October 10, 2004


They're not the greatest innovators in the comics medium, their stories aren't the most original, and their artwork -- while distinctive -- isn't the most accomplished. Yet the four ladies of CLAMP have earned themselves one of the most vocal and active fanbases in all of manga. While their artistic merits are debatable, CLAMP is unquestioned when it comes to pulling in readers from that vital 13-24 demographic. And so it is that they've launched CLAMP No Kiseki, a retrospective on their 15-year body of work.

CLAMP No Kiseki is essentially a periodical artbook/magazine that will run for 12 issues, profiling different CLAMP titles with each issue. Volume 1 features the series that is probably CLAMP's most recognizable: Cardcaptor Sakura. Throughout the book are various reproductions of CCS color illustrations, such as this one. There's a two-page interview with CLAMP, followed by "Flashback," a capsule summary of the entire CCS manga series. Readers will get to relive Sakura's saga as the book touches on the key points of each manga volume. After the Flashback is "Portrait," a set of character profiles for the series, and "Supplement," containing various trivia and tidbits about CCS. (For example, we note that Kero-chan was reading Angelic Layer in Volume 9, page 51.)

The "Database" is probably the most useful section of the book for CLAMP completists -- there's a full listing of every Cardcaptor Sakura manga, artbook, calendar, and anime DVD ever released in Japan. (Presumably, the Tokyopop translation -- due in January -- will have the listings for all US products.) The rest of the book beyond that is mostly fluff: a fan essay, a short CLAMP comic about two anthropomorphic fairies, and some ads for more CLAMP goodies. All in all, CLAMP No Kiseki is essentially 32 pages of back-patting for the creators, but it's vital merchandise for all committed fans.

Oh, and did I mention the commemorative chess pieces that come with the package? You'll need to collect all 12 issues of CnK to get the full set, and there's also a chessboard and box for the 12 magazines that you can buy separately. The pieces are made of hard rubber and are about 1.5 inches in diameter, requiring a pretty big chessboard. There's no doubt, however, that they're totally cute and fun to look at.

The Japanese edition of CLAMP No Kiseki Vol. 1 can be ordered right now via HobbyLink Japan, but more patient souls can choose to wait for the English-language Tokyopop edition, which starts coming out in January 2005.


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