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Thursday, February 14, 2013

THIS is Romance? Valentine's Day Edition

THIS is Romance? Special Edition

So its that special day of the year when romance is in the air, couples of celebrating their love and consumerism dictates that if you don't buy flowers, candy and jewelry your special lady will leave you in the dirt.

Oh boy its Valentine's Day folks.

Not since primary school have I cared overly much for this holiday.  I loved receiving Valentine's Day cards with those goofy corny sayings and cheesy pictures of heroes with hearts or animated creatures with flowers saying "I woof you!"

As an adult I've taken a much more practical approach to the whole thing.  Every year since I was 18 instead of hoping I'd have a significant other to buy me something, I've bought it for myself.  Spend a bit more on a book than usual, buy a DVD or a video game.  Whatever I wanted.  Even when I had a significant other.

More power to those couples who enjoy the holiday, just remember you're celebrating a holiday built around a Saint who was stoned and beheaded.

Today I want to discuss some of my favorite couples from CLAMP's works.  Because no one does creepy romance like CLAMP.

Hokuto, Subaru and Seishiro in Tokyo Babylon

Seishiro Sakurazuka and Subaru Sumeragi (Tokyo Babylon, X)

Tokyo Babylon is set 9 years before X and began as a light hearted, slightly cynical supernatural manga about a 16 year old onmyoji (Subaru) running around helping restless spirits move on with his boundless positivity (and badass powers).

With the help of his identical twin sister Hokuto and their kindly neighbor the veternarian Seishiro Sakurazuka, things were peachy.  Especially after Subaru had an epiphany of love for Sei-chan.

Except for the fact Sei-chan was descended from a long line of assassins, who promised 9 year old Subaru that one day they'd meet again and he bet Subaru's life on the fact that he wouldn't care about him and be perfectly happy killing him.  Then killed his adorable twin sister who was rooting for them to fall helplessly in love because she came to tell him that Sei-chan could be more than his family.

In X Subaru-kun is a chain-smoking, antagonistic loner, still quite powerful but hellbent on only one thing--complete revenge against Sei-chan.  That the fate of the world was held in the balance meant little to him as long as Sei-chan died.  Horribly.  At his hands.

Fuuma (top), Kamui (middle) and Kotori (bottom) in X

Fuuma Monou and Kamui Shiroi (X)

Childhood best friends Fuuma, Kamui and Kotori were happy go lucky kids--until Fuuma and Kotori's mother died pulling a sword out of her body.  Kamui is whisked away only to return as a moody teenager with supernatural powers.  Fuuma and Kotori are much the same, if more serious and attempt to be besties with him again.  He resists, but eventually gives in.

Unfortunately for Kamui the fate of the world is in his hands and after choosing a side his best bud Fuuma pulls a Jekyl and Hyde, butchers Kotori and than spends the rest of the (currently unfinished on hiatus) manga gleefully granting everybody's wishes in the most horrific and ironic way possible.

(if you're sensing a theme here, trust me its purposeful on CLAMP's part.  It doesn't pay to be the loveable sister in CLAMP's world)

Oruha and Kazuhiko in Clover
Kazuhiko and Oruha (Clover)

This is possibly the least tragic, in terms of how it happens.  Part of the four volume Clover series, we originally only hear about Oruha in the past tense, as a lover of Kazuhiko's who died and who Su conversed with via phone.  Oruha is in fact what connects Kazuhiko and Su.

In the last volume we read Oruha's story.  She's also a Clover Leaf Child, but only a one Leaf, meaning she knows when she'll die.  A talented singer, she meets Kazuhiko and begins a passionate affair with him, never telling him the truth.  Inevitably, just as she foresaw, Oruha is killed (though we're never told why or by who) and Kazuhiko is left heart broken.

Zagato and grown-up Emeraude in Magic Knight Rayearth

Zagato and Emeraude (Magic Knight Rayearth)

This is another series that begins fluffy and then it like 'btw have angst!' quite suddenly.  We begin the story with three Tokyo teens being whisked away to save the land of Cephiro at the behest of the Princess Emeraude.  The land is being ravaged and she's being held captive.  So the girls are the heroes!  They save the day!  The rescue the princess!

Except not.

Emeraude is what is known as the 'Pillar of the world', her prayers keep Cephiro a Utopia like Fantasyland.  As such she can't ever fall in love because she'd put that person before everyone else (this is similar to Su in Clover, as a four leaf she could never fall in love and had to be kept isolated).  Sadly she fell in love with Zagato, grew up, wanted womanly things and did not take kindly to the saviors she had brought to the world rescuing her.

Sakura and Syaoran...yes there's two sets of them
Sakura and Syaoran...and Sakura and Syaoran (Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle)

I have my reservations about this series, 'cause I think CLAMP overdid it with the dramatic twists, but the Sakura and Syaoran relationship possibly got the most confusing end of the stick.  First yes, those are the characters from Cardcaptor Sakura, but no they are not the same characters.  Second yes there are two completely different sets, both with the same names (technically), in the series.

For a good deal of the series we follow what we'll consider Syaoran 2 and Sakura 1 on madcap adventures through different dimensions trying to retrieve her memories.  Awesome. Great.  Then we find out there's another Syaoran who could or could not be evil.  Okay, well clones are nothing new in CLAMP's world.  THEN we find out that there's a clone of Sakura and that Syaoran 1 was running around with Sakura 1 very briefly before she became Sakura 2.  With me still?

And this is a massive spoiler for the series:  Sakura 2 and Syaoran 2 are actually Syaoran 1's mother and father--yes who look exactly like Sakura 1 and Syaoran 1--that must stay trapped between time and space in order for Syaoran 1 and Sakura 1 to be together!  Which doesn't happen because who the hell does that to their parents?! [/end spoiler]

Lessons Learned:

So what did we learn from CLAMP everybody?  Don't fall in love in their series.  Those are the tragic stories, there's also Touya and Yukito (Cardcaptor Sakura, in which Touya sacrificed his powers to bring Yukito back), Arashi and Sorata (X, in which when Sorata met his true love [Arashi] he would one day die for her), Yuko and Clow Reed (Tsubasa/xxxHolic, Clow accidentally freezes Yuko in time to prevent her from dying), and Hideki and Chi (Chobits, if they ever have sex Chi will forget he exists...she's also a robot).

And lest you think its just romantic love that gets screwed over in CLAMP's world, non-romantic love gets screwed up too.  Twins, or clones, are a big part of CLAMP's body of works.  And it almost never ends well for them.  Either one dies from an external force, one dies because of the other, both die, they become enemies and/or one does kill or attempts to kill the other's love interest.

Yep.  Looks like I know which Universe I'm never jumping too...