Four characters — an awkward but relatable boy, a happy-go-lucky boy who looks out for the team, a grave, serious boy, and a love interest — use magic to fight the forces of evil. Sound familiar? That’s because these characters, in one form or another, are present in every CLAMP manga. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just that none of these characters is original. They’re all taken from other CLAMP works. And because this is CLAMP, I feel the need to specify that these aren’t literally the same characters (like they were in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles), CLAMP is simply reusing the basic CLAMP personality types. Again. So if you don’t like CLAMP, don’t even bother reading this review because this manga is CLAMP at their CLAMP-iest.
For everyone still here, let’s keep going: Chikahito (our protagonist) realizes his lifelong dream to visit Kyoto. On his first trip there, he accidentally stumbles onto Hana (the love interest), Sakura (the carefree team “mom”), and Tachibana (the resident grump) banishing a demonic creature. They knock him out but when he comes to, they apologize. Now that they know that he’s not a spy, they feed him and try to erase the memories of what he saw. It doesn’t work and he runs away from them. A few months later, back in Kyoto to study, he meets up with them again. Or rather he meets up with Hana, who drags him along with her, and thus the adventures begin!
Despite my familiarity with the prototypes, I found this a really interesting read. CLAMP is good at creating well-rounded characters. So although it is basically reusing characters we’ve seen before, these characters have depth and heart. CLAMP also takes the long view of storytelling, so even though it brings up many things without payoff, it leaves the reader with the sense that, as the series continues and grows, these mysteries will be resolved.
The high point with CLAMP is always the art, and this volume is no exception. Beautiful scenery, highly stylized battles, interesting-looking monsters, swirly magic and lavish two-page spreads are all par for the course. The volume is a true treat to look at.
This is suitable for all ages and it is well worth a read both for longtime CLAMP fans and for those just starting out.
Gate 7, Volume 1
Art by CLAMP
Dark Horse, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: 13