Clover Omnibus Manga Revew

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Clover Omnibus Manga Revew

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*SPOILERS!*

Clover Omnibus MangaIn my continuing exploration of CLAMP’s manga works, I stop at Clover, which was originally a four-volume series done in the late 90’s.  Story-wise, the first two volumes cover the journey of Sue, a “Four-leaf Clover” and her military escort, Kazuhiko.  Sue has been kept in a giant cage most of her life because the government fears her as she is the most power of the Clover found (Clover are those with special, magical-like powers).  Sue’s wish is to visit a place called “Fairy Land” and the elderly General Ko has decided to make that wish come true, even though it puts herself and the other council members at risk.

The third volume covers how Kazuhiko’s dead lover Ora and Sue “met” even though Sue was not allowed human contact.  It also covers Kazuhiko’s relationship with Ora as well as what caused her death.

The fourth volume covers Kazuhiko and Ora meeting for the first time and starting their relationship. In addition, the Three-leaf Clover twins “A” and “C” are covered, both of whom live in a cage like Sue.  The manga also covers how Kazuhiko’s friend Gingetsu, a Two-leaf Clover himself, takes care of “C” when “C” escapes the cage.

I have to say that this is by far the most surreal manga I have ever read.  It is clear that CLAMP wanted to do something completely different.  So, they not only start their manga story in its final phase with Sue and Kazuhiko’s journey, they also don’t lay out their manga in a normal fashion.  Instead, they opt for style over substance which means that some pages have minimal (small) drawings.  They often arrange the art in a way that one might describe as poetic, more so considering they have song lyrics dispersed throughout the entire manga.  Because of this, the manga isn’t very verbose most of the time and thus results in the reader plowing through at a very rapid pace.

Also moving at a rapid pace is the story.  Basically, Kazuhiko’s and Sue’s journey is just a set of adventures where the “bad guys” who want Sue attack, Kazuhiko and Sue escape, lather, rinse, repeat.  There’s nothing really there to keep the reader engaged and if Sue weren’t drawn in such an attractive fashion, I’m not sure that many fans would have even bothered.  Because there is no depth, I didn’t really care about the characters as they went through their trial-filled journey.  Because I didn’t care about the characters, the journey’s cliched elements become less tolerable and at the end of volume 2, I really was unsatisfied.

Ah, but its time to go back in time with volume three.  Unfortunately, the conversations here are shallow and poetic to a degree.  Sue’s and Ora’s friendship seems a stretch to me despite the fact that the two have a connection.  While CLAMP did their best to make Ora sexy and thus her relationship with Kazuhiko sexy, I never really felt a spark of romance between them.  Words are spoken but what is said?  Flowers in the darkness. Its poetic, you know.

The fourth volume flashes back even further but by this time, I stopped caring completely.  I wasn’t interested in anything any characters had to say.  The two Clover twins having their issues did not concern me (though I was reminded of the Fai/Yui wackiness of Tsubasa).  I wasn’t interested in Ora meeting Kazuhiko and starting their relationship.  Again, the style over substance is what kills this for me and that’s rather unfortunate as this manga does have the makings of something more.

You know, now that I’ve met the “real” Ora, I see that she was no more interesting in her Tsubasa incarnation than she was here in Clover.

I’m told that this is one of CLAMP’s unfinished works, though the unusual method for telling the story by which the end of the story is told before the beginning of the story prevents fans from really being upset by this or in some cases, from even knowing this is true.  Where CLAMP to resume this series and write the two additional volumes of material reportedly needed to complete the tale, I’m not sure I’d even bother, especially if the artsy-fartsy method of story presentation continues.

The one very positive thing I will say about this release from Dark Horse is the absolutely beautiful color art that is included.  CLAMP’s color artwork that I’ve seen, except for xxxHOLiC, has been pretty good.  With Clover, it seems like they went just enough to go an extra mile with the color artwork.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel this way, but I do know that I have often gazed through the various color art pages, more so than I have with the other Dark Horse CLAMP omnibus manga I own (those too have their own color art pages).

As seems usual for Dark Horse, there are no translator notes here and I wish there were some.  The volume is unflipped, whereas I think the TokyoPop version had been flipped (correct me if I’m wrong).  There are no Japanese honorifics used in this release, so it would seem that those would have been stripped.  I don’t have access to the Japanese pages to confirm this but if true, that is a negative mark for me.

So, this will go to my bookshelf to collect dust as Clover will not be a title that I will feel an urge to reread. I don’t regret having purchased it despite not caring for the style over substance presentation.  Your mileage may vary.

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3 Responses to “Clover Omnibus Manga Revew”

  1. Cholisose says:

    Ah, I’ve been intrigued by this title, and have heard it’s certainly an odd one.

  2. Ultimaniac says:

    One of these days I’m gonna have to take some time to marathon as many Clamp titles as possible. So far I only read Xxxholic and I’ve read a little bit of Chobits and Cardcaptor Sakura

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Cholisose — It is an odd one for sure.

    @Ultimaniac — Chobits is good. I’ll have a review of the first omnibus volume of CCS coming soon.

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