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Clover, Volume 1

 

Note:

Last Christmas, a friend of mine gave me volume 1 and 2 of CLAMP’s Clover series. She’s someone who’s…tentatively getting into manga. Said she didn’t like the series…but I think she didn’t realize it was longer than two volumes. I didn’t know it had four volumes, either. I was kinda shocked at the end of volume 2 thinking, “that’s the end?” But, yay! I was wrong. So, I’m excited to get back into this series! Well, let’s start, of course, at the beginning…

 

**Although I only review Volume 1, I recommended getting the omnibus if you purchase it. This is a beautifully illustrated series, and I just LOVE CLAMP. It’d be a better bargain, too. If you plan to buy it, please think about clicking the link above to help me out! And thank you!**

*This review has spoilers. So, if you don’t want it spoiled, please skip the “Summary.” The “Pros and Cons” sections do have some spoilers, but doesn’t reveal too much of the actual events.*

Clover, Volume 1-Recommended


Mangaka: CLAMP
Copyright: 1997 (Japan) 2001 (English Translation)
Genre: Shoujo, Sci Fi/Fantasy, borderline Lolicon-possibly Moe.
Chapters:

  • Prelude
  • Leaf
  • Tiny Wings in the Forest
  • The Singing Waif
  • Bird Cage
  • A Maze
  • The Cat
  • A Radio
  • A Trace
  • A Debt
  • A Flower
  • Parliament
  • Clover
  • A Telephone
  • Winged Fish that Flies through the Night
  • A Leopard
  • Alleyway
  • The Scar
  • A Song
  • Nonexistent
  • Goodnight
  • Pursuit
  • Feathers

 

Summary:

Clover takes place in a futuristic world, where the military’s done lots of experiments and advancements on mechanics. Among the government experiments are a race of children who have special powers. Sue is one of these children–yet even amongst them, she is one of a kind. A lonely soul, she wishes for nothing more than to have some kind of companion to save her from being isolated.

Pros and Cons: Story and Content

Characters:
I think CLAMP does a good job with the characters. You don’t know a lot about them, and yet you still are able to get a feel on who they are. The mystery shrouding their past makes them intriguing, much deeper than a character you know everything about. For this reason, they’re very complex, well fleshed out. At least the main characters are. Even the side characters have interesting personalities. General Ko, seems very wise to me. Not just because she’s old, but because she has an understanding of what drives her soliders. She knows Kazu can complete his task, she’s very confident about that. The few times we see her in the story, you still get a good idea of what she’s like.

Same goes for Bols. We don’t know him. He only appears three or four times, but still. His actions. His expressions. His diction–we can tell the kind of lude, sadistic character his is. We can tell his treachery knows no depths. He’s sick, twisted, insane. And we glean that just from the few encounters we have with him. CLAMP does an excellent job with the characters. Seriously, I give them Kudos, cause over all, they don’t give much away background wise. Just little snippets and hints.

Story:

The story thus far is good. The setting is built with very little told about the world’s history. How has it become virtually post-apocalyptic? Why are there hardly any animals?

We know something’s amiss, because of the rebel army. We don’t know what, but it’s there. I like all the mystery in this series. You’re given enough to build the basic constructs of the setting, without having a long drawn out discussion of what’s going on. It works here, because the story itself pushes things along.

For the most part, the idea is very basic. Get from point A to point B. But the getting there is good. Although there’s not a lot of action, this manga provides a lot of character development: a devolution that becomes the story itself. This first volume doesn’t get much accomplished when it comes to Kazu and Sue’s actual goals. So I argue the main purpose of this part is to weave the connections between characters. You spend more time trying to figure out why Sue’s so important, and Kazu’s meloncoly history, than you do really paying attention to if they’ve gotten to where they’re going.

And that’s okay, because you’re never bored along the way. The intrigue and the surprises are enough to keep the story moving forward.

It’s hard to think of anything to really complain about. I suppose one thing I did find a bit annoying was the number of “chapters.” There were so many sections. Just when you’ve started to get into what’s happening, they quickly move onto something else. It works okay, but I did get irritated at the really short chapters. I was thinking “dude, what was the point of that? Just keep it together man!” But, I got over it. It was also confusing at times, who’s saying what. The text bubbles aren’t always attached to a person, and the dialog can sometimes seem ambiguous. I had to re-read several times to figure out who’s saying what. Example: The quick talk between Bols and Kazu. The way it’s set up, I had to double check who was saying what, then realized of course Kazu would want to keep innocents out of it (73). Also, when Kazu is asking if Sue is unhappy, and it’s just an image of her singing, with descending text bubbles. It’s a creative idea, but it was hard to follow at first (95).

Pros and Cons: Art

It’s no secret: I’m a huge fan of CLAMP. I love their stories. I love their art. In fact, the art is what first drew me to this series–even before my friend gave me a copy of volume 1 and 2. The book has several full color images. These are done in the usual excellent quality we grow to expect from CLAMP.

I love what they do with the art of the story itself. Everything is very stark, which is indicative of the world in which it is set. The graphics are very crisp, clear, and have very little screen tone, except for parts where blurred images are used for special effect. Great example of this technique can be seen when Bols is viewing an image of Kazu and Sue on a camera screen–the image is blurred and out of focus to demonstrate the media through which the sighting was viewed (46).

The use of mostly black and white produces a very powerful effect. It makes the characters stand out, as well as the other symbols they wish to focus on. It’s really a great idea, and it worked well for this manga. It also makes what screen tone they did use more important. It’s subtle, but you notice it, and it doesn’t over-power the more important parts of this tale, which is the relationship between Kazu and Sue. I think the majority white-with black accents is very effective for Clover.

I have no complaints when it comes to the art. Sorry! No “cons” here! 🙂

Blow-By-Blow Walk-Through

Prelude

The opening is mostly a little teaser, you can’t get its purpose or meaning immediately. It’s basically talking about the old saying of how a four leaf clover brings you happiness (well, luck is the saying, but hey, if you’re lucky, you’re happy.)

Chapter 1: Leaf

So, we’ve got a former military guy named Kazuhiko. He’s kinda a rebellious dude. He’s apparently great at his job…or former job, but has gotten slack in the past from not always following orders. The only reason he’s cool with the military, is the voucher given to him by this lady, General Ko. And now the lender comes to reap. She’s got this job for him. Seems simple enough, but it’s top secret. All he’s gotta do is deliver a package to some unknown destination. Should be a cake walk…but ah, we know better, and so does he. He’s dealt with missions from Ko before, and knows it’s rough waters ahead.

Chapter 2: Tiny Wings in the Forest

Kazuhiko’s sent to this mansion, which has these incredibly creepy “killer dolls,” that are basically animals that stand up-right. Only they’re robot animals. So life-like. So creepy. He’s got an encription code that G-Ko’s (that’s her new nick name, G-Ko. Oh yeah, she’s pimpin’) has given him to let him in past the guards. Inside he eventually comes to an aviary-like chamber where perched inside, pretty as a picture, is this beautiful little winged girl, singing to herself. Something in his eyes betrays his surprise, while the girl merely implores if he’s to be her guide and take her away from her solitude.

Chapter 3: The Singing Waif

I love that word “waif” by the way.

Okay, Kazuhiko’s got an old military bud named Gingestsu–which is more than a little inconvenient to say every time they bring up his name. Maybe I should call him Gingy…like that rapper, Chingy? Um…maybe not. We’ll see. This is who’s gonna help him get Sue, the little girl, to her designated destination. Actually, it’s not Gingetsu who’s gonna be the main help, it’s his lover, Ran. While the guys talk the whole thing out, Sue’s glued to the radio, listening to this song Ran’s got playing for her. She takes to the song, and she, too, longs to be taken away.

Chapter 4: Bird Cage

Not the Robin Williams film. Sorry, had to go there. Sue needs to be taken to Fairy Island, which is this run down amusement park. Why? We don’t know. She just needs to get there. So the quickest way to get there is by transport module. But not just any module–a Ran module. This one’s special and has been modified to be even quicker than the normal military model. But in the middle of the transport, something goes wrong. It’s not Ran. Nope, he’s a pro. So he realizes that someone’s interfered, and starts searching for the perpetrator. While doing so, he uncovers something important about Sue.

Chapter 5: A Maze.

Not to be confused with amaze. Sorry, you all, I have to do this because…I have adult ADD. You can, too, if you stick with me long enough.

Sue and Kazuhiko find themselves in the middle of what looks like the trash heap land in Labyrinth-or something from Escape from New York. Before they can figure out their locale, the two are attacked by some scary be-goggled soldiers. Using his fake military arm, given to him by Gingetsu–Kazuhiko’s missing a right arm, by the way–they make their escape: only to be surrounded by more soldiers. But these guys are different. They look like they’re wearing make-up.

Chapter 6: A Cat

The two get abducted and taken to a strange little boy with a horrible-and I mean HORRIBLE-chilly bowl hair cut. It’s not really clear what he wants, but he has Kazuhiko and Sue locked up. This kid’s got one of the few real, flesh and blood cats still in existence. I don’t know if that’s important or not, but CLAMP had Sue notice it. Maybe it’s just to show her skill. Guess we’ll find out.

Chapter 7: A Radio

Their captivity gives Kazuhiko some time to learn more about Sue. Her beautiful singing stirs him to applause, but she’s apparently never gotten clapped before. Indeed, she hasn’t had human contact for years.

After Sue falls asleep, Kauzhiko has time to think and figure out where he is. The first soldiers to attack were from the country of Azaiea. But the people who had captured them was the rebel army of Shiao Mao–that’s who the little boy was. Kazu (we’ll call him that, cause I’m tired of typing out his name) is also suspect of what happened to interfere with their teleport. He knows Ran never makes a mistake. He wonders who Sue is, exactly, and why she’s so important.

Chapter 8: A Trace

A peek into the enemy lines. A strange man from the Azaiean army-someone who seems to know Kazu-plans to track the target downs through radiation put off from Kazu’s military arm.

Chapter 9: A Debt

The Shiao Mao have discussed who the couple are and decide to help them out. The mystery man from Azaiea has already discovered his target’s whereabouts, so Shiao Mao plans to stall the army while Tao Fa, his assistant, helps lead Kazu and Sue out the back door.

Chapter 10: A Flower

A massive explosion makes Kazu pause, wishing to give aid to Shiao Mao. Tao Fa simply gives them a flower upon parting, then bids them farewell as she dashes into the fray.

Chapter 11: Parliament

Parliment’s having a meeting where the question of Kazu’s ability to deliver Sue is questioned. These bunch of old farts shouldn’t be so judgmental, as they couldn’t have done the job themselves (unless they had mad skills and magic…which is possible, I guess.) General Ko stands by her choice, claiming he’s the only one who can get the job done. We learn a little about his background, too. He used to be the Secret Operations Deputy Commander under Lieutenant Colonel Gingetsu. Gingy. So that’s how they know each other.

Chapter 12: Clover

Ran reaches to touch his back. In disbelief, he mutters something about a four-leaf clover.

Chapter 13: A Telephone

Kazu tries to call Ran to re-teleport them, but to no avail. The lines aren’t working, so he realizes they’re gonna have do things the old fashion way-air travel.

Chapter 14: Winged Fish that Flies through the Night

They travel by Zepplin. Led Zepplin! Oh, just kidding.

On and on, the same song plays in the background–the one Sue had been listening to earlier. It makes you wonder if there’s only one song in the whole Clover universe, because it seems to be the only thing playing. Meh, I guess that’s how all pop radio stations are, though, when a new song comes out. So, we get to read more lyrics of this song, as Sue acknowledges this as her first blimp ride. She’s not sure whether or not she likes the song, and yet she just can’t get enough.

Kazu notices Sue’s eyes are green. Silence incurs again. His questions are left unanswered. Or rather, we don’t get to hear his question, or Sue’s response.

Chapter 15: Leopard

Unfortunately, they barely have time to get off the zepplin before the mystery man from before catches up to them. His army’s still back there fighting the Shiao Mao forces, but he’s ready for action. They’ve fought before. In fact, this dude, who’s name is Bols (what a crappy name…oh well, his problem, not mine,) is the very man who took Kazu’s other arm. Bols is willing to fight right here and now, but Kazu, not wanting to involve innocent by-standers, opts to move their fight to an alley.

Chapter 16: Alleyway

Sue’s orders are to run east when Kazu gives the word. Bol’s got some crazy dual light sabers he’s fighting with, while Kazu’s got that military arm module that shapeshifts into various weapons. Bols got some kind of hard-on for Kazu. I mean, maybe he’s not speaking literally, but he claims he sleeps with Kazu’s right hand in his bedroom.

~creepy~

Well, of course, Bols doesn’t fight fair. While Kazu’s occupied with him, the army returns and tries to take Sue away. Kazu risks his own life to save her, by abandoning his defense against Bols sabers, and turning his hand into a gun to fend off the soldiers. If he could do that, why didn’t he just shoot Bols? Who cares about honor with a raving lunatic?  So his little lazer gun’s not doing much, cause even though he tells her to run, Sue just stands there while he gets stabbed in the shoulders. Luck for them, Gingy shows up just in time to save the day.

Chapter 17: The Scar

Gingy’s helped heal Kazu up and given him some painkillers to help while he rests. Sue hasn’t left his side the whole time. When asked why she didn’t run, she explains she didn’t want to. Kazu has many scars from his battles on his body. Sue asks him about them–of course he responds saying they’ve healed. But those aren’t the wounds she’s referring to. She means has his heart healed? He’s not really sure.

The time comes for him to dress and head out. Since Bols is monitoring all public transportation, Gingy gives Kazu the keys to his car. All right! Big pimpin’!

Chapter 18: A Song

So the same song’s going on again. Sue’s singing it, and Kazu assumes she’s not happy. Since he knew the woman who sang the song, and she wasn’t happy, he guesses that Sue, too, isn’t happy. The singer is Kazu’s former lover, Ora. He used to love her very much, but for some reason, she has died. Sue wishes to be happy, too, but does not so whether or not reaching her destination will solve that.

Chapter 19: Nonexistant

Back at the bat cave…I mean, back with Gingetsu, he’s on line with General Ko giving a status update on Kazu. Even though he was ordered to help Kazu, being close to him and all from the military, he probably would have aided him anyway.

Ko reveals that Sue’s an even more powerful clover than Gingy’s partner, Ran. Whereas Ran is powerful being a three leaf clover, Sue’s actually a four leaf. The only one of her kind. No wonder she’s so lonely, being the only one.

Chapter 20: Goodnight

To help prevent attacks from Bols, Kazu stays in a nice hotel with high security. He also sets a trap for unwanted intruders, and plans to stay up while Sue sleeps. Sue is worried about Gingetsu. She wonders what’s wrong with his head–Kazu’s got no idea what she’s talking about, so she drops the subject. She’d like to help keep watch with Kazu, but it’s totally no necessary. Besides, it’s a good idea for at least one of them to be rested, and Kazu’s got something even better than coffee–espresso shots straight into the vains! A coffee lover’s dream come true. Sue’s very meloncoly, but also very thoughtful. She asks if Kazu cried when Ora died. He can’t recall, but he probably did–and if he didn’t, then it may have been because he was distraught. She discloses, that when she dies, no one will cry for her, since she’s been alone all this time. As she slips into sleep, Kazu confirms how that makes two of them, seeing as he no longer has his Ora.

Chapter 21: Pursuit

Gingestsu’s defense of Kazu has confirmed Bols suspicions that Sue truly is the girl he’s after, and that Kazu’s not just a decoy. Bols doesn’t like Gingy, but he seems to like pissing with Kazu. It’s one of those, sadist dreams relationships, I guess. He commands an attack on the hotel the two are staying at.

Chapter 22: Feathers

So it’s black ops attacking them. In the hotel, regardless of the noise they’re making. Kazu’s able to take a few out, but they’re sadly outnumbered. Sue grabs his hand and pulls him out the window.

Suicidal?

Nope.

She’s had her Redbull today…er…well, she’s got wings anyhow. They spread far and wide to help protect them from the far fall.

The End!

Conclusion:

To be honest, my first read of this series was under appreciated. But, going back, I’m starting to see things I didn’t notice before. It doesn’t get my highest rank, but I certainly do recommend this series.

Clover, Volume 1-Recommended!

Citations:

*These should be indented…but I’m stupid
and can’t figure out how to do it. Sorry!*

CLAMP. Clover. Trans. Ray Yoshimoto. Vol. 1. Los Angeles: Tokyopop, 2001.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2003.

Harman, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2003.

 

Posted in Blue's Reviews. Tagged with , , , .

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