As always, we’ve invited friends from every field together to hear stories about all sorts of things. Continuing from the first issue of ZINE-ROM, this time we bring you the members of CLAMP themselves, to tell us about their history in our special project: CLAMP History—Part 2.
Nanase Ohkawa: Well… how about we talk about something that happened after our debut this time?
Mokona Apapa: Aah, I don’t really want to think about that. (Laughs)
Mick Nekoi: We were so young.
Satsuki Igarashi: Really! (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: Even now, it’s not like we’re able to draw anything we’re totally satisfied with, but compared with RG Veda volume 1… (Laughs)
Mick Nekoi: Looking back at the the toning and backgrounds of RG Veda in its initial stage, yeah. (Laughs)
Satsuki Igarashi: Why did just that take so much time? (Laughs)
Nanase Ohkawa: Because our old stuff is always sort of embarrassing. (Laughs) Whenever I reread it, the lines… (Laughs). Of course, as we continue to draw, our skills develop in their own way.
Mokona Apapa: I don’t know if they really developed per se, but anyway, our old stuff is pretty embarrassing. (Laughs)
Mick Nekoi: And not just RG Veda. (Laughs) But well, especially RG Veda…
Satsuki Igarashi: It was our first work in a commercial magazine.
Nanase Ohkawa: Other authors have said their debut work is always embarrassing, no matter how many years later. (Laughs) CLAMP debuted 9 years ago, didn’t we? RG Veda ended after 10 volumes. Do you have any memories about working on it in particular?
Mokona Apapa: RG Veda was certainly our debut, but Tokyo Babylon ended well before that. I was a lot more satisfied with the ending of Tokyo Babylon.
Nanase Ohkawa: What happened there?
Mokona Apapa: Of course, a lot of it was trial and error, but the “Kumara Arc” was kind of a break through.
Mick Nekoi: That had to do with image processing, didn’t it? (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: Up until then, it was grueling work. But it got better after the “Kumara Arc”. After that, in Karyoubinga’s story, I finally got it. (Laughs) No, that doesn’t make sense. (Laughs)
Mick Nekoi: They had the exact same toning. There were only white people in the “Kumara Arc” at first. It was a hassle. But while I was doing it, something hit me. It’s like I could sense when Karyōbinga was coming up. (Laughs)
Satsuki Igarashi: And then we used so much toner. (Laughs)
Nanase Ohkawa: Yeah. I’m sure there are a lot of folks who don’t know this. RG Veda was all bring-your-own. In the beginning, when Shinshokan saw our first drafts…
Mokona Apapa: It was around 60 pages, wasn’t it?
Nanase Ohkawa: It was. And, it was impossible to publish as it was, but, well, we redrew it again, and RG Veda: Star Festival debuted in South magazine.
Satsuki Igarashi: And then they let us draw a continuation somehow, but…
Mick Nekoi: But? (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: I didn’t know if it would go well or not, if it’d get popular or not, so on the third publication, we got a note handed down from the editing department. (Laughs)
Nanase Ohkawa: We did. (Laughs) The story where Yasha-ou goes looking for Ashura in the forest—we totally didn’t have enough pages for that, even though we rewrote it three times. And, the editing department decided that we could continue so we published it as is. The actual beginning was rough. We had published three chapters serially and the first episode we drew didn’t go anywhere near how we wanted it to. We were newbies. Of course this sort of thing happens.
Mokona Apapa: The first page count we got was really low.
Satsuki Igarashi: You mean about from the “Karura Arc” or so, right? When we finally got the number of pages we asked for.
Nanase Ohkawa: That’s right. So, everyone, what sort of final impressions did you get from fans after the RG Veda finale?
Mick Nekoi: “My favorite characters died again”. (Laughs)
Satsuki Igarashi: “And all in one go.” (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: And one here says, “Taishakuten was a good person, wasn’t he?” (Laughs)
Nanase Ohkawa: Ah, but he wasn’t. (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: Right. (Laughs) For example, when he kept his promise with Ashura-ou, he gave Karyoubinga-chan such a hard time.
Nanase Ohkawa: Right. We never planned to draw Taishakuten as a good person. Of course, the impression must have stuck with readers of the latter half of a certain episode.
Satsuki Igarashi: Also, “Why do you always stab your readers in the back at the end?” (Laughs)
Nanase Ohkawa: Whaaaat? (Laughs) I had no intention of making any sudden twists! I prefer things flow naturally from the start… I would especially never deliberately write anything that would have a surprise ending. What about you, artists? Which way do you remember it? (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: A sudden change of direction. (Laughs) It was certainly easy to draw Ashura, big and small. I especially enjoyed drawing the big version. After he woke up, and the whole ordeal at Zenmi castle, those were a ton of fun (laughs).
Mick Nekoi: That was the height of our toner processing too. (Laughs)
Nanase Ohkawa: Alright, everyone, to close out, what is RG Veda to each of you?
Mokona Apapa: First.
Mick Nekoi: Start.
Satsuki Igarashi: Same.
Mokona Apapa: It was all our firsts—being serialized in a magazine, becoming a CD, an OVA, all of it! It is because of RG Veda that CLAMP is how we are today. Or something like that (laughs).
Nanase Ohkawa: No, that was wonderful (laughs).
Mick Nekoi: Let’s praise Mokona-chan! (Laughs)
Satsuki Igarashi: Clap clap (Laughs)
Mokona Apapa: Stooop! (Laughs)
Translated from Japanese by Silano Sepiæ.
 The “Kumara Arc” spans volumes 2-3. When Nekoi-sensei says “white people” she means people who have no coloration or toning anywhere in their hair, skin, or clothing. It makes more sense when you look at the art. I couldn’t think of another way to phrase it that didn’t sound awkward.
 The “Star Festival” or “Hoshi Matsuri” depending on your edition, is in volume 1.
 The “latter half of a certain episode” mentioned by Ohkawa-sensei is probably the flash back scene of Ashura-ou and Taishakuten. She probably didn’t want to spoil the readers.
This talk was originally published in the ZINE-ROM CLAMP Gakuen Denshi Bunkou (CLAMP School Web Campus) vol. 2 (SHELTY, F2, CULTURE PUBLISHERS), released on May 22, 1998. Original text available upon request.
If you found mistakes in this translation or would like to contribute with translating other interviews, please contact me.