Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts: What a twist!

So I’ve been meaning to write in this blog forever now, here are some insane ramblings of mine.

In the many years I have been reading manga, I have had issues with CLAMP. I think the ending of Magic Knight Rayearth scared me for life. After that I just had the hate out for CLAMP and could never understand the really devoted CLAMP fans. In fact today I still can’t really understand. I personally think their art has also gone down in quality since the days of Magic Knight Rayearth, which I think would be the only big draw.

It’s been many years since, I first read Rayearth to completion. A couple of years ago Tokyopop came out with an omnibus edition of the first series which I bought. Hey, 10 bucks for 3 volumes worth of stuff, why not? Right? I did end up enjoying it a lot more then I thought I would, though I still found the ending a frustrating.

I did like a lot of things about it, it had really nice art with good screen tones. The fantasy setting was unique enough to be cool. In the structure of a Magical Girls show they did some interesting things (magic mechs lols) to give it a different feel from stuff like Sailor Moon or even Cardcaptor Sakura.

What I was not too crazy about was the total lack of any depth to any of the characters, and no character development. That isn’t really a surprise though, at three volumes, Magic Knight Rayearth is more about an action story then anything else and it does that well. So after reading Magic Knight, I felt less hate for CLAMP, though I still wasn’t really one over.

Now reading Magic Knight Rayearth II was a bit more of a painful experience. The art was still nice, but they story just seemed lost in a swamp of fantasy garbage. How a lot of things worked in this fantasy realm didn’t make sense, just how did that road thing work? Though I have found this kind of fantasy story leads to muddy and confusing elements that end up dragging the story down, such as in the title Planet Ladder. Then the twist end with our pal Mokona made me want to scream and throw the book at the wall. Which I might have, I can’t remember now. Once I calmed down though, I do have to think that this is a title written for kids and so I can kind of understand the silliness that last twist. Though, when I remember CLAMP being really big a lot of people where in their late teens and early 20’s and I have to think what were you people thinking. (Though the truth could be said for me when I recently watch some movies I had seen as a teen and went what was I thinking?).

So I thought that would be my last dealings with CLAMP ever and didn’t think much about it after that until this weekend when I was at Anime Boston. Sunday I had some time before my flight back and I didn’t have much to do so I was in the manga library and picked up Cardcaptor Sakura, since they had a good chunk of it to read.

So let me start of by saying I’m not any more of a CLAMP fan now then before I started. Now it wasn’t bad, and I don’t think it suffers from some of the same problems the second half of Magic Knight Rayearth did, but in some ways it bothers me more, especially in its second half.

Really the first half of the story is a cute magical girl story; I like how they just jump right into it without the whole origin first. I like the secondary and minor characters they are cute and for a kids story well rounded enough but not earth shattering. I think the art isn’t as nice as Magic Knight Rayearth but it’s still very nice. Though I am still blown away buy the minor sub element of the 4th grade girl engaged to her Teacher, WTF?! That is a total Gah! funny face moment. The twist at the end of the first half of the story is cute and not head pounding painful. Over all if it ended there I would rate the series better.

The second half of Cardcaptor Sakura end up being rather superfluous, they could skip over most of it and gotten to the end love part at the end of the first half and it would have been just as fine. Really the second half is the “bad” guy forcing Sakura to use her power to make the cards change and become her own. Then there is a pseudo last battle at the end which is basically another test for Sakura. Why though? It seems like it should lead into a third story arc where Sakura fight some great evil, power, ninja turtles etc. just something anything. Why test someone in a story if there is no real point to the test? I’ve tested you for testness sake! It almost seems like CLAMP got bored of working on this title and just wrapped it up so they could move on to other things.

So in the end of this long rambling entry about CLAMP, I think this is my issue with them comes down to, they have lots of great ideas but the execution always falls flat for me. Then I just get annoyed. Maybe someday I’ll have better luck but for now I’ve had my dose of CLAMP for a long while, because too much has been know to cause brain hemorrhage, and psychosis.

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