CLAMP: “It was more difficult than we had imagined”
XXXHOLiC, Tsubasa Looking back on an unprecedented 7 year simultaneous serialization
The 4-person manga production group CLAMP who has created many popular works such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Card Captor Sakura, etc. Tsubasa – RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – and XXXHOLiC, which began serialization in 2003, had the same characters appear in both series, and while their worlds were mutually linked, the same authors serialized them simultaneously, which has become a topic for discussion due to its unprecedented nature. Thirty million copies of the comics [Tsubasa and XXXHOLiC] have been printed in total, and both have been made into television animations. And so, XXXHOLiC, which continued after Tsubasa ended its serialization in 2009, finished its serialization in February, 2011. After finishing their 7 year serialization, we listened to what CLAMP has to say.
The unfolding of XXXHOLiC, which spanned 7 years, has been completed. After completing the serialization, what was the first thought that comes to mind?
Rather than saying we finished XXXHOLiC (the shop’s owner changed from Yuuko to Watanuki and the title also changed), we’d say we finished XXXHOLiC Rou. We feel that the work that we added the title Rou to is now finished. Because XXXHOLiC was a work that was written while linking it with Tsubasa – RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE –, we felt that we had written it for twice the length of the actual serialization, so you could say we felt like we had been going along with these stories for a very long time. We felt sort of relieved, but also lonely.
What are the results of that concept? [serializing two connected stories simultaneously]
At the start we wanted to try writing two stories that proceeded side-by-side. Two stories with two different main characters, though each with different personalities and appearances, at first they were the same, but by the end they were definitely different existences and will continue as different from now on… When we tried it, it was more difficult than we had imagined. (laughs)
The series’ title was very unique, and the characters’ names (Watanuki, Doumeki, etc.) were also extremely idiosyncratic names.
With kanji you can make very strange readings sometimes, can’t you? Even though no matter what you do you aren’t able to read it, there are various meanings and hidden stories, so now [after having finished it] you have become able to read [understand] it. The names of the places in the story are also like that, but especially the character’s names were really interesting, so we tried using them.
Were there any troubles during the serialization?
The toughest thing was definitely linking it with Tsubasa – RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE –. Because Tsubasa was a series with a lot of action in it, it took more pages than we thought it would, so several times we felt like XXXHOLiC would get ahead of Tsubasa. Whenever that happened we would take breaks [from XXXHOLiC] or add in short extra stories in order to adjust, but, though it was tough for us, we think it was very hard on everyone in the editorial department.
Philisophical themes are incorporated through the character’s screen time, such as “self-sacrifice in not necessarily the right thing to do…”, etc.
We have no intention of discussing philosophy [in our works], but we wanted to try writing something like “for each character, things one would think are obvious are not necessarily obvious to another, never mind what ‘happiness’ means individually”. When looking at Watanuki’s XXXHOLiC Rou, both the choices and the ending, depending on the person, one may wonder if there isn’t a different way or think it is unhappy, but that is thoroughly a different view. If there are people who think it is unhappy, then that means that there are readers who are thinking about what exactly to them is happiness, which made us happy.
A very unique building (shop) became the setting for the series, but was there anything that gave you inspiration for this building?
There was no specific building, but Japanese estates from long ago and a feeling of the blending of Japanese and Western styles is what we were aiming for. Even now there aren’t many of those kinds of buildings, but there are still some, and if possible we want them to continue to exist without being demolished.
Not just limited to XXXHOLiC , in CLAMP works many kinds of spirits/monsters appear.
That isn’t our aim (laughs), but we do like them. Japanese spirits/monsters whose names, reasons why they appear, etc. are interesting are especially numerous.
Most of your popular works have been read around the world. What was your motive for becoming manga creators?
Each of the four members is different, but none of us thought “I will definitely become a manga creator”. If I had to say, our thoughts at the time were that being a manga creator is a difficult job and “if we could become one, we’d be happy, but it’s probably impossible”.
Other than creating your works, what is the most important thing to you?
Not forgetting the things that you want to draw [write].
Please say a word to your readers.
Thank you so much for always reading and looking at the things we have made. The four of us will continue to do our best, so please continue to look kindly on us.
Translated from Japanese by bitter_rain_.
Interview published in Mantan Web, March 05, 2011. Available at http://mantan-web.jp/2011/03/05/20110305dog00m200014000c.html [PDF]
If you found mistakes in this translation or would like to contribute with translating other interviews, please contact me.