Gate 7 1

January 17, 2012

CLAMP – Dark Horse – 2011 – 1+ volumes

Oh, CLAMP. I ought to know better by now. If the end of Tsubasa hasn’t taught me, the beginning of Kobato should have. CLAMP just doesn’t write my flavor of series any more. And yet… re-reading X and Cardcaptor Sakura has made me hopeful. Maybe there will be a series I like as much as those.

Gate 7… hmm. So we start out with Chikahito Takamoto, who is visiting Kyoto for the first time and couldn’t be happier. He’s read about all the history, the monuments, and the shrines, and is in utter bliss as he walks around soaking up the scenery. Suddenly, he finds himself in a dark void, and comes face-to-face with a beautiful androgynous person, and two other men who insist that Chikahito shouldn’t be there, then proceed to fight some sort of supernatural beast. Chikahito passes out, then wakes up in a strange place, sharing a noodle dish with the three strangers. The three strangers try to wipe his mind, but can’t. The androgynous one, Hana, sees him off, and tells him that Hana is happy to have met him.

Later, an unlikely series of transfers lands Chikahito back in Kyoto at an odd time of year, and he finds himself once again entangled in the supernatural battles the three strangers seem to engage in. Somehow, he’s involved too, and luckily, an oni and a descent of a very famous general are prepared to explain everything to Chikahito. Over a noodle bowl, of course.

One thing I can respect about this series. It lives and breathes Kyoto. It’s clearly rooted deeply in the folklore and history of the place, and the supernatural battles are tied into excess energy stored in temples and famous places. The plot also seems to be leading itself into a look at the history of Kyoto and Japan, as some of these supernatural powers are apparently inherited from descendants of famous historical people. The characters also frequently enjoy Kyoto cuisine, and name-drop famous restaurants. Normally a story so Japan-centric would turn me off a bit, since I’m not as familiar with the history and sites as the target audience would be and am thus a little alienated, but Gate 7 is thoroughly footnoted, and I had a fun time following along with all the history and whatnot.

On the other hand, the fantasy-esque fights are… so generic at this point. They go into a sealed realm, like they do in X, and fight the creature with either light power or dark power. One of the two older boys serves as the root of the power, and apparently Hana is the one that does the fighting. Whatever Chikahito’s special power is, he’s linked to Hana somehow. Whatever Hana’s power “is,” Chikahito “isn’t.” Hana is “all” and Chikahito is “nothing,” I guess? I’m a little tired of “big concepts” in these CLAMP fights, too. I’m not sure if this is something that doesn’t translate, but this feels almost the same as the “clones” in Tsubasa, where they were the same person, but weren’t, and existed because one person couldn’t blah blah blah. I’m just saying, I don’t want to read thirty volumes of this to find out that Chikahito has infinitely fathered himself.

And poor Chikahito. He’s just like Watanuki. Timid guy with glasses, overreacts to everything, can see supernatural stuff others cannot. The weird creature attacking is very similar to the beginning of XxXholic, too.

I’m also more than mildly shocked to see that CLAMP is using a lot of photos for the backgrounds in this series. I mean… CLAMP? Of all artists? Perhaps it’s because the story so lives and breathes Kyoto that nothing short of actual photos would do the setting justice, since the events take place in very, very specific locations. But still. It feels like it doesn’t really bode well.

One thing that is very un-CLAMP-like is the somewhat overt romance between Hana and Chikahito. We still don’t know whether Hana is a girl or a boy, or how old Hana is, but Hana and Chikahito seem fond of each other in a mild way by the end of the volume. A very bold action is taken, then reversed later on, so maybe that’s why I think so. But still.

So, Gate 7. Better than Kobato. Not as good as the beginning of Tsubasa. A lot like the kinda “eh” parts of a lot of other CLAMP series. But we’ll see where it goes from here.

5 Responses to “Gate 7 1”

  1. meronichan Says:

    I started reading scanlations of this online, and I guess the published versions have a lot more footnotes because I didn’t understand what the hell was going on. At all.

    Of course I know jack about real Japanese history, outside of a few things like the Heian Period and Meiji Restoration which tons and tons of series focus on all the time. As far as knowing the real people, I have no idea. It’s CLAMP’s take on historical figures that I don’t know. For the Japanese I suppose it would be like us reading a story about George Washington with magical powers. I think Holic is about as far as I’ll go with Japanese-y things, if only because all those characters were original. If I have to read an entire Wikipedia article to get a manga, it’s probably not worth my time. And knowing CLAMP of late, yeah. It isn’t.

    Recent CLAMP = enigmatic speeches to cover up lack of coherent story, 100 characters that mean nothing at all, weird plot twists to an already nonsensical plot

    BRB going back to RG Veda.

  2. Connie Says:

    Wow. I can’t even imagine reading this without the footnotes in the back. There are probably about 10 pages worth, from both the editor and CLAMP themselves. While I did like reading about Kyoto, I think I may have fallen asleep when it tried to explain the historical figures. I know it doesn’t matter. And it gave me a terrible flashback to the first volume of Drifters, which was so awful I blocked the title from my memory and had to look it up just now.

    I’m with you on the new CLAMP stuff, though. I think it’s been two years since I really, really enjoyed one of their new volumes. It’s a shame that they seem to have given up shoujo manga for good. And… are they really drawing a manga called Eclipse/RoboTechnic EclipseSmashers? Huh?

  3. meronichan Says:

    Holy sweet Jesus. Just what we need, another CLAMP shonen. As if Tsubasa wasn’t bad enough. *facepalm*

  4. meronichan Says:

    On a side note,..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murikuri

    What the hell? CLAMP? What are you doing?
    I don’t know about you, but it seems to me they’re attempting to target male audiences more and more with their releases. Which sucks because they’re terrible at it. Stick with shoujo CLAMP, we have enough shonen crap out there by people that are way better than you at it.

  5. Connie Says:

    Wow. Just… wow. I’d heard of that before, but I guess I’d never read a plot summary. It sounds vaguely like a messed-up version of The One I love. I’m more than a little confused by that. I mean… why CLAMP?

    But I guess that means Summon/Robo Technic Eclipse Smashers can’t be any worse/stranger than Murikuri!


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