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Warning: There are minor spoilers in the article. Proceed with caution.
Unless you are a very novel otaku, you must have heard of CLAMP, the female mangaka quartet that has conquered the world with their creations. From their humble origins as doujinshi producers, Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Satsuki Igarashi and Tsubaki Nekoi are now considered an all stars theme. Their stories and characters have become so iconic, that now they have the luxury to draw follow ups of their stories or play with the concept of a shared universe. So, what makes a CLAMP character so special? We will try to find it out by remembering some of the most memorable characters designed by CLAMP!
10. Kamui Shirou from X - 1999
- Volumes: 18
- Released: Mar 24, 1992 - Mar 24, 2003
Meet one of the first tragic heroes created by CLAMP! Kamui is slim and short, giving the appearance of a rather frail and delicate person. However, one single glance of his violet eyes will leave you frozen with fright. Kamui is frequently portrayed with an angel wing and a demon wing, with a white and a black wing, or holding his sword or the world.
We can see there is a lot of Tarot imagery in Kamui’s design, but the wings in his back also mean that he will either be a savior or a destroyer of the world. One of the keywords for Kamui is sorrow, as every decision that he takes brings pain over him or others. However, he also has a desperate wish to protect his friends. For the sake of the world, Kamui is game for the ultimate sacrifice… but we can not tell you how the manga ends.
9. Chii from Chobits
- Volumes: 8
- Released: Sep 25. 2000 - Oct 28, 2002
Let’s go to another department of CLAMP’s, where humans interact with sophisticated computers known as Persocoms. Here, we encounter a blond, innocent girl with cat-like ears who is, in fact, a Persocom. Found and reactivated by Hideki Motosuwa, this lady is left unable to talk or do anything useful. It is Hideki who names her Chii and teaches her to manage in life.
So, why do we say Chii is one of the top characters designed by CLAMP? Well, just look at her. Isn’t she adorable? Chii is childish and super sweet. With her long her and big eyes, she looks like an angel. The best part is that Chii has a mysterious past and more power than it is apparent, as she absorbed her sister Freya’s mind into herself.
8. Seishiro Sakurazuka from Tokyo Babylon
- Volumes: 7
- Aired: 1990 - 1993
Created based on the protagonist of a fiction series called Teito Monogatari, Seishiro was part of a public reborn interest on traditional exorcists (onmyoji). This tall, handsome and mature looking veterinarian makes anyone have a crush on him… including a certain Subaru Sumeragi, the heir of a family of onmyoji. The veterinarian gets extra points for being kind and protect the innocent whenever he can…
Yet oh, the tragedy! Seishiro turns out to be a heartless assassin who becomes a revenge obsession for Subaru. The great personality change, the cruelty, the manipulation… everything makes of Seishiro a memorable character and one of the best CLAMP’s villains. No wonder he made a great comeback in X-1999. And let’s not forget Seishiro’s blind eye, which he sacrificed to save Subaru. Seishiro was one of the first CLAMP characters to have this interesting physical feature.
7. Sakura Kinomoto from CardCaptor Sakura
- Episodes: 70
- Aired: Apr 7, 1998 - Mar 21, 2000
From a design point of view, we cannot skip one of the characters that has the largest wardrobe in CLAMP’s universe. However, green eyed Sakura is also memorable because of her peculiar hair style, which set a precedent for uneven hair cuts that are common today. Our magical girl has an active and independent personality, always willing to protect her loved ones and doing the right thing at the same time. Nevertheless, Sakura also has an innocent side that had to be reflected on the clothes she wear. As she has been an orphan since a young age and her father Fujitaka has to work, Sakura and her brother are independent and reliable. However, Sakura also inherited the sweet character of her mother. Regardless of inheriting the magic of the legendary Clow Reed, her personality makes her a resilient girl.
There is also a relevant point for the magical girl canon. Sakura, in contrast with most magical girls who transform to fight, wears a different costume every time. She also counts on her companion Kero-chan, who wears a cute matching costume as well. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in the new Clear Card arc that is being released in Japan right now!
6. Mokona Modoki from XxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
- Volumes: 19
- Released: Feb 24, 2003 - Feb 9, 2011
In the beginning there was Mokona from Mahou Kishi Rayearth, powerful creator of the planets, including Earth! Behold the power of the great, white… bun like creature. That’s right, the cute Mokona’s original design was further revised and revived into two separate characters that are collectively known as Mokona Modoki. Although their names don’t appear in these intertwined mangas, we know a little bit more about them thanks to an illustrated book called Mokona=Modoki no Bouken, where we find out that the female white Mokona is called Soel and the male black Mokona is called Larg.
One of the shortcomings of the original Mokona was that she could not talk. Soel and Larg do more than talk… they simply don’t shut up! Both enjoy teasing others, but are super nice when the occasion requires it. We had to mention them here for being the most useful pets when you travel through dimensions, as means of transportation of dangerous objects, luggage bearers, translators and communication devices, among other things. The Mokonas are also the incarnate of the concept of duality, which is so favored by CLAMP.
5. Princess Emeraude from Mahou Kishi Rayearth
- Volumes: 3
- Released: Nov, 1993 - Feb, 1995
Talking about Mahou Kishi Rayearth… there was an interesting cast of characters on that story, and the mecha and armours design was good. Although it was difficult to decide, we chose Emeraude for several reasons. With her long, wavy, blond hair and frail, childish appearance, she looks like the ideal princess in distress. However, Emeraude is also a wise person who always protects and guides her Magic Knights, on their quest to save Cephiro.
The great moment for this character is when we see her as a grown-up. Surprise! Princess Emeraude also has an armour and a mecha of her own! It turns out that appearances are deceiving, as we learn more about her backstory. Tragic, sweet and powerful, we definitely have to honour Princess Emeraude with a place in our Top Ten.
4. Ashura from RG Veda
- Volumes: 10
- Released: 1990 - 1996
Let’s follow with another royal character, shall we? CLAMP got inspiration from the first of the Indian vedas, which chants about the origin of the universe and the gods. RG Veda was their manga debut, and a strong start it was. It offered us a varied cast of characters and a complex, twisted and tragic battle between good and evil.
So, amid this background, the genderless offspring of a king emerges. The last of his clan, Ashura is awakened by Yasha Ou, in hopes of finding the six legendary stars who may put an end to Taishakuten’s cruel reign. However, Ashura has a dark alter ego who enjoys death and destruction. The role of love, destiny and fatality are mixed well in this early CLAMP character.
3. Atashi from Chobits
- Volumes: 8
- Released: Sep 25. 2000 - Oct 28, 2002
CLAMP has linked most of their stories together, but in Chobits, they went one step beyond. Basically, they created a meta story (a story inside a story), which can be read and enjoyed on its own. In Chobits, Mrs. Mihara created a series of books called The City with No People to secretly aid Chi’s mission. It is in these books that we meet a very special character.
The cutest lady bunny in a pink gown that you have seen is the protagonist of The City with No People, Atashi. As she is always referring to herself as “atashi” (I), she is known as, well, Atashi. Her design could not be more simple, but her heart warming story and her wandering spirit make of her a memorable character. CLAMP has shown that they can reinvent the concept of the cute bunny again and again, so we have to appreciate Atashi for that.
2. Syaoran Li from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
- Volumes: 28
- Released: May 21, 2003 - Oct 7, 2009
We can see how many CLAMP characters have been revamped, taking different roles in other stories. That was the case for Syaoran Li. He was the once jealous and kind partner in crime for Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura. As Syaoran was a popular character, a different version of himself returned as the main protagonist in Tsubasa Chronicles, including a different back story and a more complex personality.
One of the features that was kept for Syaoran was his Chinese ancestry. Therefore, his Chinese clothes, weapons and symbols are frequent for this character. Syaoran’s senses of honor, adventure and curiosity were also kept intact, although the tests he is put through are more painful to bear (and to read!). However, CLAMP refined their technique of dual personalities with Syaoran. In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Syaoran has a very dark side of himself. Thus, throughout the manga, we get more than one surprise from him.
1. Yuuko Ichihara from XxxHolic
- Volumes: 19
- Released: Feb 24, 2003 - Feb 9, 2011
We had to leave out many well designed and developed characters like Kimihiro Watanuki, Fei Wong Read and Clow Read. In the category of the mysterious magician, they lost against the most charismatic witch of dimensions: Yuuko Ichihara. She is so mysterious that even her name is fake! When CLAMP decided to create a character that could join all of their narratives, they granted Yuuko the most stylish figure, hair and sense of fashion they could.
What sets Yuuko apart besides her stunning looks, is her personality. She can be light hearted and even a bit selfish and irresponsible. However, when business gets serious, no one matches Yuuko’s knowledge or skills. A woman who has traveled and experienced so much has many secrets under her sleeves, but the witch of dimensions also hides a generous heart behind the facade of her careless smile.
The stories that CLAMP have created go from the sweetest shoujos to the most cruel shounens, passing through all the adventure, love, honor, sorrow and happiness one can imagine. The quartet’s characters have marked many otakus for generations. Unfortunately, our space is limited, so we have to leave out many other wonderful CLAMP characters. Which other CLAMP characters do you like? Did your favorite made it in the list? Don’t forget that we are open to all your comments and suggestions. See you in CLAMP Wonderland!