Women In Comics Wiki

CLAMP (クランプ Kuranpu), is an all-female Japanese mangaka group that formed in the mid 1980s. Many of the group's manga series are often adapted into anime after release. It consists of their leader Nanase Ohkawa (大川 七瀬), who provides much of the storyline and screenplay for all their works and adaptations of those works respectively, and three artists whose roles shift for each series: Mokona (もこな), Tsubaki Nekoi (猫井 椿), and Satsuki Igarashi (いがらし 寒月). Almost 100 million CLAMP tankōbon copies have been sold worldwide as of October 2007.[1]

Beginning as an eleven-member dōjinshi circle in the mid 1980s, they began creating original work in 1987. By the time they debuted with RG Veda in 1989, their numbers were reduced to seven. In 1993, three more members left, leaving the four members who are currently still part of the group. Although since their debut, they produced many manga series, they first became famous with the release of Magic Knight Reyearth in 1993. They continued to create notable titles such as X (1992), Angelic Layer (1999). It was in 1999 however that they began writing Cardcaptor Sakura and became internationally famous. In 2006, each member decided to change her name; Ohkawa later changed her name back from Ageha Ohkawa to Nanase Ohkawa, while the other three members retained their new names.


Before their debut (1980s–1989)[]

CLAMP originally began in the mid 1980s[2] as an eleven-member dōjinshi circle named CLAMP Cluster. This included O-Kyon (お·きょん), Sei Nanao (七穂せい), Tamayo Akiyama (秋山 たまよ), Leeza Sei (聖りいざ), and Sōshi Hishika (日鷺総司), Kazue Nakamori (中森かずえ), and Shinya Ōmi (大海神哉). Like many dōjinshi groups, CLAMP did welcome guests in their team from time to time. For example, Yuzuru Inoue is often listed as the twelfth member of the group but was only a guest. The three artists of CLAMP—Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Satsuki Igarashi—first began drawing manga when they were either in middle or high school, inspired by friends. The three artists were good friends in the same school. They met Nanase Ohkawa when one of her friends befriended Mokona after buying a comic that she was selling, and through that connection, the four of them became friends. The original group of twelve members began to meet at every event held in Osaka and Kobe, which usually occurred once a month.[3] Before they began creating original work, the group produced dōjinshi of Captain Tsubasa, and yaoi dōjinshi of Saint Seiya.[1][4] However in 1987, the group stopped dōjinshi and began creating original work; it was at this time they began working on RG Veda.[2] Their first collaborative work was entitled "CLAMP", which they continued to work on until shortly after their debut.[3]

The group first decided to debut as professional comic writers when they decided to print the manga RG Veda that they had first began working on as a fan comic. After seeing the comic digest of the manga series that CLAMP decided to publish, an editor for Shinshokan's Wings manga magazine asked the group to work for them. They submitted an approximately sixty-page story as a sample of their talents, however the work was rejected. Ohkawa later lauded the draft stating that "everything was bad", attributing the quality to having never before completed a story as a cohesive group and to lack of experience. The group was given another chance at publication should they submit a new story that Shinshokan liked, and they submitted RG Veda.[3]

During this time before their official debut, the group moved to Tokyo and rented a small, two-bedroom apartment. Ohkawa stated that she thought she was "gonna die there." Nekoi stated that "the only private space [they] had was under [their] desk."[3]


By the group's professional debut in 1989 with the manga RG Veda, serialized in Shinshokan's Wings magazine, its members had gone down to seven.[5] During the production of the manga RG Veda, O-Kyon had left the group. In June 1990, Sei Nanao officially left the group(last mentioned in Shōten 6),[3] Sōshi Hishika (日鷺総司), Kazue Nakamori (中森かずえ), and Shinya Omi (大海神哉) officially left in March 1993 (as mentioned in the Shōten 3). In October 1992, Tamayo Akiyama and Leeza Sei officially left the group.

RG Veda was originally planned to be a single story rather than a series, although because of good reader response and higher-than-expected sales for its first volume Shinshokan permitted the group to create more volumes,[3] however after each chapter of the manga was released, Shinshokan threatened that it would cease serialization should its popularity fall.

In July 1989, Genki Comics began serializing Clamp's second work, Man of Many Faces. It also began serializing Duklyon: Clamp School Defenders in August 1991, which became the work that the three artists Mokona, Nekoi, and Igarashi enjoyed working on most.[6] In March 1990, Wings began serializing Tokyo Babylon. In December 1990, Monthly Asuka ran CLAMP School Detectives, and in May 1992, it began serializing X.

CLAMP was serialized by many other magazines and publishers including Kobunsha publishing Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales on June 10, 1992. In 1993, CLAMP released two different manga: in March, Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, which began serializing in Newtype, and in November, Magic Knight Rayearth which was serialized in Nakayoshi. Nakayoshi also began to serialize Cardcaptor Sakura in May 1996; Ohkawa, CLAMP's leader and storyboarder, particularly enjoyed working on Cardcaptor Sakura it was not tragedy, unlike many of her previous works.[6] Kadokawa Shoten published The One I Love on July 17, 1995. Wish first began serializing in Asuka Comics DX in October 1996. In December 1998, Suki: A Like Story began first serializing in Asuka Comics DX, and in January 1999, Angelic Layer first began serializing in Monthly Shōnen Ace.


In 2001, Young Magazine began serializing CLAMP's Chobits which completed its run in 2002. Although their previous works are targeted at a female audience, Chobits marked the first time CLAMP wrote for an older teen male audience.[7] CLAMP began writing the two works that tell separate parts of the same overaching plot, xxxHolic seralized in Young Magazine beginning in 2003 followed by Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle serialized in the Weekly Shōnen Magazine beginning in 2005. Tsubasa marked the first time CLAMP had ever tried writing for a younger male audience.[8]

In 2004, CLAMP's 15th anniversary as a manga artist group, the members changed their names from Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona Apapa, Mick Nekoi, and Satsuki Igarashi to Ageha Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi (her name is pronounced the same, but written with different characters) respectively.[9] To celebrate CLAMP's 15th anniversary, Tokyopop released a twelve-part magazine series entitled CLAMP no Kiseki that contained a plethora of information for fans.[10] The August 2004 issue of Newtype USA, a magazine specializing in events of the anime and manga subcultures, reported that the members of CLAMP simply wanted to try out new names. In a later interview with Ohkawa, it was revealed that initially Mokona wanted to drop her surname because it sounded too immature for her liking, while Nekoi disliked people commenting that her name was the same as Mick Jagger's. Ohkawa and Igarashi, wanting to go with the flow of Nekoi's and Mokona's name changes, changed their names as well.[9]

In 2006, Ohkawa made her first appearance overseas at the Taipei International Book Exhibition sponsored by Production I.G.[9] During an interview there, she announced that CLAMP would be making its first USA public debut at Anime Expo in July in Anaheim, California co-sponsored by Anime Expo, Del Rey Manga, Funimation and Tokyopop.[11][12] They were well received at the convention as fans completely filled all 6,000 seats present in the auditorium of the focus panel in addition to more on the waiting list.[6] By 2006, CLAMP had reportedly sold in excess of 90 million copies of their manga internationally.[13] Around this time, Ohkawa changed her name back (from Ageha to Ohkawa)

Business model[]

The members of CLAMP all share a single workplace and as such do not need to arrange specific meetings.[3] Nanase Ohkawa acts as the group's spokesperson, producer-director, and storyboarder.[14] Mokona is the chief character designer, while Igarashi and Nekoi work for the background; however, the three often shuffle their roles.[9] Sometime they may split the work of the characters and backgrounds or have one person draw all the art depending on the story. The three artists try to stay as "close as possible" to Ohkawa's original designs. Ohkawa advises the artists on what colors to use.[3] Although Ohkawa chooses which projects they decide to decline or accept, Satsuki Igarashi decides on the actual time and order the group works on each project, creating the schedules for time allotted to each individual work.[15] They do not have any assistants stating that assistants would slow them down as the assistants would not understand the "years worth of jargon" they created among themselves.[3]

Once Ohkawa has conceived a story, the four members of the group gather "to discuss the purpose of the story and its main characters." After the group become familiar with the story, Ohkawa drafts an outline for the story during which time, she determines the story setting.[3] The ending for each story is predetermined.[6] Ohkawa designs many of the characters early in the story's development; frequently appearing guest characters are designed from the beginning whereas minor characters are designed early on.[3] As Ohkawa drafts the outline, the other three members formulate character designs by creating character profile sheets so as to avoid confusion.[3] After drawing a sample story and sketch for their editor and receiving approval, Ohkawa assigns the roles to each group member and then chooses the visual styles depending on factors such as the complexity of the story, the chosen art style, and its relationship to the group's other works.[3][9][14][15] Ohkawa provides a rough draft for each chapter detailing things such as dialogue, panel size, props, movement, and character's emotions.[3]

On average for each chapter that they produce (for CLAMP, an average of 20 pages of artwork in a magazine), storyboarding takes twelve hours, the script takes eight hours to write, and the artwork depends on the story. For example, a chapter of xxxHolic takes two days whereas a chapter of X took four to five days.[6]


In general, Ohkawa gets her inspiration for the group from everyday events such as dreams or the news.[15] Unlike most mangaka who specialize in a single genre, CLAMP has created a diverse body of work.[14] CLAMP's genres vary widely, from childish and comedic (Cardcaptor Sakura, Clamp School Detectives) to much more dramatic and teen-rated (xxxHolic, X) series. Furthermore, drawing from the idea of Osamu Tezuka's Star System as they did in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle,[16] CLAMP often reuses characters from their own earlier works, which gives rise to a loosely defined "CLAMP Universe".[17]


The current members of CLAMP took art-focused classes during their high school. However, Tsubaki Nekoi feels that, aside from basic art skills, drawing manga requires a different skill set; however, since none of the group have worked as assistants for already established manga artists, most of their ability is self-taught.[15]

CLAMP's manga is distinguished by its diverse visual styles.[14] CLAMP's art changes frequently depending on the primary artist of a given project and the target audience; however, most of their works have characters with highly detailed hair, heavily stylized eyes and human figures, and elaborate clothing. In addition, sweeping curved lines are common in many of their shōjo manga. Clover is remarkable for its heavy use of negative space.[18]


Many CLAMP works span a wide variety of themes. As oppose to keeping consistent themes across their works or having individual themes for each work, Nanase Ohakawa stated "we come up with a new theme for each story. One thing to say each time". Their works often deal with the theme of human fate that relates to Ohkawa's view on life; Ohkawa believes that "fate is something you choose", not a "mystical force manipulating your destiny" such that with determination and resolve, "you can change your fate".[19] The idea that all events are inevitable due to past decisions (hitsuzen) as in Card Captor Sakura, Tsubasa Chronicle, and xxxHolic, and the idea that humans choose their destiny through their own efforts.

Also common is the idea of soulmates, or couples tied together by fate. CLAMP also explores the idea of chaste or pure love as in the manga Chobits. CLAMP's disregard for gender (or at times biological age) in these couples has led them to write normal homosexual couples into many of their manga in contrast to many other manga artists (for example, Touya and Yukito in Card Captor Sakura). A number of such couples have been shown together across parallel dimensions in the CLAMP multiverse. Although CLAMP often writes romantic works, Ohkawa has mentioned that she feels that it is more putting one's life on the line than love that causes women to grow or change.[15] However CLAMP never features love as a central theme, because Ohkawa state in an interview with Takeshi Oshiguchi in 1997 for Animerica that she is not "good at love stories" since her "idea of a relationship is different from that of a lot of other people."[19]

Perhaps drawing inspiration from Ohkawa's own poor right-eye vision, CLAMP frequently features one-eyed characters or characters that lose their sight in one eye as means to express the feeling of loneliness. However, there is always something later on that comes to supplement the loss in vision.[15]


From To English Translated Title Serialized in Status Volumes
1989 1996 RG Veda Wings Complete 10
1990 1991 Man of Many Faces Newtype Complete 2
1990 1993 Tokyo Babylon Wings Complete 7
1992 1993 Clamp School Detectives Monthly Asuka Complete 3
1992 1993 Duklyon: Clamp School Defenders Newtype 100% Comics Complete 2
1992 1992 Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales Monthly Asuka Complete 1
1992 X/1999 Monthly Asuka Halted 18
1992 1994 Legend of Chun Hyang Serie Mystery - Special Complete 1
1993 1995 Magic Knight Rayearth Nakayoshi Complete 3
1993 1995 Miyuki-chan in Wonderland Newtype Complete 1
1995 1995 The One I Love Young Rose Comics DX Complete 1
1995 1996 Magic Knight Rayearth 2 Nakayoshi Complete 3
1996 2000 Cardcaptor Sakura Nakayoshi Complete 12
1996 1998 Wish Monthly Asuka Complete 4
1997 1999 Clover Amie Halted 4
1999 2001 Angelic Layer Monthly Shōnen Ace Complete 5
1999 2000 Suki: A Like Story Monthly Asuka Complete 3
2000 Legal Drug Monthly Asuka To Be Resumed 3
2001 2002 Chobits Young Magazine Complete 8
2003 2011 xxxHolic Young Magazine, then Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine Complete 19
2003 2009 Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Weekly Shōnen Magazine Complete 28
2005 2011 Kobato. Monthly Sunday Gene-X, then Newtype Complete 6
2010 Gate 7 Jump SQ. Ongoing 2

Reception and awards[]

Mystery has surrounded the members of CLAMP as, in order to avoid being harassed by overzealous fans, they avoid making public appearances.[9] In polls conducted by marketing research firm Oricon, CLAMP was elected ninth most popular manga artist from Japan in 2007, while they were eighth in 2008, sharing the spot with Fujiko F. Fujio.[20][21]

Gen Fukunaga, the president and CEO of Funimation, has praised CLAMP as being "one of the most acclaimed groups of artists in Japan."[12] According to Charles Solomon, a journalist for The New York Times, CLAMP "ranks among the most successful creators of manga ... in Japan and the United States." Dallas Middaugh, associate publisher of Del Rey Manga, stated that CLAMP was a integral part of "manga explosion" that has been occurring in the United States over the past few years. He also praised the group's artwork and storytelling style as having "struck a strong chord with male and female manga readers."[14] The group was placed third after the winner for the Shogakukan Manga Award in the Children's category in 1999.[22] Their work Cardcaptor Sakura won the Seiun Award for best manga in 2001.[23] Almost 100 million CLAMP tankōbon copies have been sold worldwide as of October 2007.[1] Various of their selling series include xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle that have sold over eleven million and twenty million volumes, respectively.[24]

When asked about the universal popularity of CLAMP's works, John Oppliger of AnimeNation stated that although it is "not based on originality [or] their artistic skill", they possess a distinct style that "perfectly mesh[es] the conventional attributes of shōnen and shōjo manga". He also pointed out that CLAMP often "recycles" characters from their own earlier works, which gave rise to "a loosely defined 'CLAMP Universe' that gives much of their work a unifying tone", and creates "absorbing, complex narratives that appeal to both male and female readers". All these factors result in "a cult following devoted to anything and everything the group publishes".[17] The Anime Encyclopedia authors stated that "what­ever CLAMP are on, we'd like some".[25]

External links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Japan, Ink: Inside the Manga Industrial Complex Wired Magazine
  2. 2.0 2.1 Miteiru! vol. II, issue 3 February 2003
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 CLAMPノ絵シゴト NORTH SIDE (CLAMP Art Works North Side Illustration Book) Tokyopop, 2005
  4. "Homosexualité et manga : le yaoi" Manga: 10000 images (2008)
  5. Profile 1987
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Anime Expo 15 Cosplay 2006
  7. CLAMP no Kiseki Vol. 7 (2005) Tokyopop
  8. Tsubasa CHARACTer GuiDE (2006) Del Rey Manga, pages 126–132
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Interview with Ageha Ohkawa and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa Anime News Network
  10. Happy Birthday, CLAMP! Animefringe
  11. CLAMP scheduled for US appearance in July Anime News Network
  12. 12.0 12.1 CLAMP to make first U.S. appearance Anime News Network
  13. CLAMP at Anime Expo icv2
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Four Mothers of Manga Gain American Fans With Expertise in a Variety of Visual Styles New York Times
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 CLAMP Focus Panel and Press Conference, Anime News Network
  16. Fujie, Kazuhisa, Tsubasa Chronicle Factbook: Mystery, Magic & Mischief. DH Publishing, 2008
  17. 17.0 17.1 Ask John: What Makes CLAMP Works So Special? AnimeNation.
  18. Manga: Clover (CLAMP) vol.1 review Chibi Reviews
  19. 19.0 19.1 Anime Interviews: The First Five Years of Animerica, Anime & Manga Monthly (1992-97) (2005) Viz Media/Cadence Books. page 177
  20. [1] Oricon
  21. Oricon: Nana's Yazawa, DB's Toriyama are Most Popular Anime News Network
  22. Shogakukan Manga Award
  23. http://www.sf-fan.gr.jp/awards/list.html
  24. ツバサ :CLAMPの2000万部マンガが「完結」 6年の連載に幕 (Tsubasa: CLAMP manga of 20 million copies completed)
  25. Jonathan Clements, Helen McCarthy. The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917. Revised and Expanded Edition. — Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2006. — P. 635.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).