The four women who make up the manga group CLAMP (Ohkawa Nanase, the scriptwriter; Mokona Apapa, the lead artist; Igarashi Satsuki, the layout designer; and Nekoi Tsubaki, the character artist) are to manga (and manga turned into anime) what Megumi Hayashibara is to voice acting. They began as doujinshi artists but went pro in 1989 with RG Veda. The original doujinka group was actually ten members (one of whom was a guy), but six of them left (one in 1990, two in 1992, and three in 1993), resulting in the four-woman team we know today. That Other Wiki has a little more information on their contributions and accomplishments since in CLAMP's article.
Since RG Veda, nearly all of their work has been animated, a list which includes many of the staple series of anime.
A theme that runs through CLAMP's works is that love transcends everything, particularly that pesky little thing called gender. Note that this is not a "love conquers all" kind of thing, as gender/age/being a robot/being a ruthless assassin/etc can be insurmountable barriers to having a functional relationship. No barrier can stop people from falling in love but it may very well prevent that love from reaching a happy resolution. (See the relationship between Tomoyo and Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura, or the one between Sakurazuka Seishirou and Sumeragi Subaru in Tokyo Babylon and X, or between Kazuhiko and Suu (or Ora) in Clover as prime examples.)
Their manga work is characterized by a highly-detailed Shojo art style, though for budget reasons the designs are often simplified for animation. Their style underwent a noticeable change in the late 1990s when Mokona starting ceding more design responsibility to Igarashi and Nekoi. Nekoi's distinctive character designs are responsible for the "Noodle People" description common in fandom. CLAMP also errs on the shojo side thematically (despite being published in an unusually wide range of magazines), and thus are very prone to drama and painful family unfriendly or broken aesops. Being former doujinka, their work is also notable for a deliberately high degree of Fan Service and Fetish Fuel.
A quick note about the members of CLAMP: In July of 2004, they all changed their pen names slightly. Mokona Apapa became simply Mokona, Ohkawa Nanase became Ohkawa Ageha, Nekoi Mikku became Nekoi Tsubaki. Igarashi Satsuki simply switched her family name into hiragana, and her given name into kanji. Nekoi and Mokona had been wanting to change their pen names for awhile; Ohkawa and Igarashi just went along for the hell of it. Ohkawa has since reverted to Ohkawa Nanase for attributions. At least three of them have used their names (partially or entirely) for characters in series: Satsuki as Yatouji Satsuki in X, Nekoi as Nekoi Yuzuriha in X, and Mokona as Mokona in Magic Knight Rayearth, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, and XxxHolic.
Some of their works:
- Angelic Layer
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- CLAMP School Detectives
- Duklyon: Clamp School Defenders
- Gate 7
- Legal Drug
- Legend of Chun Hyang
- Magic Knight Rayearth
- Man of Many Faces
- Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
- RG Veda
- Suki: A Like Story
- Tokyo Babylon
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
- X 1999
- The anime of Blood C, in collaboration with Production I.G
- Character designs for Code Geass
- Character designs for Mouryou no Hako
Tropes common across most of their works:
- Arc Welding: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle combined the Plot of XxxHolic, Cardcaptor Sakura, X and all other CLAMP works into one huge Gambit Pileup.
- The Beautiful Elite
- Back From the Dead (averted like crazy, and by Word of God, impossible. However, if a certain Xanatos Gambit is successfully carried out, this trope will become possible.
- Not quite - this trope is still very much averted. Clow's wish to keep Yûko from dying only froze her in time and possibly messed up the multiverse in the bargain. When time started moving again, she had died right on schedule hundreds of years ago the whole time, as far as most of reality was concerned.
- I was thinking in terms of Fei Wong Reed and the stuff he did. Guess they aren't useful to him.
- But when they do die in space-time twists, they are back to life when it's all undone.
- Speaking of Clow, technically he comes back from the dead in the form of his reincarnation, Eriol, who has most of his memories and some of his powers. Though that too is subverted in that, as Eriol points out to Yue, he's not really Clow.
- It seems to take 100 years for a reincarnation to happen.
- Bishounen and Bishoujo
- Costume Porn: With long, lacy ribbons being a particular hallmark in their promotional art. Oddly, it only occasionally shows up in the actual stories themselves (and almost never in animated versions due to the cost of animating all that billowing ribbon properly).
- Cultural Cross-Reference: When you see terms such as RG Veda, Ashura and even Samsaara, you know they've been studying Hinduism.
- Its likely their concepts of "soul-mate and soul love" "transcending" body and gender, and even their use of Reincarnation are also twisted forms of inspiration from this mysticism, although that has nothing in common with the Hindu concept of soul
- Everyone Is Bi
- Eye Scream
- Because it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
- Fan Service
- Hot for Student
- Even in elementary school. Where it is treated as wholesome!
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Not universal, but fairly common.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes
- Maybe Ever After: Their favorite ending...even in Denouements.
- Mind Screw: Deserves a special award! Their last latest works have taken it Up to Eleven frying brain cells across their fandom and leaving a probable legacy of several decades worth of forum discussions, all of which add to the confusion even more. Trying to trace the law of causality after a case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero would cause more brain damage than the combined screws of Quantum Mechanics, Relativity, and Superstring Theory put together!
- Just one of the results was a situation where thanks to incorporating every single type of Time Travel, you can't say if it is Always Identical Twins, Alternate Self, Identical Grandson, Generation Xerox, Cloning Blues, My Own Grampa, Summers Family Tree, Everyone Is Related or a blow your brain combo of all of these put together simultaneously!
- And now look what's happened! After overdosing on this trope, things have reached a point where, now that both Tsubasa & the Holic have ended, even Word of God has admitted that they too are rather confused over how everything turned out and want to re-read it.
- Noodle People
- No Ending: Quite well known (and well critcised too) for open ended and unresolved closures.
- Only one of their works has an explicit ending on the lines of "Are Happily Ever After". In many cases, theystop short of actually showing it, leaving readers guessing and wanting more). See Maybe Ever After above.
- Some works fared even worse and were left incomplete!
- Only Six Faces: They are masters of this trope.
- Pimped-Out Dress (especially in the omake art)
- Recurring Element: Mokona.
- Reincarnation Romance
- Rule of Glamorous
- Screw Destiny
- Side-Story Bonus Art : Enough to fill whole libraries.
- Unlimited Wardrobe