+Clamp Q/A Panel at AX2006+

Transcribed by James Jursudakul
Hosted at Remedy [a gohou drug site]

A transcript of the CLAMP Press Conference from day one of Anime Expo 2006.

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The following transcript is from the CLAMP Press Conference sponsored by Anime Expo, Del Rey Manga, and FUNimation which took place on July 1, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. CLAMP has created many world-renowned manga such as: Chobits, Card Captor Sakura, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, xxxHolic, X, and many more. The group consists of four female artists: Igarashi Satusuki, Ohkawa Ageha, Nekoi Tsubaki, and Mokona.

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Conference Moderator Chase Wang: Welcome to the Anime Expo and thank you for this opportunity to talk to you on your first ever visit to the U.S.. Before I start taking questions from everyone here today, Iíd like to ask each of you for a brief comment on Anime Expo and on the U.S.A. May I please start with Igarashi-sensei.

Igarashi Satsuki: As my first impression, is one of the weather here in the U.S.. In Japan right now is the rain season. It is muggy and wet everyday. Compared to that, it feels great to be here in the nice-dry weather. As for the convention seeing a lot of people costume playing. It seems a lot of people like our work. Thatís a great feeling for me.

Ohkawa Ageha: Thank you Iím very happy to be invited to Anime Expo this year. Actually, I (only) arrived here yesterday and I also had the great California Champagne.

Nekoi Tsubaki: First, Iím really happy that I got invited to such a big event and same as Igarashi here, I really like the dryer weather here compared to the weather to Japan right now. It really makes spending the day a lot easier and the strong sun and palm trees here really makes me realize Iím in California.

Mokona: Coming to such a big event, I have heard stories about this convention but coming here for the first time and seeing it for the first time, a lot of things...really realizing that a lot of people like anime and manga.

Press Questions:

Question: Could you describe your first meeting, how you all met and how you decided to work together as a team?

Ohkawa Ageha: The three people, except myself, were high-school classmates. So we, the four of us, got together through a mutual friend. Actually, back then as a group we first published doujinshi fanzines. And back then, the group had more people. It was 11 of us actually. And that was, for the first time, we used the group nameĖCLAMP. At our commercial debut we had six people in the group. Within one year that came down to four people and since then we worked as a group for seventeen years with four people in the group.

Question: Recently I had a chance to talk to Ishikawa-sensei from Production I.G.. He spoke very highly of you. How have you enjoyed working with him?

Ohkawa Ageha: Really?

Nekoi Tsubaki: Thatís a very strong impression.

Ohkawa Ageha: Heís a very favorable person but also a very fashionable person. My perspective is I really thought he loves making animation and also he treats his staff well, just like a family. He knows how to treat people well.

Question: In most of CLAMPís stories, thereís always a one-eyed character. Iíd like to know why CLAMP frequently uses these characters.

Ohkawa Ageha: In the stories, the one-eyed character or the characters whoís a psychic with one-eye...I think that Iím trying to visually show that there can be a very big traumatic experience/feeling and Iím basically trying to show the feeling of being lonely. From the stories thereís always some events or something that comes in later that supplements that vision. On a little different note, my right eye, the vision is not very good so maybe itís just a personal thing that I can relate to such events personally.

Question: How does it make you feel to see people all around the world cosplaying as your characters?

Mokona: It makes me feel very happy that the people in different countries really love our characters. I think every time I see them the costumes are very detailed. I look foward to seeing those costumes.

Ohkawa Ageha: Actually, before we had the focus panel. When we were waiting in our room, we could see thru the window that a lot of people that were lined up for a long-time and I saw a lot costume plays as Cardcaptor Sakura , Chobits and if that person noticed us watching them, we did wave back to those people.

Question: Iíd like to ask the four of you, where do you get your inspirations from? Do you get influenced by some others you like or your heart or whether you try to put your personal inspirations or your personal experiences in your work?

Igarashi Satsuki: I think Ohkawa sometimes draws upon these dreams that she has.

Ohkawa Ageha: Sometimes itís based on events that I hear about or see but a lot of times itís just the deadline thatís coming that gives me inspirations.

Question: Obviously thereís four of you, so at times you have choices in your stories whether to do a particular story or not. How do you sort of work out these arguments? Does it turn out one of you tends to be pretty convincing of the others? Do you vote? Or do you simply say ďMokona hasnít had a chance to run things for awhile, itís her turn?Ē Now that youíre much more international at scope, have you thought that has affected your story-telling in any way?

Ohkawa Ageha: In terms of choosing which projects, which work to accept or decline, I (Ohkawa) make that decision. But in terms of setting priorities and actual schedules for the individual works, thatís handled by Igarashi.

Igarashi Satsuki:Yes, we have to take care of whatís right in front of our eyes first before we can see beyond that.

Question: Both in Chobits and Suki Dakara Suki you use storybooks as a way of acting as a metaphor for everything else thatís going on in the stories. I was wondering what brought that sort of ideas into the stories? What brought that element in?

Ohkawa Ageha: Like you said, both in Chobits and Suki Dakara Suki, the storybook appears. When weíre working on two multiple storylines I think from time to time it can be very confusing to the readers. I think Suki Dakara Suki came first and we tried the storybook approach there. We got good feedback from the readers and thatís why we used the same idea in Chobits.

Question: As many manga series have been developing and becoming popular we see them going into live-action films. Out of all your publications that youíve put out, is there any particular one that youíd like to see as a live-action film.

Ohkawa Ageha: Live-action? Maybe it would be Chobits. I think within ourselves, weíre most interested in seeing that as a live-action. If Chobits were going to be made into live-action for the U.S., I would have strong preferences for the actresses.

Question: Our viewers and readers have been asking about Legal Drug. Whatís going on?

Ohkawa Ageha: No problem there. We will be resuming it in the near future.

Question: How do you choose different styles of the characters and proportions?

Ohkawa Ageha: After we come up with the story we go through a character design phase. Our work process is very similar to an animation production, so after the story we will choose a person to do a character design and when that is happening I will usually specify the proper proportions for that character.
Actually for the xxxHolic story, in the focus panel a fan asked about this. For this particular storyline we wanted to use a more Ukio-e art style that dictated longer proportions for the characters. Since Tsubasa is linked to xxxHolic that dictates that Tsubasa and xxxHolic have similar proportions for the characters. Itís not that our characters get thinner and longer.

Question: Is Rayearth a lion or a wolf?

Mokona: Initially the basis was a wolf but as I added more hair, it became unclear if it belonged to the cat family or the canine family. Since itís a fantasy, please forgive that vagueness.

Question: Regarding Kobato, why did you guys change from the SundayGeneX to Newtype and then remove the story again? How will you work with Kobato?

Ohkawa Ageha: SundayGeneX is where it will be serialized. For this particular piece it started with SundayGeneX and they had specified a number of chapters in the series so we fulfilled that requirement and when it was decided to be restarted we went to a different magazine, Newtype.

Question: My chief-editor and I have been wondering for a long time when X will be finished and how many volumes are left?

Ohkawa Ageha: For X, with the various things going on in Japanese society and everything, itís unclear how fast we will work on it. In terms of numbers of volumes though it will match the number of tarot cards. For the U.S. publications the exact number of volumes may slightly differ due to the number of pages involved, but for the Japanese edition there will be twenty-one volumes.

Question: Regarding the innocence of the characters, do you feel that when characters fall in love they grow up in a way (as depicted in Magic Knight Rayearth and Cardcaptor Sakuraís slight change in characters with a slightly more mature look)?

Ohkawa Ageha: I think women in general are a lot stronger than to have love change themselves. Itís a very difficult question to answer but I think itís not just love for a woman to change but itís when they find something that theyíll leave their life on the line. When they find something like that it changes them. It might be love or it might be something that they want to protect. Thatís my opinion but we do draw a lot of love pieces, targeting the girls as the audience so itís natural that love becomes something that deals with such events.

Question: What do you think are the key elements of your success in Japan and obviously in western countries?

Igarashi Satsuki and Ohkawa Ageha: For us, our everyday life is sitting at a desk and drawing. Thatís our world so itís hard for us to really feel and realize that our work is popular throughout the world.

Ohkawa Ageha: So, Iím not sure what the key element is. . .maybe I should be asking that question to you (laughs).

Question: If you hadnít become wildly successful artists what do you think you mightíve been doing?

Mokona: I would think I would always be involved in creating something or drawing.

Nekoi Tsubaki: Before I started drawing I was just an ordinary office worker so I probably just wouldíve gotten married, had a family, and lived a normal life.

Ohkawa Ageha: Iím sure I wouldíve been a manga reader.

Igarashi Satsuki: Before our professional debut was formalized I was job searching. Just looking for an ordinary salary job. So if the manga (success) didnít happen Iím sure I wouldíve been a salary worker and Iím sure I wouldíve put the salary into buying more manga, more books, and watching animation.

Question: Did any of you have any formal art education or did you all learn how to draw and create art by self-teaching?

Mokona: We mentioned that the three of us were classmates in high school and that high-school had a related college. At both of the high-school and college levels they were putting lots of emphasis into art. There was an art-type emphasis on education there.

Nekoi Tsubaki: In terms of general art skills I did learn at that school but in terms of drawing manga, that requires different skill-sets and for that part Iím more self-taught.

Igarashi Satsuki: As Mokona mentioned I also went to that art-type high-school. For me after high-school I went to a vocational school that was also an art-type school. In terms of manga drawing-skills I did not learn from any one particular person or school.

Ohkawa Ageha: Itís common in Japan for a person to work under another manga artist as an assistant and go from there. For us, all of us have never worked as an assistant to anybody so I think we are really self-taught.

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