Special Interview with CLAMP
Junko: When did you first learn about Blythe?
Ohkawa: We first saw her in 2001 in a Parco commercial. We were surprised when we first saw Blythe on these very big billboards around town. Then we started to see her in TV commercials.
Junko: That was December 2001 for the Parco Christmas Campaign.
Mokona: Blythe was popular among avid doll fans and fashion models who were leading the fashion scene during those days. Blythe, back then, wasn’t something that was easily accessible. Actresses and models would carry Blythe when they were modeling. Blythe was a very special doll. There were very few people tailoring clothes for Blythe, so when we wanted to change her outfit, we struggled to fit clothes from other dolls on her. Naturally, no clothing fit Blythe perfectly.
Junko: I remember those days. Today, many people make her clothes and very skillfully.
Igarashi: Right. When we wanted a Blythe, it always sold out so quickly. If we went to a toy shop after a busy day, there was a sign that read “Reservation Closed”. 10 years or so ago, we were not familiar with online shopping. It is only recently that it was gained popularity.
Junko: You’re right. It only began 2-3 years ago.
Nekoi: There was a collaboration doll with Nike. At that time Nike was doing a lot of interesting collaborations and commercials.
Junko: That’s right. Nike was our first collaborator. The president of Nike is an art and toy collector. Learning that he had an interest in Blythe, we approached him on a collaboration project. But it took 6 months before actual production started after we began the first discussions.
Ohkawa: I wanted that doll. The Nike collaboration Blythe. The package was very special. It was very cute.
Junko: The shoe box concept was my idea! What was your first impression of Blythe?
Mokona: To be honest she appeared very scary at first.
Nekoi: I was surprised when I learned that her eyes changed colors. “What is this string?” I thought. And was told to pull it when I asked the shop keeper.
Igarashi: I was scared to pull the string – by the large noise and how it felt I pulled the string… But now, I replace the pull ring with a fancy ornament.
Mokona: Blythe was ahead of her time.
Junko: By the way, you just returned from Paris, didn’t you?
Ohkawa: Yes. We were at the CLAMP Les Reines Du Manga à Paris exhibition there.
Junko: I hear you held a Cosplay contest?
Mokona: Oh, yes! Cosplay is different in Paris. They wear costumes and perform. Even people who are shy and quiet, become a performer once on stage. They have from 30 to 90 seconds on stage, and we judge their performance.
Igarashi: In Japan, people only pose for pictures. But in Paris, people express themselves through their movement on stage.
Junko: The French people like Japanese culture. The younger generation adore Japan. I think they adore you as well…
Nekoi: A manga technical school was established in France. As far as the overseas Manga Culture is concerned. Paris seems to have the most momentum. Where is Blythe popular in Europe?
Junko: I think Spain, followed by Italy.
CLAMP: I see. Is it because Blythe looks Spanish? (smile)
Junko: If you were to convert one of your Manga character into Blythe, which one would it be?
Ohkawa: Sakura from Card Captor Sakura or Yuuko from XXXHOLiC.
Mokona: If it were Yuuko from XXXHOLiC, we want to make her a little bit sexy by putting Kimono on a black-haired doll.
Junko: Let me hear about you work. In your stories, for example, the same characters appear in XXXHOLiC and Tsubasa. Are they the same characters in different stories? Or are you painting them as different characters?
Ohkawa: Very famous Chinese poem, A Butterfly’s Dream, appears in XXXHOLiC. To briefly touch upon the contents of this poem, one dreams about becoming a butterfly; one awakens; he believes that he certainly has dreamed of becoming a butterfly. However, that in itself was a dream. What one actually believes to be reality may be a dream of the butterfly. Such are the contents. It may be a reincarnation or it may be something of a different dimension. Whether or not the characters that appeared in the two worlds are “reborn” or “unique characters” is left to the readers. Where one exists, or the fact that we are having conversations like this, may be a dream itself. Such are my feelings when I write.
Junko: It’s like meeting a person for the first time, but feeling as though you have met him or her in the past.
Ohkawa: That’s right. It’s like déjàvu.
Junko: Blythe and the characters in the works of CLAMP seem to share similarities. Under different themes and differing stories. Blythe, like a model or actress becomes the character in each world. In our annually-sponsored charity event, we determine different themes and we ask artists and fashion brands to style dolls along these themes. For example, art was the theme of our 3rd anniversary under the title of Art Attack. We ask not only fashion brands but also artists to participate.
Nekoi: I see.
Junko: And the theme of our 9th anniversary charity exhibition for nest year has already been decided! The title is Manga Girls – Anime Inspirations!
CLAMP: Wow, but why?!
Junko: Blythe is gaining popularity globally, and so is Japanese Manga and Anime. A lot of people have an interest in Manga and Anime. It has a story; it is full of fantasy and lot of fun. I also soothes people. I wanted to develop a positive theme. I am thinking of asking and participation in this charity event.
Mokona: That’s wonderful idea! There are a lot of Blythe fans in this industry.
Junko: Definitely! We would be delighted if we could do something together!
Junko: Thank you!
Transcripted from English by Blaize.
Originally published in Me & My Blythe vol. 2 (CWC Books), released on February 05, 2010.
If you would like to contribute with translating other interviews, please contact me.