CLAMP Interview – X ASUKA Compilation vol. 1 (October/2001)

© CLAMP/ 角川書店

© CLAMP/ 角川書店

Please tell us how the idea of X was born?

Ohkawa: When I was small, the predictions of Nostradamus were very popular. Even though I did not believe in it, I was the kind of child who liked these types of mysterious stories. Thus I started to imagine a a story in the same vein. What I imagined was not X, but I think that this story provided the basic for X.

When you became mangaka, how did you present this story to Asuka?

Ohkawa: After having published the CLAMP Gakuen Tanteidan manga, we had a plan to write a long story. I wanted to write a story involving many characters, each with their own individual stories. I realized that this could be a very long story. But our editor at the time told us that this fact didn’t not bother him at all! (laughter).

What’s the reason behind the appearance of characters from your previous work?

Ohkawa: There are always some connection between most of the works which we had created thus far, for example, 20 Mensho ni Onegai!! and CLAMP Gakuen Tanteidan. And I felt at that time that I wanted to make a manga which involves some of them again.
Igarashi, Nekoi, Mokona: (laughter).

What sort of research took place prior writing the manga?

Ohkawa: I already had some interests in certain elements of the story such as the Kekkai. Therefore I had already some necessary documentation for that particular element. On the other hand, for elements such as the places where things are happening, I needed information and photographs, and I had to do research before starting the manga.

Thus, you went to take photographs of the buildings…

Mokona: We took some shots but not many. We took, in particular, the shots of the upper part of Tokyo Tower, which gave the impression that it stands higher than the rest of the city. Later on we realized that not all of the shots had practical use, especially shots of places that people can’t go to.

Do you still have the time to take photographs now?

Mokona: I try to remember to take photographs before I left some of these places. But unfortunately, the one that I took are rarely the one that I need. For example, when the action shifted to Inogashira, there was barely anything that can be photographed and that made us do a lot of guess work.
Igarashi: And now, there is Totoro (statuette?) there in Inogashira (at the Ghibli museum).
Mokona: But no one has that in our photographs collection (laughter).
Nekoi: Besides, I don’t think that we could have shown it (Totoro) in the manga… (laughter).

Do you try to show newly constructed buildings?

Ohkawa: Not really. But we try to notice certain buildings characteristics. Like the incinerator of Ikebukuro. In these cases, we tried to have as much photographs as possible.
Mokona: Since certain places such as Shinjuku often appear in the manga, we try to be familiar to it (laughter). Fortunately, certain photographs were taken before new buildings are built.
Igarashi: And in any case, Ikebukuro is destroyed, now (laughter).

How did your editor reacted when you explained the history and the length of X to him?

Ohkawa: At the time, our editor was Mr. Aoki (who always works in Kadokawa). His answer was: “mmh, why not?” (laughter). And when we had to explain it to the new editor, he answered: “mmh, why not?” (laughter).
Ohkawa: I told him that he sounds a lot like Aoki (laughter).

So, it was accepted immediately. However, the topics of X is rather unusual for a shojo manga…

Nekoi: At the time, there was already a certain number of history of fantasy out there. The stories frankly is still shoujo manga even though the shoujo element is proportionally smaller[1]. There was Asukagumi at the time…

Where did the name “The 7 Seals”, “The 7 Angels”, “Dragon of Heaven”, “Dragon of the Earth” came from? Why did you choose this number?

Ohkawa: The 7 Angels and Seals origins are from The Bible. I did, however, try to choose my words carefully so that it doesn’t sound particularly connected to Christianity or Shintoism or Buddhism. This is why I invented the term “Dragon of Heaven” and “Dragon of Earth” – so that they do not point to a particular religion. As to why I chose number 7? It simply just a practical figure because it is often mentioned in many religions. I was a little afraid about that nevertheless…

Are you saying that the number could have been any figure?

Ohkawa: If that had been 20, then I think we will never be able to complete the manga! (laughter). On the other hand, I think it could have been less than 7. If it now were to be remade, I think that I will have put less characters. 3 or 4? If the number were 5, that could have been a manga of Sentai (laughter).

The manga started out in a very typical “manga schoolboy” atmosphere and then moves away from this point very quickly. Was this done on purpose?

Ohkawa: It was necessary that every reader can enter the story quite easily. So instead of starting immediately with stories about the end of the world, we made it so that the story starts from the point of view of a girl who sees the return of her childhood friend whom she adores. That said childhood friend, however, has turned rebellious, which is a typical shoujo manga plot (laughter). I then attempted to slowly insert the real story from this starting point.

Do you have any particular memories or scenes which still remain in your memory after all of this time?

Igarashi: Kotori’s uniform was hard to draw.
Mokona: In the beginning, we still made a shoujo manga (laughter).
Nekoi: (by dividing the sheets the manga) They made foot… It is really a manga of college (laughter)[2]
Ohkawa: At the beginning, one has the impression that the world is not fixed yet. The color of X is not yet fully spread out, but as of the first dream and onwards, these are fixed.
Mokona: I was really confused as to how I could make the first dream scene. Especially, since that scene happens after a flashback scene… I tortured myself to find how to differentiate reality, the memories, and the dream. Finally, I threw myself inside… and decided that I’ll differentiate it by putting gears and ornaments above (laughter).

The shikigamis which appear in the first volume seem to take a very significant direction in last volumes.

Ohkawa: It’s been so long!
Nekoi: I am sure that the readers had forgotten them.
Igarashi: It is like Kendappa? in RG VEDA: it was announced from the very start, but since it was a long time ago, almost everyone forgot about it (laughter).
Mokona: I admit I had forgotten about it! (laughter) I have to read again volume 1 to remember the appearance of the amulets.

Whether it is the amulets or Kotori’s dreams, there are very strong directions which runs in the manga. In spite of its length, was X planned in advance since the beginning?

Ohkawa: Yes. I could not have finished otherwise.
Igarashi: Now that we move towards the end, there is a whole list of mysteries that will become clearer.
Ohkawa: Yes, that will be the spring cleaning (laughter).

Does Kamui’s father form a part of these mysteries?

Ohkawa: Of course it is, but it is likely that the answer is different from that which you imagine. As for the amulets, in our manga, much of answers to the mysteries are present from the very start; if you read again this complete edition, can be will find some answers advances some (laughter).

Translator notes

[1] I am not really sure about this particular sentence but I’ll go with this.

[2] I don’t understand this sentence.

Translated from Japanese by unknown (claim this translation).


Interview originally published in X ASUKA Compilation vol. 1 (Kadokawa), released on October 01, 2001.

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