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The awesome [livejournal.com profile] chibiyuuto and I have something of a wager going on over whether or not a certain subplot of T:RC will be resolved before the end of the manga, which in a roundabout way led me to agreeing to translate this interview. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] undini for the scans and to [livejournal.com profile] radiomacrossing for the summary.


[page 07]
Scene 1: The Debut Period
Before They Became Manga-ka, They Always Loved Fantasy

Q: In 1989, at the same time as you had your debut in a commercial magazine with "RG Veda," you moved to Tokyo and lived together in a 2LDK apartment in Ikebukuro at first. It seems you only broke off living together after 15 years? 

Ohkawa: Until five years ago we used a single house: the first floor was for work, and two of us each lived on the second and third floors. We didn't handle not living together easily, but the quantity of work--

Igarashi: Certainly, the quantity hasn't decreased even now.

Nekoi: Though we actually had been saying for a while that it was about time we stop living together, that's not the lifestyle of adult women [laughter].

Mokona: Since the workspace and personal life were tightly divided, the emotional changeover was easy to do.

Igarashi: In these 20 years, the biggest thing we did was that.

Nekoi: Since we each have personal lives, I think that being able to demarcate our public and private lives exactly was good after all.

Ohkawa: Since I have a lot of business appointments, there are times when I can't enter the studio, but at those times we can do business with chats and webcams. [laughter]

[page 08]
Mokona: They really are convenient, email and chats. [laughter]

Q: I think a point of special mention about Clamp is that since "RG Veda" you've always been drawing other world fantasies. Was that a very natural choice?

Ohkawa: It's simply that I like that kind of thing, I think.

Igarashi: And in the magazine our debut work, "RG Veda," was serialized in, Wings, a lot of hard SF and fantasy was being published.

Nekoi: And in the old Margaret and Hana to Yume, super-power things were being published as well.

Ohkawa: More than anything, I was influenced by Hagio Moto-sensei. Contrarily, I didn't really read anything romantic. [laughter]

Nekoi: I liked mainly "general incident" works, like "Hayaku Midarero Heiwa". [laughter]

Igarashi: I didn't really read stuff about boys and girls in the springtime of life until we began Clamp, either.

Nekoi: Even if I read them, I'd see the heroine floundering due to romance, and I'd think, "How about throwing out all of them?" [laughter] "How about dumping the boy and your friends?" [laughter]

Ohkawa: I think writers who can draw endless chapters about romance alone are amazing. Whether the couple will come together or not, they can really draw the story out to that point. If it was me, there'd be aliens attacking or something by now. [laughter]

Mokona: That we haven't written a story that turns completely on romance is only a topic for the four of us in this interval.

Ohkawa: Since our method of working we've chosen every time is to draw something we haven't drawn before, next time we might feel like drawing a romance. Though at the moment, the scenarist (me) doesn't feel like it.

All: [laughter]

Not BL But HB: We'll Draw Emotions Beyond Love!

Q: Precisely because they're fantasy, I feel that you can utter strong words that press at human roots, that aren't uttered in everyday life. In Clamp works, witty remarks come one after another.

Ohkawa: That might be because we have a lot of Kansai blood [laughter]. Osaka people say what they have to say in one remark.

Igarashi: We have our own witty remarks.

Nekoi: It's like it's planned, to say the right words with the right timing: a quip machine. "If you say this, you won't decide"--normal ladies say lines like that, with a pop, too.

Ohkawa: It might also be the influence of Yoshimoto Shinkigeki culture. [TN: Yoshimoto Shinkigeki is, very roughly, a Japanese "Saturday Night Live".] Absolutely always say the same thing, with the same pose, maintaining the balance between humor and seriousness. 

Mokona: Clamp works are surprisingly made up of Kansai blood. [laughter]

Q: In "Tokyo Babylon," the nature of Subaru and Seishirou's relationship is the trick of the whole story. Using BL-type expressions to renew conventional stories might be Clamp's breakthrough power, mighn't it?

Mokona: When you say "BL" or "boys' love," I have the feeling of a different genre. [laughter]

Ohkawa: My viewpoint is that it's coming from the hard boiled stuff that male creators write, yakuza or whatever--since it's a greatness that stuns me reading it. Sort of like, "Hey, are you really saying that honestly!?" [laughter]

Nekoi: The relationship between the two protagonists in "Sanctuary" is like that too. Of course, I don't think the creator was conscious of that.

Igarashi: Stuff like "Abunai deka" and "Jingi naki tatakai" might be like that too. [TN = Japanese crime TV shows] All of them have male authors and main characters, and looking at it from their perspective, holding onto your partner even if you throw away your woman is different from love, but is a matter of course.

Mokona: Male buddy stuff is fundamentally that way. What's there isn't love--it's trust, and emotions beyond love.

Ohkawa: Conversely when we, female creators, draw that, and it's called BL, it's embarassing. Well, of course the viewer thinks for him or herself, but for us, we think, "Wasn't there a point of departure in hardboiled?" [laughter]

Igarashi: It's not BL, it's HB [laughter].

Q: From the very beginning you've positioned yourselves as a "creative collective," working on book design and administering information transfer services for readers.

[page 09]
Ohkawa: I think a big part of it is coming from doujinshi. With doujinshi, you do design yourself, you bring in and sell them yourself, and if there are an unsold, it's your burden. We loved that type of creator from the start, and what we're doing now should be called an extension of that.

Scene 2: The Reverse Chemistry Period
In Our First Challenge to Shonen Magazines and Shojo Magazines, We Choose Material According to the Magazine

Q: It's written in the back matter [atogaki] of the "Watashi no Sukina Hito" tankoubon that the manga, which began serialization in 1993, was the first for which Nekoi-san was the main manga-ka. Was that a big change? 

Ohkawa: Since I write the scenarios, and if Mokona is drawing the other two help out, while if Nekoi draws the other two help out, nothing will change if you say nothing changes. It's the same as "Four people draw [the manga]."

Nekoi: If the number of people doesn't change [laughter].

Igarashi: Because we don't have assistants. If you look at the booths, you'll understand immediately that we don't have any space to put any other people [laughter].

Q: "Magic Knight Rayearth" was serialized right in the middle of the shojo magazine Nakayoshi in the same year, 1993. After that, in a first try at rebelling against the collar of the magazine medium, though you produced various works, you continued serializing in the same magazine with "Cardcaptor Sakura," which had a completely different impression in terms of design.

Ohkawa: At the time of "Rayearth," our mood was to draw something no one was drawing in Nakayoshi, so we thought, "Well, giant robots!" With that reaction, next we thought to do a mahou shojo thing, in which a girl like readers changed daily. We stopped using thick lines like shonen manga, and used thin, fragile lines and made it true white, like in shojo manga.

Igarashi: And when we did that, readers said it was hard to read [laughter].

Mokona: Though we did our best to draw it like that! [laughter]

Nekoi: Though we used so many thin tones, and made dots, and drew enough flowers to die from [laughter].

Mokona: "Sakura" took a lot of work. Producing the narrowness of those lines was tough. I thought that shojo manga-ka are amazing, piling up those narrow lines on top of each other, while drawing and controlling their strength. When I tried it, I really understood.

Q: What about your first serial in a weekly shonen magazine, "Chobits"?

Ohkawa: Since the scenario I'd thought of was aimed at adults somewhat, I thought it'd be impossible in Nakayoshi. I was thinking about where I could be allowed to draw the scenario, and I brought the project to Young Magazine, to which we had a chance connection.

Mokona: Since the number of pages in one portion was a bit fewer, weekly serialization wasn't tough.

Ohkawa: The guys who said they liked it at first, at the end after Chitose-san's story started, that tide receded, and we didn't hear those voices [laughter].

Igarashi: On the other hand, at the end female support grew big.

Mokona: "Chobits" was drawn with a ballpoint pen. That time I consumed the most ballpoint pens in my life. I think it was the first time in my life that I used an entire ballpoint pen [laughter].

Since "I Won't Change," I Can Change

Q: About that work that was published in a new edition last year, "Clover," what was the impetus for telling that story with that art and that design?

Ohkawa: The origin of the story itself was a dream that I had. However, the calculation was that telling that story using normal manga drawing techniques, it would take over ten volumes. When I was trying how best to compress that weight of information and to enter the story, that style of drawing was the best. There's blank space that's seemingly like useless panels, but within that empty space there are places that must tell the story. 

[page 10]
Mokona: It was a manga that pushes through atmosphere. So, if you don't read between the lines, you won't understand it. 

Nekoi: It's always usually that Ohkawa will come with the scenario, and the artist will stop at continuity, but "Clover" was exceptional. Ohkawa took it nearly through continuity, and Igarashi felt like a W-director. [TN: I have no idea what that is.]

Ohkawa: I stood in the position of the director for that work. That person decides the tone of the work as a whole, but I, the scenarist, am hardly ever the director. It's certainly a very unusual work. 

Igarashi: More than continuity, it was layout work. "This cut here, arrange it with these dimensions, with this thickness of the gridlines, and this font." All those effects you can do immediately on a computer today were done by hand.

Mokona: Furthermore, that was tough in terms of manga materials. I was changing all my manga materials daily--no matter how many times I tried, I couldn't produce a line like a pencil, so at the end I was drawing with a manga-use Pigma pen (0.5 mm).

Igarashi: For color, we brought paper that was specially made for manga to a printer, and had paper made for drawing with blue frames, and little by little it became paper that we could use for black and white manuscripts as well. 

Q: I'd never have thought that even the paper was made to order! "Clover" is this way too, but like the picture book that is quoted in its entirety in "Chobits," it can be felt that Clamp works are a challenge to the usual panel divisions in manga.

Igarashi: But it's often said that my manga are surprisingly usual in their panel divisons.

Nekoi: I think we're the old type of manga-ka. Today's creators are more like designers. 

Mokona: There was a time when the guidance given was to "show pictures like illustrations at the highlight," but I think consciousness of that changes. Relating to panel layout, I think it's more that people keep to the way of doing things that their predecessors kindly said "If you do this, it's easy to read" about. 

Ohkawa: I think probably our works are standard to some extent. Even if we drew other worlds, that's a fantasy standard. I think if people are enjoying the last gradual return favor, but they're not stories that make a show of being different, and they're fundamentally stories that are common traditionally.

Mokona: Daringly, now, it might be that doing the standard is received as originality.

Nekoi: If you play at baseball, actually it's always a straight pitch [laughter].

Igarashi: That we're stubborn doesn't change [laughter].

[page 11]
Scene 3: The Era of the Highest Masterpiece
The Secret Story Behind the All-Cast Gathering of "xxxHOLiC" and "Tsubasa"

Q: I think that "the Clamp corpus" Tsubasa and the "new ground" xxxHOLiC, joined together, are truly your greatest masterpiece! When you started serializing these two in 2003, what sort of thought did you put into drawing them? 

Ohkawa: I apologize to the readers, but prior works are prior works. Things ended are ended. We're very happy that things we drew in the past are loved today, and we're fond of them too, but as creators, our current work is our best.

Igarashi: Since at those times, we're always doing our best, now.

Nekoi: "Don't be charmed by the past" [laughter].

Mokona: "Don't remember your past self" [laughter].

Ohkawa: No, remember that in preparation. [laughter]

Q: "Tsubasa" is an other-world fantasy journeying to various worlds, in which main characters of past Clamp works make a great deal of appearances.

Ohkawa: I thought of the stories for "Tsubasa" and "xxxHOLiC" at roughly the same time, but because of the ending on the "xxxHOLiC" side, "Tsubasa" had to have many dimensions, and I thought it would be interesting to have the dimensions be divided amongst various countries, and in each have characters with the same face, but living different lives.

Mokona: And maybe that there are many, many different lives. I said that there were unhappy characters, too, but that somewhere in another world they might be happy. But Ashura-ou and Yasha are unhappier than in "RG Veda" [laughter].

Ohkawa: [laughter] It's not really that we drew all the characters. To set up some events at the end, it wouldn't work to have some old characters appear. And we produced some other characters who didn't feel out of place, too.

Igarashi: Who will appear? We had nothing but the same information as readers. It's always that way, but we didn't hear anything in advance from Ohkawa.

Nekoi: I wanted to ask, "what's up?", but if she's told, "Well, tell us!" she'd say, "Oh stop." [laughter] We were being led about by a carrot dangling from the muzzle, too, but we ran through with all our might until the end.

Igarashi: We endured and endured like that, and at the end I wanted to cry, "So it was like this!" [laughter]

Mokona: Though, when there was a slight issue with attached expressions, there were times when I asked Ohkawa, "Since it'd be fine if you'd just give me a range, won't you tell me?" I'm now drawing what I understood was what when I understood the back-end setup. Since there are times when there are performances remaining.

Q: "xxxHOLiC" takes place in a world that resembles contemporary Japan closely, with spirits. It's full to the brim of Clamp-esque romantic fantasies. [TN: "Romantic" as in the sense of Shakespearean romances--something like what we mean when we say "picaresque."]

Igarashi: Even though Japan is called digital, digital, there are "remainders" just barely hanging on. Traditional legends like "The insects inform" and "Don't cut your toenails at night."

Mokona: Even young people pay too much attention to "Why do you guys know that?" Folklore is surprisingly alive, I think.

Ohkawa: The yumekai, amewarashi and zashiwarashi, that they're here is said in folktales from the past. We drew them in our own style.

Igarashi: It's close to traditional ghost stories. There are those who say it's very scary, and those who say that they enjoy it.

Q: It's a completely different impression than that given by "Tsubasa," which is drawn so passionately, with thick shonen manga lines. I think that a "common story" acquires the feeling of a strange existence through the art direction.

Ohkawa: As far as the art direction, at the beginning the image of "let's make it like ukiyo-e" came from me. [page 12] Another thing I decided was that we wouldn't use tones. Where we wanted to lay tones, we drew all lines, by hand. So that the lines we had to have became flat.

Mokona: Better, it was slightly eerie. [TN: Could also be "ostentatious."] Personally, it had a momentum like I was drawing paper cutouts.

Nekoi: That the foundation, when it's time to draw, is hyper-analogue, hasn't changed.

Ohkawa: As far as the characters, we minimized the faces, and raised up the heads and bodies. Nekoi's characters are taller than Mokona's. This time Nekoi drew the male characters, and Mokona the female. If they drew together, inevitably the body proportions would mingle, but this time, since there was the ukiyo-e, they matched Nekoi.

Igarashi: "xxxHOLiC" has more of a "drawn by four people" feeling than anything heretofore.

Mokona: I think that the composite art that can be done by the smallest number of people is definitely manga. Manga has pictures and words, and it can express sound with sound effects too. Manga's awesome. 

"Links" Just This Once!? Self-Sacrifice Is Firmly Prohibited

Q: Where did the attempt to make the two stories of "xxxHOLiC" and "Tsubasa" link come from? 

Ohkawa: The word "zapping" came into fashion for a time, but it's often in games and movies, too. [TN: In Japanese, "zapping" is to change the channel, to mute the sound of commercials, or to fast forward through them, with a remote control.] What can't be understood from A's viewpoint, is understood when exchanged with B's viewpoint, and from what they can both see, the whole story can be seen. I wanted to try dividing a manga that could be enjoyed while zapping into two serializations.

Nekoi: In an old Hana to Yume, [the authors] of "Garasu no Kantai" and "Sukeban Keiji" had a conversation within the same issue.

All three: There was!

Nekoi: WIthin the conversation that was serialized in the same issue, there were scenes like they were having a conversation--"How are you?" "Fine, as always!" But because the other's lines weren't written, if you didn't read the other half of the pair of manga that was serialized in the same issue, you wouldn't understand the contents of the conversation completely. While I was turning the pages back and forth, I was thinking, "Manga can do this sort of thing too!" and was very moved.

Mokona: Yes, it was very interesting, since only those people who bought that issue understood it. You couldn't understand it from a tankoubon.

Igarashi: The meaning our manga has is like that too. The way of feeling is different between the magazine and the tankoubon. 

Ohkawa: We're drawing them so that they can be read and enjoyed as comics, and of course we're happy when both are read in magazines. But this method is hard. To adjust the links, there have been countless times it didn't appear in print. Since the people at Magazine and Young Magazine are nice, they forgive us anyway, but I'm sure they're actually upset [laughter].

[page 13]
Q: "To sacrifice yourself for a person, how much that hurts the person, and all the more so if it's someone who cares for you." (xxxHOLiC, volume 7) This line of Yuuko's--do you feel you've evolved from unfinished Clamp works, including "X"?

Ohkawa: I wonder. But fundamentally, I, have long disliked self-sacrifice and group responsitibity.

Mokona: From "RG Veda" and from "X," they're hyper-individualistic works; [laughter] in the actions and ways of thinking of the people who appear in them.

Ohkawa: What I hate about self-sacrifice is that the one who was sacrificed wounds all the more. Practically speaking, if one dies from it, the one who was left is left with deep wounds. I think we've long been drawing that that should stop, haven't we?

Igarashi: If you're going to do it, do it with the classification of "self-responsibility" [laughter].

Ohkawa: There's another thing we've often talked about. "The world is only the range of what you can see with your eyes."

Nekoi: Even if you worry about things you can't see with your eyes, there's no help for them, so it's best to know well what you can see with your eyes.

Mokona: That perception is common to the four of us.

Scene 4: The Future Era
In 2009, We've Had Delusions For 20 Years

Q: This year, it's been 20 years since you plunged into your debut. How do you feel about an era of 20 years now? 

Nekoi: Woah, how indeed. I don't have the consciousness that 20 years have passed at all. Though I do have the consciousness that they were good years spent childishly [laughter].

Ohkawa: The fundamentals haven't changed much. The things we like haven't changed, and the "this is a hypothetical thought, but" conversations we begin when we're drinking together are still usually impractical. All the things I'm saying today are things I couldn't have conceived of in middle school. [laughter]

Nekoi: Because we're not smart kids.

Group: [laughter]

Ohkawa: It might be that we've been drawing "Hey, hey, what would happen if we did this?" things for 20 years. What would you do if you were reincarnated? If a robot? if you could use super abilities? if there were multiple worlds and you could meet a person with the same face as you? what would you do if there was a dimension wish who could grant wishes?

Mokona: We really do talk about that sort of thing every day.

Igarashi: Lately we've been saying that the easiest to understand is Chii from "Chobits." Errors occur with computers. Things like "Although it's fine to speak the instructions" and "Please fix this problem here" might be spoken in a cute voice. 

Ohkawa: "If you do that, you'll become a little friendlier." It might be that we've been letting out our delusions in that way [laughter], and for 20 years our skills have grown bit by bit, and we've grown more correct in dropping them into magazine pages. [livejournal.com profile] chibiyuuto[livejournal.com profile] undini[livejournal.com profile] radiomacrossing

Mokona: We humbly apologize that everyone has come face to face with the silly delusions of silly kids. [laughter]

Q: A little after serialization of "Tsubasa" and "xxxHOLiC" started, the anime adaptation of "Kobato" was decided too.

Ohkawa: "Kobato" is, at any rate, "no incident happens." There is a story flowing on a grand scale, but it's a work in which the same sort of story happens every time--I thought I'd like to try a work like that once, at the beginning. An anime adaptation has been decided, but since there are still so few volumes, I wonder what we'll do [laughter].

Q: Speaking of anime adaptations, I was surprised at the attempt to package original DVDs together with tankoubons.

Ohkawa: That was suggested by us. "Tsubasa" was broadcast on NHK, and "xxxHOLiC" on TBS, but of course on NHK you can't do severe depictions. Because of that, regardless of the fact that the Tokyo chapters are the turning point, content-wise it couldn't be adapted to anime. That was an OAD.

Mokona: Though in the past it was an OVA [laughter].

Ohkawa: The original "xxxHOLiC" vol. 14 and 15, and "Tsubasa" vol. 26 and 27, that couldn't be done on TV, the links in which Watanuki appears in "Tsubasa" and Shaoran appears in "xxxHOLiC", are being done in the anime. Since the scenario this time is the first in which I could write links, I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

Global Appearance Project Set in Motion: The Future After 20 Years Is?

Q: This year, more energetic than heretofore, Clamp works will be appearing globally. It seems a new original manga, "Mangettes" will appear in a booklet in America.

Ohkawa: Since manga books are very thin in America, one appears every month. In one issue, one story, about 60 - 70 pages. At the same time as that work appears in America, one story each will be published in magazines in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. 

Q: What do you think about the future? 

Mokona: My personal hope is to travel a bit more. I think it would be nice if we could take a little more time with our job, but--

Ohkawa: I want a vacation, but I think, with the same stance after 20 years as after 10, "it'd be nice if it would happen." The same as ever, every day I drink sake, I dream pointless daydreams, and I'm modestly busy with work. Modest is good. [laughter]

Nekoi: I think it's good that we can still draw together after 20 years. I think I want to live like this, immaturely, until I die. [laughter]

Igarashi: The immediate future is that "Tsubasa" and "xxxHOLiC" will reach a climax. We're looking forward to what will happen here, too. 

Ohkawa: There are many things like this in our works, but if you look at the first story, there are hints about the end drawn in it. So now is your chance to figure it out. [laughter] Certainly, I want you to take the magazine in your hands and taste the fun of the links for yourself. 

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-15 04:13 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chibiyuuto.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! Looking forward to the rest =D I loved this bit:

Ohkawa: At the time of "Rayearth," our mood was to draw something no one was drawing in Nakayoshi, so we thought, "Well, giant robots!"

XD

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-15 04:23 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starlady38.livejournal.com
I'm thinking I should have started with Scene 3, but too late now.

Interviews are actually pretty fun to do, it's just time-consuming. I'll do my best to keep coming back to this regularly.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-15 05:03 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cutesherry.livejournal.com
Thanks for the translation ^^

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 10:32 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"I think I want to live like this, immaturely, until I die."

I love that quote so much :D

Thanks for translating!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-20 01:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] witchrae.livejournal.com
Thank you for the translation! ^__^

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-20 02:16 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chibiyuuto.livejournal.com
Thanks for the full translation! Much appreciated ^^

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-20 03:58 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starlady38.livejournal.com
You're quite welcome.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-20 03:34 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truthseeker48.livejournal.com
Thanks for taking the time to do this ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-20 08:26 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mairenn-k.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for translating this!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-21 20:00 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] outou.livejournal.com
Thank you very much for translating this! I found CLAMP's overall attitude toward romance in manga to be interesting, considering how many of their series ended with the protagonist in a romantic relationship. (The importance of the relationship certainly varies--Misaki and Koutarou's love for each other isn't emphasized as much as Chii and Hideki's or Sakura and Syaoran's, for example.)

To set up some events at the end, it wouldn't work to have some old characters appear.

Is it just me, or does this in retrospect seem to support the idea that CCS|Sakura and Syaoran weren't Junior's parents?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-22 00:03 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starlady38.livejournal.com
It certainly seems that way to me, but then, I'm biased. :-)

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