CLAMP are most well-known for creating the popular magical girl series Cardcaptor Sakura, xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
The studio began in the 1980s as a group of yaoi and doujinshi fan artists before creating their first original work, RG Veda, in 1987. It wasn’t until 1989, when the series was first published by Wings Magazine, that they became a professional manga studio. They specialise in slim built character designs and chibi art, and due to their past interest in yaoi, some of their series, like Legal Drug, have underlying queer themes.
Their series closely blend magic and fantasy with realism. xxxHolic follows a witch and owner of a wish-granting shop, and a high school student who in return for being cured of his ability to see ghosts, becomes her apprentice. Chobits questions what it means to be human by presenting a narrative following a female robot living with humans.
Character crossovers are a big thing in CLAMP productions, too. In Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Sakura (from Sakura of Cardcaptor) loses her memories involving Syaoran; her love interest in the former series. Syaoran travels with her to unrecognisable worlds to recollect her memories, facing his doppelganger and protagonist to xxxHolic's Kimihiro Watanuki.
Clamp in Wonderland is a series of music videos involving their cast of characters, produced by the team:
In this way, CLAMP streamlines themes of identity, loss and relationships in all their works. There’s a beautifully clean and delicate tone to their art style. Sakura’s garments in Cardcaptor Sakura are elegant and meticulously designed, and her memories in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle are symbolically drawn as feathers.
That said, when compared to modern designs, CLAMP’s art style can look slightly awkward; the way they draw limbs mirrors the comedically elongated and slim art style of old doujin culture. Yet, their stories are timeless, engaging audiences for generations to come.
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