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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogWhat or Who is CLAMP? A Look at the Influential Manga Group

What or Who is CLAMP? A Look at the Influential Manga Group

By Serena
February 23, 2022

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Or perhaps one of the most memorable things about CLAMP is that their characters and their stories tend to overlap across titles. If I tell you the name Syaoran Li, three or more characters might come to mind across different series.

CLAMP has been called some of the best known manga artists from Japan both in and outside the country. Any fan of Japanese culture in North American or Europe, for instance, will surely recognize their name. They are also credited as helping bring the manga boom to America in the early to mid 2000s. 

Who is in CLAMP?

CLAMP is currently a four member, all woman manga artist group whose members are from the Osaka and Kyoto area. There is one leader and writer and three artists, though their roles and assignments tend to change per project. When they first started out in the 1980s there were 11 members and they were a doujinshi creator group. 

Doujinshis are self made and self published fan works, often the subject material already exists but is given a new creative spin. The very popular Comiket is the doujinshi convention held twice a year in Tokyo where fans can meet with and get access to fan published doujinshis. Due to potential copyright issues many doujinshi artists often publish small numbers of their publications, making them highly sought after and rare. 

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The name CLAMP is thought to be a misspelling of the word “clump” in reference to a large clump of potatoes. In one of their works, Duklyon: CLAMP School Defenders, a character claims the word CLAMP means both “hinge” and “potato mountain.”

The CLAMP group started making original projects in 1987 with their debut manga being RG Veda, which later was picked up for a two episode anime OVA in 1991 and 1992. By this time, the company was down to only seven members. In 1993 they had written and published ten manga series under the CLAMP name but lost three more members, leaving the current four member lineup.  

There are not many photos and videos of the members of CLAMP, as they do not give interviews or have appearances as a group often due to wanting to maintain their privacy due to the intensity of some fans. 

However, they do stay connected to fans through their CLAMP-net website where you can see their official social media accounts. Their YouTube channel in particular hosts various videos from the group. They currently have a series that involves them playing the popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.  

Success

According to the CLAMP official website, as of 2017 the domestic sales of manga are over 100 million copies, and CLAMP material has been published in over 20 countries. Many CLAMP titles have been made into anime series, theater productions, as well as live action dramas. Along with their own titles, CLAMP has also contributed character designs for the very popular Code Geass series as well. Which should surprise no one when you compare the body proportions of Code Geass characters to more traditional CLAMP character designs.

One of the most popular series from CLAMP is Cardcaptor Sakura and its follow up series Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. Each series follows the daily life of Sakura Kinomoto on her quest to capture special magical cards called Clow Cards which through her own magic eventually turn into Sakura Cards.

We soon meet Syaoran Li who starts out as a rival in her quest but later turns into a friend and finally a love interest. Check this out if you want to know more about Sakura Kinomoto

If you have read other CLAMP titles you might recognize the names of Sakura Kinomoto and Syaoran Li, as I mentioned earlier. This is because CLAMP began reusing characters across multiple stories early on. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle was a series created in an attempt to connect and explain away some of these crossover characters as alternate dimension versions of these characters. 

In Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle we see Sakura and Syaoran as childhood friends where Syaoran ends up going on his own adventure to collect Sakura’s memories across alternate universes and dimensions. Other characters from other CLAMP series also make appearances throughout the series.

Whether you like any of the CLAMP titles or not, there is no doubt that they are one of the most recognizable and successful manga groups in the world. Now that you know a little more about this all woman group, which one of their works do you want to check out or revisit next?

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