CLAMP’s Public Panel
Day one, the highlight of the con and excitement building as CLAMP having never stepped foot in America before was set to not only make an appearance at Anime Expo but to sit up before a crowd of thousands of ecstatic fans and answer questions.
As we find out seating in the press area we’re greeted with quite the scene. The massive room set up for no more than 5,000 people and a full crowd expected was lit lightly by the overhead lights and the two massive screens on either side of the stage. The black background with the AX 2006 banner hanging before the table with four places set brought just the thoughts that they were going to be there soon to the mind. Of to the side a podium where a lady behind it tests the microphone ahead of time. At this point only the press is in the room and the screens play a reminder that no photography, videography or audio recordings are allowed.
Japanese music kicks in as the doors behind to open and the crowds of eager attendees sit and wait in the hallway. Waiting for the AX staff to step aside and allow them to find their seats.
A gentleman walks out onto the stage and sets up the bottle water and the staff begins to walk the isles making sure everything was ready. Moments later eager attendees begin hurrying into the room, finding seats as close as they possibly can and the excitement for CLAMP’s arrival begins to build quickly. Despite the late appearance as the light lowers the crowd goes wild, cheering insanely. As the lady MC walks to the podium and announces, “Welcome to the FIRST US CLAMP panel!” And the crowd goes wild.
Colleen is the MC, better known for her roles as the Director of the FMA series, the Voice for Risa Hawkeye and she first announces that she will be the director for the Tsubasa series dub.
With the announcement of the sponsors (Del Rey, and Funimation) comes a never seen before made just for Anime Expo video short on the history of the CLAMP series, the amazing history that it is. Twenty minutes of high pitched screaming and cheering before the MC takes to the stage again announcing the next man who has the honor of introducing CLAMP.
For those who aren’t aware (those who live under a rock) of whom CLAMP is, CLAMP is four lady Artists, Igarashi Satsuki, Mokona, Nekoi Tsubaki and Ohkawa Ageha who are well known for their popular Manga titles.
Titles such as: X (1992-2002), RG Veda (1989-1995), Tokyo Babylon (1990-1993), Magic Knights of Rayearth (1993-1996), Card Captor Sakura (1996-2000), Angelic Layer (1999-2001), Chobits (2000-2002), and more recently xxxHolic (2003-On going) and Tsubasa (2003-On going).
It was in 1989 that CLAMP began as a twelve member Osaka-based dojinshi circle called Amarythia. Then in 1990 the circle of twelve diminished down to seven and then over the course of the RG Veda production the group became the four we now know today.
With the grand introduction of CLAMP the crowd stands the cheering and screaming begins. The cheering continues for a lengthy time and even more cheering after Colleen welcomes them to the US and most of all to Anime Expo.
Another exclusive to the US as a slideshow of photos come up on the large screens. Images from how CLAMP does their work. The ladies speaking in Japanese and being translated go through the slides impressing the excited crowd with how they work. (There were even some sneak peeks at upcoming issues of xxxHolic)
Ever wonder what CLAMP uses for coloring? Copic Markers! And what kind of computer they use? A Vaio!
As the slides end and the focus returns to the panel of artists the crowd goes wild, cheering.
Next came the question and answers, due to a late start we’re told that they will be using the questions sent to them online earlier on and only ten of the hundreds sent.
Question: How did you get together and decide to be Manga-ka (Manga artists)?
Answer: (Ohkawa Ageha speaking) Everyone save me was High school friends. That’s when we were making dojinshi, fan comics, and then we solicited our work to publishers becoming published.
Question: How long does it take you to develop a story? Do you start from a story and then start drawing?
Answer: Basically each installment is written when it’s time to be written but the endings are predetermined. So Tsubasa and xxxHolic have predetermined endings.
A single installment script takes eight hours, storyboard takes a full days work – 12hrs, two days for 20 pages of actual artwork when it’s easy. (xxxHolic takes two days, but X takes 4-5 days.)
Question: How do you work together? Does one draw, one ink, one write? Or do you all work on everything together?
Answer: (Ohkawa Ageha speaking) All scripts and storyboards are done different depending on the title, art the same) xxxHolic, there are two that work on it. I write all the scripts and depending on the title the storyboard is made and the artwork completed. Someone would direct and say where the parts go. No one works on any part alone.
Question: Your art has developed to taller and thinner style, which is still beautiful, why?
Answer: Thank you first of all. Well ah the current titles overlap and crossover and needed consistency in the styles. XxxHolic draws from the ukiyo-e style where you do see taller thinner characters.
Question: How long do you work on one piece before you feel satisfied? Do you ever crumple up and start from scratch?
Answer: For color work, barring major accidents – like an ink splotch – it would never be redone. For color work, pencils are on a different sheet, the final is never discarded.
It becomes finished immediately if satisfied. If not the pencils might be tossed and start on the other side.
Doodles tend to be tossed out – then picked out of the trash and posted on various clamp sites.
Question: Where do you get the Ideas for Character Designs and Storylines?
Answer: Deadlines are the best inspirations.
(There is laughter from the crowd, laughter and cheering)
So apparently that’s the same for everyone else here.
Question: What’s the most enjoyable series you ever worked on?
Answer: Well when were actually working racing deadlines, there is nothing fun about it, but looking back I can say 'Campus "Special Police" Deucalion' in retrospect.
Well in our early works more tragedy and dead characters but Cardcaptor Sakura was the most fun to write. Also I don’t know if it’s translated and published in America but 'Campus "Special Police" Deucalion' unanimously.
Question: Your have always loved linking your works do you have a clear idea of the world you want to create when you start it?
Answer: Since we started aside from the fantasy titles, all CLAMP titles are in the same universe and are meant to cross over and link and we wanted to link our fantasy titles as well. That’s where xxxHolic came and everything is together.
Question: I’m a big fan of Kobato; do you plan to continue it?
Answer: In the Japanese edition of Newtype there will be a continuation.
With more time left the MC announces they are going to answer a few more questions…
Question: Why is Yugo’s symbol a butterfly?
Answer: In oriental society the butterfly means the soul. The butterfly represents the transition motion from chrysalis to butterly, symbolic of that.
Question: In Tsubasa there is a strong parallelism between Kurogane and Fei. They show a lot of how they are opposites, ying and yang… Is there something going on there?
Answer: Is that fan desire for two boys getting together?
(Everyone starts cheering and laughing. The CLAMP artists laugh as well.)
Syaoran is the main character but is a kid and needs adults to be his assistants/guides. Kurogane and Fei are there for that role, encouraging different aspects of him. Also the 'kuro' in kurogane means 'black' so he enjoys dressing in that color.
Question: Would CLAMP ever work on an American based project?
Answer: Well since our invite to AX we thought we might want to bring something for the Americans to enjoy but the Tsubasa and xxxHolic are set to make their debut.
The crowd starts shouting and cheering and giving a standing ovation to the artists. CLAMP smiling big informs the MC that they desire to wrap up with their own individual parting words. Words that let the crowd of excited and eager fans that they appreciate their support and let the AX staff know they are honored by the invite they received.
As they part from the stage the crowd stands once again, screaming and cheering overcomes all other sounds, even the MC as she announces the exclusive trailer to xxHolic movie that is coming out in November… we’ll all be looking forward to that!