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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


Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust

was £19.99
Rune Balot's struggle to bring the man who killed her to justice continues amid the world of high-stakes gambling and glamour at the Eggnog Blue Casino. The odds are stacked heavily in the house's favor, and even with the aid of Dr. Easter and Oeufcoque, a universal item capable of turning into anything and everything, Rune's chances of winning are slim. But winning the golden chips containing Shell Septinos' memories is only the next step on a long and treacherous road.
Run will still have to live long enough to bring those memories before the court, and even that isn't the end of the journey. Rune's search for answers to the questions that haunt comes to a shattering climax!
Contains both the television version and director's cut of Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust.
Spoken Languages: English, Japanese, English subtitles.



Rebuilding the Mardock Scramble heroine

Andrew Osmond has the technology… to watch Mardock Scramble
In Mardock Scramble: The First Compression, the young heroine is burned to a crisp, then remade Frankenstein-style. Fifteen year-old Balot is blown up in a car by her sugar-daddy Shell, a serial-killer. Then a seedy scientist rescues Balot’s charred body, plops it into an underground vat and refashions her as a super-avenger.

Mardock Scramble Manga

Andrew Osmond shells out for the Mardock comic
In the West, we’re still inclined to think of anime as coming out of manga, as naturally as eggs from chickens – one line into a Mardock Scramble piece and we’re already talking about eggs again). In Mardock’s case, both the manga and anime are alternative versions of a novel by Tow Ubukata, published as a trilogy in Japan and collected into one volume by the publisher Haikasoru. It’s comparable to what happened with Battle Royale, a novel which spawned a live-action film and an even more lurid manga.



Digital transvestite Tom Smith on the girl who’s hearing voices
Before taking on the part of Asuna, Haruka Tomatsu had accumulated over one hundred titles featuring her vocal talents, spanning anime, videos games and drama CDs. Achievement unlocked.


Andrew Osmond has been here before…
Some sci-fi plots are staples of anime. The boy who pilots a fighting robot; humans who evolve into cyborgs; cute space girls who fall for the biggest doofus in Japan. Compared to these, time-travel has never been a big anime genre, though it’s been used on many occasions.

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.

Magi the Labyrinth of Magic

In search of the animated Arabian Nights
The literary history of the Arabian Nights that underlies Magi is fascinating. The one point that any Magi fan should know to sound erudite is that three of the show’s main characters, Aladdin, Alibaba and Sinbad, are named after famous Arabian Nights heroes. However, none of these heroes were actually in the original collection.

Last Exile versus Fam, the Silver Wing

A Versus feature with a difference: Last Exile against Last Exile!
With the first part of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing now available in the U.K., we can finally compare it with its predecessor, Gonzo’s 10th and 20th anniversary specials pitted against each other. What do they tell us about the industry then and now?

Bleach Cosplay: Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez

Paul "Jaeger" Jacques seeks out the best anime costumes
Kasey Lee strikes a pose as Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, with the telltale Hollow jawbone still hanging on his cheek. Never let it be said this blog is afraid of showing topless cosplay.

High School DxD

Hugh, phew, barneys and boobs, cutthroats, demons and blood...
If this show dropped all the extreme fan-service it would still be an exciting action-horror adventure, not far removed from an extended arc of Supernatural or the like. As it is, you get that and a show that would have broken the jiggle counter if anime DVDs still had them. After decades of evolution, even harem comedies can produce a show with some substance.

Bleach Music: Universe

Tom Smith on series 13’s rainbow rockers...
While the Soul Reapers form an uneasy alliance with the Visoreds in Bleach series 13 part 2, the band providing the episode’s ending theme have an uneasy alliance of their own.

Mysterious Cities of Gold: The Game

Some day we will find...
The game Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is rolling out as a digital download across multiple platforms. This month it becomes available on the Nintendo 3DS and Amazon, following launches on the Wii U, iPad, iPhone and Steam.
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