The life of a mangaka isn't easy in Japan despite how talented you are, simply because there are so many eligible candidates to be chosen that it creates a lot of friction. Furthermore, being a female mangaka poses more of a challenge since there's a lot more pressure on them in an economy that is very male driven. This didn't stop the team of Clamp, a team consisting of four female mangaka, however, as they came out of the gates with a burning passion to overthrow the status quo and make a name for themselves as one of the greatest mangaka renown not only in Japan but worldwide. We now will present to you, Top 10 manga by Clamp which still continue to shine on in the hearts of many fans worldwide.
10. Tokyo Babylon
- Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Shojo, Shonen, Supernatural
- Volumes: 7
- Published: 1990 - 1993
Tokyo Babylon follows the life of Subaru Sumeragi, a 16 year old Onmyou medium who is also the head of the Sumeragi Clan. His mission is to help and provide for ghosts and spirits with the help of his twin sister, Hokuto, and his friend, Seishiro. A new threat appears in town however, as pollution makes its way into the city and evil supernatural enemies threaten to terrorize the city. Subaru must now band together with his sister and Seishiro to protect the world from a myriad of problems that now have risen from out of the blue.
What makes this manga so fascinating is that despite having a very heart warming story of relationship building and companionship, the story became very popular due to its strong ties to occultism and social themes that had been taking place during its initial release in Japan. Tokyo Babylon also became very notorious for having one of the most tragic endings that a mangaka has ever written, which became somewhat of an inspiration for Clamp's upcoming X. Those who have had the opportunity to read through the entire series have stated how captivating the story was, and how each volume continued to escalate keeping you on the edge of your seat at all times. Everything was so gripping that many found it very hard to put down the book, while others succumbed to tears after just the third volume. Truly a remarkable start for a team of innovative women who helped to bridge the gap for more female mangaka to make waves.
9. RG Veda
- Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Shojo, Supernatural
- Volumes: 10
- Published: 1989 - 1996
RG Vega is Clamp's debut work that released in 1989. 300 years ago, a powerful overlord rebelled against the heavenly emperor. After disposing of the emperor, the warlord crowned himself as the new ruler, creating a new regime of terror. However a prophecy states that The Six Stars will one day assemble to topple the warlords plans of dominance. Ashura, the last of the Ashura Clan, along with the ruler of Yashia must come together to find the Six Stars fulfill the prophecy.
The series ran for a span of 10 volumes which lasted until 1996 and created a lot of buzz for Clamp as they then became one of Japan's leading mangaka for their unique approach to story telling. Their earlier works have become a learning guide for many upcoming artists, since it demonstrates detail at the highest quality despite its age, and remarkable character development that gives the reader something to stay attached to. What drives RG Veda home is how gritty and chilling it is, since it reminds us of how corruption can create catastrophic results for even the most safest of societies, and that all it takes is one dictator to tip the scales in a deadly way.
- Genres: Psychological, Action, Drama, Fantasy, Shojo
- Volumes: 18
- Published: May 1992 – March 2003
X or also known as 1999 in the west, released in May of 1992 and went on for another 11 years before going on an indefinite hiatus in March 2003. The reason for the hiatus was that magazine editors of the then popular Monthly Asuka stated that the series contained gratuitous amounts of violence, which wasn't very suitable. X looks at the life of Kamui Shiro who returns to Tokyo after a six year absence. His mission was very simple; protecting those closest to him, while fulfilling the dying wish of his mother to create a new destiny. Kamui is a young man who was born with the power to decide the fate of the world, and only he can do so through his own beliefs. However, this doesn't come easy as groups called the “Seven Seals” and “Seven Harbringers” stand in his way as he must destroy them before they decide to destroy the world.
In spite of the series being catered more to a female audience, Clamp decided to throw in more violent and grotesque scenes to invoke some attention towards the Seinen (Teenage boys) crowd, which proved to be very successful. Clamp really wanted to try something new and so they decided to dive deeper into the apocalyptic world using various end of the world scenarios, myths, and Clamp's own modern mythology which was derived from the Apocalypse of John. The story really grabs your attention as your left in a constant flux of twists and turns that ultimately end up creating a wonderful piece of psychological adventure.
7. Magic Knight Rayearth
- Genres: Shojo, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Mecha
- Volumes: 3
- Published: November 1993 - February 1995
Magic Knight Rayearth is one of Clamp's older franchises, releasing back in November 1993 and running until February of 1995. The series ran for a span of 3 volumes and focused primarily on the shoujo demographic. The story focuses on three girls, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, as they all take a terrible trip as they all fall through the floor of the Tokyo Tower leading them to a mysterious world called Cephiro. Their will is what controls their very destiny, as every move they make must be decided very carefully. They eventually confront Guru Clef, who tells them they were summoned to save the Princess Emeraude, who has been imprisoned by the evil High Priest Zagato. They must band together to learn more about magic, while acquiring weapons to save Emeraude and save Cephiro from the stranglehold Zagato has on the society.
Clamp conceived their idea of Magic Knight when the popularity of RPG's and robot anime skyrocketed in Japan. It was due to the popularity of such magical girl manga such as Sailor Moon that inspired the team to create the series. Ohkawa mentioned that a major part of the success of Magic Knight was due to its very grim destiny, sacrifice, and that humanity's fate is determined by one's actions. The planet of Cephiro is basically an exaggerated version of Earth and how we must use our own judgment when following through on our purpose, because of how big of an impact it can have on those around us.
6. Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer (Battle Doll Angelic Layer)
- Genres: Shonen, Action, Comedy, Drama, Game, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 5
- Published: July 1999–October 2001
The series takes place in the same universe as Chobits, which emphasizes the relationship between humans and computers, along with superhuman powers. Misaki, a seventh grader who decides to move to Tokyo to live with her aunt, discovers a game named Angelic Layer while viewing a big screen outside of Tokyo Station. In the game, players called Deus buy and custom design special dolls known as Angels. They have the ability to move by mind control when placed on the field called layer. Misaki must now fight in the biggest tournament in her life, using her newly designed Angel, while overcoming the challenges that are presented in front of her.
Angelic Layer takes place roughly three years before the world of Chobits, but both of them use the same universe and similar premise pertaining to the relationship between human and computer. Angelic Layer is one of the first manga that Clamp decided to focus more on gesture and posing than on detail, which paved the way for other popular manga such as Chobits to take off in a big way. It's very colorful concepts of friendship emphasized the importance that through our common interests, even friends from different walks of life can come together as one.
- Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Shojo
- Volumes: 4
- Published: 1997- 1999
The story of Clover takes place in an anti-Utopian future, where the government has set out to capture and control children called “Clovers”, who possess very strong supernatural powers. Each child is tattooed with a symbol of the Clover Project, with the number of leaves indicating that child's potential power level. Sue, the main protagonist of the series, is the only child who is branded with a 4-leaf clover, and thus was imprisoned to prevent contact with other humans. The government fears that she may develop feelings and be used as a powerful weapon that could potentially threaten the country's national security.
Many manga reviews state how Clover is arguably Clamp's best artwork they've ever created, retaining a high level of detail, and very strong story plot that appeases both the male and female audiences. Ohkawa mentions that the story requires two further books to complete the very deep story, and that the manga was originally conceived as a four part story. The first two volumes comprise the first half and explain much of the main story. The next two are mainly flashbacks which explain various incidents that effect the overall direction of the protagonist.
4. Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicles
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Shonen
- Volumes: 28
- Published: May 2003 - October 2009
If there's one thing you'll notice, it's that the team at Clamp love to combine their stories together to create a very unified universe. This unique characteristic of this female mangaka team is what truly makes them stand out above the rest. Tsubasa is a shounen manga series which follows Sakura, the princess of the Kingdom of Clow, who loses all of her memories, and how childhood friend Syaoran must rescue her from danger. Syaoran is instructed by other characters to seek out Sakura's memories, which are scattered throughout various worlds in the form of a feather. He realizes that this is the only way for her survival and so he must go through many battles in order to save her soul.
One very interesting tidbit of information and selling point about this series is that Clamp drew their inspiration from the father of manga, Osamu Tesuka, adopting his Star System style into their manga. In the system, characters with the same name and design are used in a variety of settings, using the vast character pool from within the company (Clamp), and occasionally from the works of others. This allows for the same characters to be used throughout other stories, and share the same universe creating all an out action packed masterpiece. Tsubasa's theme focuses on the fragile aspects pertaining to human relationships, as you'll see with Sakura and Syaoran throughout the story, and it educates the reader on the importance of valuing what you have, and never to take things for granted.
- Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: September 2000 - October 2002
Chobits tells us the story of Hideki, who comes across a thrownout personal computer (パソコン in Japanese) with a human anatomy, and decides to name it “Chi”, since it is the only word it can articulate. Hideki's friend Yuzuki concludes that Chi may be one of the legendary Chobits, a series of PCs that take on the free will and emotions of a human. The series focuses on the relationship between human and computer, while coming to understand Chi's origin through many wonderful experiences. The world of Chobits takes place in the very same world of Angelic Layer, but takes place a few years after that initial story.
Clamp's writer Ageha Ohkawa expressed that Chobits was more of a crossover into many of their other stories such as Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicles, and shares some connectivity throughout the story. Chi's design to be a PC stemmed from Ohkawa's wish to create emotional discomfort whenever she became emotionally triggered by certain events in the story. During its release Chobits was a huge success, because it was Clamp's first ever attempt to appeal to a male audience, and it paid off extremely well. The idea came from the team's own experiences using computers, which would always give them error messages they couldn't quite understand. They all insisted on adding a more sexier feel to the overall concept, and thus the world of Chobits came into fruition.
2. Cardcaptor Sakura
- Genres: Shoujo, Adventure, Fantasy, Drama, Romance, Magic
- Volumes: 12
- Published: May 1996 – June 2000
The story of Cardcaptor Sakura follows Sakura, a student who comes to realize she possesses magical powers after accidentally releasing a special set of magical cards that had been sealed away for years. Sakura is then given the responsibility to retrieve all of the cards in order to prevent catastrophe from destroying the world. The Cardcaptor series is mainly focused on the young female audience (症状ーShojo) which is a very large audience across the globe.
One thing to note when reading Cardcaptor Sakura is that she very seldom wears the same outfit when in battle. Clamp states that this was because other magical girl manga had the main protagonist wearing the same outfit, and they wanted Sakura's transformations to be different every time. This created a very unique style that became a huge merit to the success of the series, which many mangaka now use to design characters. The series has become very successful, releasing movies, along with an ongoing sequel to the series titled Cardcaptor:Clear Card Arc.
- Genres: Comedy, Mystery, Drama, Supernatural, Seinen
- Volumes: 19
- Published: February 2003 - February 2011
xxxHolic is one of the first manga to ever be published overseas by a western company, and so it's deserving of the number one spot for good reason. The original series ran for 19 volumes but it's sequel, xxxHolic:Rei is still ongoing with three volumes consisting of 50 chapters. Interestingly enough, this series coincides with Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicles as they both take place in the same fictional universe. The story follows the life of Kimihiro, who is disturbed by his ability to come in contact with the supernatural, and supporting protagnist Yuuko, a witch who owns a wish-granting shop. Desperate to rid of this supposed curse, Kimihiro insits that Yuuko remove it, but she requires that he work for her in order to remove it. The two embark on an adventure solving mysterious crimes, disposing of supernatural encounters along the way, and valuing new friendships.
xxxHolic is a very popular series that Clamp put a lot of work into, and we can clearly see it in the global success it attained. For those wondering what the “xxx” refers to, it takes on the Japanese way of saying “fill in the blanks”, which is a premise for what the actual story discusses. Clamp wanted to embrace the problems of people with several habits such as alcoholics, and workaholics, so having the reader fill in those blanks, it created a bigger expansion when thrown in with a supernatural setting. This served as a parallel to real life and provided more meaning overall to the direction of the story.
Clamp's overwhelming success should be a testament to anyone out there who feels that they can't make it. They ran through the trenches of an industry that was very cut throat, male dominated, and skyrocketed to stardom with a strong devotion to their craft. Success should never be associated with gender, and the members of Clamp have proved that in a remarkable way to anyone willing to become an artist. All it takes is a little perseverance, persistence, and most importantly the passion to power through. Let us know which Clamp manga you loved most and post your comments below! As always, for your sweet manga fill, always be sure to stay updated at Honey's Anime. See you again soon!