Puff Magazine 01/2002

Interviewfor X's 10th anniversary & anime series - Translated by Jamie

---If you sit and count it all out, it's been 10 years since X was first serialized. What are your thoughts on that?

OHKAWA: Wow, 10 years already! It's that sort of feeling. *laugh*

MOKONA: But really, only about half a year has passed in the story, y'know? *laugh*

OHKAWA: That's depressing! *laugh*

NEKOI: It makes me think, "Has it really been 10 years already?"

IGARASHI: Seems like we're a little overdue for the end of the Earth. *laugh*

---When did you first come up with the idea for "X"?

OHKAWA: Well I got the first original ideas for a story like "X", an "X" prototype, back in middle school.

---What was this prototype like?

OHKAWA: It was something like a story I read when I was younger; "Devilman" by Gou Nagai-sensei. The main thrust behind that, so to speak, was this group of "allies for justice" fighting together on one side, but they just aren't really able to win. And you know, it's because you can't really draw that line so easily. It's never a clean cut between the worlds of justice and of evil. But that story definitely affected me when I was younger, the first time I read it. And the prototype I came up with was like "X" in the respect that there were so many different characters emerging. Most of them were never really pulled into the newer story, but that was when Kamui and Fuuma were really first born.

---So did you put that down in novel form or how did it take shape?

OHKAWA: No, well, I thought these things through and wrote them down in notes. Basically, I just wrote out a plot.

---And have you taken a lot of ideas from these things you first put down?

OHKAWA: Well I certainly didn't write every little thing down. I forgot a lot of it. *laugh* So I guess you can say this is like a new take on all the old stuff.

---Do you work like that now? Writing out the plot?

OHKAWA: Now I'll think about ideas and discuss them with everyone else. I wouldn't want to forget about the other members! *laugh*

---"X" is full of these heavy themes like "the fate of the Earth" and "the fate of mankind". These come across very strongly when you read. They carry through to the very last panel and leave you with an impression that these messages are coming from the characters themselves. And that this isn't a choice that they particularly want to make. Can you give us your thoughts on that?

OHKAWA: Well from the very start, I wanted the characters to really carry the story and the message themselves. Earth or man is the question and they never truly pin the answer down. They just turn it over and over within themselves and there's a little shame for not wanting to make this decision. They don't want to dishonor their families or the people who raised them, but they've really got to think for themselves about how they feel deep down. They're drawing a line through their surroundings, through their circumstances and the circumstances of the planet and sorting things out onto either side of that line. Earth's future or theirs, I think. They're not really sure they've worked it out yet *laugh* but some of them know that to suddenly fight, say, for the Earth's sake instead would be very embarassing. It's a big theme and I thought it'd be neat to have the characters, through their experiences, move it along.

---Within the story, there are two real main ideals put out there. We've got the people who think, "In order to save the Earth, mankind must perish." And then the others say, "No matter what human beings do, you mustn't destroy them." Ookawa-san, you said you wanted to move the story through the Kamui and the others, through their choices. They've certainly got one unique choice to make, haven't they?

OHKAWA: And they just haven't pinned down their answer yet. "Let's save the future of the Earth." Or should they not? Kamui's chosen to be a Dragon of Heaven. He knows what it would mean for people to die. He knows Kotori and Fuuma could die as well, and that's really his main concern. It's not that he doesn't care about the Earth, but he's decided that, in the end, he needs to think about the people he loves. And that's how he made his choice. All of them now need to save one of these things, Earth or man, and really, Kamui's starting to look now for a way to try and do both. But our Kamui right now has only gotten this far and he's nearly out of time.

---So is there a connection between everything that's happened and everything that will happen?

OHKAWA: Yes, there is. Kamui made his choice and so Kotori was killed and Fuuma was changed. *laugh* Kamui's got no idea what he should be doing anymore. And because of this uncertainty, he can't make a kekkai. I read a book once that said, "Right now, on a scale of one to ten, people are doing enough work to try and save the Earth to earn a one." And I understand that line of thinking, but I feel that if you approached it in the name of helping the Earth in order to save yourself and the people you love, you'd have a 9 out of 10. But I don't really know how good that is. Earth's well being is important. Everyone knows that. But how many people will risk their own lives and the lives of the people they love "for the Earth"? People will save the Earth to save themselves, but who will -risk- themselves to save the Earth? That's a tough thing, naturally. It's a "what should I do" sort of problem.

---And that's a big theme tied to the main characters and their true feelings and lines of thought, isn't it?

OHKAWA: That's right. The main focus of the story becomes Kamui's choice, what will he end up doing? That's really at the center of "X".

---I see. That's pretty interesting! Another central part of the story that's a lot of fun is the relationship between Kamui and Fuuma. Wondering what will become of it. Is this another part of what you developed back in middle school?

OHKAWA: The basics of it, yes. Particularly the notion that all human beings have a sort of "dual nature". You can never really split people up into "good" and "bad", because depending on the circumstances, all people have the capacity for evil. That's how I was thinking when I established this.

---You thought of all that as a middle schooler!

OHKAWA: I did. What an unpleasant child I was, hmm? *laugh* And then from that, "dreams" became a very important motif in "X". That was part of what I thought up back then, too.

---Why'd you think of that?

OHKAWA: Well I love dreaming. I mean, no matter who you are, if you're strong enough, your dreams give you this infinite sort of freedom.

---Oh? How's that?

OHKAWA: Well while you're dreaming, you know who you are, of course. And you can tell, "This dream's headed in an unpleasant direction," and you've got the freedom to change it once you realize that. I've always been interested in that. That's probably along the lines of what I was thinking when I developed this.

---You can "change the contents of your dream". That's pretty amazing, isn't it?

OHKAWA: Yes. It definitely happens, though. I've seen this stuff on the TV news. Half of these people say it's like going through a regular day, awake.

---How about the rest of the group? Can any of you do that?

MOKONA: Oh I've tried, but I've never been able to pull it off. *laugh*

NEKOI: Me neither.

IGARASHI: I can hardly ever even remember my dreams. *laugh*

---Do you dream often, Ookawa-san?

OHKAWA: Practically every night. I've dreamt through so many different stories.

---Ever any dreams about CLAMP characters?

OHKAWA: No, I've never had a dream like that. I think I've got things pretty divided in my mind. This is this and that is that. But sometimes I do dream about characters that aren't in any CLAMP works quite yet. *laugh*

---And what are their names?

OHKAWA: That's a secret! *laugh*

IGARASHI: I've said the names of "X" characters out loud in my sleep. *laugh* That's probably because I've visited all of the places we put in the "X" anime.

MOKONA: I've dreamt about Kamui and Fuuma. And sometimes we'll be drinking tea in this familiar looking place and I'll be wondering, "Where the heck are we?" And we're in Shuuichirou's house from "Wish"! All the characters will look like they do in the manga, and I'll be the only real looking person. *laugh* Everyone's just chatting it up and having fun and I'm trying to fit in. *laugh*

NEKOI: Does anything exciting ever happen?

MOKONA: No, we all just sit around drinking tea and eating. That's it. *laugh*

---*laugh* You must have a lot of repeated conversations, huh? *laugh* What you said before about everyone having a "dual nature", it's been used by you before...

OHKAWA: It was there in "Tokyo Babylon" and in "RG Veda".

---Do you have the same feelings on that subject that you did when you were a middle schooler?

OHKAWA: I feel a little different, maybe even totally opposite from how I did back then. Especially in respect to the dream seeing. I mean when you're younger, doesn't everyone kind of feel like the world is against them? You hit puberty and everything is different and it makes you worry so much. I think now I'm more laid back. More, "Oh yeah? So that's what's going on." *laugh* But back then, I'd worry over the most trivial things and think about them, internalize them, react to them. And that's where my stories would come from. So I think that back then, my thoughts were probably a bit harsher, crueler. Now, I've got work, I've got my day to day life, my grounding in reality, and so I do think of stories, but the middle school me thought only about them and she was probably much harsher than this me.

---And what current works do you try and put this "dual nature" into?

OHKAWA: Oh I think it's in so many characters, I really love it. I think it's just an element that shows up in a lot of the works I think up. These characters just come right out of it. And maybe it's not a "dual nature". Maybe they're more like...an antimony, a "walking contradiction". The point is that even if someone looks beautiful and acts kind, they might not be. And even if someone seems cruel or tough, they might not be, either. I love things like that.

---One of the biggest characters with this "dual nature" has to be "Tokyo Babylon"'s Seishirou. What made you bring him and Subaru into "X"?

OHKAWA: Well Kamui and Fuuma's relationship has to do with someone whom you thought was your friend undergoing a complete and sudden change. And Subaru and Seishirou's relationship is like that too. I figured that could be a big parallel if they were in the same story. "In 'X', Subaru and Seishirou turned out like this." And then, "Now that Kamui's seen that, what will he do when he's up against Fuuma?" Something like that. In "Tokyo Babylon", Subaru is betrayed by Seishirou, who kills Hokuto. But Seishirou is this heartless type who does as he pleases. Selfish. So in "X", he knows that even if he's going to die, he won't let Subaru forget him. He leaves his mark on Subaru in a place so deep that it's just indelible. And Kamui sees all this, so what is he going to learn from it? When we get to the climax, what will Kamui and Fuuma do so that they don't end up like Subaru and Seishirou...? That's one of "X"'s more important developments.

---When you're drawing Kamui and Fuuma, what sort of things do you think?

MOKONA: "It sure is nice to watch them tease each other." *laugh*

---Since his change, Fuuma sure has been popular, hasn't he? *laugh*

OHKAWA: I think we all go for the bad boy type. *laugh* But as for Kamui and Fuuma's relationship, it's really not correct to speak of them as "friends". I mean if you look at Kamui, you can tell Fuuma's all he thinks about. He's got no more relatives, no sweet little Kotori, Fuuma's the only thing left that gives Kamui his identity. And when there's that much attachment, it's really no longer a simple "friendship". So when we portray Kamui and Fuuma, we want to do it in such a way that you can see what was once a "friendship" now evolving, transcending that definition.

MOKONA: We want you to see them teasing each other. *laugh*

---So in contrast, Kamui and Segawa-kun have a "friendship", don't they?

OHKAWA: Yes. That's a "friendship".

IGARASHI: And Sorata is like a relative. A big brother. You know, "through thick and thin". *laugh*

MOKONA: Subaru's like a big brother, too.

NEKOI: More like a big sister. *laugh*

MOKONA: Yeah, Kamui and Subaru are like sisters. They even look the part. *laugh*

---How about Fuuma and Seishirou?

OHKAWA: Out of the two, Fuuma's definitely the adult. He's like an older cousin, even if he's younger. He's such a grown-up. *laugh* Seishirou, to me, is like a selfish little kid. He only deals with what appeals to him. He'll do something if it's fun, but if it isn't, then he just won't. Fuuma's a little different in his motivations and how he expresses them and operates. I think that's the biggest difference between them.

NEKOI: I don't think there are that many Dragons of Earth that ever really show their true selves, are there? *laugh* Nobody shows as much as Fuuma does, anyway. *laugh*

IGARASHI: Well if the Dragon of Earth deal doesn't work out for them, those jokers can always get a nice job serving tea. *laugh*

MOKONA: Satsuki-chan's totally going to have nightmares about that now. *laugh*

OHKAWA: She'll get all bored sitting around by herself and join in on their fun, too. *laugh*

MOKONA: You can't help it! You just break down and have to give in! Even Kamui gets sucked into the fun, I bet. He can't help it. *laugh*

---You got a lot of reaction from the 16th volume where we have the climax of Subaru and Seishirou's story.

OHKAWA: I guess a lot of readers thought that Subaru might die, but Seishirou certainly wouldn't. Well, obviously not. In fact, both of them could even die now. The spell that Hokuto cast in the end of "Tokyo Babylon" was foreshadowing, and it was stretched out there for so long that you sort of got a feeling like, "Finally, it's all done." And now, with a dead Dragon of Earth, there'll be some exchanges between the two sides going on.

---Is it alright for us to print that?

OHKAWA: Yes, it's fine. If you look back to the first volume of "X", you can figure out a lot of what's going to happen.

NEKOI: I think a lot of our stuff is like that. *laugh*

OHKAWA: Yeah. *laugh*

---So to confirm, then, we won't see Seishirou coming back to life any time soon?

OHKAWA: Nope. Sorry to anyone who was expecting him to. I don't know about any of our previous works, but in the "X" world, dead characters stay dead.

---Any plans to introduce any new characters?

OHKAWA: No, this is it. Everyone who's going to show up already has.

---And what about the story? From where you are with everything planned out, how far along are we?

OHKAWA: We're very close to the end.

---What? Really!? Then we won't be sitting here this time next year, will we?

OHKAWA: Nope, probably not. *laugh*

---And will the TV anime end first?

OHKAWA: The last episode of the anime should air next spring. But the ending came out of supervision by the studio. The anime ending will be different from the manga ending.

---Then with the ending approaching, is everything going according to plan?

OHKAWA: The story really is staying pretty on track. Actually, we're a little ahead of schedule with the ending this season. Things move along much quicker in the animation progress then they did when I was younger. *laugh* So we're even closer to the end than planned.

---How would you rate "X" among all of CLAMP's other works?

OHKAWA: It's definitely the longest story we've ever done, which is really big for us.

MOKONA: It makes you feel like you really want to get the ending perfect.

NEKOI: It really has been a long time, hasn't it?

IGARASHI: I think if you look at it as a marker of where we were when we first debuted, we've come a long way with it. It's probably run deeper than any of our other works.

---During "X"'s 10 year serialization, you've run a lot of other series. "Cardcaptor Sakura" in "Nakayoshi", "Chobits" in "Young Magazine", and you've dabbled in so many different genres, but you've always been successful. So what weird sort of stuff is CLAMP planning for us?

MOKONA: Weird? *laugh*

NEKOI: Well that's kind of empowering. *laugh*

OHKAWA: I feel like we never want to do the same story twice. Even if "X" ends and we do an "X"-ish story somewhere else, we want it to be different. We always start out with that feeling when we go into making something new.

---Any final messages for your fans?

MOKONA: We might be a little while off from our goal still, but we hope you'll keep reading "X" until the end. This is the part for me where I think the characters will get really interesting and we'll be very happy if you stick with us.

---So then the other members aside from Ookawa-san really only know that much.

NEKOI: That's right. I mean, I think we've only read a little bit more than the readers. *laugh* We've got the same feelings as the rest of you, we're really excited for what's going to happen next. And while we're all looking forward to it, we're going to work our very hardest.

IGARASHI: I wonder about it every day, what'll happen to this character and what'll that character do... *laugh* Right along with everyone else. *laugh*

OHKAWA: It'll only be a little longer. It's our longest running series and we're all really passionate about it. We'll work very hard to wrap everything up for everyone.