Shaenon takes a tour of two works by legendary mangaka Natsume Ono.
Clamp School Detectives
Clamp School (the title is actually "Clamp School Detectives"... the title shortening doesn't make much sense to me) was one of the first four series announced by AnimeVillage when they opened last year, and from the beginning, it was obvious they had no idea how to market it, or even what audience to appeal to. The reason for their trouble is pretty obvious: There IS no market for this series in the United States!
The series' namesake is actually three little boys that make up the student government in the Elementary School division of the Clamp School (a big academy for the gifted students, where most Clamp anime/manga takes place). There's president Nokoru (who's a feminist in the extreme), Suoh (the one with common sense), and Akira (the ditzy, effeminate cook). Clamp character designs tend to look pretty andgrogenous to begin with, but these kids really blur the lines. Is it any surprise that they act like three individual segments of a female's dream-man?
Nokuru gets the idea to start the Clamp School Detectives to "help women in need" after helping an old woman save the home she loved from a greedy brother-in-law. To test them out, the chairwoman of the campus asks them to retrieve a very small computer disk containing all of the student records -- but in a locked and heavily guarded office. A girl that doesn't seem to like Nokuru much hides something and asks him to find it -- without the help of his friends or his money or even a hint as to what it is -- on his birthday or step down as president, and Akira butts in on the timid start of an affair in the college section of the Clamp School, where he teaches a cooking class.
The biggest problem with Clamp School Detectives is that none of the characters act like children at all -- they're merely short, cute adults in tight shorts. There's no dealing with any immaturities or childhood fascenations... not even a single toy in sight. No, most of the humor comes from Akira's ditzy demeanor or Nokoru's ignoring of the council paperwork. While the idea of a detective group run by really smart kids is interesting, it's been done before in countless children's books that usually deal with the concept in manners that, although no more realistic, are a bit more plausible.
Nokoru comes off as especially annoying, being as smart as he is, and his chivalry simply comes off as obnoxious at times. His lines sound like quotes from bad romance novels. The characters of Suoh and Akira really haven't been developed yet. Of couse, the girls are constantly swarming around them. I'm not sure they like the three boys as much as they seem to, since there don't seem to be ANY other male characters around!!
Nokuru's lines are made worse by translator Rika Takahashi, who delivers what is possibly the worst translation in a commercial subtitle ever (Kiki's Delivery Service not withstanding). Right from the opening theme, the subtle inconsistancies start, with the english phrase "Peony Pink" being translated as meaning both "pink peonies" and "peony-colored pink" -- when being used the exact same way! Nokuru is addressed by the others as Kaichou, which means "student council president" in this case. Rather than actually translating that, others simply call him "Kaichou" in the subtitles, as if it was his name. There's no explaination as to what it means, and in a series that's really meant for kids, that's simply unacceptable. Of course, grammar errors and small mistakes with things like name suffixes are all over the place.
The music in this series is good (the opening and ending especially), and director Osamu Nabeshima certainly knew what he was doing. Heck, the English post-production, although not as complete as ADV's, is really nice! But unfortunately, well-presented fluff is still fluff.
Overall (sub) : C
+ Nice designs, music, and directional style
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