One of the best parts of the convention was the Press Only CLAMP panel that we were able to participate in. There were about 20 people in the room and it was an open question format. We were able to ask the 4 lovely ladies anything we wished. Some of the questions provided a great insight into how the ladies worked or even about themselves.
The first question was about describing their first meeting and how they decided to work as a team. Everyone except Ohkawa were high school classmates. Ohkawa met them through a mutual friend. The first works they published were doujinshi and at that time there were 11 artists/writers known as CLAMP. By the time they had their own commercial debut there was only 6 and within a year of that they were down to the 4 we see today. These 4 talented ladies have been together for the last 17 years.
Someone then asked how CLAMP liked working with Ishigawa sensei, and that he thought very highly of them. They seemed humbled by this and asked if they were serious. They thought very highly of him as well that he was a very capable and fashionable man that loves anime. He also treats his staff like family and people in general very well.
This question is what I thought to be the most insightful question into both the way the ladies think and into the individuals of CLAMP themselves, why is there always a one eyed character in your works? Usually this feature shows a traumatic experience that the character has to experience or a feeling of loneliness. Also Ohkawaís vision is not good in her right eye and she can relate personally to the character.
Iím sure everyone was wondering, how does it feel to see people cosplaying as your characters? Ohkawa responded that it made her very happy that people in different countries enjoy their characters. They found the costumes very detailed and were looking forward to seeing more of them. Before the public panel they peeked out from behind the curtain and saw people dressed up and if they noticed them they would wave back.
Another question that Iím sure everyone was curious about was ďwhere do you get inspiration fromĒ? Ohkawa said that she draws or writes about dreams she has, or events she hears about. The best inspiration is a deadline.
Of course we all want to know how they work together, how they work out differences in opinions on where one of their brilliant stories should go? Well in choosing which work goes forward, thatís Ohkawa. Satsuki Igarashi sets the schedule for each work. They always work on whichever work has the first deadline.
The next question pertained to Chobits and how they used storyboards as metaphors, why did they do this and does it have a deeper meaning? Ohkawa answered that when they work it is usually on multiple stories and this can be very confusing. They got good feedback when they used the storyboards in Card Captor Sakura, so they used them again in Chobits.
Iím sure people want to know whatís going on with Legal Drug, well it will resume in the near future! Thatís from Ohkawa herself! So keep your eyes open!
Then came the question about how their process works. Ohkawa said that after they come up with a story they do the character design phase. They plot things out similar to how an anime is done. Ohkawa specifies proportions for character and story. Like Holic is in a parallel universe so they had to use the ikuesque style that they used in other manga.
The question of whether or not Rayearth from Magic Knight Rayearth is a lion or a wolf seemed to entertain Mokona the most. She giggled a bit then replied that initially it started as a wolf and then as she added more Ďhairí it became unclear as to whether it was a cat or a dog. In the end itís all fantasy so it can be both.
Someone then asked the question about why they had switched magazines from Nakayoshi to NewType for Kobato? They said that they had a specific number of episodes that they had commissioned for the magazine. They fulfilled that quota and when they went to restart the series they went with a different magazine. They usually have a set number of volumes that they want, which has a meaning, when they first conceive of the story. For example X has as many volumes as tarot cards, so the Japanese edition has 21 volumes.
So what are their key elements of success? Everyday they spend sitting, writing and drawing. They said itís very hard for them to feel their popularity in the world.
Do they have any formal art education? They said that the High School three of them met at had a very heavy emphasis on art. Although it is common in Japan to work under another manga artist to learn the trade, they did not. Mokona said that she was self-taught on how to draw her beautiful artwork. Isnít that amazing!?!
I found the ladies to be very humble about the massive success that they have found. I donít think that they fully grasp exactly how much their art and stories have impacted the world, and how many people that their amazing works have introduced into the world of manga and anime. Iíd like to thank the ladies for accepting the invitation and coming to America and giving us this chance to peek inside of their creative processes and give us more information about not only their works but the gifted and extraordinary woman that are CLAMP.