It’s April Fool’s everyone and that means it’s also CLAMP DAY!!! Whether or not you read and enjoyed the manga CLAMP has produced over the years, it’s hard to deny that they are one of the most influential Shōjo mangaka ever.
Let’s celebrate the day by talking about something in the CLAMP universe.
FOR YOUR EYE ONLY
If you’ve been a CLAMP fan for a while, or even if you’ve read some of their manga casually, you’ll notice characters tend to lose an eye or sport an eyepatch from the get-go.
This isn’t just an artistic signature of the group, it’s a tribute to a long standing member and functions as a metaphor for loneliness or great change.
Nanase Ohkawa, who is considered the leader of the group has a weak right eye. She’s not totally blind in it but from my limited reading it seems it is impaired such that her eyesight isn’t as strong anymore. In tribute to her, CLAMP likes to impose the right eye’s loss. This article will discuss two characters with a missing right eye and how it affects them.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Tokyo Babylon, X/1999 and Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
Seishirou is likely the character many fans have a love-hate relationship with. While he seems like a great character to begin with, he is by far one of the most emotionally destructive characters CLAMP has ever created. He’s clearly a product of the group’s early beginnings in terms of having a love for tragic stories. Seishirou is first introduced in Tokyo Babylon alongside another long standing character, Subaru. Subaru is part of a pair of twins, the latter being his sister Hokuto. Seishirou befriends Subaru and helps him out on his jobs as an onmyouji. The two are playful with each other, as Seishirou really enjoys flirting with Subaru and it’s clear that Subaru enjoys the attention. Later in the series Seishirou dives in the way of a deranged mother with a knife and has his right eye destroyed. Subaru recognizes his love for Seishirou at this point, but it’s never meant to be as Seishirou’s dark and destructive personality comes seeping out.
I won’t spoil more beyond this but the takeaway here is that Seishirou’s eye loss is the trigger for his sick and twisted personality. After his eye is taken he emotionally ravages Subaru and murders Hokuto. Later work features him one-eyed to start with so he never reverts into the kind man from the start of Babylon.
Oh…did you think we were done with this psychopath? We aren’t….
He also makes an appearance in X/1999. While it’s not necessary to read Tokyo Babylon before jumping into X, it does help you understand the character motivations for Seishirou and Subaru a hell of a lot more.
I won’t go into the whole plot of X/1999 (and in actuallity it’s impossible to go into the whole plot since CLAMP never finished it *raises fist in anger*), but I’ll need to feed you some of it to help understand the context of this article. X/1999 is a story where 14 individuals are fated to meet in an apocalyptic battle that will decide the fate of the world. Seven of these individuals are known as the “Dragons of Heaven” and seven are known as the “Dragons of Earth”. The Dragons of Heaven, led by Kamui, wish for humanity to survive, while the Dragons of Earth, led by Fuuma, feel that humanity is not worth saving and should be purged. Sounds cheery, right?!
Seishirou is one of the Dragons of Earth. His role exists effectively to torment Subaru, as his existence allows the trauma of Hokuto’s death to stay ever close to poor Subaru.
Seishirou’s eye loss here isn’t really a trigger for change or anything, as he’s pretty much a manipulative jerk all the way through the manga. The fact that he never changes and his eye remains lost is reinforcement of the fact that the eye is a trigger for the loss of his innocent side.
Seishirou ALSO makes an appearance in CLAMP’s super insane crossover, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (I am not going to spell it that stupid way every time…), but his lost eye here essentially functions the same as it does in X/1999.
Bonus Eye! Subaru Sumeragi
Oh Subaru…even though Seishirou killed your sister, you can’t stop loving the guy, can you? No friends, he can’t, and so poor Subaru gets his right eye taken when Fuuma comes down and removes it for him. It turns out, he wanted it that way because it made him feel closer to his beloved Seishirou. Wow CLAMP…you really love to hate these two guys don’t you?!
Subaru is a very different man that he was in Tokyo Babylon after his sisters death. In many ways, his eye loss is more in line with being emotional acceptance. That acceptance means pain of course because he’s hunting Seishirou out of anger but when exposed to his deepest desire his heart still can’t walk away from Seishirou.
Fai D. Flowright (or Flourite)
Fai is the goofball of the three man team (Syaoran, Kurogane, and himself) that is formed to help retrieve Sakura’s soul when it’s scattered across dimensions. Guys…this is CLAMP…were you expecting something simple?! The feathers that the guys seeks are hidden in various worlds that all pull from older CLAMP work.
The journey eventually takes them to Acid Tokyo. A.Tokyo is basically a messed up version of X/1999…you know..as if that place COULD get more messed up than in already is in the original. In A.Tokyo, there is literally acid falling from the sky and the only people left seem to be the 14 members of the Dragons of Heaven and Earth.
Oh yeah and uh..Subaru and Kamui are twins…
Yeah…you read that right.
Fai eventually loses his eye to a clone version of Syaoran who comes and eats it. Yeah I know, I get sick thinking about it too. Fai spends the rest of his time running around with an eyepatch on, making him one of the sexy one-eyed dudes of the CLAMPverse. I will mention that Fai is a bit of an anomaly as he loses his left eye, instead of the iconic right eye that most other characters lose.
Fai’s eye loss turns him from happy-go-lucky magician man to brooding, guilt ridden vampire…magician man. He eventually deals with it and goes back to being slightly more playful, but never quite to the point of the very first time we meet him. When he loses his eye he does become more accepting of his existence and it allows him to make the emotional changes needed to deal with his past trauma and his affection for Kurogane.
In many ways CLAMP seems to have accepted that the whole “eye loss” affair is more of a signature than a dark metaphor as it was before. Fai doesn’t go through NEARLY the type of dramatic change that Seishirou or Subaru do. That being said, losing the “right eye” is an icon of CLAMPverse and it seems like it will continue to be used for change, emotional growth, and deep emotional pain.
There are other characters not mentioned here that lose an eye or are missing an eye to start with, in CLAMP works. I’ll explore those in a different CLAMP Day Article! Read some CLAMP manga with one eye closed today so you can feel the majesty of the manga. Or don’t…and enjoy the wonders of depth perception!
X/1999 (Amazon will link you to the other volumes)
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (Amazon will link you to the other volumes)