CLAMP North Side
CLAMP has been one of the foremost manga groups in the past decade, delighting fans with such popular works as Chobits and Clover. Originally a 2002 Kodansha release in Japan, TOKYOPOP has finally brought this beautiful artbook to the States. Covering their works from their debut in 1989 to its Japanese release in 2002, North Side is sure to be one of the top artbook releases of the year, along with its red counterpart, South Side.
Having been on the scene for more than a few years, it's about time for a book to come out showcasing CLAMP's beautiful and extremely imaginative work. This is the artbook that their readers have been waiting for, putting all that they love into one neat collection (or two, should they choose to buy South Side as well).
North Side covers the more fantasy-oriented, less recent works of CLAMP, and recent work is almost nonexistent. The showcased artwork is from (in order): Clover, Magic Knight Rayearth, Legend of the Dragon Kings, The Legend of Chun Hyang, and a mixed chapter of CLAMP in Wonderland, CLAMP Campus Web Subschool, and others. The thickness of the book is rather hefty, especially for a book of such truly high-quality work. Some artbooks are quantity over quality, but that is not the case here at all.
And when I call the artwork beautiful, I mean it. Some of the inks are so ridiculous that the art book itself had to be printed in Japan! The colors here are lush, and the artwork is complex and subtle. There is also some more cartoonish work here, adding variety to the book. Even this is beautiful in its own way.
Along with the abundant 'conventional' artwork, North Side also features plenty of additional content, whether it be an original mini-manga by CLAMP themselves, or several pages of in-depth interviews. For me, the interviews really provided great knowledge of both the creative process of manga and business-related aspects of the industry. It also provided a great look at the origins and history of CLAMP. After the interviews comes a visual index of all the artwork in the book, along with dates, commentary, and the works from which they come from, all in one neat, organized section.
Overall, North Side is a great artbook that I would recommend to all CLAMP fans. However, I feel that I need to remind all potential purchasers that this is an artbook, and that the majority of the time, it will be sitting on the bookshelf or coffee table. This could be considered a novelty item, and some might regret spending so much money on something so rarely used.