Story: Nanase Ohkawa (CLAMP)
Art: Mokona (CLAMP)
Volume Count: 4
Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 17 Aug 2009
CLAMP never actually finished Clover, but what we did get is a fascinating read.
Kazuhiko is an ex-Black-Ops soldier who has been entrusted to protect and transport a mysterious girl named Sue. Sue is part of a top secret program called the Clover Project.
Clover is a very minimalist manga, almost to the point where its presentation trumps the actual story. In fact, it may not even be an exaggeration to say that there is more text than art in Clover. This is a story that is all about how it is told rather than what it is about.
The story in Clover is deceptively simple, and even vague. It starts without any introductions, and we learn as we read what this world is like and who the characters are. Sue is a mysterious young girl who has been alone all of her life, and a council has decided that Kazuhiko is the only one with the ability to bring her to where she needs to go. There is nothing all that complicated about the story. It is CLAMP’s take on cyberpunk, and it definitely takes it in a direction that I never would have expected.
The presentation and the way that Clover is told is what fascinated me so much. It does not use chapters in the way that most manga do. In fact, some of its “chapters” are only one page in length. Clover could be considered a visual tone poem. The layout of each page is integral to its composition, all the way down to the placement of speech bubbles and text. It is a highly unconventional approach, and could almost considered to be a High Art title because of this. Clover is very impressionistic, emphasizing presentation over content.
Still, despite the vague qualities of its story, I consider Clover an excellent example of artistic expression in manga. It’s as fascinating to look at – perhaps even more so – as it is to read. The manga may weigh in at around 500 pages in length, but it is a very quick read because of the sheer amount of negative space on most of the pages. Clover is a story which is told through what you don’t see rather than what you do.