Clamp no Kiseki 8

X interview, part 1. Translated by Jamie

Clamp no Kiseki 8

---When did you first come up with this story?

OHKAWA: When I was much younger. It was just something flitting around in my mind, a story about the end of the century that was coming on, so I came up with a prototype. But I never really came up with anything very concrete back then. Actually, the X characters we know now are totally different from the first ones that I came up with.

---Tell us about the serialization process.

OHKAWA: Before X, we ran "CLAMP Campus Detectives" in Asuka and it was well-received. And then our editor, Aoki-san (Seiichirou), told us he'd like us to try another series, a longer running one this time. And I thought that now maybe I could do my end of the century story since I'd been wanting to do it for so long, after all. I always loved stories like "Hakkeden" (NOTE: Translates to roughly "The Legend of Nansou Satomi and the Eight Dogs", according to what I looked up. A massive, massive Japanese literary epic), where you've got a team of characters who come together, friends, you know? So I figured let's do a story like that where we see both sides, both teams.

MOKONA: We drew up the characters of Kamui and Fuuma and showed them to Aoki-san......

---What was part of those original character profiles?

IGARASHI: We sort of each just drew in all the aspects that we wanted to unclude in the final character in a bulletin-type thing. We drew it all up kind of like a New Year's greeting card (NOTE: Called "nengajou", cards sent out during New Year's with good wishes for the upcoming year written on them) and sent it out.

---And have the characters now retained the same feel as the originals from when you were younger?

MOKONA: Oh, no, most of them are quite different.

OHKAWA: Yeah, a lot of changes were made. Especially to Fuuma. He was originally a lot brighter of a character......more like Segawa-kun. And he wasn't really as tall, either. Closer in height to our Kamui back then.

MOKONA: They were a lot like the boys in "CLAMP Campus Defenders Duklyon".

OHKAWA: I've made a lot of the strong, silent types after we came up with that bulletin, actually... And our serialization started just after that.

---There are so many different characters in "X". Who would you say has been around the longest?

MOKONA: Probably Nataku. Right?

OHKAWA: Yeah. I came up with him way back in middle school. It was a sort of, "Well why not come up with anime-style character designs for a big myth-type story." Obviously it's grown a lot from there, but that's how it started out. And one of the characters I came up with then was Nataku.

IGARASHI: Yuuto's probably the oldest as a crossover character, though.

OHKAWA: Oh, yes, that's right! Yuuto and Suoh came from an older story, "Hagunsei Seki", but the serialization for that one fell through.

NEKOI: Nagisa-chan from "CLAMP Campus Detectives" was in there, too.

MOKONA: Arashi's pretty old, herself.

OHKAWA: We had a cute little "Romeo and Juliet" story that was never published, but the heroine there was Arashi. I mean, she was completely different, part of the Yakuza, she had a totally different temperment.Quiet, but really spontaneous. And the boy was sort of a Sorata prototype too, actually. He was a cop.

IGARASHI: When was that, back in 1991, right? We were running those bulletins we talked about and we all came up with a calendar that we put in those. Arashi was in that, too.

OHKAWA: Yeah, that picture of her was in our "X ZERO" artbook. Nataku, Yuuto, Arashi...... Those guys are the old, seasoned players and they're still looking the same today. And I guess Kamui would be our baby. Our newest.

---Crossing over characters like you do is a technique that was used often by creators like Reiji Matsumoto-sensei and Osamu Tezuka-senei. How do you feel about using it?

OHKAWA: Of course we've been influenced by people like Tezuka-sensei and Matsumoto-sensei, but really, we started it just by having fun back in our doujinshi days. We talked about it in our interview about "CLAMP Campus Detectives" (published with Volume 5) (NOTE: usomitai did a lovely translation of that interview here), and we sort of touched on the subject, but when you've got a story where you have all these different, detailed characters that are so much fun, you just don't like throwing them away. That's really all there is to it.

---Explain what "X" means, as a title.

OHKAWA: Well first of all, it represents an unknown number, an undefined that you need to solve for in a numeric equation. Secondly, it's an oblique image of the cross, really. There are so many meanings that it holds. It stuck pretty quickly for one of our titles. We showed
it to our ediotr and and that was that, "X" was decided.

---Earlier, you said that Kamui is the newest character. What details did you pay special attention to when you were creating him?

OHKAWA: We had a lot of demands for Kamui. *laugh* He's got a lot of good qualities, but he's got loads of vices, too. That's what we were looking to create. He stands out as an individual in his surroundings, but at the same time, we have a hero whose hairstyle, whose appearance, whose manner of speech is terribly average. And I think we also wanted his school uniform to have no buttons on it, didn't we?

MOKONA: To me, his individuality sort of comes from the way he's been cast. *laugh* We designed him with a certain character type, a hero type, in mind. He's definitely the kind of guy that fits as a hero in a manga dealing with psychic powers, really. He's got these intense eyes and then there's his hair. And his school uniform. *laugh*

---How much work went into making volume one?

OHKAWA: I'd say I wrote out about 60 pages, maybe? We had loads of scenes, we knew we were going into a situation where we'd have a lot of two-page spreads, a lot of work to do. We wound up cutting a lot of the scenery images in volume 1. Actually, if I remember correctly, the first three volumes wound up like that, 60 pages, 60 pages, and 60 pages. Gosh, we were pretty young. There's no way we'd ever be able to pull that off again. *laugh*

NEKOI: We really loaded on the toner back then, too, didn't we? We had such sharp images.

OHKAWA: But the funny thing is how ahead of schedule we were then anyway...... Especially with the color pages that we needed for our ads, they were done in a flash. There were character sketches all over the place around Mokona. As soon as you got to work, Kamui everywhere.

MOKONA: It was a desert of Kamuis. Except they sort of looked like Ashura. *laugh*

---So did you take the idea of the Promised Day, the Earth ending, from Nostradamus' prediction that it would end some time in July of 1999?

OHKAWA: When I was younger, that notion was pretty popular. *laugh*

IGARASHI: Well it might be the subject of the story, but I never believed in it personally. *laugh*

NEKOI: Guess there are a bunch of stories like that, aren't there? *laugh*

MOKONA: I never believed in it either, but it interested me anyway. *laugh* I've read a bunch of books about it. I never rushed out to buy all my last minute, long lasting, life-saving groceries or anything, though.

OHKAWA: Yeah, I never believed it either. I just love stories like that; 1999 being the end of the world and the end of a century. There were things like that going around in 1899, too, but nobody ever explicitly marked the end of the century as the cause. There was just a lot of unpleasant stuff, err, how best to put it...... There was this feeling that something big was going to happen. But I suppose the thing that gave us an idea for a Promised Day in 1999 really was Nostradamus' prediction. *laugh*

---What else influenced "X"?

OHKAWA: I don't think anything we've ever done really presents the state of society today to the extent that "X" did. Well, really, as "X" still does.

NEKOI: Scenery in the cities has changed so much. Buildings keep on being built one after another after another. I mean, even the scenery that we've drawn in "X", a lot of it has become inaccurate because there are so many new buildings today.

IGARASHI: And what about cell phones? We never would have imagined they'd be as prominent and as common as they are today. There's a scene in volume 2 where Yuuto uses a cellphone and another where Aoki gets a message on his pager. The pager scene probably feels so ancient today. *laugh*

MOKONA: It's got a big social message. The plot is very involved in scoiety.

OHKAWA: We tried presenting a lot of our issues with society in the story. But obviously, it's hard to just take a work at face value and ignore the subtext because our serialization's been halted......... We thought "ASUKA" would give us the freedom to create as we saw fit, but it seems there's a line after all.

---There are a lot of gruesome scenes in "X"......

OHKAWA: Kotori's death is a big one. It's particulary cruel and when it came down to it, our editors told us they'd rather not run it. But we felt like the point of the earlier dream sequences would be totally lost if the scene were cut, and somehow, they let us keep it in there. After that, we pretty much had the freedom to draw things however we wanted to draw them, to write about anything, drinking, the devil, you name it. But we got to wondering if we should really keep up like that. We felt a little lost. But we were making a choice to be honest with our readers, and that meant there were some unpleasant things that we'd need to show. As the years went on, though, those sorts of scenes kind of evaporated. And then we had Saiki's death, which was a real turning point; we got an overwhelmingly negative reader response to the scene. That's when the editors approached us about the gruesome scenes we'd included up to that point, and how if we were going to continue in that vein, "X" wouldn't really be a shoujo story anymore, could they honestly keep on serializing it as such, etc. We wound up getting lost after all. The honesty's gotten lost and we're sure something like that could happen to us again.