CLAMP, that group of 5 women masters of the manga format, are also some of the most prolific creators currently working in Japan. They tackle everything they do with intelligence and a great sense of drama, and happily, they create series for a variety of age ranges and audiences. Wish, a relatively short series at 4 volumes, is one of their sweeter tales, full of discussions of fate, desire, and faith. One phrase repeated over and over again is that everyone has a wish that cannot be realized alone. In typical CLAMP style, Wish‘s story is also one full of questions without easy answers and an ending that is, in truth, not an ending at all.

Wish features a cast full not only of angels, but God’s messengers, demons, and spirits of all sorts. One thing to remember about Wish is that like other CLAMP and manga series, the Christian symbolism and terminology will never match up with the familiar Western definitions or stories. Within Wish and in keeping with Western tradition, angels and demons are genderless and it is only for pronoun convenience that angels are referred to as female and demons as male. Angels’ powers and purposes are not the usual fare, and the rules of being an angel or demon vary depending on their status — a fledgling angel may only take full sized form during the day, while at night they remain child-sized, winged creatures. Demons follow the same rule, but at opposite times — at night they are at their full strength, while during the day they shrink. A more powerful angel retains their true form no matter the time of day. The world of Wish, featuring reincarnation and the balance of light and dark with Earth as a middle ground, in fact reflects more the sentiments of Buddhism and Shintoism than Western Christianity.

Also important to note that in this series while desire is the focus, there is no explicitness within the artwork. Characters are often proclaiming their love and desire, and even lounging about in each other’s arms, but the focus here is on the feeling, not any act. At the same time, there is discussion of sex in the sense that an angel or demon is expelled from their realm for having relations with any forbidden creature. One question that had me hung up for a while is that, if angels are as genderless as we are told, just what do they get up to in bed? I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering, and I predict older teens will be curious, but as with many things in CLAMP, it’s never explained nor seen.

CLAMP is famous for careful layouts and very cute character design– their women and teens have the traditional enormous eyes and long-limbed beauty that mark the manga style. Their men are distinctive, with impossibly broad shoulders crowned by little, tiny heads and elegant long limbs. As a reader goes through their entire canon, their style remains familiar, full of common manga visual cues including blowing flower petals; elaborate clothing; and dramatic panel layout favoring dynamic larger images peppered with key close-ups. I have personally become a big CLAMP fan, mainly for their gorgeous layouts and talent for creating poetry with images.

Wish is not perhaps their best work, but the angels’ and demons’ elaborate costumes are wonderful flights of fancy. It also tickles me that the Messenger of God is an adorable floating bunny that carries messages in the form of giant, floppy flowers.

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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