CLAMP Gakuen Tanteidan article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 5, No. 12, November 2002
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
There's more to CLAMP than the drama of stories like Animerica Extra's X/1999. Fans of Mahô Kishi Rayearth (Magic Knights Rayearth) and Card Captor Sakura (Cardcaptors) know CLAMP can do humor, too. CLAMP Gakuen Tanteidan (The CLAMP School) is one of CLAMP's comedies. This three book series is full of fun, light-hearted mysteries which challenge a trio of talented young CLAMP Academy students.
Located on a huge circle of land in the middle of Tokyo, the CLAMP Academy is home to 10,000 of Japan's most talented students, from kindergarten through graduate school. This prestigious institute is famous not only for it's academic excellence, but for it's love of festivals! The three lead characters make up the Elementary Division student council: Nokoru Imonoyama is the student president; Suoh Takamura is the student secretary; and Akira Ijyûin is the student treasurer. Naturally, with the responsibility of organizing CLAMP Academy's many events, the student council is very busy; only the best of the best can handle the load. But even the biggest workaholics need a break sometimes. Nokoru loves a good distraction and has an obsessive need to assist ladies. Combine these two qualities, and you have the motivation behind the CLAMP Academy Detectives. Along with Suoh and Akira, Nokoru sets his considerable wit and skills to the test in stories ranging from lost pets to kidnaping.
The first case involves the boys helping out a widow. While scouting sites for future festivities, Nokoru notices a lady crying in Tokyo Tower. When he returns to inquire about the tears, the lady is attacked by thugs in suits. Luckily Suoh is a talented martial artist and extremely loyal to Nokoru, because otherwise he might not have followed Nokoru and been there to trounce the thugs! The boys return the lady to her mansion and learn the thugs were sent by her brother in law. Her brother in law wants his brother's estate, which is all the widow has left of her husband. Determined to help, Nokoru utilizes CLAMP Academy's considerable resources to learn the brother in law is a businessman in need of some cash. Using his pocket money -the Imonoyamas are the wealthiest family in Japan- Nokoru legally (and amusingly) outwits the villain, thus rescuing the widow's estate.
The comics continue in a collection of fun and funny adventures which highlight the talents and personalities of the boys and the eccentric qualities of CLAMP Academy. There's not a lot of structure to the comics, but they can be quite entertaining, especially if you're a CLAMP fan. The TV series, which is available in English by Anime Village (subtitled VHS only), fleshes out the cases to offer a more solid storyline. Since it's hard to make twenty six episodes out of three books, the TV series also has a few original stories, many including cameos from other CLAMP Academy series, like 20 Mensô ni Onegai!! (Please, 20 Masks!!) and Gakuen Tokukei Duklyon (School Police Duklyon). The peculiar shape of CLAMP Academy -a circle crossed with a light rail system which forms a pentagram- is never discussed in the series. The significance of this odd design is finally revealed in X/1999, when Kamui is aided by the chairman of the board of Clamp Academy, who is none other than the grown up Nokoru Imonoyama. You don't have to be a CLAMP fan to enjoy the series, but you do have to be able to handle high doses of charm and goodness, qualities which exemplify the series' three exceptional heroes.