come in fourth.