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Live action TV series, CLAMP

Sunday 23rd December 2012

Helen McCarthy asks anatomically impossible questions about live-action CLAMP


In September 2012 Japanese broadcaster WOWOW announced a live-action TV series based on CLAMP's supernatural manga xxxHOLIC. The show, directed by Keisuke Toyoshima, is scheduled to premiere in 2013.

This is, obviously, to allow time for the plastic surgery.

I hasten to add that there is absolutely nothing amiss with the good looks of the leading actors. Actress and model Anne Watanabe, who is to play 'dimensional witch' Yuuko Ichihara, and Shota Sometani, her ghost-plagued employee Watanuki Kimihiro, are both extremely attractive. Neither of them, however, actually looks like a CLAMP character. Nor does almost anything human.

Look at their skulls, for a start. The proportions of the typical manga skull, used extensively in CLAMP's work, involve jawlines too sharp and shallow to accommodate adult human teeth, let alone cope with the strain of chewing anything more solid than a ripe berry. The nose is almost non-existent, devoid of anything as crude as nostrils, and positioned lower down the face than a normal nose – partly because of that tiny jaw. The huge orbits of the eyes mean the cheekbones are lower and wider, giving the face its characteristic childlike proportions.

One also has to speculate that, given the size of eyeball needed to occupy the space, the skull must be running out of room for some of its contents: the brain, for example. Luckily, the small jaw and short nose shift all the proportions of the face downwards, which both adds to the childlike aura of innocence and leaves a place for the brain above the wider, deeper forehead.

It's when it comes to the limbs that all relationship with reality breaks down. Not even a model is as long-legged and skinny as an anime character. In fact, as any collector of figurines can attest, once characters are turned into 3D creations, even in miniature, only carefully designed support prevents their ankles bending or breaking, unable to support their own bodyweight.

Western fans have suggested editing the actors to fit CLAMP proportions. One trusts they mean digitally rather than surgically. But, as earlier live action anime remakes prove, Japanese fans at least are more than willing to suspend disbelief in order to see their favourite characters played by human avatars. Tokyo Babylon 1999, the 1993 live-action movie 'sequel' to the Tokyo Babylon manga, stars Toshihide Tonesaku and Wataru Shihoudou, neither greatly resembling the manga characters.

It isn't just CLAMP who have trouble finding live actors to match manga characters. The problem is widespread on Japanese screens. The live-action Sailor Moon TV series from 2003 and the 2004 live-action Devilman movie also fall short.  Nobody in the four (yes, four) live-action Kekko Kamen movies released in 2004 resembles the manga characters, although a cunningly choreographed version of the heroine's costume provides distraction. And it isn't restricted to fantasy: romantic comedies like Boys Over Flowers have the same problems. The Japanese, Chinese and Korean versions all had to deal with the fact that nobody really looks like a manga character.

Live action TV series, CLAMP


Jormungand Complete Season 1

was £24.99
The series follows Koko Hekmatyar, a young arms dealer who sells weapons under HCLI, an international shipping corporation that secretly deals in the arms trade. As one of the company's unofficial weapon dealers, she secretly sells weapons in many countries while avoiding the local authorities and law enforcement as most of her work is actually illegal under international law. Traveling with her is her team of bodyguards who are mostly composed of ex-military veterans. Her latest addition to her crew is Jonah, a seemingly emotionless child soldier who is skilled in combat yet ironically hates arms dealers. Jonah joins Koko as he wishes to find the arms dealer responsible for his family's death. What follows is Koko and her crew's escapades around the world.



This Koko is no clown
Opening with a running fight down a freeway where anti-tank missiles and heavy vehicles are tossed around like party favours, the first episode never lets up, setting a standard that the show maintains throughout.


Fam, the Silver Wing 2

Andrew Osmond finds Emperor Hirohito in Japanese animation
The Sara storyline in Fam the Silver Wing seems to echo a view – many would say a myth – of Hirohito, encouraged not just by the Japanese but also by the victorious Americans when they rebuilt the country. Namely, it was the story that Hirohito was a helpless figurehead, at the mercy of his warmongering government.

When Marnie Was There

Andrew Osmond on what’s next for Studio Ghibli
In December, Studio Ghibli announced its next feature film to the world, looking ahead to summer 2014 and When Marnie was There, based on a British children’s book by Joan Robinson.

The Decline of the Japanese X Museum

Stephen Turnbull plays whack-a-mole with willies
The word hihokan is usually translated as ‘sex museum’, although most are best described as indoor sexual theme parks. Imagine that an anthropological collection has been bought by the London Dungeon and put on show there by the owner of a strip club with a degree in engineering and a penchant for voyeurism. The result would be the hihokan: a garish combination of serious museum and soft pornography in a bizarre and often haphazard blend.

One Piece Cosplay: Madame Sharley

Paul Jacques nets the best anime costumes
Elizabeth Coombes cosplays as Madame Sharley, the sharky mermaid to be found far off in the 500s of the One Piece anime. Also known variously as Shyarly and Shirley -- even the subtitles sometimes change their mind. Shirley some mistake?

Where is Victorian Romance Emma?

Why do we get Downton, but not Emma?
Fans of K-On! The Movie’s lovely and realistic vision of London may not be aware that in between that film and Steamboy’s loving depiction of a steampunk-era Manchester and London rests a show that is as accurate as either, and yet is also arguably the most English anime show ever made. Yet it still cannot be bought on DVD in the UK itself.

The King and the Mockingbird

Andrew Osmond on Miyazaki’s love for a French classic
The King and the Mockingbird was one of the films which taught Miyazaki and Takahata that you could make an animated feature without following studio formulae – something they strove for themselves as early as Takahata’s 1968 Marxist epic The Little Norse Prince.

Time Travel in Anime

Paul Browne rewinds from Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower into the past
In the latest Naruto film The Lost Tower, the title character and his comrades embark on a mission to capture Mukade – a missing ninja who has the ability to travel through time. Mukade’s plan is to travel into the past and take control of the Five Great Shinobi Countries. During the battle with Mukade, Naruto and Yamato find themselves hurled back twenty years in time. Will Naruto and his friends be able to return to his own time? And will their actions in the past save the future?

K the Animation

Andrew Osmond keeps calm and carries on
The start of an action anime series is often a bewildering experience, dropping the viewer into a whirlwind of unfamiliar folk having very big fights. K’s like that, but luckily the main character starts the show as baffled as us. Yashiro Isana is a bit different from the standard schoolboy hero

Podcast: Speaking of Hugos and Gareths

More than one way to skin a catbus, in our 24th podcast
Jeremy Graves is joined by Jerome Mazandarani, Andrew Hewson and Jonathan Clements, for a series of rants and ill-informed commentary about anime, manga, the storm over the Hugo Awards, and your most awkward convention moment.

Naruto Music: Okamoto's

Tom Smith on Naruto Shippuden’s 18th ending theme
As Naruto ups the ante and swears to take on Sasuke alone in box set 18 of Naruto Shippuden, the team responsible for the encompassing episodes’ ending theme have also took it upon themselves to up the pace.
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