As you read through this transcript, keep in
mind that the words attributed to the CLAMP manga artists are actually those
of the translator as he translated the questions from the members of the
press into Japanese for the artists and then translated their answers back
into English for the response.
Moderator: Ladies, welcome to the Anime Expo and thank you for this
opportunity to talk to you on your first ever visit to the U.S. Before I
start taking questions from everyone here today, I'd like to ask each of you
for a brief comment on your impressions so far of Anime Expo and of the
U.S.A. May I please start with Igarashi-sensei.
Satsuki Igarashi: As my first impression, I think one is
the season here, the weather here in the U.S. In Japan right now is the
rainy season. It is muggy and wet every day. Compared to that, it feels
great to be here in the nice, dry weather. (Translation continues) And as
for the convention, seeing a lot of people costume playing. It seems like a
lot of people like our work, and that's a great feeling for me.
Ageha Ohkawa: Thank you! I'm
very happy to be invited to Anime Expo this year. Actually, I arrived here
yesterday and I've already had the great California Champagne. (everyone,
including Ohkawa-sensei has a laugh over this)
Tsubaki Nekoi: First, I'm really happy that I got invited
to such a big event and same as Igarashi here, I really like the dryer
weather here compared to the weather in Japan right now. It really makes
spending the day a lot easier and the strong sun and the palm trees here
really makes me realize I'm in California.
Mokona: Coming to such a big event, I had heard stories
about this convention but coming here for the first time and seeing it for,
like, the first time, a lot of things, really realizing that a lot of people
really like anime and manga.
Questions from the press follow:
Question: Could you describe your first meeting? How you
all met and how you decided to work together as a team?
Ageha Ohkawa: The three people, except myself, were
high-school classmates. So we, the four of us got together through a mutual
friend. (translation continues) And actually, back then as a group we first
published doujinshi fanzines. And back then, the group we had more people.
It was 11 of us actually. And that was the first time, we used the group
name CLAMP. (translation continues) At our commercial debut we had six
people in the group, and within one year that came down to four people and
since then we have worked as a group for seventeen years with four people in
Question: Recently I
had a chance to talk to Ishikawa-sensei from Production I.G. and he spoke
very highly of you. How have you enjoyed working with him? (Translation
with some laughter)
He said that he enjoyed working with them and that the college students
working on his latest film. Their only request for reimbursement was to get
to talk to CLAMP.
I think he left a very strong impression.
Ageha Ohkawa: He's a very capable person but also a very
fashionable person. (translation continues) From my perspective I really
thought he loves making animation and also he treats his staff well, just
like a family. And that he knows how to treat people well.
Question: In most of your work/stories there's always a
character that is one eye (there is a one-eyed character), and is this
something you like? What does it mean?
Ageha Ohkawa: In the stories, the one-eyed characters or the
character loses sight in one eye. I think that I'm trying to visually show
that there can be a very big traumatic experience, that feeling and I'm
trying to visually show the feeling of being alone. From the stories there's
always some event or something that comes in later that supplements that
vision. On a different note, my right eye, the vision is not very good so
maybe it's just a personal thing that I can relate to such events
personally. (translation continues) I think in the current works, Tsubasa
and xxxHoLic, there's also a one-eyed character, so you might see that theme
xxxHoLic is pronounced as just “holic”. The "xxx" is silent.
Question: How does it make you feel to see people all
around the world cosplaying as your characters?
Mokona: It makes me feel very happy that the people in
different countries really love our characters, and I think every time I see
them the costumes are very detailed. I'm looking forward to seeing those
Ageha Ohkawa: Actually,
before we had the focus panel. When we were waiting in our room, we could
see through the window that a lot of people that were lined up for a long time
and I saw a lot costume plays as Card Captor Sakura or Chobits and if that
person noticed us watching them, we did wave back to those people.
Question: I'd like to ask the four of you, where do you get
your inspirations from? Do you get influenced by some others you like or
your heart or whether you try to put your personal inspirations or your
personal experiences in your work?
Satsuki Igarashi: I think Ohkawa here sometimes draws upon these
dreams that she has.
Sometimes it's based on events that I hear about or see but a lot of times
it's just the deadline that's coming that gives me inspirations.
Question: Obviously there's four of you, so at times you
have choices in your stories whether or not to do a particular series or
not. How do you sort of work out these arguments? Does it turn out one of
you tends to be pretty convincing of the others? Do you vote? Or do you
simply say “Mokona hasn't had a chance to run things for awhile, it's her
turn” Now that you're much more international at scope, have you thought
that that has affected your storytelling in any way?
Ageha Ohkawa: In turns of choosing which projects, which
work to accept, or decline on, I, Ohkawa, chooses, make that decision. But
in terms of setting priorities and actual schedules for the individual
works, that's handled by Igarashi. (translation continues) There is
worldwide popularity, yes, but I think the reality is that we work on the
work that has the first deadline first.
Satsuki Igarashi: Yeah, we have to take care of what's right in
front of our eyes first before we can see beyond that.
Question: Both in Chobits and Suki: Dakara Suki you use
storybooks as a way of acting as a metaphor for everything else that's going
on in the stories and I was wondering what brought that sort of idea into
those stories? And also, was that just an element of liking storybooks? What
brought that element in? Why use that element in two works, rather than one
or the other?
Ageha Ohkawa: Like
you said, both in Chobits and Suki: Dakara Suki, the storybook appears. But
when we're working on two multiple storylines I think from time to time it
can be very confusing to the readers. I think Suki: Dakara Suki came first
and we tried the storybook approach there, and we had good feedback from the
readers and that's why we used that same idea on Chobits.
Question: As many manga series have been developing and
becoming popular we see them going into live-action films. Out of all your
novelizations that you've put out, is there any particular one that you'd
like to see as a live-action film?
Ohkawa: Live-action... Well, maybe it would be Chobits. I think
within ourselves, we're most interested in seeing that one as a live-action.
(translation continues with some laughter) I think if Chobits were going to
be made into live-action for the U.S. I would have strong preferences for
viewers and readers have been asking about Legal Drug. What's going on?
Ageha Ohkawa: No problem there. We will be resuming that
piece in the near future.
I've noticed at times you choose a specific style of many different
character proportions to use in different series, and I'm wondering how you
make those decisions like, for instance, in xxxHoLic, they are very tall
with long limbs and that sort of thing. How do you make those decisions, and
what effect does the story have on those kind of decisions? (The
translation prompted some laughter from the artists with the response)
Ageha Ohkawa: After we come up with the story we go through
a character design phase. Our work process is very similar to an animation
production, so after the story we will choose a person to perform the
character design and when that is happening I usually specify the proper
proportions for that story and the character. (translation continues)
Actually for the xxxHoLic story, in the focus panel a fan asked about this.
For this particular storyline we wanted to use a more Ukio-e art style that
dictated longer proportions for the characters. And since Tsubasa is linked
to xxxHoLic that dictated that Tsubasa and xxxHoLic have similar proportions
for the characters. It's not that our characters get thinner and longer.
(laughter from audience)
Is Rayearth a lion or a wolf? (good natured laughter during the question and
more laughter during the translation)
Mokona: Initially the basis was a wolf, but as I added more hair to
the <character>, it became unclear if it should belong to the cat
family or the canine family. Since it's a fantasy, please forgive that
Question: I'm a big
fan of Kobato., why did you change from Nakayoshi to Newtype and then remove
the story again? How will you work with Kobato.?
Ageha Ohkawa: For this particular piece it started with
SundayGenX and they had specified a number of episodes in the series so we
fulfilled that requirement and when it was decided to be restarted we went
to a different magazine, Newtype.
Question: My chief editor and I have been wondering for a long time
when X will be finished and how many more volumes are left?
Ageha Ohkawa: For X with various things going on around
Japanese society and everything, it's unclear how fast we will work on it.
But in terms of numbers of volumes though it will match the number of tarot
cards. (translation continues) For the U.S. publication the exact number of
volumes may slightly differ because of the number of pages involved but for
the Japanese edition there will be twenty one volumes.
Question: The design of some of your bishoujo characters
seem to mature in appearance after they fall in love. In particular,
Emeraude (from Magic Knight Rayearth) became an adult after she fell in love
with Zagato and Sakura (from Cardcaptor Sakura) changed as well, became not
as innocent, after she fell in love with Lee. Is this a societal metaphor,
that when girls fall in love, they change physically, become more grown up?
Note: there was some
discussion back and forth clarifying the meaning of this question as it was
worded softly and almost as a personal musing. Rather than quote directly, I
have paraphrased the question while retaining the words and descriptions
used. The answer is quoted directly as the translator gave it.
Ageha Ohkawa: I think women in general are a lot stronger,
love alone doesn’t change them. (translation continues) That’s a very
difficult question to answer but I think it's not just love for a woman to
change, it's when they find something that they're willing to put their life
on the line. When they find something like that, that it changes them. It
might be love or it might be something that they want to protect. That's my
opinion but we do draw a lot of love stories, targeting the girls as the
audience so maybe it's natural that love becomes something that deals with
Question: What do you think are the key elements
of your success in Japan and obviously in western countries?
Satsuki Igarashi and Ohkama Ageha: Actually for us, our
everyday life is sitting at a desk and drawing. That's our world so it's
hard for us to really feel and realize that our work is popular throughout
the world… so I'm not sure what to say here.
Ohkama Ageha: So I'm not sure what the key element was.
Maybe I should be asking that question to you. (laughter from audience)
Question: If you hadn't become wildly successful artists
what do you think you might've been doing?
Mokona: I would think I would always be involved in
creating something or drawing.
Nekoi: Before I started drawing I was just an ordinary office
worker so I probably just would've gotten married, had a family, and lived a
Ohkama Ageha: I'm
sure I would've been a manga reader. (laughter)
Satsuki Igarashi: Before our professional debut was
formalized, I was job searching. Just looking for an ordinary salary work. So
if the manga didn't happen I'm sure I would've been a salary worker and I
would be putting my precious wages into buying more manga, more books, and
Did any of you have any formal art education or did you all learn how to
draw and create art on your own
We mentioned that the three of us were classmates in high school and that
high school had a related college. At both of the high school and college
levels they were putting lots of emphasis into art. There was an art type
emphasis on education there.
Nekoi: In terms of general art skills I did learn at that at school
but in terms of drawing manga, that requires different skill sets and for
that part I'm more self-taught.
Igarashi: Like Mokona mentioned I also went to that art type high
school. For me after high school I went to a vocational school that was also
an art type school. But in terms of manga drawing skills I did not learn
from any one particular person or school.
Ohkama Ageha: It's common in Japan for a person to work
under another manga artist as an assistant and go from there. For us, all of
us have never worked as an assistant to anybody so I think we are really