Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 1995
Synopsis: “Combining CLAMP’s legendary storytelling, color artwork, and elegant prose, The One I Love provides insight into the creators’ intimate lives and passions. This unique and romantic 12 story anthology dives into the heart of the matter of insecurity and honesty, marriage and independence, and, of course, the single subject CLAMP seems to know best: love.”
The One I Love, consists of twelve collected works by CLAMP. The series of stories was in progress late 1993 and was published about a year and half later. Their work was mostly targeted towards younger girls before this book was created and at the time was CLAMPS first original, non-series anthology. The main female protagonists are each in their own walk of life, the ages varied and their relationships different.
The stories are like a glimpse into each individual woman’s life. Some are forlorn or concerned while others are trying to make a difference and make things work. I like how narrative just drops you into their thoughts to get an idea of where it will continue. Even if you don’t completely get what was going on in the scene, there are little write ups on each one, to explain why they were put in the collection.
The first seven pages were so beautiful. The pages themselves are on textured pages that felt and looked like canvas. I had to double check to see if the table of contents was inked in or delicately painted. The end paper, table of contents, publishing page, and first story is on this wondrous paper. I adore CLAMP (and Tokyopop) for making the choice to use this granule paper. I’m a detail person as much as an information addict.
In these twelve short and sweet stories there are a lot of things you wouldn’t notice the first time you read it. I wasn’t expecting their ability to make the backgrounds so diverse, even magical. The backdrops are simple but attractive, much like most of CLAMP’s work here. Flowers around a blushing brides dress, or the inside of a bakery detailing the walls, it seems to be just enough to put you into the story. I also like how each story has different scenery and time of year. Their attention to hair and eyes, up close in the panels, always catch me as striking too.
The best example of the art in the book is ‘I Miss You’. A girlfriend of a manga-ka hasn’t seen her boyfriend because he has a deadline. She wants to support his job but at the same time does not want to be left out of his life. It’s hurting her being so lonely, so she does something about it. The written text was simple and to the point to encase you into the drama. Her apartment was more detailed then some of CLAMP’s earlier work. Even her walking around, you know where she is in the residence with just what is in the surroundings. If you even look at the foreground you can tell she, or some else who visits, smokes.
This book is still interesting on how the manga artists are pushing themselves to be out of their comfort zone. Nanase Ohkawa’s endeavour to tell a story with only about ten pages from start to finish is fresh. Making sure the plot of each leaves no missing love aspect, and transitions into a new tale altogether, must have been a challenge.
The characters themselves can be a bit one sided in how they think or act, however. The young female leads are stereotypical fluffy shoujo leads. Some characters are bland, especially the male leads. The lovers in this book are just supporting characters more than anything solid.
I like how this book has such charming, sappy stories for each plot. The cute, naïve characters make this graphic novel a guilty pleasure. It’s a quick romance anecdote to smile over, not a narrative to be engrossed in. If nothing else, it’s worth reading to see the progress in CLAMP’s progression into one of the top manga artists today.