CLAMP are an all-female group of manga creators that originally formed in 1989 under the name Amarythia. To start with the group consisted of twelve members - Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona Apapa, Mick Nekoi, Satsuki Igarashi, Akiyama Tamayo, Sei Nanao, Leeza Sei, Soshi Hishika, Kazue Nakamori, Shinya Ohmi, O-Kyon and Yuzuru Inoue - and their first works were self-published manga sold at conventions and shows. However, it wasn't long before their undoubted skill was noticed and Japanese publisher Shinshokan commissioned their debut manga, the fantasy epic RG Veda.
RG Veda began in 1989 and ran in Wings magazine until
1996, proving successful enough to make the crossover to anime with two video releases in 1991. RG Veda's success was the first of many for CLAMP. Having several members allowed them to tackle multiple projects at once, and they did just that despite two thirds of their members leaving to pursue careers of their own during RG Veda's run. Sei Nanao and O-Kyon left in 1990, Yuzuru Inoue was not an official member but also stopped working with the group at around the same time. This didn't stop CLAMP producing many other popular manga series alongside RG Veda. Man of Many Faces debuted in Kadokawa Shoten's Japanese edition of NewType in 1990 and ran till 1991, but more successful was the dark action fantasy Tokyo Babylon which ran in Wings magazine from 1990 to 1993.
Leeza Sei and Akiyama Tamayo left CLAMP in 1992, a few months after the group began CLAMP School Detectives and Duklyon: CLAMP School Defenders. Tamayo continued Cluster, a story she had begun whilst a member of CLAMP, after she left the group, eventually finishing it in 2002. Meanwhile the remaining members of CLAMP started yet more manga projects, with Snow Goddess Tales running for a year and X/1999 - arguably CLAMP's most ambitious project - running from 1992 in Monthly Asuka magazine. Soshi Hishiki, Kazue Nakamori and Shinya Ohmi left in 1993, whilst the remaining members started yet more series. Miyuki-chan in Wonderland and the fantasy epic Magic Knight Rayearth both ran from 1993, and the group - now trimmed to just four members - worked to complete their ongoing projects before moving on to new works in 1995.
CLAMP's lineup has stayed constant from this point, with Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona Apapa, Mick Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi the four remaining members. With a streamlined team CLAMP went from strength to strength, unleashing the hugely successful Cardcaptor Sakura in 1996 alongside Wish, with Clover starting a year later. Cardcaptor Sakura proved to be the title that would cement the group's popularity around the world, mainly due to the hugely popular anime series that started in 1998. It also won them a the prestigious Seiun Award, one of Japan's main sci-fi honours, for best comic in 2001. Since then pretty much all of CLAMP's major manga works have been released in both American and Europe by Tokyopop, and the anime series based on them have been some of the most popular of recent years. The group followed up Cardcaptor Sakura's success with the hugely popular Angelic Layer (1999-2001) and Chobits (2001-2002), and also started the more adult story Legal Drug.
A year after Chobits ended CLAMP began their longest running series - Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE and a sister series xxxHolic. Tsubasa has clocked up well over 20 collected manga volumes, whilst xxxHolic is also into double figures and both are still ongoing at the time of writing. These two series were more self referential than many of CLAMP's previous works and as well as crossing over with each other, also featured many characters from other CLAMP works.
2004 was CLAMP's 15th Anniversary year and the group announced that they would be trying out new names for themselves. Nanase Ohkawa became Ageha Ohkawa, Mokona Apapa dropped her surname as she felt it sounded childish, Mick Nekoi became Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi kept her name but changed the Japanese spelling of it. It has been reported that Ohkawa changed her first name back to Nanase in March 2008. Since then CLAMP have continued to produce artwork and manga, and have also provided character designs for the acclaimed anime series Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.
CLAMP have sealed their place in history as one
of the most successful and fiercely talented group of manga creators.
Their work has covered multiple genres and they have written series
aimed variously at young female, young male and adult audiences with
equal skill and success. The fact that nearly everything they have
written has been made into an anime, and that both manga and anime have
been released all around the world has helped gain them a legion of
fans. They are the widely considered the queens of 'shojo'
manga and show no signs of relinquishing their crown any time soon.